26th April 2017

KENSINGTON GARDENS

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Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London UK

Kensington Gardens is a rather large park in central London, one of the so-called Royal Parks. In this beautiful setting are the royal Kensington Palace, the lovely Italian Gardens with their Fountains, the remarkable 19th-century Albert Memorial (pictured), Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine Gallery.

On the west Kensington Gardens is bordered by the grounds of Kensington Palace, while on the north Bayswater Road runs along it, with the area called Bayswater just behind. The districts of Kensington, South Kensington and Knightsbridge are south of it, and Hyde Park is adjacent to it on the east.

You may say that Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park form one green area, and are separated only by a winding band of roads going from Victoria Gate in the north to Alexandra Gate in the south. They share a long curved lake: the portion of the lake in Kensington Gardens is named the Long Water, and the Hyde Park portion is known as the Serpentine.

Kensington Gardens are very popular as a place of peace and quiet in the middle of bustling London. People living, working or visiting the metropolis enjoy the Gardens for sunbathing and picnics in good weather. It is also a healthy walking route to work much used by commuters. Its paths are popular with runners and joggers. Cycling is allowed on the designated path linking the Queen's Gate to West Carriage Drive, Mount Gate to the Broadwalk and the latter from Black Lion Gate to Palace Gate.

During the 17th-18th centuries, three queens in succession created the elegant landscape of Kensington Gardens: Queen Mary, her sister Queen Anne, and Queen Caroline, the wife of George II.

A (luckily) former royal hunting ground, the park, with its magnificent trees, became a fashionable spot for the promenades of the wealthy in the 1700s; its main path, the Broad Walk, was a place to see and to be seen. For most of the 18th century the park was closed to the general public, and was opened gradually on Saturdays only to the 'respectably dressed'. It was opened to everybody only in the mid-19th century.

The focus of the park in its final shape was Kensington Palace, in the western part of Kensington Gardens, and the Round Pond, created in front of the palace in 1728. Avenues of trees radiated out from the pond, each giving a different view of the palace and offering glimpses of classical-style buildings like the Queen's Temple. Today, expensive model boats are often sailed in the Round Pond, and kites fly overhead.

The park is a place for remembrance, monuments and statues. Besides the Albert Memorial, there is Speke's Monument, a statue of John Hanning Speke, the explorer who discovered the Nile, and a statue to Edward Jenner, who developed a vaccine for smallpox. An attractive feature of the Gardens is the bronze statue of Peter Pan standing on a pedestal covered with climbing rabbits, squirrels and mice.

Not far from Speke's Monument and Peter Pan statue, at the northern end of the Long Water, just inside Marlborough Gate, on the other side of Lancaster Gate underground station, are large and beautiful fountains, the Italian Fountains, often used for fashion photography shoots and movie locations, and used to film a scene of the box office success Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Nearest underground stations to Kensington Gardens Nearest tube:
Lancaster Gate and Queensway - Central Line
Bayswater - District Line
High Street Kensington - Circle and District Lines

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