Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, are one of the Royal Parks of London , lying immediately to the west of Hyde Park. It is shared between the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, lying within western central London. The park covers an area of 111 hectares (270 acres). The open spaces of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James’s Park together form an almost continuous “green lung” in the heart of London between Kensington and Westminster.
For over 100 years, the gardens were part of Hyde Park, Henry VIII’s huge deer chase. But in 1689, the new King and Queen, William and Mary, took the first step to creating a separate park. They bought Nottingham House, on the western edge of Hyde Park, renamed it Kensington Palace and made it their main home in London. Queen Mary began to create a palace garden of formal flower beds and box hedges. The style was Dutch and designed to make William, who came from Holland, feel at home.
The garden got bigger when Mary’s sister, Anne, became Queen in 1702. She took 30 acres from Hyde Park and asked her landscape designers, Henry Wise and George Loudon, to create an English-style garden. Anne also added the Orangery next the palace.
The biggest changes came in 1728 when Queen Caroline, the wife of George II, began to transform Kensington Gardens into the park we know today. She took another 300 acres from Hyde Park and employed Charles Bridgeman to produce a new design.
The land surrounding Kensington Gardens was predominantly rural and remained largely undeveloped until the Great Exhibition in 1851. Many of the original features survive along with the Palace, and now there are other public buildings such as the Albert Memorial (at the south-east corner of Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall), the Serpentine Gallery, and Speke’s monument.The park also contains the Elfin Oak, an elaborately carved 900-year-old tree stump….more