St James’s Park is a Royal Park in the Historic Heart of London:
Much smaller in size than Hyde Park, St James’s Park’s royal associations are nevertheless just as impressive as those of its larger sister royal park, if not more. Surrounded by three palaces, Westminster (now the Houses of Parliament), St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park is certainly in the heart of London’s royal real estate.
A leper hospital for women once existed on the St. James’s Park land in the thirteenth century and it is from this hospital that the Park took its name. Deer hunting was the passion of kings and queens when Henry VIII acquired the site in 1532 for another deer park. He built St. James’s Palace as his hunting lodge. The Park was the scene of many fetes and celebrations when Elizabeth I came to the throne as she loved her pomp and pageantry.
Throughout the centuries, various monarchs have adapted St James’s Park to their own design, but the St James’s Park that we see today is very much the work of John Nash. Commissioned by King George IV, Nash transformed St James’s Park into a more romantic style in 1828.
St. James’s Park is home to The Mall, the ceremonial route to Buckingham Palace and therefore it is the setting for many ceremonial parades and national celebrations. The Park is also popular for “stroll in the park” movie scenes as well as other movies – if you remember the Bond movie “Die Another Day”, the baddie Gustav Graves parachutes over the Victoria Memorial into Buckingham Palace to collect his knighthood from the Queen.
There is a wide range of birdlife in St James’s Park and the notice board in the Park lists nearly fifty waterfowl that can be spotted in the lake. Foxes and and other night mammals exist as well, but the one little creature that you’ll see during the day is the grey squirrel. The squirrels are amusing to watch – they are not too shy to come begging for food but are very quick to dash away if you try and get too close.With its spectacular flower beds, St James’s Park is the most ornamental of the London parks. During the summer months visitors can enjoy bandstand concerts during lunchtime and in the early evening. For those who prefer a comfortable seat in the Park, there are deck chairs available for rent.
There are several refreshment points in the Park and Inn the Park is a licensed restaurant that serves snacks and meals.
The park is open from 5.00 a.m. to midnight all year round. To get here on the Tube, get on the District or Circle Line and alight at St James’s Park. It is also within easy walking distance from other tube stations like Charing Cross, Westminster and Green Park.
Map of St James’s Park: