Introduction

Today the layout of St Marylebone and Paddington is so complicated and con­fused that it is difficult to see the area clearly. The old villages are buried under layer after layer of later development. We cannot excavate as an archaeologist would do. Only history can recover fragments from the past to show how the area developed.

‘During the English Revolution when Parliament was fighting King Charles 1st, AD 1641-49, the villages of Paddington, Lissing (sic) and St Marylebone, were still far outside London. Vertue's map of the London Defenses does not show them. The City of London was fiercely anti-royalist and under threat from the King's forces based at Oxford. The City ordered the construction of 18 miles of trenches, linking forts and redouts. There were forts near the southern side of Russell Square; St Giles Fort, near Tottenham Court Road, where 9,000 men, women and children went out on one day to dig trenches; further forts at Rathbone Place and Wardour Street, to defend the ridge of Oxford Street, and across to Hyde Park Corner. From there to the river defenses across the Thames at Chelsea and back along the South Bank to the City. Altogether 100,000 are said to have worked on the defenses. Shops were closed and trade suffered because of the demands for people to work on the fortifications.'

Extract by permission from ‘Camden at War: Civil War Fortifications. By R. Weinstein,
Camden History Review No. 5, 1977.

While all this was going on, St Marylebone and Paddington were left to guard themselves, in open country, well beyond the defenses of London.

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Vertue's map of the London Fortifications in 1642-3

 

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