on April 10, 2002
Green Park is one of my favourites – the smallest of London’s Royal Parks is a relaxing expanse of greenery right in the centre of London. It's just to the east of Westminster and Buckingham Palace, and therefore not far from either Hyde Park or St. James'. In medieval times this area, like many low-lying places near the Thames, was a marshy wasteland, used for the burial of people who’d died of infectious diseases. Once the river walls were built up, the land was drained. The park’s another of Henry VIII's acquisitions - when he was dissolving the Catholic church's property he came by quite a lot of land in the centre of London, and made a lot of it into Royal hunting grounds, (now Royal Parks, open to the public).
Unlike Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens and St. James’ park, Green Park doesn’t have a pond or a lake, so there are no ducks to feed or model boats to sail here. If you look closely at the lie of the land, you can see the remains of the river valley belonging to one of London’s long-vanished rivers, the Tyburn. Instead it’s a haven of pedestrian paths, lined with mature trees of different varieties (one path near the west side has a mixture of black and silver birch trees, particularly lovely when they are in leaf in the summer and there is a gorgeous dappled pattern of sunlight coming through the canopy). Along some of the paths flowers are planted – there are lots of daffodils here which may it a bright and pleasant place in the spring. One of the reasons I like this park is that it’s quieter than many of the main green areas – there are fewer children and noisy ducks running around, so if what you fancy is some peace and quiet, this is the place for you to come and chill out.
The main gates into the park are called the Canada Gates – so-called because that country made a gift of them to London in 1911, and this is where they were placed. They are very large and ornate, with tall stone pillars framing the wrought iron black and gold centrepiece – and impressive sight and wide enough to allow a fleet of buses through!
If you are coming to the park, the nearest tube station is Green Park tube (Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines). Hyde Park Corner, St James Park and Westminster tubes are also within walking distance.
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