A very American square. At the heart of London's wealthy Mayfair district lies a square as synonymous with America as with the British upper class. John Adams set up the first mission here in 1785, nine years after the Declaration of Independence, and just two years after the British lost the American Revolutionary War. Later Dwight D. Eisenhower established a military headquarters during World War 2, earning the square the nickname "Eisenhower Platz". And in 1960 the US Embassy was opened, making the square the focal point of all things American in London, such as when wreathes were laid in 2001 in memory of the victims of the terror attacks.
Soon the embassy will move out of Grosvenor Square, but the memory of the American legacy will linger on for some time yet.
Watch out for the deer. I'm serious. They rule the park, and when the stags get randy or the doe gets protective of her young they might get a bit aggressive. This is their world and you are a visitor in it. It's been that way since the park was inaugurated in 1529 as a Royal Park to serve King Henry VIII as his deer hunting ground. He lived nearby in Hampton Court.
The park is vast - more than three times the size of Hyde Park and the second biggest of the Royal Parks after Richmond. It's peaceful, almost rural, with a single road passing through it, slowed in the middle by a serene Arethusa Fountain and its graceful swans. The only other things to spoil the silence are joggers and a passing school of horse riding. It's physically only a few miles from central London, but feels a million miles more.
We cut through Russel Square Gardens on the way from Euston Square to The British Museum.
If you look on Google earth there is an airplane over the garden, I was most disappointed that it was not there when we visited.
So called as the nature reserve is the same shape as a leg of mutton and is situated by the south bank of the River Thames near Chiswick Eyot. It is a former reservoir which was saved from development by the local community and it is now a hidden treasure in London with ducks and other water birds can breed. In the winter you can see widgeon, shovellers, teal and tufted duck. Trees and reeds grow by the side of the lake and access to the reserve is from Lonsdale Road or the Thames Path.
Turnham Green is in the West London Borough of Chiswick and is a small park surrounded by shops on one side and the city hall on the other. In the park you will find the beautiful Christ Church, a War Memorial, and sometimes charity events are held here.
In 1235 the village was referred to as Turneham and later as Turnehamgrene and in 1642 the Battle of Turnham Green took place during the first English civil war when Parliamentarians blocked the King's advance on London.
Now this is a beautiful part of Holland Park - The Kyoto garden. When I visited it a bridal photo session was taking place at the Kyoto garden, making my experience there even more lovely. There is no denying it, Japanes gardens are exquisite. And I am a big fan of the Japanese culture. The Kyoto garden is in the Japanese "tour garden" style. Kyoto was the capital of the country for thousand years and they are specialists in making beautiful gardens.
The Kyoto garden was designed to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1991, celebrating the centenary of The Japan Society in Britain. It is the project of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and was donated to London as a token of the long lasting friendship between the nations. It was opened in September 1991 by Prince Charles and by the Crown Prince of Japan.
The garden is fenched off in Holland Park, as there are a lot of peacocks in there - and I mean a lot, it came as a surprise to me how many they were and how nonchalant they were about the presence of people there.
The garden is so serene, it must be a haven for just sitting down and enjoying absolute beauty and to calm the mind. In the pond are a lot of koi-fish and a serene stork was standing on a rock by the waterfall the whole time I was visiting, not moving at all.
There are such lovely stone lanterns in the Kyoto garden and one big one on the lake, which I guess must be distinctive for the garden.
Highly recommended - by me ;)
I moved to the inner East End of London in 1988 and, shortly after my arrival, I was being shown round Whitechapel by a friend. On walking past this site, I asked what it was called and was told, "Oh that, that is Itchy Park, you don't want to go there". I wondered at the odd name until I looked closer and it made sense. Tha place was full of street dwellers, the vast majority of them either drunk or on drugs and a good proprtion of them seemed to be scratching themselves. My mate told me that if I tried to walk through at night I would at worst get fleas or lice and at best get my head kicked in and robbed. Not the greatest introduction to the place but it is a much changed place now.
I need to lay one myth to rest here first of all. Locals like to tell you that this place is the inspiration for the 1967 Small Faces hit song, Itchycoo Park". This is simply not the case as confirmed by the late Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott from the band who place the park in Ilford. I know the area where the band grew up and met and there is no logical reason why they would have trekked all the way to Whitechapel to go to this place, so scratch (pun absolutely intended) that one off your list.
I did, however, notice that there was a very defined outline of a church on the ground and this gives a little more idea of the origin of the place. The Church was St. Mary's also St. Mary Matfelon and at that time it's official name was St. Mary's Churchyard or St. Mary's Park. It is now renamed of which more later. so what's the history?
Well, a slight digression first, as is my way. At the end of the first Millenium and start of the second, the Christian Church was well-established in Britain and by some quirk, the Bishop of Stepney was more powerful and influential than the Bishop of London. The post is still important in the Anglican Church. Although this place stands geographically about midway between Stepney and the City, it came under the former Diocese. Originally there was a chapel of ease here known as St. Mary Matfelon which was either made of white stone or whitewashed (accounts vary) and was therefore known as the "White Chapel" which gives us our modern name for the area. The original church was the second oldest in Stepney after the wonderful St. Dunstan's. The original church was replaced and then replaced again in 1877 only to burn down in 1880 and be replaced in 1882. It is the outline of that church you see today.
This third Church was razed to the ground in the German Luftwaffe blitz of the Second World War and remained as a bombsite until 1966 when it was laid out as a public park to be promptly colonised by the vagrants as described above. In 1989, the park was renamed Altab Ali Park commemorating a Bangladeshi youth who had been killed in an attack there. This is the official name until this day which undoubtedly reflects the ethnic make-up of both the area and the local Council. This is not the only Bangladeshi influence here. the structire pictured is apparently a memorial to some dissidents who were killed in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the 1970's and known as the Shaheed Minar monument. Looking at it, it seems slightly odd to me. Seeing the red disc, I thought it was an attempt to portray a Bangladeshi flag but that is a red disc on a dark green ground, so I don't understand why the flanking structures are white. Maybe I just don't understand modern sculpture.
The park underwent a further renovation in mid to late 2012 with some landscaping done and, most significantly the old outline of the Church laid out in raised stone benches. Frankly, I preferred the old outline flush with the grass. What remains is the fountain by the entrance on White Church Lane (pictured) dated 1879. It carries the rather enigmatic inscription "erected by one unknown yet well-known". Preumably some benefactor who wished to remain anonymous.
The street dwellers have long been moved on and the place is now a pleasant place to visit. Indeed, on the occasional sunny day we get here, local office workers and students can often be seen soaking up the rays and having a packed lunch. It is a pleasant enough place and a far cry from what I remember not so long ago. Pop in if you are in the area.
Russell Square is another one of those gardens and developments in London that is famous by way of its associations. Developed in the 19th century by the same family responsible for creating Covent Gardens, Russell Square has always been connected to the city's academic and intellectual circles. It was here that T.S. Elliot spent a considerable amount of time working as an editor. Russell Square is also the seat of the Royal Mathematics Society, and it now where University College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) can be found. In more recent history, Russell Square was made famous by the 2005 bombings at the tube stop of the same name.
Grosvenor Gardens, located not far from Victoria Station in Knightsbridge, is one of London’s many, many green spaces that provides the otherwise dense city with an airy feeling. The gardens are triangular in shape and seem to be put into to suit the buildings, rather than the other way around, but they nonetheless help to inspire a bit more of relaxed feeling to an otherwise busy part of the metropolis. In the centre of the gardens you will find a statue dedicated to Maréchal Foch, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces towards the end of the First World War, and this is the only statue in London dedicated to a French person.
London certainly has no dearth of green spaces or gardens, but that does not mean that the parks and green spots are not distinguishable from one another. The Victoria Embankment Gardens were created at the same time as the Embankment, which continues to be a major thoroughfare on reclaimed land on the bank of the Thames River. The Gardens are fenced off and closed overnight, with considerable care being taken to ensure that the grounds and the flower beds are well maintained. The western part of the gardens were originally known as the Adelphi Gardens, while those to the east are known as the Temple Gardens. Throughout the Victoria Embankment Gardens are busts and statues dedicated to various great British military and naval heroes, as well as politicians and philosophers.
One of the odd things about visiting London after having lived in a Commonwealth country is that the names of major streets and landmarks are all vaguely familiar. Kensington, for example, reminds me of the cramped market place close to Toronto’s Chinatown that has accommodated every wave of immigrants since the city’s name was changed from York. Nothing could be farther from the reality of South Kensington, or Kensington Gardens, which is notable for its broad streets and verdant expanses of the park’s grasslands. Kensington Gardens, which are adjacent to the Palace of the same name, were initially part of Hyde Park, but were separated in the 18th century. They have a large pond known as the Long Water that is part of the Serpentine, and the green expanses are now dotted with pieces of art work, including one large mirrored piece by the contemporary sculptor Anish Kapoor. While the park’s popular with Londoners has waxed and waned vis-à-vis Hyde Park, today it is a well-enjoyed greenspace in the middle of the busy metropolis, benefitting from the presence of Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace and the nearby museums to reinforce its leisurely character.
People that know the Kings Cross area of London know that it is a very busy, bustling [lace with it's mainline and international rail stations, several tube stations, appalling traffic congestion and all the rest of it but a little walk form the main area will bring you to what is a lovely little oasis of peace and tranquility, the quiet only punctuated by the laughter of children playing. This place is the Calthorpe Project, a delightful urban garden space and community facility and it is not only delightful, it is an excellent example of community action against unlimited development.
In 1984 the land was earmarked for yet more development and somehow or another (I am not exactly sure of the legal process) the local residents managed to get hoold of the site and turn it, purely by volunteer labour, ito the community gardens, community centre and playing areas you have today. It is a great little spot and much patronised by local people. The community centre cafe is open on Sunday from 1200 - 1700 for light refreshments although the gardens themselves are open during daylight hours. There are allotments for open people, a performance area, basketball hoops etc. etc. There is also a small garden centre where you can buy flowers and plants grown by the volunteers here. It is also fully accessible for wheelchairs and there is an accessible toilet onsite. Admission is free.
I love this place and really do recommend you visit if you are in the area.
St. James Park is a green oasis in a busy city.
Its a very nice area, no wonder there were quite a few people here!
We were in need of a rest and found the park which happens to be the oldest Royal Park in London, and is surrounded by the Houses of Parliament, St James's Palace and Buckingham Palace.
It has quite a history, starting from the 13th century when a Leper Hospital was located here, hence this is what the Park is named after. In 1532 Henry VIII made it a deer park and built St James Palace, while Elizabeth I held pageant's and fetes of all kinds in the park.
We found a bench, of which there are plenty, sat and rested, people & Squirrel watched, then I went for a walk admiring the well kept colourful gardens. We didn't need a drink as we had our water, but if you do, you can buy a cup coffee, ice cream, snacks or freshly made sandwiches.
Now in the park, is a floral Crown, situated on the north side of the lake, just past West Island. It was made to commemorate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The crown is a floral replica of the St Edward's Crown that was used in the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation ceremony on 2 June 1953.
THE PARK IS OPEN FROM.....
9am-8pm in the summer, 10am-4pm in the winter
Duck Island Cottage -"A Swiss Chalet for a British Birdkeeper," well, that is what the sign said!
What a pretty lodge, and yes, it was situated in a good position for Bird Watching. Situated beside the lake, I imagine many water Birds would call this area home, I did see some.
Years ago, the island was encircled by canals, this is how it became known as 'Duck Island." Wouldn't you love the post the King bestowed on his friend, 'Governor of Duck Island'- a paid job with little work involved.
Later, it was developed into a water-garden, this was when William III built the first Duck Island Cottage - a 'tea house' becoming known as 'one of the most enchanting summer retreats imaginable ... a paradise in miniature.'
These days, it is used as the offices of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust in St James's Park.
London is rightly famous for its many large parks, but don’t neglect the smaller green spaces as well. One of my favourites is this triangular strip of gardens along the Thames just east of Embankment Station. The flower beds are always beautiful here, there are plenty of benches to relax on while perhaps eating a picnic lunch (and a lovely café too), a couple of pretty ponds and some fascinating old statues.
Among the latter is this classic Victorian memorial to the composer Arthur Sullivan (most famous for his partnership with W S Gilbert which produced many well-loved comic operas, and for the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers). The figure draped mournfully beneath the bust is a muse, and the inscription is taken from Gilbert’s libretto for The Yeoman of the Guard: “Is life a boon? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon.” There is also a statue to commemorate the founder of the Sunday School movement Robert Raikes, and a rather lovely small camel dedicated to the Imperial Camel Corps.
On the north side of the park is an ornate gate, known as the York Gate. This is a water gate and once provided direct access to the River Thames from just below the Strand (which as its name suggests used to run alongside the river). You can see how far the water has changed its course. Elsewhere, look out for the historic Indian bean tree planted by the Queen in 1953 to mark her accession to the throne, and the site of the memorial garden set up in the immediate aftermath of the July 2005 terrorist bomb attacks in London. A more permanent memorial was later established in Russell Square, but a plaque remains here.