St Johns Wood Property, History & Transport
St John’s Wood got its name from the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, the Knights Hospitaller, who owned it in the 14th century. The Order lost it when Henry VIII abolished the monasteries, and the trees were cut down in the Cromwellian period so hay could be grown there to feed the huge number of horses stabled in London.
Thomas Lord moved his cricket ground to St John’s Wood in 1811.
The area began to be built on in the 19th century, when it gained the reputation as a haven for artists and writers that persists today. Mary Anne Evans, better known as the novelist George Eliot, lived in North Bank; Sir Edwin Landseer, sculptor of the lions next to Nelson’s Column, lived and worked in St John’s Wood Road and T.H. Huxley, the naturalist known as Darwin’s Bulldog because of his championship of evolution, lived all over the area at one time or another.
The artists J.J. Tissot and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema lived and worked in the area, and the St John’s Wood Clique met in each other’s homes when they were the dominant force in the Royal Academy in late Victorian times.
But there was a less respectable side to St John’s Woods. Being conveniently distant from Mayfair and Knightsbridge, it was the favoured place for Victorian gentlemen to keep their mistresses. The exiled Napoleon III kept the brilliant and lovely Elizabeth Anne Howard in Circus Road, and J.J. Tissot caused scandal by openly living with a woman not his wife.
These days, the leafy avenues and large villas of St John’s Wood make it a very desirable area for families. It has excellent tube connections with both the West End and the City.