Tyburnia – A History of the Paddington Estates

Tyburnia was a name used in the early 19th century for the south-eastern corner of the parish, the first part of the Paddington Estate to be built up. It was adopted presumably because ‘Tyburn’ was already well known, as a reference to the gallows at Tyburn tree. The old name of the execution site was itself misplaced since the Tyburn, teo or ‘boundary’ stream, ran much farther east, from Hampstead across Marylebone to Oxford Street. The Marylebone manor of Lisson lay west of the stream, along Edgware Road, and that of Tyburn to the east. Paddington’s Tyburnia, in the angle between Edgware and Bayswater roads, stretched westward from the former gallows to merge with Bayswater. In the 1870s the name was confined to a fashionable area, bounded on the west by Westbourne and Gloucester terraces, north of Lancaster Gate. The area described below extends westward only to Eastbourne Terrace and the southern end of Westbourne Terrace but northward to the industrial belt beyond Praed Street, as far as the canal basin. It covers Hyde Park ward and a southerly part of Church ward, as created in 1901, and also includes St. George’s burial ground.

The triangular gallows stood in the centre of the wide southern extremity of Edgware Road until the building of the Uxbridge road tollhouse in 1759. The approximate site has been marked by successive plaques: against the railings of Hyde Park, in 1909 in Edgware Road, and in 1964, after road widening, on a traffic island at the junction with Bayswater Road. The position of the later movable gallows was c. 50 yards farther north in Edgware Road and was thought in the 1870s to have been that of a house at the south-east corner of Connaught Square (formerly no. 49), although several sites close by have been suggested.

Paddington c. 1750

Burials of corpses from Tyburn were recorded from 1689 and brought profit to the minister and churchwardens of Paddington in the late 17th and the 18th century, when execution days came to be known as ‘Paddington fair’. Remains were also buried under the scaffold and unearthed when the area came to be built up. Among them were the presumed bones of Oliver Cromwell and fellow regicides, whose posthumous consignment to a pit at the gallows’ foot in 1661 probably gave rise to William Blake’s allusion to ‘mournful ever-weeping Paddington’.

In 1742 the whole area was farmland, part of the bishop of London’s Paddington Estate. At the southeastern tip lay Tyburn field of c. 16 a., bounded by other fields of the 90-a. Bell farm, whose home field lay farther north along Edgware Road. There were no buildings, the nearest being at the Harrow Road junction or at Bayswatering, although in 1746 a single structure was marked at Tyburn, perhaps connected with the gallows.

The place of execution, Tyburn, in 1750.

The earliest building between Tyburn and Bayswatering was a chapel, on part of Tyburn field which Sir Thomas Frederick sold in 1763 to the parish of St. George, Hanover Square. The chapel, with its walled burial ground behind, was set back from the Uxbridge road, leaving strips of waste to east and west. St. George’s vestry, hoping to recoup its expenses, took legal advice and granted the verge on a 99-years’ building lease to William Scott, who by 1767 had covered part of it with seven houses, known by 1772 as St. George’s Row. Eventually there were 14 houses, forming two terraces in 1790, beside a footway which was maintained by St. George’s. No. 4 St. George’s Row was from 1772 the home of the artist Paul Sandby (1725-1809), who lived next door to the marine painter Dominic Serres (1722- 93) and who entertained many distinguished men. A lying-in (later Queen Charlotte’s maternity) hospital was also in St. George’s Row before moving in 1791 to Bayswater. Some more buildings were put up along the Uxbridge road frontage and a few isolated ones along Edgware Road during the 1790s, while fields remained behind them.

The Paddington Estates c. 1830

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