As I am currently very busy I am presenting you with another guest post. This time it is about the great parks you can visit. This post was written by Kate Smedley, thanks Kate, I love it!
London is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe, with its multicultural population, vibrant nightlife, ancient and modern tourist attractions and endless shops and restaurants. It also has a more reflective side to it too. You may be surprised to learn that England’s capital city also has over 5,000 acres of parkland, many of them considered to be Royal Parks.
Royal Parks were once the property of the English monarchy and used mainly for hunting land. As the population increased and the balance of political power shifted, the parks were given to the nation granting free access for all.
If London is on the list of possible destinations for this year’s senior class trips, take some time out at one of these Royal Parks:-
St James’s Park
Backing onto Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park was originally purchased from Eton College by Henry VIII. It was transformed into a zoo full of elephants, crocodiles and even camels when James I came to the throne in 1603. During the 17th and 18th century cows ambled through the park but today it is simply home to a vast troupe of ducks and wildfowl.
Sandwiched between St James’s Park and Hyde Park, Green Park was originally used as a burial ground for deceased lepers from the nearby St James Hospital. In 1668 Charles II created a deer park, installing an ice house to provide ready made cool drinks in the summer. Composer Handel wrote Music for the Royal Fireworks especially for national celebrations held at Green Park during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was also a haunt of notorious highwaymen at the time. Today, Green Park is a typical city park ideal for picnics, joggers and sunbathing (weather permitting). A Bomber Command Memorial is also under construction, to commemorate the men of Bomber Command who lost their lives in the Second World War (over 55,000).
Consisting of nearly 500 acres, Regent’s Park is also home to London Zoo. Originally a hunting ground for Henry VIII, it was transformed into an ornamental park by designer John Nash for the Prince Regent in the early 19th century. This inviting landscape is also a sporting center with diverse sports such as Australian Rules football, Ultimate Frisbee, boating, tennis and rounders played through the summer months.
Originally another one of Henry VIII’s hunting parks, Hyde Park is the most famous Royal Park and at 350 acres, one of the largest. The royal processional road alongside Hyde Park was built in 1689 and is now intriguingly named Rotten Row. Its famous Serpentine Lake was created by Queen Caroline in the 18th century, so called due to its snake like curves. Landsbury’s Lido – part of the lake – will host the swimming part of the Olympic triathlon in this summer’s Olympic Games. The Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Fountain can also be found in Hyde Park.
Students heading to Florida for the forthcoming show America Sings! will also be inspired by this setting, legendary for its outdoor concerts. Over the years bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have entertained crowds here. Way back in 1976 rock legends Queen broke the attendance record with 150,000 fans attending a free outdoor concern (although the numbers were unofficially thought to be closer to 180,000). That’s a supersize crowd for sure!
Dating back to Roman times, Greenwich Park is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site, and home to the Royal Observatory. Surprise, surprise, Henry VIII used Greenwich Park for hunting and introduced deer here back in the 16th Century. The deer remain in the park today and budding scientists may be interested to know that the Meridian Line which divides the world into western and eastern hemispheres passes through Greenwich Observatory at zero degrees longitude.
Further afield you’ll find other Royal Parks such as Richmond Park in Surrey and Bushy Park near to Hampton Court Palace. For visitors to England’s capital city, these historically fascinating places provide space to escape, reflect and learn.
Kate Smedley looks for senior class trips that offer learning for everyone.