One of the few examples of town planning in central London. Regent Street was planned and laid out by John Nash, the premier architect of the Regency period in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries.

Acting under the instructions of the Prince Regent Nash planned a triumphant avenue, similar to Paris' Champs Elysée, leading down from Regent's Park (where a proposed new palace was never built) in the north to Westminster Abbey in the south. Although a continuous road never quite came into being over this entire length, a walk down Regent Street today is still impressive.

Lined with elegant 6-storey houses on both sides (all of which are now shops or offices), at the north end of Regent Street is Nash's fine All Souls Church, now somewhat overshadowed by the art deco BBC building. Walking southwards along the sweeping curves of Regent Street you will pass many foreign embassies before arriving at Oxford Circus which is the junction with Oxford Street and the hub of London's mainstream shopping district.

Continuing on down Regent Street you can gain a hint of its former elegance, although today upmarket clothing stores such as Burberry's and Zara International nestle side-by-side with the Disney and Warner Brothers shops. The world-famous Hamley's (the biggest toy shop in the world) is here, as is the Café Royale (and don't even think about stopping for tea and scones unless you're wearing a suit).

Regent Street's southern end now opens out on Piccadilly Circus, although by following Haymarket and Horseguards Road you can get a feel for the direction of Nash's original plans.

One of an occasional series of descriptions of London walks & landmarks.

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