London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

A lunchtime wander: Marylebone

After a longer than intended break I now return to my lunchtime series. Previously I did Fleet Street and Chancery Lane – but now I finally have a third – Marylebone – where I have been working recently in my “other” job (as a legal secretary).

Green Marylebone

Although Marylebone is close to the Regent’s Park it may be a bit of a trek in your lunch hour to get across the Marylebone Road so in that case it’s good to go and sit in Paddington Street Gardens the only small public gardens in the area as so many of the garden squares are for residents only. Like Mount Street Gardens in Mayfair the site of Paddington Street Gardens was a burial ground up until the 1850s and it is said there are still some 80,000 bodies buried there. It is quite a shady garden so a good place to escape to in the summer. Does Cavendish Square count as Marylebone? It’s within the boundary that would define it as such. There are gardens there where you can sit and you have the added bonus of admiring the sculpture of the Duke of Cumberland made out of soap!

I can understand why garden squares such as Montagu and Bryanston are open to residents only as suspect they still contain some private homes; however I don’t understand what the case is with Manchester Square as it surely must contain mainly offices. On a couple of hot sunny days this summer people were crammed onto the tiny postage stamp bit of grass outside the Wallace Collection (one of my favourite museums) opposite the empty but off limits gardens of Manchester Square. A shame.

Cultural activity

The Wallace Collection is the obvious cultural thing to do in your lunchtime with 25 rooms full of paintings, furniture, armour and porcelain, it’s free to get into and they also have regular lunchtime talks but but there are also a couple of lesser known museums and galleries nearby.
Asia House in New Cavendish Street has an interesting programme of events and exhibitions. They also have a very good cafe which serves not only curries but also afternoon tea!
The Hellenic Centre in Paddington Street has occasional exhibitions and an ongoing programme of events including Greek lessons for absolute beginners. The exhibitions do sometimes have rather odd opening hours so it’s worth checking before you travel.

As well as being a school The Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone Road opposite St Marylebone Parish Church also has a small museum and a very good music-themed gift shop. Until 20th December a temporary exhibition Dickens and Music is on here. The RAM is also the place to go to for lunchtime recitals most of which are free. A list of upcoming recitals can be found here
During the time I worked there I was unable to find any churches in Marylebone that offered free lunchtime recitals but if I’m wrong please let me know in the comments below.
They are not free but the Wigmore Hall occasionally offers lunchtime recitals.

Lunchtime shopping

Although Marylebone High Street has lots to offer I like to visit some of the more unusual shops for example those in Chiltern Street. Amongst the various bridal wear shops you will also find an Indian musical instrument shop, a whisky shop, and a shop for people with big feet, This website shows all the shops but it’s much better to visit and see for yourself.

Baker Street nearby is home to Europe’s biggest shop selling all things to do with chess but if that hobby is a bit too sedate for you could maybe visit the spy shop in Portman Square!

Lunchtime food

Not counting Marylebone High Street or Marylebone Lane which are full of great places to eat some places I would recommend include the aforementioned Asia House and the restaurant attached to the Wallace Collection. I would also have liked to include my favourite cafe but am afraid (for the time being anyway) the Crypt and Goose is no more. The mostly vegetarian cafe lived in the crypt of St Marylebone Parish Church and the chef David Rowles produced delicious food at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately the church is suffering damp problems which need to be remedied so the cafe has had to close. I hope it does re-open at some point in the future; I miss the delicious vegetarian risottos!

I feel I have only scratched the surface with Marylebone as there is so much more to do in the area. I have purposely left out pubs and things to do in the evenings but if you would like to discover these and more why not come on my foodie themed Marylebone walk which I am next running on the afternoon of Saturday 1st December. Alternatively if you’d like to book me on a date to suit get in touch; my prices are very reasonable.

The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End. 
Details of all her bookable private walks are listed here and upcoming public walks are here.
If you would like to be kept informed of new walks being added then sign up to her newsletter here

2 Responses to A lunchtime wander: Marylebone

  • What a great post – I agree you only scratched the surface of Marylebone but you still got a lot done for one lunchtime! Cavendish Square Gardens also certainly counts has Marylebone – we've got a map of Marylebone's boundaries on our website here:

  • Thanks Alex! I now know that Cavendish Square was one of the first areas to become the Marylebone as we know it today.

    I've recently done a post on Westminster and had to stop as it was getting too long. Thanks for the link to your website – I will bookmark it!