It took its name from the Tyburn Brook
, a tributary of the River Westbourne. The name Tyburn, from Teo Bourne meaning ’boundary stream’, is quite widely occurring. The Tyburn consisted of two arms, one of which, crossed Oxford Street
, near Stratford Place
; while the other - later called the Westbourne - followed nearly the course of the present Westbourne Terrace and the Serpentine. The Westbourne had rows of elms growing on its banks which became a place of execution. The former Elms Lane in Bayswater, preserved the memory of these fatal elms, which can be regarded as the original ’Tyburn Trees.’
should not be confused with the better known River Tyburn, which is the next tributary of the River Thames to the east of the Westbourne.
The village was one of two manors of the parish of Marylebone, which was itself named after the stream, St Marylebone being a contraction of St Mary’s church by the bourne. Tyburn was recorded in the Domesday Book and stood approximately at the west end of what is now Oxford Street
at the junction of two Roman roads. The predecessors of Oxford Street
(called Tyburn Road in the mid 1700s) and Edgware Road
were roads leading to the village, later joined by Park Lane
(originally Tyburn Lane).
In the 1230s and 1240s the village of Tyburn was held by Gilbert de Sandford, the son of John de Sandford who had been the Chamberlain of Queen Eleanor. Eleanor had been the wife of King Henry II who encouraged her sons Henry and Richard to rebel against her husband, King Henry. In 1236 the city of London contracted with Sir Gilbert to draw water from Tyburn Springs, which he held, to serve as the source of the first piped water supply for the city. The water was supplied in lead pipes that ran from where Bond Street Station stands today, one-half mile east of Hyde Park
, down to the hamlet of Charing (Charing Cross), along Fleet Street and over the Fleet Bridge, climbing Ludgate Hill (by gravitational pressure) to a public conduit at Cheapside. Water was supplied free to all comers.
Tyburn had significance from ancient times and was marked by a monument known as Oswulf’s Stone, which gave its name to the Ossulstone Hundred of Middlesex. The stone was covered over in 1851 when Marble Arch
was moved to the area, but it was shortly afterwards unearthed and propped up against the Arch. It has not been seen since 1869.
Public executions took place at Tyburn, with the prisoners processed from Newgate Prison in the City, via St Giles in the Fields and Oxford Street
. After the late 18th century, when executions were no longer carried out in public, they were carried out at Newgate Prison itself and at Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Southwark.
The first recorded execution took place - that of William Fitz Osbert, the populist leader of the poor of London - at a site next to the stream in 1196.
In 1571, the Tyburn Tree was erected at the junction of today’s Edgware Road
, Bayswater Road and Oxford Street
, near where Marble Arch
is situated today. The "Tree" or "Triple Tree" was a novel form of gallows, consisting of a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs (an arrangement known as a "three-legged mare" or "three-legged stool"). Several felons could thus be hanged at once.
The Tree stood in the middle of the roadway, providing a major landmark in west London and presenting a very obvious symbol of the law to travellers.
The site of the gallows is now marked by three young oak trees that were planted in 2014 on an island in the middle of Edgware Road
at its junction with Bayswater Road. Between the trees is a roundel with the inscription "The site of Tyburn Tree".
By the late 1700s, London’s sprawl had reached along Oxford Street
and Tyburn village lost its identity.