The history of Marylebone street names

I’ve lived in Marylebone for 25 years, and have long been aware that much of the eastern part of the parish was developed by Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford. My wife and I like to go hiking, and we’ve been lucky enough to walk in some of the more beautiful parts of Great Britain. However, until last weekend I must confess that I’d overlooked the attractions of Dorset. Aside from the number of very charming towns and villages, and the stunning coastal scenery, I was also struck by the number of Dorset place names which had given themselves to Marylebone streets (Dorset Square being the most obvious, but also Weymouth Street and Portland Place). We also recently listed this scarce and fascinating map of the parish of Marylebone in 1833; a number of subsequent street name changes are noted at this link. All of which got me to researching the connection between Marylebone and Dorset, and Marylebone street names in general:

The story goes like this: In 1710, John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, purchased the manor of Marylebone, and his daughter and heir, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, by her marriage to Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, passed it into the family of the Earl of Oxford, one of whose titles was Lord Harley of Wigmore. She and the earl, realising the need for fashionable housing north of the Oxford Road, commissioned the surveyor and builder John Prince to draw a master plan that set Cavendish Square in a rational grid system of streets.

The above brief history alone accounts for the naming of many of Marylebone’s main thoroughfares, including Harley Street, Cavendish Square, New Cavendish Street, Wigmore Street, Holles Street, and Oxford Street. I’d always assumed that Oxford Street was so named because it was part of the road from London to Oxford. In fact, it was previously known variously as the Tyburn Road (Tyburn, the site of the Tyburn Tree, where criminals were executed by hanging, is close to the current location of Marble Arch) and the Uxbridge Road, but changed its name after it was purchased and developed by the Earl of Oxford. Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles had inherited the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire from her father, accounting for the naming of Wimpole Street.

Returning to the story: the Harley heiress Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley married William, 2nd Duke of Portland, and took the property, including Marylebone High Street, into the Bentinck family (accounting for Bentinck Street). In 1879 the fifth Duke died without issue and the estate passed through the female line to his sister, Lucy Joan Bentinck, widow of the 6th Baron Howard de Walden, in whose family the freehold of much of Marylebone rests to this day (accounting of course for De Walden Street).

The Dorset connection comes via Lady Harley’s marriage to the Duke of Portland (hence Portland Place), who had landholdings in a number of counties. The family seats were Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire (hence Welbeck Street) and Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire (hence Bolsover Street).

Unconnected to the above family history, formerly named both Charlotte Street and Duke Street, Hallam Street was renamed in the early 1900s after Henry Hallam (1777–1859), a noted historian who had been a local resident, and his son Arthur Henry Hallam (1811–1833), poet and the subject of Tennyson’s elegy In Memoriam.