Address: London SW1A 2BJ

Website

Time: 5.00am to midnight

Time Information: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st-jamess-park/about-st-jamess-park

Phone: 0300 061 2350

500m from Charing Cross

150m from St James's Park

Possibly the most beautiful park in London and certainly the one with the best setting, St James’s finds itself surrounded by three palaces – Buckingham Palace to the west, St James’s to the north and Westminster (Houses of Parliament) to the south. Other perimeter landmarks are Horse Guards Parade, which is part of the park, The Mall, Birdcage Walk and Admiralty House. The park is the oldest Royal Park in London.

Up until the 13th century, the area was marshland and the leper colony of St James was founded – hence the current name. In 1532 Henry VIII bought the land as a deer park and built St James’s Palace. Elizabeth I held many events at the Park and her successor James I renovated in places, but the most dramatic park changes were made by Charles II who laid out lawns and avenues of trees and opened it to the public.

Following widespread landscaping, the park was opened to the public. It was transformed again by architect John Nash with the canal being turned into a wildlife lake and one part of it being filled in and used as part of Horse Guards Parade. There is a central bridge over the lake.

Under the monarchy of James I, the park was home to a multitude of exotic animals including crocodiles, camels and an elephant. In 1837 the London Ornithological Society presented birds and provided a birdkeeper, for whom they built a cottage – the position still stands, as does the cottage.

There are two islands in the lake, West Island and Duck Island, the latter being home to flamingos, pelicans, ducks, and geese with the pelicans originating from a gift from the Russian ambassador in 1664.

The Mall is to the north, Birdcage Walk to the south and the Park includes the Artillery Memorial, Guards Memorial and Inn the Park restaurant.

For tourists, this one of the best London sites as so many places of interest are within walking distance.

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.