One of London’s eight Royal Parks, St. James’s Park is a verdant jewel located right in the center of town. Flanked by Buckingham Palace, Green Park, and St. James’s Palace, the green space stretches across almost 57 acres (23 hectares). It’s renowned for its pretty lake, vibrant flower beds, and for hosting several regal events.
Purchased by King Henry VIII, landscaped by King James I, and redesigned in the French style by King Charles II, St. James’s Park has had a royal pedigree since its founding. In addition to its lawns, pond, and two small islands, the park also comprises the Mall (a grand processional thoroughfare) and Horse Guards Parade (a formal parade ground used for ceremonial events). Other highlights include its Blue Bridge, Memorial Gardens, and the soaring Queen Victoria Memorial, made from Carrara marble.
St. James’s Park is a popular, year-round destination in London; as it offers a prime vantage point on the Changing of the Guard ceremony, it is frequented by out-of-towners eager to take in the spectacle. The park can also be seen during hop-on hop-off bus tours, bike tours, walking tours, and other excursions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Striped deck chairs can be rented for a small fee during daylight hours from March to October (except in times of bad weather).
- There are several eateries and kiosks in the park, the highlight of which is St. James’s Café.
- The park has wide paths with step-free access as well as wheelchair-accessible restrooms.
How to Get There
Via London Underground, take the Central or District line to St. James’s Park Station; the Circle, District, or Jubilee line to Westminster Station; or the Victoria, Circle, or District line—or numerous train lines—to Victoria Station. The park is also served by multiple bus lines and can be reached on foot, by taxi, or by bike.
When to Get There
St. James’s Park is open daily 5am–midnight and is free for all to visit. The park hosts several popular events throughout the year, including Trooping the Colour, a ceremony held every June to mark the Queen’s birthday, and the Beating Retreat, a showcase of military drumming with music, cannonfire, and fireworks, also in June.
The Pelicans at St. James’s Park
One of the quirkier pieces of lore attached to St. James’s Park is its resident pelicans. In 1664, the Russian ambassador presented King Charles II with several pelicans as a gift, and the birds’ descendants have been park residents ever since. See if you can spot them fishing in the lake.