Royal Parks of London (History of green spaces of London)
London’s Iconic Green Spaces: The Royal Parks
Once a marshy water meadow, St. James’s Park originally took its name from a hospital for women suffering with leprosy, which was founded on the land in the 13th century. In 1533, Henry VIII demolished the building, and erected a goodly manor’ to live in. When Elizabeth I came to the throne, she indulged her love of pageantry and pomp, and several fetes were held in the park. But it was Charles II who redesigned the park with avenues of trees and lawns. He opened the park to the public and was a frequent visitor, feeding the ducks and mingling with his subjects’.
In the 18th century, one end of the canal was filled in to make Horse Guards parade ground, and in the 1820s, the park got a further makeover when architect, John Nash, redesigned it in a romantic style. He transformed the canal into a natural-looking lake and in 1837 the Ornithological Society of London presented birds to the park and erected a cottage for a birdkeeper. The park is now the setting for spectacular pageants, like Trooping the Colour’, and is surrounded by some of the country's most famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St James's Palace and Westminster.
Photograph: The palace of Whitehall was destroyed by fire in 1698 and much of the site was then built over. Today the view from St James’s Park towards the government offices of Whitehall beyond Horse Guards Parade is one of London’s most familiar sites.
Video: Kensington Gardens: one of London's Royal Parks
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