In the Middle Ages this was woodland belonging to the military religious order known as the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, and the area took its name from that connection.
The land was still forest in Queen Elizabeth’s day, but in Cromwell’s time the trees were cut down to provide timber for new ship for the Royal Navy. From then on it was agricultural or pasture land. Charles II gave the land to Lord Watson and in 1732 it was bought by Henry Eyre, a City businessman. It became part of the Eyre Estate.
Thomas Lord moved his “Lord’s” cricket ground to St John’s Wood in 1811. In the early 19th century, the area was developed, as semi-detached villas for the most part, along the edges of the Regent’s Canal. It was a high-class suburb. But much of it was destroyed when the Great Central Railway was allowed to construct tracks through it in 1894. The area was in decline, especially after bombing during the Second World War destroyed many of the larger houses. But during the second half of the 20th century the area has recovered its popularity.
Hamilton Terrace is a wide tree-lined street containing some of the largest homes in the area. There are detached and semi-detached houses from the Georgian period onwards. There are mansion blocks, such as The Pavilion Apartments, on St Johns Wood Road. Grove End Road which runs north from it similarly contains mansion blocks such as Grove End Mansions, as well as large Victorian houses. Scott Ellis Gardens is a council-run estate at the southern end.
On the Lord’s side of the road there are more mansion blocks, such as Circus Lodge in Circus Road and the Eyre Court mansion block near St John’s Wood tube station. Abbey Road, running north, where the Beatles had their studio, is lined with mansion blocks and more recent flat developments. Abercorn Place running off it has more flats. There is a little village of streets off Abbey Road such as Blenheim Terrace, Carlton Terrace, Nugent Terrace, and Boundary Road with smaller Georgian and Victorian houses. There are a larger houses in Carlton Hill.
On the other side of Wellington Road (which becomes Finchley Road) Queen’s Grove contains ornate terraces with columned porticoes. Ordnance Hill houses the Royal Horse Artillery barracks, and contains Victorian stucco-faced terraces. Norfolk Road and Acacia Road contain more period terraces of stucco and brick faced houses. Further south, there are council flats in streets behind St John’s Wood High Street, such as Barrow Hill and Townshend Road. Prince Albert Road and Avenue Road contain large and prestigious mansion blocks. On the east side of Avenue Road above Primrose Hill there is a group of roads off Ellsworthy Road which contain large red brick detached houses from the Edwardian era. North of Boundary Road there are large quantities of council flats.