St James’s Park is a 23-hectare gem in the heart of London . This iconic landscape has not only witnessed centuries of history but offers serenity amidst the city’s bustling avenues. It is one of London’s smaller parks but also one if its prettiest. Depending on the season, St. James’s Park is a riot of colours. From tulips and daffodils in the spring to lush green in the summers – there’s always something blooming.
A Bit of History: Founded in the 16th century, it is London’s oldest Royal Park. St. James’s Park was initially a marshland. King Henry VIII acquired the land for deer hunting. Over time, it transformed under various monarchs, with King Charles II reopening it to the public. Now, it stands as a testament to Britain’s history and changing aesthetics.
The Serene Lake: The park’s centrepiece, St. James’s Park Lake, is divided into two by the Blue Bridge. The western side, called the “Goring”, is a haven for waterfowl, while the “Buckingham” side adorns Buckingham Palace’s backdrop. Hire a deck chair, and you might catch pelicans being fed – a ritual dating back to a gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664!
Duck Island: This isn’t just any island. Duck Island is home to the park’s waterfowl collection. From ducks and geese to the majestic swans, it’s a birder’s paradise. Plus, the island boasts a quaint little cottage – a reminder of the park’s architectural history.
The Blue Bridge: Upon this bridge, brace yourself for panoramic views. Buckingham Palace, the Shard, and the London Eye are just a few landmarks to spot. It’s also the ideal place for a picturesque sunset – a Londoner’s favourite!
Pelicans: St James’ Park has a resident pod of 6 pelicans. These large birds are v popular with locals and tourists alike. Feeding time, which happens daily between 2:30pm and 3pm is great photo opportunity.
Although they are fed fish everyday the pelicans have also been known to eat the occasional pigeon, whole!
Bonus – Nearby Attractions: The park is flanked by three palaces, the most iconic being Buckingham Palace. The Mall, a ceremonial route, runs from Buckingham Palace towards Trafalgar Square, passing by St. James’s Park. Also, nearby is the Horse Guards Parade, another ceremonial ground.
Changing of the Guard: Just beyond the park, this ceremony at Buckingham Palace is a spectacle. An unmissable display of British pomp, precision, and vibrant pageantry.
How do I get to St James’s Park?
By London Underground (Tube):
- St. James’s Park Station: Served by the District and Circle lines. Once you exit the station, the park is a short walk away.
- Westminster Station: Served by the Jubilee, District, and Circle lines. It’s a slightly longer walk than from St. James’s Park Station but still very doable and offers the opportunity to pass by iconic sites like Westminster Abbey.
- Green Park Station: Served by the Jubilee, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines. It requires a walk through Green Park, which leads directly to St. James’s Park.
By Bus: Multiple bus routes run around St. James’s Park. Some of the closest stops are at Westminster Station, St. James’s Park Station, and on Horse Guards Road.
By Bicycle: London has a public bike-sharing scheme known as Santander Cycles. There are several docking stations around St. James’s Park where you can pick up or drop off a bike.
By Foot: St. James’s Park is centrally located, and if you’re in the Westminster or central London area, walking can be a delightful way to reach it. You’ll likely pass several iconic landmarks on your way.