The Royal Parks of London are some of the hottest tourist attractions in the city. They were originally owned by the monarchy and used as hunting grounds for the Royal Family; however, since the mid 1800s – due to the increasing urbanisation of London – many of them have been preserved as free open spaces for the public. They currently cover more than 2,000 hectares of space in the Greater London area.
Today there are eight parks in total, five of which hold a place in the list of the largest open green spaces in Central London. London’s Royal Parks Agency also controls various other landmarks of historical and cultural significance, such as Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens and the Downing Street estates.
Regent’s Park is a phenomenal 166 hectares, making it the largest park in Central London. It’s located in the northwest of the City and houses London Zoo. The lake is particularly beautiful, especially when the early morning autumn mist starts to rise.
Greenwich Park is only 19 hectares, but offers fantastic views of the Isle of Dogs and is home to a number of attractions such as the Royal Observatory, Old Royal Naval College and the Maritime Museum.
Green Park is 19 hectares and located between Hyde Park and St. James’ Park. Unlike the other Royal Parks of London, Green Park is almost completely natural, containing very few man-made structures and a great many mature trees.
At 142 hectares, Hyde Park is the second largest Royal Park in Central London and hosts plenty of events throughout the year, including some of the biggest rock concerts in the world. Designated as an open air public debate area, Speakers’ Corner is one of the most famous spots in Hyde Park and is located in the northeast corner.
Richmond Park is the largest park in the Greater London area and contains over 955 hectares of land. Located in Richmond – on the outskirts of the city – and home to over 600 deer, 30 ponds, and a wide array of botanical gardens, it’s one of the most picturesque places in the London boroughs.
The Kensington Gardens are 111 hectares and located directly adjacent to Hyde Park – between the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It’s generally considered to be the western area of Hyde Park and is home to various landmarks including: G. F. Watts’ Physical Energy monument, the Serpentine Bridge and the Albert Memorial.
St. James’ Park
Adjoining Buckingham Palace and The Mall, St. James’ Park is a charming 23 hectare park containing a lake and two small islands – West Island and Duck Island. St. James’ Park offers many striking views of the city, including a stunning skyline image of The Shard, the London Eye and the Shell Tower standing together behind the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
What sets Bushy Park apart from the others is that it was created for royal sports. This 445 hectare piece of land now houses the Teddington Rugby Club, Teddington Hockey Club, various cricket clubs, several boating ponds, a fishing club and a horse riding club. In addition, it contains a wide array of British wildlife including substantial populations of red deer and fallow deer.
One of the many benefits of visiting the Royal Parks of London is that they’re all completely free to the public, making them perfect for a budget day out in the city or if you’re simply looking for something a little more peaceful.
Want a completely different outlook? Consider booking a trip on the London Helicopter so you can view the Royal Parks of London from above.
Image Credit:Jonathan Pagel
Image Caption: View of the Isle of Dogs from Greenwich Park.