Address: Kensington, London W2 2UH


Time: 6.00am to dusk

Time Information:

Phone: +44 (0) 300 061 2000

700m from Paddington

50m from Queensway

Kensington Gardens was once part of Hyde Park and today they collectively form one large, continuous park, being divided by the Serpentine lake and the West Carriage Drive.

Their existence goes back to 1689 when William III and Mary II were on the throne and acquired Nottingham House on the west side of Hyde Park as their palace. They renamed it Kensington Palace and took a good proportion of Hyde Park as their palace garden. Mary set the garden out in a Dutch style and when her sister Anne took to the throne in 1702, she too developed the garden, taking an additional 30 acres from Hyde Park and adding the Orangery.

The biggest change came in 1728 when Queen Caroline, wife of George III, oversaw huge alterations as she acquired a large extra part of Hyde Park and commissioned Charles Bingham. He created the Round Pond which was surrounded with avenues of trees and after damming the River Westbourne, he created the Long Water which is part of the Serpentine. So the creation of Kensington Gardens was the work of three Queens.

The gardens opened to the public on Saturdays and became a popular and fashionable place, more so than Hyde Park as it was near the Palace. When Queen Victoria, who lived at the Palace, ascended to the throne in 1837, she moved to Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace became less important with Kensington Gardens subsequently becoming less exclusive.

The Italian Gardens were created in 1860, the Sunken Gardens in 1909 and various memorials have been built over the years. An enormous memorial to Prince Albert stands opposite the Royal Albert Hall, there are statues of John Speke, Edward Jenner and Peter Pan and the gardens have a marvellous children’s playground in memory of Princess Diana. There is also a 900 year old tree stump called the ‘Elfin Tree’ which is adorned with tiny toy figures and is situated near the playground.

The Gardens find themselves surrounded by some of the finest landmarks in central London. Kensington Palace is adjacent on the west side, Hyde Park connects to the east, whilst the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial lie to the south.

The park is open during the hours of daylight.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.