London’s Royal Parks – St James’s and Greenwich
In the preceding parts of this tetralogy of articles looking at the Royal Parks of London, the focus has moved across London covering the parks of Bushy, Richmond, Kensington, Hyde, Regent’s and Green Park. The last two green spaces up for consideration Parc Greenwich Price take us from the centre of London with St James’s Park and out towards the south east with Greenwich Park.
St James’s Park
Location: St James’s Park sits in front of Buckingham Palace, framed by the palace to the west, Green Park to the north west, Horseguards Parade to the east and Birdcage Walk to the south. It can be considered to form the eastern edge of a near contiguous green swathe across central London, flowing into Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to the west.
Character: Although compact, the park is marginally larger than its neighbour Green Park at 57 acres. It consists of semi classic formal parkland criss-crossed with paths and is dominated by a lake which splits the park in two. The Mall runs through its northern edge and effectively serves as its boundary with Green Park
Attractions: Whilst the park is surrounded by attractions such as the aforementioned Buckingham Palace, The Mall (the ceremonial route to the palace) and Horseguards Parade its does also offer a horticultural haven within its boundaries. Visitors can enjoy the flower beds of the Memorial Gardens just outside Buckingham Palace, stunning views of the palace from numerous vantage points and St James’s Park lake with its wildfowl including pelicans
History: The park was established by Henry VIII on the marshy banks of the now defunct River Tyburn, which flowed down from Hampstead through the area now known as Marylebone (after St Mary by the Bourne), to the west of what was referred to as York Place (now Whitehall), with the intention of creating gardens for a new royal palace there. Following a similar evolution to many of London’s Royal Parks, the lands were subsequently drained and landscaped under the reign of James I who, more unusually, kept exotic animals on them. They were then landscaped and formalised further by Charles II, taking influences from French Royal Gardens of he time, with linear features such as a new central canal. Early in 19th century however, the Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned John Nash to once again re-landscape the park, this time removing these linear aspects from Charles II’s plans and, in the contemporary styles of the age, introduce more organic, romantic and winding features, turning the canal into a lake for example, whilst creating The Mall as a stately approach to Buckingham Palace.
Location: Located in Greenwich, South East London, the park is surrounded on its southern edges by the open grassland space of Blackheath. To the north is the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Naval College housing the University of Greenwich, and the River Thames beyond. The park is famously situated on the Prime Meridian at 0 degrees longitude.
Character: Covering 180 acres it is a major constituent of the Maritime Greenwich world heritage site. The park itself is on split levels on a hill side which slopes down to the Thames, providing views down onto central and eastern London. Within the park can be found formal herb and rose gardens, orchards, a deer park and lakes.