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.
Duck Island, and Birdcage Walk
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.
peter – “Amazing park, so beautiful. It's got one of the best views in London standing on the bridge across the lake, when you are looking at buckingham palace one way, and the horse guards skyline the other way, with the London eye peeping over the roof. And every time I go there I spot something new. I walked down the road opposite the treasury the other day and discovered the 'duck house'. Its a marvelous little cottage that is straight out of a fairytale. It is the kind of place that you can imagine snow white stumbling upon when she was out walking in the forest.”
exile – “Nice place to go in your lunch hour for a sit down underneath a tree. I’ve been to the wooden cafe a load of times and that's nice too (if a little expensive). Best place to walk is along the lake but there are so many ducks and geese they get annoying sometimes, because they are very tame and come right up to your feet pecking at crumbs, but you've got nice views up and down the lake. I’ve tried green park for lunch as well because that's only two minutes further on but there is nothing there. It's just all grass and trees and no scenery. Stick to st jamess park .”