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Kensington Gardens was purchased by William III in 1689, as an adjunct to Kensington Palace. It covers an area of 275 acres west of the Serpentine.
The Serpentine is a man-made stretch of water that forms a boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It was created in 1730 for Queen Caroline – the wife of George II – as a place to bathe and row her boats. They joined several smaller ponds into a 28-acre lake by damming the Westbourne River.
Many events have taken place here – including a great fair in 1814, when they acted out the Battle of Trafalgar. It is also known as the place where Shelley’s first wife took her life.
The Serpentine Gallery is an old pavilion set to the south side of lake. It shows contemporary works by the likes of Damien Hirst and Tomoko Takahashi.
Kensington Gardens has a couple of attractions for kids: a bronze statue of Peter Pan covered in squirrels, and an Elfin Oak from Richmond Park – carved with painted pixies, elves and urchins.
The Peter Pan statue was erected in 1912 and commemorates the child in J M Barrie’s Little White Bird – which was set in Kensington Gardens.
The Albert Memorial was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1872. It measures 180-feet from tip to toe and the Prince himself is three-times life-size. The whole thing is gilded-gold and surrounded by 169 marble figures from history.
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