Between the green stretches of Hyde Park and St James Park in the city of Westminster lies Green Park, 47 acres of public strolling grounds.
It is both a lovely green space in the heart of London, and the lungs of the city too, providing fresh country air – perfect for escaping Piccadilly madness.
There are no lakes, no playgrounds, no buildings and no planted beds (so no king may gather flowers for his mistress). There are 3 memorials.
Here is a quick history of the area:
In the 17th century it was a swampy burial ground for lepers.
In 1668 the area was part of the Poulteney family estate, who then surrendered the bulk of land to King Charles II, thus becoming a Royal Park, ‘Upper St James Park.’ Charles, in his turn, enclosed the parkland with a brick wall and built an icehouse for cold summer drinks (as one does).
By the 18th century it was an isolated area, haunted by thieves and highwaymen. Horace Walpole, writer and politician, was robbed here.
In the 18th-19th centuries there were public firework displays (in 1749 Handel composed music specifically for a Green Park display) and ballooning (up, up and away) and even duelling (sword fights).
In 1820 John Nash landscaped the area and in June 1840 from Constitutional Hill, Edward Oxford made an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria.
For me, in 2017, Green Park (also a tube stop) is an excellent in-between walking route from Berkeley Square to Victoria, early in the morning when the squirrels are busy burying conkers and tourists are making their way to Buckingham Palace.
The plain trees are beginning to shred, scattering brown and yellow crinkly leaves along the pathway; there is an earthy dampness, a grey chill and a pale light filtering through the flaking canopy.
Autumn is now the season to go strolling.
Green Park offers everyone a green and pleasant land in London Town.
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