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PARKS & GARDENS

London’s parks and gardens are the city’s ‘lungs’; precious green oases in the busy city, where Londoners and visitors alike go to relax and enjoy themselves. Each has a fascinating history and character of its own. Join me on a walk through Central London’s ‘chain’ of Royal Parks and discover what makes each of them special and unique. Starting the walk at Kensington Gardens (though the route can be reversed), I will explain how the gardens were laid out by Queen Caroline, then resident at Kensington Palace.  We’ll make our way to the famous Albert Memorial, one of London’s most ornate monuments, which was built in 1872 at a cost of £10m at today’s prices and commemorates the life of Queen Victoria’s husband. I’ll tell you about Albert’s achievements and about the many allegorical and historical statues and friezes on the monument.

We’ll then pass into Hyde Park, originally set out by Henry VII for hunting, and see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain before walking along the Serpentine, which was created by damming a river in the 1700s. While we walk I’ll recount the history of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was held in the Park. From Hyde Park, we’ll pass Apsley House, once the Duke of Wellington’s London home and I’ll tell you about his life. We’ll enter Green Park, home to several war monuments, and pass down Constitution Hill to cross in front of Buckingham Palace to arrive at St James’s Park. The oldest of the Parks, it commands stunning views of the palace and the buildings of Whitehall and its lake is home to the famous pelicans. We’ll end the walk at Horseguards where I’ll tell you about the many formal Royal and military events that take place on the Parade Ground.

This tour is a relaxing and peaceful way to see another side of the busy city. It can be a full day or a half-day, depending on the time you have available. As a half-day tour, it can be easily combined with a visit to a neighbouring attraction, for example Kensington Place, Apsley House, Buckingham Palace (in season) or Westminster Abbey – or with the Westminster walk. Please see the entries for these tours.

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