Once a forest owned by the Knights of the Order of St. John Jerusalem (hence its name), then the hunting grounds of Henry VIII, now St. John’s Wood is one of the capital’s most cosmopolitan areas. Thankfully, fierce tree protection by the St. John’s Wood Society ensures it maintains its original charm.
Most of St. John’s Wood is designated a Conservation Area and its houses are listed by English Heritage. This means that there is a rich choice for house hunters, including classical Regency style, many detached villas and the stucco-fronted terraces so popular in Belgravia.
Favourites include Prince Albert Road for elegant flats with views over Regent’s Park, Avenue Road for its grand mansions and Hamilton Terrace for tranquillity.
Famed for The Beatles’ album, Abbey Road Studios still pulls in many talented musicians – Paul McCartney still owns a house here. Kate Moss, Matt Lucas and Vanessa Feltz are well-known local residents.
Boutique shopping and gourmet eateries abound here, plus Lord’s Cricket Ground – home to cricket and the oldest museum in sport – and Regent’s Park, with its boating lake and the Regent’s Canal, are all on the doorstep.
There are three top prep schools in the area. The Roman Catholic St Christina’s School, predominantly for girls up to 11; Abercorn School, a mixed school for 2 to 13 year-olds; and the excellent boys-only Arnold House School. There’s also the highly popular American School in London.
St. John’s Wood Underground station is on the Jubilee line, for the City and Canary Wharf. Maida Vale station is on the Bakerloo line, with direct access to the West End.
St. John’s Wood is the only London Underground station to share no letters with the word ‘mackerel’.
What the agents say
“A fabulous place to live with all the benefits of a small village but within 20 minutes of the West End,” Niki Wallis, Plaza Estates
Eating and drinking:
Harry M’s – we’re dedicated to supporting this local eatery. We order chicken soup with everything added: lokshen, kneidlach, kreplach (a sort of kosher wonton), chicken and carrots – and extra kreplach by special request. Follow that with a salt beef sandwich on rye, new green pickled cucumber and a latke… 29-31 St. John’s Wood High Street (020 7722 1869; www.harryms.co.uk)
Richoux – the best Welsh Rarebit and a nice line in depraved cakes. Keep an ear out for the odd ‘rarebit’ of tittle-tattle. It seems to be the place for assignations! 3 Circus Road (020 7483 4001; www.richoux.co.uk)
Blenheim Coffee – perfect for an al fresco latte when you don’t want to make your own coffee. 9 Blenheim Terrace
Beatles Coffee Shop – a brilliant little cafe next to the tube station, where they blare out music and sell bits of memorabilia. St. John’s Wood Underground Station, Finchley Road (020 7586 5404; www.beatlescoffeeshop.com)
Leamy’s News – A lovely place to leaf through the papers on a lazy weekend morning… 9 Nugent Terrace (020 7286 0595)
Flower stall – Buy your flowers from the stall on the junction of Circus Road and Kingsmill Terrace. They make up a beautiful bouquet, as extravagant and fanciful as you please – funky too.
Panzer’s – a delicatessen that does delicious roast chicken, smoked salmon and lovely bagels. It’s also the place to find unusual ingredients: if you need apple purée or marrons glacés you know you’ll find them here. 13 Circus Road (020 7722 8162; www.panzers.co.uk)
Hana Lee – fabulous for a gift or a last minute pair of holiday earrings… Well, you wouldn’t want to go away without the perfect pair, would you? 77 St. John’s Wood High Street (020 7586 1233)
Norman Lloyd – the stylists do a brilliant job keeping an unnatural blonde, well… unnatural. 60 Queen’s Grove (020 7586 2865)