Royal Parks: A Spring In My Step
The Royal Parks were originally owned by the British Monarchy for the recreation of the royal family. They are part of the hereditary possessions of The Crown. With the introduction of the Crown Lands Act 1851 some of the parks were preserved as freely accessible open space and became public parks.
There are eight which are managed by The Royal Parks agency: Bushy, Green, Greenwich, Hyde, Kensington Gardens, Regent's, Richmond and St. James's, which total almost 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Greater London. The agency also manage Victoria Tower Gardens, Brompton Cemetery. Grosvenor Square Gardens and the gardens of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street.
I last walked this route back in January, so today was the spring version starting again in Bushy Park and ending in Greenwich. This time I've included some information on Kensington Gardens, The Regent's Park & Primrose Hill, and Grosvenor Square Gardens.
Distance: around 26 miles walking + public transport.
Kensington Gardens was originally part of Hyde Park and it was Queen Caroline, wife of George II, who, in 1728, moulded the gardens to their present form and created the Serpentine and the Long Water from the Westbourne stream. It was once a private garden but gradually opened to the public but only for the 'respectably dressed'. A series of improvements commissioned by Queen Victoria included the Italian Gardens and the Albert Memorial.
More information about the architecture and landscape of Kensington Gardens can be found on the Royal Parks website.
The Regent's Park & Primrose Hill
The Regent's Park (including Primrose Hill) covers 197 hectares and was once part of the vast chase appropriated by Henry VIII. Once known as Marylebone Park it remained a chase until 1646 when John Nash developed it into the park which we know today. The Park became the home of several organisations like the Zoological Society and the Royal Botanic Society, but it wasn't until 1835 that the public were allowed into the Park and only for two days of the week. The main development in the 20th century was the creation, in the 1930s, of Queen Mary's Gardens.
More information about the architecture and landscape of The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill can be found on the Royal Parks website.
Grosvenor Square Gardens
Grosvenor Square is a now a public garden managed by The Royal Parks but was originally a private garden with access limited to local residents who paid for its upkeep. The square and surrounding area was severely damaged during World War II with the iron railings being removed to support the war effort. It was made a public space in 1946, in 1948 the British memorial to President Roosevelt was unveiled, and in 1985 the Eagle Squadron monument. In 1994 the then Prime Minster John Major unveiled a commemorative stone to honour the 50th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy and in 2003 a memorial garden was opened in memory of all those who lost their lives in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America.
More information about Grosvenor Square can be found on the Royal Parks website.