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.
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.
The Mall is the main road running from Buckingham Palace to Admirality Arch and on to Trafalgar Square and is approximately 1km in length. The Mall is used for the ceremonial route for State Visits and Royal Events and is decorated with flags. The Mall is closed to traffic on Sundays, Bank Holidays and State Ceremonies.
On the route there are:
St James's Park (Done a separate tip)
St James's Palace
Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace
Duke of York Monument
King George & Queen Mother's Tribute Monuments
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Horse Guards Parade
The White Cube professes to be the first new building for 40 years to be built in the posh St James area of London! It opened in 2006. It is certainly very striking ...and quite unexpected! In the middle of the Yard amongst the brick buildings is effectively an enormous, modern, white rectangular box! It contains two very large galleries and, I think, offices on the upper floors.
The White Cube Gallery is run by art collector Jay Jopling and generally has exhibitions of art by very well respected British and international artists. There are nowadays a number of White Cube Art Galleries in London, all trying to conform to the archytypal image of the modern white walled, neutral gallery. The other site, in Hoxton, is equally good but not so easy to reach.
Open 10am – 6pm. Closed Mondays.
If the exhibition in Mason's Yard doesn't take your fancy, there are more private art galleries than you can shake a stick at, in the surrounding streets. And of course not forgetting the Royal Academy in nearby Piccadilly.
St James's Park is located in the heart of London, covering an area around 23 hectares in size. The park is a lovely leafy place, with a pretty lake which is home to plenty of geese and ducks. In the middle of the lake you can see Duck Island and West Island, where the numerous species of waterfowl nest.
The park is bordered by three royal palaces - St James's Palace, Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) and the most famous of all, Buckingham Palace. Running through the park is the Mall, the street where many royal ceremonial parades are held.
There is a very nice café/restaurant in the park called Inn the Park, which is a great place for a snack or full meal. There are also some refreshment stands around the park.
From April to September deck chairs are available during daylight hours so you can relax and watch the squirrels play - but be warned, some of them are a little too friendly!
It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon when I came for a walk in St James Park. It was coming to the end of Sep and yet the weather was a warm 25 dec C. The park covers 23 hectares of land with a lake that attracts ducks & other migrating birds. Buckingham Palace and The Mall are just a short walk away
It costs nothing to enter here, and you can bring your pets provided you pick up after them. It's not nice to have to step into doggie poo. There are some refreshment stalls where you can buy food, drinks & ice cream in the park. You can rent a sun deck or lie on the grass and enjoy the day
St. James Park is the oldest Royal park and is bordered by three palaces -- Buckingham, St. James and Westminster Palace (the House of Parliament). As you can see on my pictures, even when it is wintertime and not so green, the park is pretty atmospheric, especially around sunset :-)
I didn't know there was a park in the heart of London directly across from Buckingham Palace! Why don't they ever show that on North American TV? Guess they want us to think that "Central Park" in New York City is the only real urban park in the world.
St James's Park is fantastic! We couldn't help but marvel at the beautiful landscaping, flowers, river, fountain, and the wide variety of birds and animals milling about. There's something very relaxing about stopping for a few seconds from the bustle just to watch some ducks, geese, pelicans, and swans swim around. I was astonished to see that they even had a few of our (demonic birds) Canada Geese. (Must've been given to England as a "gift" by some Canadian politician with a sense of humour.)
The land was originally a marsh. King Henry VIII had it drained in the 15th Century and made into a deer park for his hunting. In the 17th Century, Charles II had it landscaped into a garden by a French landscaper named Andre Le Notre. He also had an aviary built on the site.
There's a cafe in the park and bands give concerts twice a day on weekends during the summer. Pale office workers can be seen laying around and tanning on their lunch breaks. There are occasionally guided tours and special events in the park; check their web site for dates and times.
This is the oldest, prettiest, and most regal of the parks in London; you have to put it on your "must see" list!
The oldest Royal Park in London and surrounded by 3 palaces (Buck House, St James and Westminster).
It took its name from a leper colony established on marshy land in 14th century. 1532 saw it being 'acquired' as yet another hunting ground by Henry VIII. Royalty dabbled with the layout. opened it for public use etc, but it took the form we are more familiar with in the early part of the 19th century under John Nash.
Birds were introduced in 1837 in significant numbers and this is one of the main attractions of the park (along with its great views)
Going South at Trafalgar Square you cannot miss the Admiralty Arch. It's a three gates arch and office building adjacent to the Old Admiralty Building.
Designed by Sir Aston Webb it was constucted in 1912 at one end of the Mall.
The building was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother Queen Victoria.
On busy Piccadilly, in the heart of the West End, is this lovely church designed by Christopher Wren (he who designed many of the churches in the City of London and of course St Paul’s Cathedral). It has stood here since 1684 and is both an active parish church and a tourist attraction.
The building is considered to be one that most precisely captures Wren’s views on what a parish church should be – large enough to accommodate all who wished to worship there, but not so large that any would be unable to see or hear the preacher. As well as the overall design by Wren, the church has an altar piece, organ case and font carved by renowned wood and stone carver Grinling Gibbons. The steeple is of a slightly later date than the rest of the church, as problems during its construction led to its being removed until the tower could be made safer. The church was partially destroyed in May 1940, by a bomb which was dropped as part of the Blitz, and restored towards the end of that decade.
In 1902 this outside pulpit was erected on the north wall of the church as an offering, designed by Temple Moore and carved by L. A. Turner. It too was damaged in 1940 but restored at the same time as the rest of the north wall.
The grounds are home to the Piccadilly Market – an antiques and collectables market held every Tuesday from 10.00 – 6.00 pm, and an arts and crafts market held Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00 – 6.00 pm. There is also a peaceful garden, developed as a garden of remembrance “to commemorate the courage and fortitude of the people of London” during the Second World War, which provides a lovely spot in which to take a break from the hubbub of the surrounding streets, and a coffee shop (currently a branch of Caffe Nero which has excellent coffee).