Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Green with Envy

September 20, 2010 · No Comments

That’s what every city in the world should be, because they don’t have as much green as London does.  No, I don’t mean money, I mean real green, in the form of parks.

As I write this, I am sitting in my favorite of London’s parks, Regent’s Park.  In fact, I didn’t realize that it was my favorite until I ventured here, knowing that I needed to write about parks and wanting to get away from the city for a while without going far from the Arran House.  After consulting my A to Z, I found that we’ve been living for a month not 15 minutes away from one of London’s most beautiful parks, which is saying something, because London has some wonderful ones.  Of these, I have visited three, and they are probably London’s most famous: Regent’s, Hyde, and St. James.

I’ll start with Regent’s.  As I said, I came here needing to be somewhere quiet, and most importantly, green.  I love the outdoors, and was feeling like I hadn’t gotten enough of them while in London.  Regent’s quickly fixed that though.  Probably best known for its prominent role in the 101 Dalmatians and James Bond (MI6 is near the Park), Regent’s Park is situated on 410 acres in Marylebone.  Its perfectly trimmed flowerbeds, beautiful fountains, and huge open spaces are a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.  The one thing that really differentiates Regent’s from the other parks I will talk about is the lack of tourists.  Regent’s doesn’t have anything particularly special for tourists, as opposed to Hyde and St. James, so it is both less busy and quieter.  It also houses the London Zoo (yes, the one that Harry Potter went to in the first book), for any animal lovers out there.

Regent's Park

Next up is Hyde, or specifically Kensington Gardens, which is contiguous with Hyde, and is often thought of as part of the same park (technically its not… I also visited Hyde, and it’s much the same as the Gardens).  Like Regent’s, it features wide open spaces, fountains, and gardens.  However, it also contains Kensington Palace (which also serves as a shrine to Princess Diana), the world-famous Peter Pan statue, and the Prince Albert Memorial, which all attract a lot of tourists, which increases the “busyness” of the park, and changes its atmosphere.  It is still a very nice park, but it just doesn’t have the feel of Regent’s.

Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens

Lastly, St. James Park.  Once again, lots of open space, water features, and flowers.  The big tourist attractions here completely surround the park, rather than being contained in it.  These include, but are not limited to, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.  This brings a lot of people to the park which, while not a bad thing, makes it feel crowded, which is not how parks should be in my mind.  It is an absolutely beautiful park though, despite its well-publisized history of, well, err… you know.  For those that don’t, Edward II had dozens of children, none with his wife, and loved spending time in the park.  I’ll let you do the math.

To wrap up, I’d like to mention that London’s parks have really cool birds.  At Kensington and St. James, there are tons of brown geese and small little birds, pictures of which I’ve attached below.  At Regent’s though, they seem to have completely different breeds of birds, which you can also see below.  St. James also has pelicans, which I unfortunately don’t have pictures of.

I have no idea why the birds would be so different between one park and another, unless these birds were purposefully introduced to their respective parks, which would be a conclusion requiring an understanding of London parks history that I lack.  Anyone with more insight, please feel free to chime in.

Bird characteristic of the populations found at Regent's Park

Swan, characteristic of the bird populations at Kensington Gardens and St. James Park

Categories: 2010 MatthewM

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