Park Village East was part of a proposed canal-side village.
’s Park development incorporated an entire range of house sizes and styles. Within the Park were large villas set in their own grounds for the very rich, and imposing stucco terraced palaces for the wealthy. Outside the Park were middle class villas in Park Village and the markets and barracks, each with their working class housing, near the Cumberland Basin. It was built as a complete new town on the edge of London.
John Nash saw the romantic possibilities of the new Regent
’s Canal which was being built around the northern edge of his new Regent
’s Park. On the way to the new hay market which he was planning in Cumberland Basin, would be a secluded, peaceful valley bordering the canal. He envisaged a pretty ‘village’ on its banks, as an annexe to his noble Corinthian terraces in Regent
’s Park itself. In stucco, with tall windows leading out to wooded gardens overlooking the canal. On the edge of London, they would be the equivalent of Blaize Hamlet, which Nash had already built on the outskirts of Bristol in 1810.
There were to be two villages, East and West, separated by the Canal. Many years later, before the Second World War, a ferryman with a small stone hut on the towpath used to ferry people from one bank to the other. By then the canal was so quiet that kingfishers nested in the bank, and there can have been so little demand for the ferryman’s services.
The two villages were built over a period of about fifteen years, the earliest houses by Nash and the later ones by his stepson Pennethorne.
In the event the designs were altered from the ‘humble cottages’ first mentioned to larger, middle-class residences. More closely packed and in more orderly rows than his first layout suggested, they soon became popular.
Architectural historians have tended to be interested almost exclusively in the villas at the north end of street, those designed by Nash himself. John Summerson describes them as ‘a quaint set of variations on the styles, starting at the north with Nos. 2 and 4, castellated Tudor, going on to the broad-eaved Italian (Nos. 6 and 8), and then something with eaves of the sort usually considered Swiss, then various versions of the classical vernacular and so rapidly descending to the nondescript’.
Nos. 6 and 8 Park Village East were built in 1824, while Nos. 2 and 4, which had been planned and leased at the same date, were not built until the 1830s. Thus the latter are probably not the work of Nash, but of Pennethorne.