St. James's and The Mall, London
Situated on a roughly triangular piece of land between Horse Guards Parade*, Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Birdcage Walk, St. James’s Park is the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks.
With so much pomp and pageantry associated with this area you could be forgiven for thinking that it was named after King James I or II, but it was actually named after St. James the Less leper hospital that was founded here in the 13th century.
There is a connection with James I though, because after Henry VIII had acquired this marshy piece of land in 1532 for yet another Royal hunting ground, he set about improving the drainage and water supply. Charles II took it a stage further and changed it into a parkland with lawns and avenues of trees which the general public could also use.
The park as we see it today was designed by John Nash between 1814 and 1827. He introduced the lake which attracts an amazing amount of bird life including some 15 different species of waterfowl. There’s also a large number of several different types of geese, and even a colony of pelicans which were introduced in 1664 when they were given as a gift by the Russian Ambassador. You can see them being fed daily between 2.30 and 3pm next to Duck Island Cottage.
The location of St. James’s Park is bound to attract plenty of visitors, but the park itself has much to offer as well. If you get tired of looking at the bird life you can take in the views of Whitehall from the Blue Bridge, feed the squirrels, or just relax on the lawn or park bench. London has many fine parks, but this is one of my favourites.
Horse Guards Parade
St. James's Park is my favorite park in London, it's one of the prettiest with it's lovely beds of flowers, pond and abundance of waterfowl, including some really cool black swans and pelicans, overlooking Buckingham Palace in the distance. If you happen to be at Buckingham Palace, you can walk through the park to get to the area around Westminter Abbey and Parliament. About 1/2 way through the park there is a bridge going over the pond where you can get lovely shots of Buckingham Palace one way and the London Eye the other way.
At one time a marsh, it was drained by Henry VIII to become part of his hunting ground and was later redesigned by Charles II with an aviary along the southern edge which is now Birdcage Walk.
Waterloo Place is is an elegant street leading from Lower Regent Street and then down steps and in to The Mall. A short walk between Picadilly Circus and The Mall. Waterloo Place, like Regent Street , was designed by John Nash.
At the top of Waterloo Place is a tall Tuscan pillar with the Duke of York on its plinth. It is 120 feet high and was constructed in the 1830s.
Here you will also see statues of Edard V11, the Memorial to the Crimea - the broken cannon at the back of the plinth is actual broken Russian guns from Sevastopol. There is also a statue to Lord Herbert of Lea and a very good statue of Florence Nightingale.
On the corner of St James Square and Duke of York Street is Chatham House. This was once Englands home of the Primeminister - an early sort of 10 Downing Street. The residence of our leaders for over two centuries from Chatham to Gladstone.
News of Wellingtons victory at Waterloo was brought here to the Foreign Secretary , Lord Castlereagh, who was dining here with the Prince Regent. Their meal was suddenly paused when the sound of a coach and four thundered over the cobbles of the square to bring the news. Today there is little traffic and the house is now the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
In 1984 a protest outside the Libyan Embassy in St James Square turned to tradgedy when Libyan extremists inside the building fired without warning at a group of anti Libyan protesters in the square. A police officer on duty and unarmed was shot and died an hour later of her injuries - she was PC Yvonne Fletcher who was just 25 years old.
Today 30 years on there are still fresh flowers placed on her memorial in the north east corner of the square where PC Fletcher died. The then English primeminster , Margaret Thatcher, unveiled the memorial on February 1, 1985.
This is the London residence of several minor members of the royal family and is found on The Mall close to Buckingham Palace. It was built between 1531 and 1536 in red-brick, the palace's architecture is primarily Tudor in style.
It is a working palace today and despite the monarch living in Buckingham Palace the Royal Court is still formally based here. It is also the London residence of the Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York and Princess Alexandra.
The complex also includes York House and Clarence House which is the home of the Prince of Wales.
It is also used for hosting official receptions for visiting heads of state.
Truefitt and Hill, Gentlemen's Hairdresser's and Perfumers was established in 1805, as the sign proudly announces. William Truefitt became the hairdresser to the British Royal Court and received their first royal warrant from king George III. In 1911 Truefitt merged with Edwin Hill in Old Bond Street, but moved to their present location at 71 St. James's St in 1994, and maintain a famous customers from the Royal Family, Ambassadors, MPs and visiting dignitaries. The sign above the entrance indicates that they have a Royal Warrant by appointment of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. If you look in the shop window you will see every type of razor, shaver, mugs, brushes and foam imaginable.
www.truefittandhill.co .uk will show you a selection of items available and such services as wet shave, facial and hair treatment, haircut, shampoo and manicure for £149 or a cut throat shave a mere £80.
St James's Park is a pretty royal park nestled between Birdcage Walk and the Mall. It is London's oldest royal park and is situated between Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade so you can walk through it to get from one of these landmarks to the other.
The park is home to a lake with two islands which attract lots of birdlife. Indeed, there is supposed to be a colony of pelicans in the park, but they were nowhere to be seen when I visited. Even in February during my visit, the park is kept beautifully with some very colourful flowerbeds. There is a great view of the London Eye and Horse Guards Parade visible from beside St James's Park Lake.
Ducks, Geese, Pigeons... birds... I even saw a Heron chasing a craven Seagull in a slow soar and dive. The Seagull had the Heron's chick in its beak. The chase ended when a crow, possibly thinking it might somehow share the meal, attacked the parent not the baby snatcher.
It was perhaps a throwback to earlier times in St James's Park, where less prosaic animals were kept inside its boundaries. Gone are the camels, elephants of crocodiles of King James I. Gone too are the debauched creatures of John Wilmot's ramble through the park in 1672.
"And nightly now beneath their shade
Are buggeries, rapes, and incests made.
Unto this all-sin-sheltering grove
Whores of the bulk and the alcove,
Great ladies, chambermaids, and drudges,
The ragpicker, and heiress trudges.
Carmen, divines, great lords, and tailors,
Prentices, poets, pimps, and jailers,
Footmen, fine fops do here arrive,
And here promiscuously they swive."
Today it's filled with families feeding the ducks and enjoying the algae strewn waters of the lake, stretching as it does from the political power of Downing Street to the imperial power of Buckingham Palace.
St James' Palace is one of London's oldest palaces. It is situated in Pall Mall, just north of St James's Park. Although no sovereign has resided there for almost two centuries, it has remained the official residence of the Sovereign and the most senior royal palace in the UK. For this reason it gives its name to the Royal Court . It is the ceremonial gathering place of the Accession Council, which proclaims a new sovereign.
St. James’s Palace was built by Henry VIII in the 1530s and was home to several famous sovereigns: Elizabeth I, Charles I and George I, II and III. The palace was rebuilt soon after but never recovered its former glory, and Queen Victoria formalised the move in 1837.
So, whilst Buckingham Palace remains the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, St. James’s Palace retains the formal rooms for receptions, weddings and occasions of State.
You can watch my 3 min 48 sec Video London walk part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
St James´s Park is the oldest Royal Park in London and is surrounded with beautiful buildings and palaces; Buckingham Palace, St James´s Palace and Clarence House, Westminster, the Horseguards, the Old Admiralty buildings, the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices and the Cabinet War Rooms. The Clarence House is the official residence of Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince William and Prince Harry.
History of the park: In 1531 King Henry VIII acquired the park and in 1603 King James I introduced wild animals (menagerie) to the park. In 1660 King Charles II changed the park into a Frency style park. In 1663 the Horsequards was constructed and in 1703 Buckingham house was built by the park, and has served as the Royal Residence of the Monarchs since 1837. In 1827 King George IV reconstructed the park to what it looks like today. In 1905 the Queen Victoria Memorial Garden by the palace was created.
There is a lovely lake, St James´s park lake, with fountains at the park with myriad of birds - I saw pelecans and black swans on the lake. The pelecans have been in the park since 1667 when exotic birds were brought to the park. There is a small island in the lake, Duck Island, a nature reserve for the birds at the park. There is such a cute little cottage, built in 1841, on Duck Island, which served as the home for the bird-keeper. It now houses offices.
There is a fantastic view of Whitehall from the Blue bridge. Some of the buildings there join together at this point and look like a big castle with a lot of pinnacles. It is a great photo opportunity.
There is a restaurant at the park called Inn the Park restaurant (a play on words).
The park is open daily from 5:00 until midnight.
Here is a map of St James´s Park.
The Guards Division Memorial is a monument dedicated to those British soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. It was designed by Gilbert Ledward in the 1920s and is similar to many other memorials that were erected for the fallen in WWI, at least within the Commonwealth countries. The memorial has a line of soldiers, realist sculptures that are intended to provoke reflection on the human toll of the hostilities and of warfare in general. Wreaths are often laid here in commemoration of the fallen.
Normally, birds would not elicit such a “must-see” billing. Nevertheless, birds have a special history of their own in St. James Park, one connected with royalty. While the ducks and other native birds were undoubtedly brought to the park to enhance its Englishness, the colony of Pelicans here was gifted by the Russian Ambassador in 1664 to the King of England. They remain in the park to this day, a tribute to the tradition of gifting exotic and unusual animals. The more mundane ducks that have also colonized the park have given their name to the small island amid the artificial lake, which is currently called Duck Island.
Every city needs a large green space in its core, and London seems to have these in spades. Nevertheless, St. James Park seems to occupy a special place, as it is in the heart of British pomp and power. Bounded by the Mall, Buckingham Palace, the FCO headquarters and the Ministry of Defense, among other institutions, the Park can only be seen as a spot of tranquility and calm among hordes of frantic and pressured civil servants. The Park has had royal patronage since its purchase by Henry VIII in the 16th century, although it was not always intended to be such an idyllic green spot. Under Henry VIII, it was drained and used as a place for exotic animal. This was followed by a plan to create a French-style garden with a canal, which was followed by its usage as pasture in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early 19th century, the Park took its current form, with the canal replaced by a more naturally looking lake, and landscaping that reflected more the British ideal of a pastoral setting, rather than the French, high-managed concept of royal gardens. Today, the Park is open to the public and is a popular spot for both ambling locals and curious tourists, drawn undoubtedly by its greenery and by its quaint cottage on Duck Island.
The Mall is one of those monumental stomping grounds that are so common in capitals of former Empires. While military parades may be few and largely ceremonial these days, the Mall is nevertheless still an impressive part of London, and a site that cannot fail to evoke the grandeur that once was associated with the Royal House and with the seat of government and the state. The Mall creates a large open space in central London that contrasts with the otherwise dense and frenetic core, a place in which the usual energies of the capital give way to the stately pace of tradition and formality. Bounded by Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, the Admiralty Arch and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Mall was a 20th century creation meant to keep up with the Joneses – in this case, other imperial capitals. Although it is unlikely that visitors will find the Mall packed with anything other than tourists most days of the year, it still comes alive with official events and celebrations.