One of the things tourists love most about London is the open spaces. Not all of them are Royal Parks, but (there are only eight of them), small green spaces are fitted in wherever possible. All of the Royal Parks are feature events throughout the year – concerts, theatre events, funfairs, etc. This is just a very brief overview of the Royal Parks:
Green Park is the smallest of the Royal Parks, backing onto Buckingham Palace Gardens, close to Mayfair. It used to be famous as a duelling site, but now is just a very peaceful area. You can walk through from Piccadilly to Victoria and take in the scenery and generally just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Greenwich Park is the oldest Royal Park and Red Deer, Fallow Deer and all manner of birdlife, all live here. Situated on a hilltop, there is a wonderful view of Docklands, on the other side of the river. The Royal Observatory, the Royal Naval College, the Queen’s House and the National Maritime Museum are all situated in the park. The Royal Observatory is home to Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian. It also houses the Harrison timepieces (John Harrison designed the first effective clock for use at sea) and the world’s largest refracting telescope.
Hyde Park is bordered by Kensington Gardens on the west and Park Lane on the east. In the sixteenth century, Henry VIII used this area to hunt deer. Queen Caroline, wife of George II had extensive renovations carried out, including the creation of the Serpentine. The Serpentine Swimming Club now holds Saturday Morning Swimming Races, whatever the weather (yes, really!). Hyde Park often houses pop concerts – earlier this year, The Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire played here.
Broad Walk is to the west and Knightsbridge and Kensington Gore are to the south of Kensington Gardens. It was originally part of Hyde Park. The Gardens are home to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground, designed for children up to age 12.
The Regent’s Park
The Regent’s Park is located north of Marylebone and is bordered by Prince Albert Road, Park Road and Albany Street. Just across the road from it on the north is Primrose Hill, another area of parkland. Regent’s Park houses the UK’s only permanent outdoor theatre, home of the New Shakespeare Company. London Zoo is at the north side of the park and is the world’s oldest scientific zoo.
Richmond Park is now a site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve, so, unsurprisingly; all manner of wildlife is found here – deer, swans, mallards, pike, and more. It’s out of central London – you can get there via the underground or river boat.
St James’ Park
Near to Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) and St James’ Palace, this park has a children’s playground and a bandstand. There is a lake with a wide variety of avian wildlife, including pelicans.
Bushy Park is north of Hampton Court Palace and again, a variety of wildlife live here. It was once the site of a Bronze Age burial ground and medieval settlements.