Discover London's Beautiful Parks
In the hustle and bustle of London life or sightseeing the capital, you might need to sit back and relax. Luckily London is full of some of the most amazing green areas you'll explore, and here's four for you to enjoy!
Green Park is the smallest of the eight Royal Parks (can you name them all?!), comprising of 40 acres of trees and grassland dating back to 1554. It may be small, but what it does have is a big personality of beautiful greenery, as expected with the name. To get there, why not hop-on our Yellow Route!
St James's Park
From London's smallest Royal Park, to its oldest, and the quintessentially picturesque St James's Park! Over 450 years ago the park was mainly farmland and woods, with the name St James's coming from the leper hospital that used to be there.
The site was acquired by Henry VIII in 1536 who created a deer park and built a hunting lodge which later became St James’s Palace. In 1603, the King, James I, drained and landscaped the park and when Charles II became King in 1660 he ordered the park to be redesigned by Frenchman André Mollet. King Charles introduced the game, Pelle Melle, from France to the courts of St James’s Park which gave its name to the present day Pall Mall and The Mall.
In the 1820s the park got a complete makeover with the canal becoming a curved lake, new winding paths and shrubberies added. Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned Buckingham House to be enlarged and The Mall turned into a grand processional route. This was the start of many of the cities best-known landmarks being created. John Nash, an architect and landscaper oversaw the designs which were completed in 1827. The park we see today is still very much as Nash designed it.
To get from one side of the park to the other you take a quick walk over The Blue Bridge. This was first designed by John Nash and replaced by a suspension Bridge in 1857 with the one we use today dating back to 1957. The views from the bridge across the river are simply stupendous, on one side you have Buckingham Palace, and other Whitehall, Horse Guards, and the London Eye. To enjoy the walk through it, join us on our Changing of the Guard Waking Tour!
With 350 acres of green space, Hyde Park is another of London's stunning Royal Parks! Back in 1536, Henry VII acquired Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey and would normally use it as a private hunting ground. However, when James I came to the throne, he limited access to it. It wasn’t until 1637 when Charles I made it open to the public that everyone could enjoy its beauty. In 1665, many London citizens camped out in the park to escape the Great Plague.
To mark many significant occasions, Hyde Park became a venue for national celebrations. Notable events included fireworks in 1814 to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Great Exhibition in 1851, and the Silver Jubilee in 1977 in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s 25 years on the throne. Since 2007, Hyde Park has hosted the spectacular Winter Wonderland theme park, which includes fairground rides, food markets, shows, and is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit!
One of main aspects of Hyde Park is the wonderful Serpentine Lake. This amazing sight was the idea of Queen Caroline, the wife of George II, and was created by damming the Westbourne Stream in 1730. It’s nearly 40 acres with many picturesque views and a cafe nearby where you can sit to see all its beauty. This splendid area was one of the first lakes to be created in England.
When the park was extensively redesigned in the 1820s, John Rennie built the bridge to connect the West Carriage Drive between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. When standing on the bridge the view is breathtaking, with Hyde Park on one side, and Kensington Gardens on the other. You can stop off to immerse yourself in all its loveliness by hopping on our Yellow Route!
If you're on our Purple Route, you might want to pay a visit to the stunningly beautiful Holland Park! The park used to be part of Holland House, a Jacobean mansion which was built between 1605 and 1608 for Sir Walter Cope. It was named after its second owner, the Earl of Holland, and during the 19th Century it became a hub for political and literary activity. Over the years the building was altered, but in 1940 it was gutted by a fire as a result of a bomb during World War 2. The houses last private owner was the 6th Earl of Ilchester, until in 1952 it was bought by the London County Council.
One of Holland Park’s distinctive and amazing features is the Japanese Garden, Kyoto Garden which has been there since 1991. The garden was installed as part of the Japan Festival in 1991 which celebrated the centenary of the Japan Society in Britain. It was built by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and presented to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea as a gift to commemorate the long-lasting friendship between Great Britain and Japan. And a walk through it puts you in a pleasant frame of mind!