The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 6 St James's Park

The Mall

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The Mall, the spacious avenue, lined with rows of young trees, that skirts St. James's Park on the north is so called from having been used in Charles II.'s time for the game of 'pail-mail.' An idea of this game, which seems to have distantly resembled both croquet and golf and required considerable space, may perhaps be gleaned from an inspection of the implements used in playing it, to be seen at the London Museum and at the British Museum. The Mall was afterwards a fashionable promenade. Overlooking it, on the right, are the aristocratic mansions of Carlton House Terrace, interrupted by the Waterloo or Duke of York's Steps, ascending to the York Column and Waterloo Place. On the opposite (left) side are two military memorials: one, by Adrian Jones (1903), to the Royal Marines who fell in China and South Africa in 1899-1900, and one, by W. R. Colton (1910), to the men of the Royal Artillery who perished in South Africa. Beyond Carlton House Terrace stretch the gardens of Marlborough House and St. James's Palace; glimpses of both houses may be obtained when the foliage permits. The visitor is advised to quit the Mall just beyond Marlborough House and to walk across St. James's Park, crossing the lake by the suspension-bridge, for the sake of the characteristic views in front of him. He will then resume his westward course via BIRDCAGE WALK, which skirts St. James's Park on the south side. The name of this street preserves the memory of a royal aviary established in the reign of James I. At its east end is Storey's Gate, usually, though probably erroneously connected with Edward Storey, keeper of the aviary under Charles II. Thence via Great George St. to Westminster. A passage, known as Cockpit Steps, a little to the west of Storey's Gate and near the site of the Royal Cockpit, pulled down in 1816, leads from Birdcage Walk to QUEEN ANNE'S GATE, formerly Queen Square, a quiet and still fashionable street, built by William Paterson, 'founder' of the Bank of England, with houses charmingly illustrating the domestic architecture of Queen Anne's reign. At No. 13 is an old statue of the Queen. Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) was born at No. 20 (then 4 Park St.). The Tennant Gallery at No. 84 is no longer open to visitors. In Dartmouth St., at the top of Cockpit Steps, is the British Passport Office. Near the west end of Birdcage Walk are the Wellington Barracks, built in 1834 and enlarged in 1859, occupied by a battalion of the Guards. The Royal Military Chapel, remodelled and tastefully redecorated in 1878, is open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11-12 & 2-4. Visitors may attend service on Sunday at 8 p.m.; for the 12 noon (parade) service, tickets must be obtained from the chaplain.