GARDENS IN LONDON (5) – KENSINGTON GARDENS

The City of Westminster, a central London borough, has 116 parks and open spaces; these include small gardens as well as larger areas of land.  Westminster is home to Kensington Gardens.

 Once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, it is one of the Royal Parks of London and sits immediately to the west of Hyde Park. The park covers an area of 111 hectares (270 acres).   West Carriage Drive (The Ring) and the Serpentine Bridge form the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The Gardens are fenced and more formal than Hyde Park.

Kensington Gardens was originally the western section of Hyde Park, which had been created by Henry VIII in 1536 to use as a hunting ground. It was separated from the remainder of Hyde Park in 1728 in order to form a landscaped garden, with fashionable features including the Round Pond, formal avenues and a sunken Dutch garden.

The Serpentine was created between 1726 and 1731. The part of the Serpentine that lies within Kensington Gardens is known as “The Long Water”. At its north-western end is an area known as “The Italian Garden” where there are four fountains and a number of classical sculptures.

Many of the original features survive along with Kensington Palace, and now there are other public buildings such as the Albert Memorial (opposite the Royal Albert Hall) and the Serpentine Gallery.

The park is the setting of J.M. Barrie‘s book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a prelude to the character’s famous adventures in Neverland. The fairies of the gardens are first described in Thomas Tickell‘s 1722 poem Kensington Gardens. Both the book and the character are honoured with the Peter Pan statue by George Frampton, located in the park.

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