BRIEF HISTORY DURING THE SNOW ERA (1813-58)

When John Nash planned for the entrance to Regent's Park, he wanted a large circle of buildings with two halves but only was able to complete the lower half at Park Crescent.  For the upper half of the circle, he settled on Park Square which consisted of a central square with two facing terraces.  While the general layout was designed by Nash in 1812, the two terraces were constructed in 1823-5 by William Mountford Nurse.  The east terrace for a while housed the diorama.

Diorama

After Jacques Mande Daguerre, the inventor of photography, opened the first diorama in Paris in 1822, Berlin and London were soon to follow.  The diorama was a large picture that fused photography to metal and presented spectacular scenes.  The London diorama took four months to build, having been designed by Augustus Charles Pugin, and was up before the end of 1823.  The large pictures were viewed in two circular darkened rooms, each with a revolving floor.  Scenes were back- and top-lighted from windows and skylights, giving a dramatic realistic effect to the view. The opening show were immense pictures of Canterbury Cathedral, eighty feet long and forty feet high.  Others included Etna in Sicily, seen at sunrise, evening and during an eruption, and Moving Pictures of the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles, and Constantinople.   

Other shows with panoramic views followed in London, including The Colloseum in 1826 and Wyld's Globe in Leicester Square in 1851. The original Park Square diorama, was not a continued commercially success and was sold in 1848, sold again in 1849 and converted into a Baptist chapel in 1854. 

The location in the 1859 map is in the lower center of cell H12. The diorama is no longer shown, but does appear in Crutchley's earlier map of 1846 (see below). 

LOCATION IN 1859 REYNOLDS MAP

(Quarter Mile Section - H 12)

Sources

Porter R. London -- A Social History, 1998. 

Richardson J. The Annals of London, 2000.

Weinreb B, Hibbert C (eds). The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

View of Park Square with Diorama in 1829

Click here to see 30 years earlier

Close-up View of Diorama in 1829

Click here to see 30 years earlier

Site in Davies' London Map of 1834 

Click here to see more details 25 years earlier

Site in Crutchley's London Map of 1846

Click here to see more details 13 years earlier

Old Ordnance Survey Maps of 1870

Click here to see more details 11 years later

Enlarged Old Ordnance Survey Maps of 1870

Click here to see diorama details 11 years later