Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary, represented now by St Marylebone Parish Church (1817); the original church was built on the bank of a small stream or "bourne", called the Tybourne or Tyburn. This stream rose further north in what is now Swiss Cottage, eventually running along what is now Marylebone Lane, which preserves its curve within the grid pattern. The church and the surrounding area later became known as St Mary at the Bourne, afterwards corrupted to Marybourne, Marybone, Mary-la-bonne (French was the language of the aristocracy at the time), and now Marylebone. The received pronunciation is 'mari-le-bn', however 'marli-bone' is commonly used. It is a common misunderstanding that the name is a corruption of Marie la Bonne (French for "Mary the good").
The manor of Tyburn is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as a possession of Barking Abbey valued at 52 shillings, with a population no greater than 50. Early in the 13th century it was held by Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford. At the end of the 15th century Thomas Hobson bought up the greater part of the manor; in 1544 his son Thomas exchanged it with Henry VIII, who enclosed the northern part of the manor as a deer park, the distant origin of Regent's Park. Tyburn manor remained with the Crown until the southern part was sold in 1611 by James I, who retained the deer park, to Edward Forest, who had held it as a fixed rental under Elizabeth I. Forest's manor of Marylebone then passed by marriage to the Austen family. The deer park, Marylebone Park Fields, was let out in small holdings for hay and dairy produce.
In 1710, John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, purchased the manor for £17,500, 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 (now Oxford St), commissioned the surveyor and builder John Prince to draw a master plan that set Cavendish Square in a rational grid system of streets.
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. Such place names in the neighbourhood as Cavendish Square and Portland Place reflect the Dukes of Portland landholdings and Georgian-era developments there. 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.
A large part of the area directly to the west was constructed by the Portman family and is known as the Portman Estate. Both estates have aristocratic antecedents and are still run by members of the aforementioned families. The Howard de Walden Estate owns, leases and manages the majority of the 92 acres (37 ha) of real estate in Marylebone which comprises the area from Marylebone High Street in the west to Robert Adam's Portland Place in the east and from Wigmore Street in the south to Marylebone Road in the north.
In the 18th century the area was known for the raffish entertainments in Marylebone Gardens, the scene of bear-baiting and prize fights by members of both sexes, and for the duelling grounds in Marylebone Fields. The Crown repurchased the northern part of the estate in 1813.
The Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone was a metropolitan borough of the County of London between 1899 and 1965, after which, with the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington and the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster it was merged into the City of Westminster.
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