> Read Craig’s review of St. James’s Park Check out my London blog for a full review, with photos and a video
St. James’s Park is arguably London’s loveliest park. It is surrounded on all four sides by famous London landmarks.
To the south you have a lovely walk from Parliament Square to the Royal Mews, and to the west of the park you have Buckingham Palace itself, with the Queen Victoria Memorial. Don’t miss the views across the lake – stand on the footbridge for the best snap of the Palace.
St. James’s Park is both the oldest and smallest of London’s royal parks, built by Henry VIII in 1536. It is built on land once owned by the St. James’s leper hospital. The burial ground (where Green Park stands today) was drained and stocked with deer.
Most of the trees were then chopped down and James I laid out some formal gardens, including a small zoo and aviary. Charles II then hired André Le Notre, designer of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, to spruce up the grounds and opened them the public in the mid 17th-century.
When Charles II died in 1685 the park fell into disrepair, and became a favourite haunt of prostitutes. John Nash was hired in 1827 to make improvements, and the result is what you see today.
St. James’s Park is famous for its birds. Duck Island is home to flamingos, pelicans, gulls, geese and ducks. You can also stroll down Birdcage Walk – named after the aviary built by James I.
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If you enjoy this then try: Green Park (you can walk it 10 mins); Hyde Park (walk it in 28 mins or catch a train from St James’s Park to Marble Arch); Kensington Gardens (catch the tube from St James’s Park to Queensway) and Regent’s Park (catch the tube from St James’s Park to Regents Park).