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Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

See also Kensington Gardens, South Australia, a suburb of Adelaide, Australia

Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, is one of the Royal Parks of London, lying immediately to the west of Hyde Park. Most of it is in the City of Westminster, but a small section to the west is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It covers 275 acres (1.1 km²).

The open spaces of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James's Park together form an almost continuous "green lung" in the heart of London between Kensington and Westminster.

History

Kensington Gardens were laid out c.1728-1738 by Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman with fashionable features including the Round Pond, formal avenues and a sunken Dutch garden. Long after they had been opened to the public, the King asked his Prime Minister the possible cost of enclosing them again: the reply was "a Crown".

Charles Bridgeman created the Serpentine in the 1730s by damming the eastern outflow of the River Westbourne from Hyde Park for Queen Caroline. The part of the Serpentine that lies within Kensington Gardens is known as "The Long Water". At its north-western end (originally the inflow of the River Westbourne) there are four fountains and classical sculpture known collectively as the Italian Garden.

Kensington Gardens are generally regarded as being the western extent of the neighbouring Hyde Park from which they were originally taken, with West Carriage Drive (The Ring) and the Serpentine Bridge forming the boundary between them. The Gardens are fenced and more formal than Hyde Park, and were long regarded as the smarter of the two parks.

The land surrounding Kensington Gardens was predominantly rural and remained largely undeveloped until the Great Exhibition in 1851. Many of the original features survive along with the Palace, and now there are other public buildings such as the Albert Memorial (at the south-east corner of Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall), the Serpentine Gallery, and Speke's monument.

Cultural References

The park is famous to generations of British schoolchildren as the setting of J.M. Barrie's book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a prelude to the character's famous adventures in Neverland. The fairies of the gardens are first described in Thomas Tickell's 1722 poem Kensington Gardens. Both the book and the character are honored with the iconic Peter Pan statue located in the park.

The Infocom interactive fiction game Trinity begins in the Kensington Gardens. The player can walk around many sections of the gardens, which are described in moderate detail.

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