Holland Park is the ideal location for those wanting to escape the clamour of the city but who don’t want to travel too far from the centre. Tucked away in one of London’s most elegant districts, the park offers grassy spaces, woodland, ponds, pavilions, a games and sports area, playgrounds for children, and a cafe. Don’t miss the Kyoto Japanese Garden with its ice cream stand!
Holland Park was originally a private estate belonging to the Earl of Holland. During the 19th century the house attracted distinguished visitors from the politician Lord Palmerston to the poet Lord Byron. The former ballroom of Holland House is now the stylish Belvedere restaurant; the Orangery and Ice House host temporary exhibitions.
From Gloucester Road station take the 49 bus to High Street Kensington. From there it is about 2 minute walk. Circle Line from Gloucester Road Station to High street Kensington station. From there it is about 10 minute walk.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are in fact a single open area. They were divided in 1728, when Queen Caroline, wife of George II, took 300 acres from Hyde Park to form Kensington Gardens. The 350 acres of Hyde Park provide green spaces for horse riding, rollerblading, bowls, putting and tennis; and cricket, rounders and frisbee are enjoyed in the area to the south of the park known as the Sports Field.
Speakers’ Corner and the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain are in Hyde Park. The Serpentine, also commissioned by Queen Caroline, is well known as a lido and boating lake and as a sanctuary for waterfowl; the Lido Cafe and Serpentine Bar and Kitchen are on the water’s edge. Hyde Park has a full diary of events, including free guided walks, concerts and children’s entertainments. Kensington garden’s is at the end of Queens Gate a 5 minute walk.
Originally a hunting ground for King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, Regent’s Park as we know it was designed by John Nash in 1818 for the then Prince Regent, later King George IV. Regent Street and Carlton House Terrace are part of his design.
Its famous features include London Zoo, Queen Mary’s Gardens – the rose garden has 30,000 varieties – the open-air theatre, the bandstand, the boating lake, a mosque and a 100-acre sports field. Primrose Hill, to the north of Regent’s Park, offers magnificent views over Westminster and the City of London. From Cromwell Road take the 74 Bus to Baker Street. From there it is about a 5 minute walk. Take the Circle Line from Gloucester Road station to Baker Street.
St James's Park
St James’s Park is bounded by Buckingham Palace to the west, the Mall and St James’s Palace to the North, Horse Guards to the east, and Birdcage Walk to the south. It was founded in 1603 when James I had the area drained and landscaped as a place for exotic animals including camels, crocodiles and an elephant.
The small lake and its two islands are home to a colony of pelicans, a feature of the park since a Russian ambassador made a gift of the birds in 1664. The Blue Bridge affords views of Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the London Eye, the Shell Tower and The Shard.
From south Kensington take the 74, 14 or 414 bus to Hyde Park Corner. From there it is a 10 minute walk through Green Park.
Take the District or Circle line from Gloucester Road station to St James’s Park station.
Greenwich is famous for its associations with the Royal Navy and for the Greenwich Meridian, which is marked by a bronze strip close to the Observatory. It was first enclosed as a park under King Henry VI in 1433. King Henry VIII, Queen Mary and Elizabeth I were born in the Palace of Placentia, which stood here from 1447 until it was demolished in the seventeenth century. The Royal Naval College now stands on the site.
The Observatory is part of the National Maritime Museum. The displays include John Harrison's ground-breaking marine chronometer and exhibits of precision timekeeping for navigational and astronomical purposes. The 120-seat Peter Harrison Planetarium opened in 2007.
The park features a boating lake, cricket pitches, tennis courts, a bandstand, a herb garden, duck pond, rose garden and the secret garden behind the Observatory. Nearby in Greenwich are Make a day out of it by taking in Greenwich's other attractions the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, Queen's House, the Old Royal Naval College and Greenwich Market.
Take the District or Circle line from Gloucester Road station to Westminster & change to Jubilee line to Canary Warf. 7 minute walk to Heron Quay for Dockland light railway. Take the DLR to Cutty Sark. From there it is a 5 minute walk to Greenwich Park.