Montessori St Nicholas will make the big move to Marlborough House on Monday 23 April in what will mark a new era for the organisation.

For the next ten days, we will be counting down with a new fact each day about the move.

1 day to go: Famous residents of St John’s Wood

Due to its rural charm and close location to the City, St John’s Wood has attracted many well-known figures over the years.

Marlborough House was once owned by biologist Sir Thomas Henry Huxley who is honoured with a commemorative blue plaque on the front of the house. In recent years, the area has been the home to many high-profile names including Dragon’s Den star James Caan, radio presenter Vanessa Feltz and actors Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The area, which was once part of the Great Middlesex Forest, has also been home to royalty including Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium and the late Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, brother of the current King of the Netherlands.

Other figures include the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress designer Sarah Burton and former prime minister Sir John Major.

2 days to go: St John’s Wood library is just 10 minutes away from our new college

Marlborough House is just a 10-minute walk from St John’s Wood Library.

The library, which is close to the station, has 14 spaces  for reading and study and features a children’s library.

There is free WiFi and photocopy, printing and scanning is available to visitors. 

There are two popular monthly book clubs, including one for those interested in crime fiction.

3 days to go: Lord’s also houses the oldest sports museum in the world

Lord’s is also the home of the MCC Museum, which is the world’s oldest sports museum and contains some of the most celebrated cricket memorabilia – including The Ashes urn.

Along with the museum, Lord’s also has one of the largest collections of cricket books and publications in the world. Containing over 17,000 books, the library is open to the public by appointment.

From time to time Lord’s houses other sports. The venue has a full-length tennis court and during World War I it featured a charity baseball match between an American and Canadian team. Archery was also held at Lord’s during the 2012 London Olympics.

4 days to go: The home of cricket is in St John’s Wood 

St John’s Wood is home to the world famous, Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The cricket venue, which is fondly known as Lord’s after its founder, Thomas Lord, is just a 15-minute walk from the college. It is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the European Cricket Council.

 

5 days to go: Our new home is located just a 25-minute walk from ZSL London Zoo.

The zoo, which opened in 1828, is home to over 12,000 animals and is the world’s oldest scientific zoo.

Charles Darwin was a frequent visitor to the zoo while he was writing the Origin of Species. The famous naturalist, who was a colleague and friend of Marlborough House’s former owner Sir Thomas Henry Huxley, first visited the zoo to study the first orangutan that lived there in March 1838.

This was the first time he had seen an ape and he wrote about his experience meeting Jenny the orangutan.‘The keeper showed her an apple, but would not give it her, whereupon she threw herself on her back, kicked & cried, precisely like a naughty child. – She then looked very sulky & after two or three fits of pashion [sic], the keeper said, ‘Jenny if you will stop bawling & be a good girl, I will give you the apple.’ – She certainly understood every word of his’

Darwin made several more visits to meet Jenny and noted that she was ‘astonished beyond measure’ when she saw her reflection in a mirror.

6 days to go: The area was once part of the Great Forest of Middlesex 

St John’s Wood was once part of the Great Forest of Middlesex and inherited its name from the medieval owners, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

Architects in the early 19th century were keen to retain the rural charm of the area and so abandoned the traditional rows of terraces typical of the era in favour of grand villa style buildings and Victorian Gothic pairs.

The rural location, being just moments from the City, attracted many well-known artists and philosophers and later wealthy merchants. These groups set up shop and laid the foundations for the boutique businesses and outlets that still give the area its village feel today.

During the 1960s St John’s Wood was designated a Conservation Area. Many of the houses, including our new home the Grade II listed Marlborough House, are now protected by English Heritage.

7 days to go: St John’s Wood is home to the City of Westminster’s only local nature reserve

The City of Westminster’s only local nature reserve is located in St John’s Wood.

St John’s Wood Church Grounds, which is just a short walk from Marlborough House, is a disused graveyard which converted into a public garden in 1886.

 

The grounds are now a popular park for the public featuring flower beds, benches and a children’s playground. The grounds also feature a wildlife area where hedgehogs and butterflies flourish.

Since 2004, it has been awarded the Green Flag Award for excellent green spaces and City of Westminster has made it the borough’s only local nature reserve meaning it is an area of great important for wildlife, geology and public enjoyment without disturbing the wildlife.  

The grounds are open daily from 8.00am to dusk and are located opposite Lord’s Cricket Ground.

8 days to go – The famous Abbey Road crossing is just down the road 

Our new home is just down the road from the well-known Abbey Road crossing made famous by the Beatles.

The zebra crossing featured on the Beatles’ album, Abbey Road, and since then has become one of the most recognisable photos and tourist hotspots in London. The famous four were inspired to name their last studio album after recording at Abbey Road Studios.

Due to its popularity and place in music history, the crossing was given a Grade II Listed Building status by English Heritage meaning now it will take special permission to ever be removed. 

9 days to go – Charles Darwin was a frequent visitor 

Former Marlborough House owner Sir Thomas Huxley was a contemporary of Charles Darwin. He was affectionately known as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ for his advocacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Sir Huxley would regularly hold Royal Society meetings and lectures at the house. Darwin’s archives show that he and Sir Thomas were close friends and Darwin was a regular visitor to the house. 

Read more here.

 

10 days to go – Marlborough House was once owned by Sir Thomas Henry Huxley 

Marlborough House was built between 1850 and 1879 in the early developments of the St John’s Wood area. Research has confirmed that the building was substantially added to during the 1870s by the then owner, Sir Thomas Henry Huxley, who is commemorated with a blue plaque on the building facade.

Sir Thomas Huxley was a famous English biologist and a contemporary of Charles Darwin. He was affectionately known as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ for his advocacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The biologist moved to the house in December 1872 where he enlarged ‘a small house into something ample and comfortable’. 

Read more here.