The Howard de Walden Estate participates wholeheartedly in the life of the area and helps to nurture Marylebone’s deep-seated sense of community. Partly it is about being open, responsive and consensual—engaging with the public on a regular basis and listening carefully to their opinions. And partly it is about using its position to support worthwhile initiatives that bring broad benefits to the area. When conducting its business, the Estate attempts to minimise disruption, preserve public spaces and maintain the area’s distinctive character. It also takes pains to consult with local people prior to embarking upon any major project.
Local group support
Recognising the importance of healthy and active community institutions, the Estate works closely with the area’s residential and business associations and provides support for worthwhile local initiatives, groups and good causes. This is all designed to promote and assist specific aspects of the area’s character and to support the area as a long term landlord and steward.
—The Marylebone Retailers' Association (run by the Estate)
—Marylebone Association AGM
—West London Day Centre
—St Marylebone Society
Estate organised events
In some cases, particularly the increasingly large-scale Summer Fayre and Christmas Lights events, the Estate takes responsibility for all of the funding and organisation. For many years now, the Estate has seen these events as a means of cementing the sense of community inherent to the area, while also showcasing the very best that Marylebone has to offer.
Over the years, several charities have benefited from the generosity of the people who attend the event and the hard work of the organisers, retailers, volunteers and participants who make it possible. These have included Teenage Cancer Trust, Sparks, Rays of Sunshine, Kids Company, Scope and COSMIC.
Marylebone Summer Fayre
The Summer Fayre has been growing in scope and scale every year, and now attracts more than 25,000 people. Taking place on a Sunday in June, it sees the area around the high street closed off to traffic for the day. Stalls selling food and crafts or promoting local institutions take over the streets, creating a bustling marketplace. Paddington Street Gardens hosts an impressive programme of live music, while dancers, fitness trainers and acoustic musicians perform at other locations around the site, often encouraging participation from the gathered revellers. The area’s status as a centre for great food and drink also comes to the foreground, with visitors able to indulge in a vast array of culinary offerings from all over the world.
Marylebone Christmas Lights
Targeted mainly at families, the annual Christmas Lights event takes place on a Wednesday afternoon in November. Festivities are focussed upon a stage near the top of the high street, which presents performances from both professional musicians and local school children. Schools also participate in a competition to design a Christmas card, the winner of which is revealed at the event. At its climax, the event’s guest of honour switches on the area’s attractive Christmas lights, after which the gathered throng is left to enjoy the food, drink, entertainments and Christmas shopping opportunities laid on by local retailers.
Other events and local initiatives supported by the Estate
For other events, it uses its unique position to enable others to take the lead, offering a combination of sponsorship and logistical support. Marylebone contains a rich mix of talents, particularly in the spheres of culture, food, fashion and interiors, and the Estate is perfectly positioned to harness these talents, provide them with backing and encouragement, and then help them to find an audience.Those supported include:
—Marylebone Interiors Day
—Marylebone Village Concierge Event
—Daunt Books Festival
—Art in Marylebone
—Thompson’s Gallery Art Prize
—Regent’s Park Open Air Schools Project
Over and above this the Estate offers key financial support to specific local groups. The Estate has a particularly strong relationship with its two state funded local schools: St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School and St Marylebone School. In the past few years the Estate has provided funding for a new library at St Vincent’s School and is currently helping to fund their new rooftop playground works. St Marylebone School has recieved funding towards classroom upgrades and pupils receive scholarships annually from the Estate to help promising students attend university. The Royal Academy of Music has also benefitted from funding for support and scholarships. St Marylebone Parish Church has also been supported over the years and most recently this includes te agreed finacial support towards their fascinating Crypt Project Development which they recently received lottery funding for.
Projects to plant trees, install hanging baskets and a number of heritage-based programmes relating to the area’s historic and architectural fabric have also funded by the Estate. Specific initiatives relating to the environment currently supported by the Estate include:
—Wild West End
—Low Emmissions Neighbourhood