st james's park

Facts you might not know about St James Park in London

The Blue Bridge in St. James’ Park offers a picture-perfect vantage point of Buckingham Palace, despite the fact that the park is the smallest of the royal parks. St. James’ Park is an excellent location for taking photographs.

There are several species of swans, ducks, geese, and loons in addition to four pelicans that can be found in the pond. Pelicans have been a part of St. James Park ever since the year 1664, when the Russian ambassador gave some of them away. You will be able to observe them being fed at 2.30 in the afternoon.

This park is home to a variety of bird species, including but not limited to pelicans, owls, woodpeckers, great tits, and various sparrows. During the day, the animals you will most likely come across are the countless grey squirrels, but in the evening, you may also come across various species of mice, foxes, and bats.

There are two tiny islands in the pond; one of them is called Duck Island, and the other is called West Island. Henry VIII made the purchase of the land that would later become St. James Park shortly after his marriage to Anne Boleyn. At the time, the land was a marshy area through which the River Tyburn ran.

Henry VIII spent his youth at Eltham Palace in Greenwich where there was a park full of deer for his favorite pastime: hunting. Once he became king and had to move to central London he bought this swampy land where there was a hospital for leprous women. He had all the patients thrown out and created a park for deer, a pond for swimming, a vegetable garden and a garden to relax.

James I decided to reclaim the area and put exotic animals there including giraffes, crocodiles, camels and elephants. However, the name St James does not come from the monarch (who was never made a saint) but from the hospital for leprosy women that used to be here.

Charles I, son of James I did not do much in the park but before being beheaded he took a walk in the park covered by a black cloak.

The Birdcage Walk has this name because of the many bird cages, many of which were exotic, placed by Charles II . He also opened  St James’ Park to the public . While in exile in France, he was very impressed with Versailles. On his return to England, he tried to do something similar in the ground of Henry VIII park was by then completely neglected. Instead, he wanted the deer park and a beautiful garden full of flower beds like that of the French royal palaces. The French gardener André Le Nôtre convinced the king not to change the landscape, as the natural simplicity of this park was perhaps even better than the manicured flower beds. But they finally decided to compromise. An 800-meter-long canal was excavated for the entire length of the park.

 

The canal was to be the central point of the park and all the avenues would start from here even if it never reached the complexity of the French gardens.  In those days the canal often froze in winter and could be used for skating. Henry VIII’s pond was left and for years it became a place of suicide for women who were disappointed in love or betrayed.

The small lake or Rosamond’s Pond was then covered in the late 1700s by the well-known Capability Brown who tried to improve the park. In fact, from 1750 onwards the park became a den of criminals and prostitutes.

To celebrate Napoleon’s defeat, the royal family held a great party in which all the royals of Europe participated. A pagoda very similar to that of Kew Gardens was built for the festival but built on a bridge built by John Nash.

During the celebrations with fireworks, the pagoda caught fire and collapsed into the canal. Two spectators died.

Most of the trees you see now are no older than 1827 when the park was modernized, previously the trees were normally cut for lumber and on several occasions fireworks in the park burned several trees. Most of the trees in the park are plane trees, there are also oak and mulberry trees that date back to the time when James I tried to bring the silk industry to London.

Two major changes took place in the park over the course of 10 years, one was when the canal was transformed into the present pond around 1820. In fact, a long and straight channel was not considered very aesthetically beautiful.

The second was in 1911 when the Queen Victoria Memorial was built in front of Buckingham Palace on land that belonged to the park and was part of the pond.

St James’ Park is part of the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk and for those wishing to complete the walk, you can find the map here. The park is open from 5 am to midnight every day of the year. It is visited by over 5 million people every year. 

 344 total views,  8 views today

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top