The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 2 Hyde Park

Kensington Palace, Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman

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When William III. purchased Kensington Palace, the grounds covered less than thirty acres. Under the management of Wise, in Queen Anne's time, more was added, and the Orangery was built in 1705. Few people know the charms of this old building, which stands to the north of the original garden, and which future alterations may once more bring more into sight. As the taste for gardening changed from the shut-in gardens of the Dutch style to the more extended places of Wise, the garden grew in size. Again, when Bridgeman was gardener, Queen Caroline, wife of George II., wished to emulate the splendour of Versailles, and 300 acres were taken from Hyde Park to add to the Palace Garden. Bridgeman made the sunk fence which is still the division between Kensington Gardens and the Park; and with the earth which was taken out a mount was made, on which a summer-house was erected. This stood nearly opposite the present end of Rotten Row, and though it has long since ceased to exist, the gate into the Gardens is still known as the Mount Gate. Kent, who succeeded Bridgeman, continued the planting of the avenues and laying out of the Gardens, and the greater part of his work still remains. The Gardens were reduced in size when the road was made from Kensington to Bayswater, and the houses along it built about seventy years ago, and the exact size is now 274 acres. Queen Caroline would have liked to take still more of the Parks for her private use; but when she hinted as much to Walpole, and asked the cost, he voiced public opinion when he replied, "Three crowns."