Given the current exchange rates, now is a good time to plan a visit to London!
A ramble through St. James’s Park, the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, should be on your list of things to do while visiting the British capital. Encompassed within the heart of the city, this sprawling park is beautifully laid out and meticulously maintained. It is situated in close proximity to two royal palaces: Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace. A brief history of the park will enable you to better visualize its storied past and appreciate its continued prominence and appeal. Originally, this property was home to a leper’s hospital for women, named for James the Less (thought by some to be James, the brother of Jesus; by others to be James the son of Alphaeus, one of Jesus’ disciples). The property was later purchased by Henry VIII who erected St. James Palace and converted the swampy land into hunting grounds. During the 17th century reign of King James I, the marshland was drained and landscaped and became home to his exotic menagerie which included an elephant, crocodiles, camels, and exotic birds. Later that century, Charles II had the gardens redeveloped to resemble those he had seen at Versailles during the time of his exile in France. Today, St. James’s Park is a reflection of a modernization project carried out by John Nash in 1828 and includes a Chinese-style bridge, extensive lawns and gardens, paved walking paths, a small lake, and several monuments. There are also swans, ducks, geese, and plenty of pigeons in the park as well. (The pigeons are not shy and will land on you without batting an eye if you are eating or have food in your hands.) Ice cream vendors sell their sticky treats to the millions of tourists who descend on St. James’s Park in the summertime. Deck chairs are scattered invitingly across the green expanse from March to October but beware, fellow Americans…there is a charge for sitting in them, a fact we were unaware of until already seated and licking away on our ice cream cones. The park attendant was forgiving of our ignorance, however, and cheerfully collected £1.60 from each of us and allowed us to remain in our chairs. (That is the cost for one hour. Sadly, we did not have anywhere close to an hour to loll about in the park.) For more information on Deck Chair Pricing, click here. If you visit Buckingham Palace, be sure to stroll on over to nearby St. James’s Park!