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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Royal Parks of London (2): Regent's Park

There are eight Royal parks in central London, five of which are central : St James, Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Regent's Park. The land had formerly been owned by the Monarchy and now, as Crown Property, are open public spaces. Every one of them is superbly kept at considerable public expense and extremely popular with tourists and Londoners alike. Each has it's own unique character.
London has over 40% of green space - one of the highest percentages in the world.  Regents Park with Primrose Hill to the north is shown in orange. The black area is London Zoo, within the the park.  The map represents an area about 35 miles across!
It was laid out in the early 1800s by the architect John Nash. He had a plan to build an arc of 56 grand classical villas around the northern Outer Circle Road. Only nine were ever completed displaying a mix of classical orders. Also in the park is Winfield House built for the Woolworth's heiress Barbara Hutton in 1936. It has the second largest private garden in London (Buckingham Palace has the largest). Since 1955 it has been the official residence of the American Ambassador to the Court of St James (that is to say, the UK).
Japanese style bridge over a water feature in Regent's Park
Queen Mary's Gardens in the centre of Regent's Park
Corinthian and Tuscan Villas in the Outer Circle.
The many alluring features of Regent's Park include it's Open Air Theatre. None of the stage or auditorium are under cover and 140,000 seats are sold during it's 18 week Summer season every year, making it one of the largest theatres in London. Currently playing is a new version of On The Town and coming up this year are a dramatised version of A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist.
The park also contains the the largest grass-covered sporting area in central London. Lots of football and cricket matches take place and, near to the US Ambassadors residence, is a baseball triangle.
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) houses London Zoo within the park. This is a zoo which one can approve of because their primary aim is research and the preservation of species and most animals live much longer within the zoo than they would in the wild. 
Many blockbuster cinema films have scenes shot within the park; the original Harry Potter, About a Boy, Withnail and I, Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason to name a few.
The Triton Fountain, Regent's Park
In the north of the park Regent's canal passes through the Zoo and the park itself presenting one of the best walks in London; Little Venice to Camden Town. And north of that lies Primrose Hill, actually separate but a part of the park. It slopes gently upwards giving a splendid view of central London.
Central London viewed from Primrose Hill
I'm listening to Kathryn Williams early cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah from her 2007 album Relations. Listen here. Her plaintive, fragile voice suits the song very well.


    Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

    Beautiful and worth every penny you pay to have something so lovely.

    bazza said...

    Arleen: The park users don't actually pay anything directly although of course it all comes out of the public purse. Like the majority of British museums, the parks are cost-free. They are certainly lovely!

    Sherry Ellis said...

    I've seen Regent Park. It is lovely!

    bazza said...

    Sherry: It sure is! And now the Rose Garden is about to burst into fabulous colours and scents.

    Botanist said...

    I love the bridge and the water. That's the kind of thing I'd have in my garden ... if I had a big enough garden :)

    Bazza said...

    Wouldn't that be great. I suppose you could fit in the bridge without the water !

    Ann ODyne said...

    Thanks for all that enlightenment esp the map.
    Primrose Hill was a favored 1960's photo location of David Bailey, I knew that but not all your other stuff. I recognise the view from there as being in the final scene of a Judi Dench film.

    Parnassus said...

    Hello Bazza, On my two visits to London I spent very little time in parks, although now I realize I was missing an important experience. I do have an excuse for the second trip; I hurt my knee the first day, and could barely move for the rest of my time there, and certainly not walk across expanses of parks.

    bazza said...

    Ann: Thanks for that new info. The Judi Dench film was 'Notes on a Scandal', didn't know - just looked it up! David Bailey was all over the place in those days so Primrose Hill seems highly likely.

    bazza said...

    Jim (Parnassus): You must come back. Six weeks is about right for London! There's plenty to see both indoors and outside.

    Hels said...

    The Japanese bridge, garden and lake seem to be mid 19th century, decades before Monet fell in love with his Japanese footbridge and lake paintings in France. The two sites are very similar in feel, but I much prefer Regent's Park's lush cover of wisteria over Monet's floating lilies.

    Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

    Hi Bazza - thanks for posting this ... I need to spend time in the Parks - not something I do - except perhaps to go underground! Stunning gardens - and yes I must have days up walking around ... I'd love to do the rose garden ... gorgeous - cheers Hilary

    bazza said...

    Hels: I would like to visit Giverny to see for myself! I do like Japanese gardens but you can't beat the good old English ones. (But I enjoyed the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne, near Melbourne too!)

    bazza said...

    Hilary: Regents Park alone could take you a very full day! I am hoping go back to the rose garden shortly as it is now at it's best.