John Nash (1752-1835)

The architect of the Regent's Park terraces. John Nash was nearly lost to English architecture, as after training as an architect under Charles Taylor, he was able to retire on being left a large fortune. Fortunately (for us in retrospect), he lost his money through unwise investments in 1792, and was forced to take up architecture again, commencing his own architectural practice in 1793. He found a great patron in George IV (then the Prince of Wales), who awarded him the design of the long terraces around Regent's Park (see the walk there).

The views from Regent's Park of the Nash terraces, in the sunlight, is a real treat. Cumberland Terrace (1827) is one of the most impressive, with its many columns and pediment filled with sculpture. It was the last in the sequence, which includes Cornwall Terrace (Decimus Burton, under Nash's supervision), Hanover Terrace (more sculpture), Chester Terrace and York Terrace. Behind, not viewable from the Park, are further streets, and beautiful crescents.

On the south side of the Park is one of the earliest Nash crescents, Park Crescent (1812), by Great Portland Street Station. From here, Portland Place runs south, wiggles at Langham Place, and then becomes Regent Street, which was also of Nash's design. The layout remains, with the satisfying sweep round to Piccadilly Circus, but only a few individual bits of Nash's original buildings survive, most notably All Souls' Langham Place, which is still the main feature looking north from Oxford Circus. At the southernmost end of his grand design of this part of London, Nash laid out St James Park, with Carlton House Terrace (1827-28) running along the Mall. Nash remains unique in London in the extent of the large-scale town planning he was able to carry out.

All Souls Langham Place, by Nash.

Nash was also responsible for a reworking of Buckingham Palace, a commission which he was still engaged upon when George IV died, and the work was taken off him and completed by Edward Blore. Blore also took away Nash's entrance to the palace forecourt, which survives as Marble Arch.

Outside London, Nash's best-known work is the rebuilding of Brighton Pavilion in Orientalist style. He built himself a mansion, East Cowes Castle, on the Isle of Wight, where he died in 1835.

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