Mr Bell In London: Holland Park


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I love London but sometimes the noise, the people and the constant hustle and bustle gets to me and I just need to get away from it all for a few hours. One of my favourite spots to get some peace and quiet is Holland Park. It’s in the middle of one of the city’s busiest areas but once you enter those gates the noise and the chaos just melt away into the background and a feeling of calm descends on you.

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Holland Park used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion that was built by Sir Walter Cope in the early 17th century. It was later renamed Holland House after the Earl of Holland’s wife, Lady Rich inherited the property. The house was badly bomb damaged during the second World War with most of it being destroyed. In 1952 it was sold to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who created the park that we now know today.

Entering the park from Holland Park Avenue brings you to the Sun Terrace, following the path ahead you come to a pond and a statue of Henry Fox, the third Lord Holland. The statue is by G.F. Watts.

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Further on is the North Lawn and the remains of the house part of which is now a youth hostel. The house also provides a backdrop for the open air theatre in the summer famous for its opera in the park.

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Just along from here is the cafe, a nice spot to stop for a coffee, there’s outdoor seating here as well as toilets that are situated in the old stable block.

The Iris Garden is home to the circular Ice House, this was built in 1770 and is unusual for being wholly above ground. The Orangery is also in this area and next to it the Belvedere Restaurant housed in a former granary.

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The formal gardens are also in this area and are one of my favourite spots. It was here that Lady Holland grew the first dahlia’s from seed in England in 1790.

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Probably the most peaceful place in the whole park for me is the Japanese Kyoto Garden, it was only opened in 1991 but has a very tranquil feel to it with its ponds, small waterfall and winding pathways. Watch out for the roaming peacocks too.

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I know that Holland Park is probably not high on most peoples lists of things to see and do in London but if you’re looking for a break from the sightseeing or just want somewhere quiet to relax for an hour or two then I would highly recommend it as a place to recharge your batteries.

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