Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Green Park in London

Strolling through Green Park in London

This photo of Green Park in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Green Park is the smallest of the Royal Parks in London, covering only 53 acres. It is situated just north of Buckingham Palace, linking St James Park with Hyde Park. Green Park is triangular, Hyde Park Corner forms one point from which two roads run. Constitution Hill runs along the bottom linking Hyde Park Corner (and the Wellington Arch) to the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, while Piccadilly runs north-east from here to Piccadilly Circus. Half way along Piccadilly, the park terminates (at Green Park Tube Station) and the 3rd edge of the triangle then runs south again to join up with Buckingham Palace.

Unlike the other Royal Parks, Green Park does not contain formal flower plantings, and this is why it is called Green Park. It rests on a gentle slope and is mostly grassy areas crossed by paths and peppered with trees. However, in the spring it can be covered with a broken carpet of daffodils and other seasonal blooms. A distinct avenue of trees lines the park running from Green Park Tube Station to the Palace. Buried just beneath here the River Tyburn flows on it’s way to the Thames.

The history of the park is not that great. Like much of Mayfair, the area was at one time swampy and marshy, and, in the case of pre-Green Park, used as a burial ground for lepers who died at the nearby St. James’s Hospital. In the 1500s Henry VIII enclosed the area for his own use and then Charles II laid out the main walks in 1668 making it a Royal Park. At the same time Charles built a ‘Snow House’ where guest could refresh themselves. This house has long since been demolished.

In the 1700s Green Park was often the site of fireworks, sometimes accompanied by music, and Handel wrote his Firework Music for the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle display that took place in Green Park in 1748.

Spencer House, said to be one of the most ambitious aristocratic houses built in London, still stands on the east side of the park, and is open to the public. The Spencer Family are better known now for Princess Diana, whose Diana Memorial is in neighbouring Hyde Park. There are fantastic views over Green Park from the terraces of Spencer House. Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales, is also found on this side of the Park and is also open to the public at times.

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The nearest tube station, naturally, is Green Park Tube Station on Piccadilly, next to the Ritz Hotel.

The full panoramic image taken of Green Park can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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