St James’ Park London is the oldest of the capital’s Royal Parks. Featuring The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, St James’ Park draws in millions of Londoners and tourists every year.
Surrounded by three palaces – Westminster, St James’ and Buckingham Palace – St James’ Park has an intriguing history. Once a swampy water meadow, in the thirteenth century the area was used as a leper hospital. From 1532 Henry VIII used the park as another place for deer hunting, and built a hunting lodge which is now St James’ Palace.
Charles II dramatically changed the park in 17th century when it was redesigned, with lawns laid and avenue of trees planted. The park was opened to the public and Charles II enjoyed the park himself, apparently regularly feeding the local ducks!
During the 18th century, Horse Guards Parade was created which is still part of the park today. At the beginning of the 19th century the park was transformed by John Nash, who re-landscaped the park giving it its present form. Waterfowl birds were introduced to the park and a cottage was built for a birdkeeper – the cottage and job of birdkeeper remain today.
Today, visitors can meet the park’s famous resident pelicans. Pelicans were first introduced in 1664 as a gift from the Russian ambassador; there are now 6 in the park and visitors can enjoy their entertaining antics. They are known to sit on the benches next to visitors, and one particularly bold pelican used to fly over to London Zoo and steal their fish! Tip: see the pelicans being fed fresh fish between 2.30-3pm daily.
If you’re looking for a hotel near St James Park London, Flemings is a pleasant ten minute stroll away over Green Park and The Mall. From Flemings, turn left towards Piccadilly and straight over to Green Park. Walk straight over the park to Buckingham Palace and St James’ Park is the other side of The Mall.