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Posted:  Wednesday 07 June 2017

South East Associates
London Kensington Walk

- Thursday 4th May -

You may think, from its title, that this walk was a stroll around one of the busiest, noisiest and expensive shopping areas in the country.  In fact, the area contains, or is near to, some of the most extensive, beautiful and tranquil public park land in west London - all quickly and easily accessible from the main highways through the borough.

So, after an enjoyable lunch at the characterful “Britannia” pub, just off Kensington High Street, a group of twenty Associates set off for an amble through Holland Park, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

Lunch at the "Britannia"

Holland Park, comprising 54 acres, is set within the grounds of what used to be Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion built by Sir Walter Cope in the early 17th century.  It was later renamed Holland House after it was inherited by Cope’s son-in-law, Henry Rich, a courtier of James I, who became the 1st Earl of Holland.

Unfortunately, the house was badly damaged during World War II and only the eastern wing has been restored.  Our walk took us past the front terrace, now used for open-air theatre productions and concerts into the Dutch garden with flower beds enclosed by box hedges.

Continuing on, we then entered one of the main attractions of Holland Park
- the Kyoto Garden.

The garden, above, was designed and built by an eminent Japanese designer and his team to commemorate the Japanese Festival in London of 1992.  It is a typical Japanese garden designed for tranquillity with a large pond with waterfall, giant carp, peacocks - and squirrels tame enough to feed from hand!

After leaving Holland Park and a short walk through some of the back streets of Kensington, we entered Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace.

Comprising 275 acres, it was formed by William and Mary from the western part of Hyde Park.
Our route through the gardens followed the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and included such sights as the Round Pond, Physical Energy statue, Peter Pan statue and Italian Water Gardens, which were originally intended to provide filter beds for the Serpentine.

At the Peter Pan statue

Kensington Gardens merge almost seamlessly with Hyde Park, so after exiting Kensington Gardens by the Magazine Gate and crossing West Carriage Drive, we entered Hyde Park.

Hyde Park, the largest Royal Park in London, now comprises 350 acres and was originally appropriated by Henry VIII in 1536 from Westminster Abbey for hunting.

Our walk only passed through a small section of the park, still broadly following the Memorial Walk route; however, we still encountered several interesting features and memorials including: the Reformers Tree memorial, “Four Winds” fountain and the moving 7th of July memorial to the victims of the 2005 London bombings.

On reaching the imposing statue of Achilles, above and built to commemorate the victories of the Duke of Wellington, our walk ended at Hyde Park Corner after just over five miles and three hours enjoying the scenic and historic park land in the heart of west London.

Paul Kowald

(fd  06/06/2017)

(ph  07/06/2017)

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