26 April 2013

A Brief History of St James's Park

St James's Park is
the oldest Royal Park in London,
the first Royal Park to be open to the public,
and it is one of the most visited parks in Europe today
The park is surrounded by three palaces
- St. James's, Westminster, and Buckingham -
and often has beautifully landscaped borders

Originally the park was a marshy meadow
where the River Tyburn often flooded on its way to the River Thames
Pigs grazed the land with farms and woodland in the area
In the thirteenth century, a leper hospital for women opened
(and gave the park its namesake)
Like the conversion of Hyde Park,
King Henry VIII turned the land into another deer park in 1536
with a hunting lodge that later became St. James's Palace
Later, King James I brought minor changes to the park
including keeping exotic birds, camels, crocodiles, and an elephant in the park
King Charles II acquired Green Park so he could walk
from Hyde Park to St James’s Park without leaving royal soil


Then in 1827 the Prince Regent (later George IV) commissioned
John Nash to design the park in a naturalistic fashion which included
winding paths, converting the canal into a lake,
and replacing Charles II's formal, French-inspired plantings to something more fashionable

The landscape design has changed little since Nash’s time

Earlier trees were burned for fuel or
accidentally burned due to out-of-control fireworks,

therefore, many of the plane trees (in the Sycamore family)
you see today in the park were planted during the 1827 redesign

In 1837, the Ornithological Society of London gifted the park various birds
The position of bird keeper and cottage (below) remain today

And those fabulous pelicans?

In 1664, the Russian Ambassador gave pelicans as a gift for the park

Just last month the City of Prague gave the park three Great White pelicans,
increasing the pelican population to six

They can be seen feeding between 2:30p and 3:00p daily

It's reported that there once was a naughty pelican
who would fly to the London Zoo to steal fish for lunch
and then return to the park

This one looks a little suspicious

all photos by me
(an unsponsored post)


Barb said...

Interesting history and lovely green space in the middle of London. I see the daffodils are blooming.

Marta said...

I'd love to see deers. Pelicans can be fed? That sounds really exotic! Thanks for the info. I love this type of posts! Have a good weekend in the parks!

Iota said...

I used to work in a building overlooking St James' Park (next door to the big building in your first picture). I loved it. I used to wander round at lunchtimes, and it always made me feel better.

Marina PĂ©rez said...

Very interesting History and beautiful park, I would like coming back to London some day.


Cathy said...

Thank you for the lovely pictures and the great information. It has been many years since I have been in that park, so I enjoyed this post immensely. Most of all the chuckle at the end of your post as I really needed that today.

Sandra said...

I just love St. James's Park, especially at daffodil time. I love your first photo! Have a lovely weekend!

Jenny Woolf said...

Lovely pelican pics. I always think I would love to live in that little cottage. What a unique spot it is!

Wendy said...

Gorgeous! How many acres is it, just curious! Love learning and doing some arm chair traveling...

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Good question, Wendy! Wikipedia says it is 57 acres.

Hi Marta - I think the feeding is just done by the keeper - but I've never actually seen it.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

The last pelican is definitely looking fishy!

Jan said...

It's hard to imagine that this was original marshy ground. Thank you for sharing some interesting history. Jx

Kay G. said...

Oh, I love St James' Park! I have only been there just a few times in my life, but I always recognize it when it is in the background of a TV show from London. (Even if you can only see a tiny bit of the background!!)
Wonderful photos, thank you! xx

Sissym said...

St Jame's Park is so beautiful!
I really liked to know a little about the history of this park.
Thanks for sharing this information.


Jeanie said...

Close to a year to the day, Rick and I enjoyed a rainy day walk in St. James Park. It was so lovely in very early May with its beautiful birds that dazzled us. Thanks for sharing the background -- I had no idea.

Ana Isabel Navarro said...

This important park looks a beautiful place to walk. I have heard about it, but I didn´t know its history.
How many changes!
Thanks to you, I can admire, between other things, its views and its huge pelicans!
See you soon!

GretchenJoanna said...

I had a little experience with the park several years ago...it was the perfect place to rest our aching feet! Thank you for sharing more of it than I could appreciate that day.

Tina in CT said...

Just think what wonderful memories you and your family will have from your gorgeous blog after you've moved back across the pond.

Privet and Holly said...

We walked through
St. James Park as part
of our "ghost tour" in
November, so we really
missed out! No pelicans
sighted that night, only
swans : ) Love your oh-so
beautiful pics, Laura! And
thank you for the history
lesson. Always enjoy
learning more about one
of my favorite cities!

xo Suzanne