Friday, December 08, 2006

Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens, London

 Italian Gardens Fountains in Kensington Gardens

This photo of the view of The Italian Gardens in Hyde Park, 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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The Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens are the result of nearly 200 years of activity by the kings and queens of England in Hyde Park. The Italian Gardens are on the north edge of the park, just inside Lancaster Gate, at the top of Long Water and just to the west of West Carriage Drive. At the other end of Kensington Gardens you will find the Albert Memorial and the Serpentine Gallery.

The Italian Gardens contain 4 fountains set in octagonal ponds set around one smaller central fountain, also set in an octagonal pond. At the north end there is a shelter which used to be the steam powered pump house that provided water for the Long Water. This is decorated with 3 heads above each arch, one central male face flanked by female faces. The edge of the fountain area is lined by stone urns with dolphins and yet more ideal heads, and at the south end of the Italian Gardens the water cascades down a sculpture of water nymphs by John Thomas into the Long Water.

Half way down the eastern edge of the Italian Gardens is a statue to Dr. Edward Jenner who perfected the smallpox vaccine in 1796 and provided the world with the first steps towards the eradication of this virus which had plagued humans for thousands of years. The statue used to be in Trafalgar Square.

Back in 12C Hyde Park belonged to a manor used by monks. It was seized by Henry VIII and turned into a Royal Hunting Ground around 1530. In 1637 the park was opened to the public then in the late 17C King William and Queen Mary brought Nottingham House and renamed it Kensington Palace.

We owe many of the modern features of the Kensington Gardens to Queen Caroline in the 18C who, being a keen gardener, took almost 300 acres from Hyde Park and turned them into Kensington Gardens to go with Kensington Palace. She separated it from Hyde Park by a ha-ha and created the Serpentine by damning Westbourne Stream. Queen Victoria commissioned the Italian Gardens at the same time as the Albert Memorial

There are many other famous monuments around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park including the Albert Memorial, Diana Memorial Fountain, Marble Arch, Wellington Arch and numerous other statues.

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The nearest Tube station to the Italian Gardens is Lancaster Gate.

The full panoramic image taken from the Italian Gardens can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr. You can also find a marker for the Italian Gardens on Tagzania.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Italian Gardens are in Kensington Gardens (not Hyde Park). A map from the Royal Parks is here:

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