The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 11 Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

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Kensington Gardens, 275 acres in area, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, date in their present aspect from the first half of the 18th century, when they were laid out under the direction of Queen Caroline, wife of George II. The beautiful avenues of trees are a special feature. These gardens, not open to carriages, are a favourite resort of children and their nursemaids. At the north end of the Long Water is an attractive paved garden with fountains and a statue of Jenner (1815-98). A little to the north is Queen Anne's Alcove, built by Wren and originally placed near the south end of the Broad Walk (see below). On the west bank of the Long Water is a charming statue of Peter Pan, the hero of Sir J. M. Barrie's fairy play, by Sir G. Frampton, the only statue in existence of a character created by a living author. From the Albert Memorial, at the south-east corner of Kensington Gardens, a path runs north straight across the gardens to Lancaster Gate. About half-way is a bronze cast of a fine equestrian figure representing Physical Energy, by G. F. Watts; a replica forms part of the memorial to Cecil Rhodes (died 1902) at Groote Schuur, near Cape Town. Farther to the north is a red granite obelisk in memory of Speke (died 1864), the African explorer. From the north side of the Albert Memorial a path with beautiful shrubs and flower-beds leads west to the south end of the Broad Walk. The Broad Walk, 50 feet wide, runs from south to north near the west boundary of the gardens, leaving Kensington Palace on the left. On the right is St. Govor's Well. In the private gardens on the south side of the palace is a statue of William III., by H. Baucke, presented to Edward VII. in 1907 by William II. of Germany. Between the palace and the Broad Walk are a statue of Quean Victoria, by Princess Louise, and a beautiful Sunk Garden, surrounded on all sides by a pleached walk of lime-trees. On the east side of the Broad Walk, opposite the palace, is the Round Pond, really octagonal in shape, an artificial basin 7 acres in extent. In summer it presents a lively scene, with model boats of all kinds sailing on it. On the north side of the palace the limits of the original garden are marked by two red-brick pillars surmounted by vases of Portland stone. These are by Wren, as is the adjacent Orangery, built for Queen Anne in 1704, a very fine example of early 18th century brickwork. The interior of the Orangery, which is now empty, has Corinthian pillars supporting an elaborate entablature; the festoons were carved by Grinling Gibbons. On the terrace outside are some fine leaden cisterns.