Mr Bell’s Day In London’s Royal Parks


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London is filled with green open spaces which gives it a unique feel in comparison to other city’s around the world. The parks are well kept and offer a little bit of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. My walk begins in Holland Park, not a Royal Park itself but worth a mention as it’s often overlooked.

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I enter the park through the “Sun Trap” entrance off Holland Park and start meandering through the quiet leafy pathways that eventually lead me to Lord Holland’s Pond where a statue of the man himself sits.

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Holland Park was created out of the grounds of what used to be Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion that sat in secluded woodland. It was built by Sir Walter Cope in the early 17th century. When the Earl of Holland’s wife, Lady Rich inherited the property it was renamed Holland House. The house was badly damaged during World War II and was eventually given to Kensington council and became a park.

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From Lord Holland’s statue I follow the signs and make my way to the Japanese Kyoto Garden, a pretty and very peaceful space right in the heart of the park.

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Just to the south of the Kyoto Garden are the remains of Holland House and some of the formal gardens that belonged to it.

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There’s a small cafe here and it’s a great place to stop and have a coffee and watch the world go by.

Straight down is Ilchester Gate from where I left the park. Walking down through some of London’s most expensive streets eventually brings me out on to Kensington High Street, turning left I follow it along until I reach the entrance of Kensington Gardens today’s first Royal Park.

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Following the path I come to Kensington Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and previous home of Princess Diana and Queen Victoria. You can visit the palace or click here to read my post on it.

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I walk to the right of the Round Pond and head down to the beautifully over the top Albert Memorial, built by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861.

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Walking up from the Albert Memorial the first big crossroads of paths I come to has the Physical Energy Statue as it’s centre piece. The bronze of a man on horseback commemorates Sir Cecil Rhodes and was installed in 1907.

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I follow the pathway north to find the Peter Pan Statue. The statue features squirrels, rabbits, mice and fairies climbing up to Peter who stands at the top.

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At the top of the park by the Lancaster Gate entrance is the pretty Italian Garden. This 150 year old ornamental water garden is believed to have been created as a gift from Prince Albert to his beloved Queen Victoria.

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Carrying on I walk down the northern bank of the Long Water to view Henry Moore’s The Arch. This six metre high Roman travertine sculpture was presented by the artist to the nation in 1980.

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The pathway follows the Long Water from where I walk under West Carriage Drive and into Hyde Park, the second of the Royal Parks I’m visiting. Hyde Park is a large park covering 350 acres and one of London’s most popular green spots.

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My walk takes me along the banks of the Serpentine where many people were out in rowing boats and some even swimming in the Serpentine Lido across on the other side of the lake.

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In the southeast corner of the park is the Rose Garden. Opened in 1994 the garden features a grand pergola and two fountains. The Boy and Dolphin fountain by Alexander Munro dates from 1862 while the fountain of Diana the Huntress dates from 1899 and was placed in the park in 1906.

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Just up from the Rose Garden is the 18ft Statue of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War. This statue commemorates the soldier and politician, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

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I leave Hyde Park through the Apsley Gate. The classical stone gateway with its scroll topped columns was designed by Decimus Burton, made from Portland stone it was built between 1826 and 1829.

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Crossing the busy intersection at Hyde Park Corner I come to a sort of island in the middle of all the traffic, across Piccadilly is Apsley House also known as Number 1 London, the former home of the Duke of Wellington.

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In the middle of the island I’m standing on is the Wellington Arch. Originally built as an entrance to Buckingham Palace it later became a victory arch proclaiming Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon. The arch is crowned by the largest bronze sculpture in Europe depicting the Angel of Peace descending on the “Quadriga” of war.

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Crossing the road I walk into the Green Park, the third of the Royal Parks I’m visiting. As I enter the park on my left is the memorial to Bomber Command which commemorates the 55,573 who died while serving in the Bomber Command during the Second World War.

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On my right at the top of Constitution Hill are the Memorial Gates. These pillars which were inaugurated by the Queen in 2002 are dedicated to the 5 million people from the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa and the Caribbean who served or lost their lives in the two World Wars.

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I walk through the park which is just over 40 acres and made up of mature trees and grassland, it’s a tranquil place bearing in mind its position in central London.

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At the bottom of the park near Buckingham Palace is the Canada Memorial and the Canada Gate. The Canada Memorial remembers the one million Canadians who served with British forces during the two World Wars and was unveiled by the Queen in 1994.

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The Canada Gate was installed in the early years of the 20th Century as part of the memorial to Queen Victoria and as you can see form a rather grand entrance into Green Park.

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I’am now outside of Buckingham Palace and ahead of me is my final Royal Park, St James’s Park.

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St James’s Park is the oldest of the capitals Royal Parks and is at the heart of ceremonial London, it includes the areas of The Mall and Horse Guards Parade.

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Having walked a little way along The Mall I enter the park through the ornate gates and make my way straight down to the Blue Bridge.

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The Blue Bridge offers spectacular views across St James’s Park Lake to Buckingham Palace to the west and Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben and the London Eye to the east.

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At the eastern end of the St James’s Park Lake is the Tiffany Fountain, a stunning plume of water the shoots 20 foot into the air.

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The last stop on my walk is Horse Guards Parade, the ceremonial parade ground in St James’s Park. The Horse Guards Building remains the official entrance to St James’s and Buckingham Palace, it dates from the 18th century and was designed by William Kent, the then Chief Architect to George II.

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It’s here where my walk ends, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and maybe try it yourself.

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