Out of all the six royal parks in London, Green Park has always been considered “the park next door.” (It is located directly between Hyde Park and St. James's Park, after all). And although it's only 40 acres (which makes it the smallest of all the royal parks in London), its serenity makes up for its small size.
As a matter of fact, Green Park feels more like the English countryside than central London,(despite the fact it's within walking distance to major London attractions like Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace and Piccadilly Circus. But away from the touristy Hyde Park and the attraction-littered Regent's Park, Green Park is a godsend for anyone in dire need of getting away from it all.
It's believed that the area now known as Green Park was once a burial ground for lepers who stayed at the nearby hospital at St. James's; and before it was transformed into a royal park, the area remained relatively isolated until the 18th century. Even then, the area was popular among highwaymen and thieves, and it wasn't uncommon for locals to get robbed while walking in the area.
As time went on, Green Park soon became the epicentre of several important events in London's history, such as Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1749, and countless notorious duels during the 1700s; (with the most notable being the duel between William Pulteney, the first Earl of Bath, and John Hervey, the first Earl of Bristol). Not only that, Green Park has also served as a location for countless promenades, ceremonies, salutes and firework displays as well, and the Royal Gun Salutes (used to mark special royal occasions) still take place in the centre of the park to this very day.
Green Park Highlights
Nature lovers flock to Green Park to soak in all its picturesque views, but there's also quite a few historic monuments and war memorials scattered all throughout the park.
The entrance to Green Park (adjacent to Buckingham Palace) is marked by Canada Gate, which was erected during the 20th century as part of a memorial for Queen Victoria. The gates were given as a gift from Canada to celebrate its contribution to the British Empire, and includes the crests of all the Canadian provinces.
The Canada Memorial is another popular and historic monument in Green Park, and was built in honour of the one million Canadians who served with Britain during the two World Wars. The walkway located at the memorial was designed to face the direction towards Halifax in Nova Scotia, which is where the majority of Canadians serving in the wars sailed to Europe).
The Memorial Gates' pillars (which were inaugurated by the Queen in 2002) were erected in dedication to the five million people from the Indian Sub-Continent, Africa and the Caribbean who lost their lives during the two World Wars. The pillars are topped with a bronze urn, and are lit on special occasions like Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday in November), Armistice Day (November 11th), and Commonwealth Day (the second Monday in March).
Wellington Arch is perhaps one of the most famous monuments near Green Park, as it was once used to mark the northern gate to Buckingham Palace; (although it was moved to its current location near Hyde Park Corner in 1882). Other monuments close to the Wellington Arch include the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, the Wellington Memorial, the New Zealand War Memorial, and the Australian War Memorial.
The Bomber Command Memorial (located along Piccadilly) commemorates the thousands of people who died serving in the Bomber Command in World War II, and also contain bronze sculptures of a Bomber Command aircrew. (If you can, try and visit this memorial on a sunny afternoon to see the sunlight falling directly onto the aircrew).
Constitution Hill, which is located at the western end of The Mall (bordering Buckingham Palace Gardens and Green Park), is definitely worth the detour. It is believed that Charles II once used this area to go for his daily walks, and Queen Victoria often travelled along this road in her carriage as well; (as a matter of fact, three separate assassination attempts on Queen Victoria occurred here during the 1940s!)
If you happen to be in Green Park during a famous State Visit, State Opening of Parliament or The Queen's Birthday Parade, salutes are fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The gun salutes are usually fired around midday, and if the date falls on a Sunday, the salute takes place on Monday. For more information on the dates and times of these salutes, check out Green Park's official website.
- Because of its ideal location, you can easily walk through Green Park when walking from Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace or St. James's Park; (this usually takes around 20 minutes).
- If you want to visit Piccadilly Circus as well as Green Park, it's an easy 11-minute walk from Green Park along Piccadilly; (the street which lines the northern tip of Green Park).
- If you can, try and visit Green Park around late April, as that is when the trees and flowers are just starting to bloom.
- Try to use a toilet before visiting Green Park, as toilet facilities are located far from the park and cost 50p per use.