Kensington Gardens is one of the capital’s eight royal parks, and it offers visitors an excellent opportunity to relax and savour the beauty of nature.
Explore Kensington Park and The Royal Gardens
A leisurely stroll around the gardens is the perfect way to spend a summer’s afternoon, and those who take the time out to explore will be able to view a variety of interesting monuments and other attractions.
Located opposite the Royal Albert Hall on Albert Memorial Road, the Albert Memorial is one of London’s most ornate monuments.
Designed by George Gilbert Scott, it was unveiled in 1872 to commemorate Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 42.
It was intended to celebrate the prince’s passions and interests. Prince Albert is depicted holding a catalogue of the Great Exhibition, held in 1851 in Hyde Park, which he helped to inspire and organise.
At each corner of the memorial there are marble figures representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Other figures represent manufacturing, commerce, agriculture and engineering, while the Parnassus frieze at the base celebrates the Prince’s love of the arts.
Physical Energy Statue
Physical Energy is a bronze statue on horseback designed by George Frederick Watts and installed in 1907.
The monument commemorates the famous 19th century Englishman Cecil Rhodes, a mining magnate who founded the British colonies of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in Africa.
Rhodes established the De Beers mining company, which has dominated the diamond industry, and accumulated a fortune before the age of 30. His dream, which was realised shortly after his death, was to extend the British Empire in Africa from the Cape of Good Hope in the south to Cairo in the north.
The statue’s designer described it as “a symbol of that restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved in the domain of material things”.
The Peter Pan statue
The Peter Pan statue, which lies to the west of the Long Water, was erected in Kensington Gardens in 1912.
It was commissioned by Peter Pan’s creator, JM Barrie, who lived close to Kensington Gardens and used them for inspiration.
The statue features squirrels, rabbits, mice and fairies climbing up to Peter, who is stood at the apex.
The Speke monument is located near the junction of Lancaster Walk and Budges Walk in Kensington Gardens.
It is dedicated to John Hanning Speke, who discovered Lake Victoria and led expeditions to the source of the Nile.
He claimed that the source of the river was the Rippon Falls, an outflow from Lake Victoria in east Africa, and was eventually proved right.
The Orangery is the ideal place to enjoy breakfast or lunch, and offers the perfect opportunity for visitors to Kensington Gardens to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea.
Surrounded by formal gardens, the Orangery’s 18th century-architecture provides an elegant and atmospheric dining experience. And it has a fascinating history, having been used by Queen Anne as the setting for her court entertainment.
The mouthwatering menu features classic British dishes such as slow roast pork belly with burnt apple mash, baby fennel, crackling and cider jus, and beef Wellington with vine cherry tomatoes, roasted new potatoes and red wine jus.
The Coalbrookdale Gates are situated at the south end of West Carriage Drive. Made out of bronze-painted cast iron, they were created by the Coalbrookdale Company for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Their finials, supporting a crown, represent peace, while the the stags’ head vases evoke the origins of the park.
Queen Victoria Statue
The statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Gardens depicts her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18. It was designed by Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll), the queen’s daughter, in 1893.
Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and grew up there under the supervision of Sir John Conroy.
St Govor’s Well
St Govor’s Well marks the site of an ancient spring, which was converted into a well in the 19th century. The well is now capped by a round stone structure that contains a drinking fountain.
Queen Anne’s Alcove
Queen Anne’s Alcove was made in 1705 by Sir Christopher Wren for the southern boundary of the queen’s formal south garden.
It originally stood against the park wall at Dial Walk, to the south of Kensington Palace, but now stands just beside Lancaster Gate. The queen’s coat of arms can be seen just below the roof.
This statue commemorates Edward Jenner, a doctor from Berkeley, Gloucestershire, who invented the smallpox vaccine.
It features a tablet that reads “was inaugurated by Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, and the first to be erected in Kensington Gardens in 1862. The cost was met by international subscription.”
The Elfin Oak is a sculpture made from the hollow trunk of an oak tree, located near the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens.
Designed by Ivor Innes in 1930, it is a sculpture of fairies, elves and animals that was given to The Royal Parks by Lady Fortescue in response to an appeal to improve facilities in the Royal Parks.
The Elfin Oak has gone down in the history of British popular music, as it features inside the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1969 album Ummagumma, behind guitarist and lead singer David Gilmour.
The Arch is a six-metre high Roman travertine sculpture by famous British 20th century sculptor Henry Moore.
Positioned on the north bank of the Long Water, the sculpture was presented by Moore to the nation in 1980.
It was made from seven travertine stones that were sourced from a quarry in northern Italy and weigh a total of 37 tonnes.
King William III statue
Standing proudly at the south gate of Kensington Palace is a large bronze statue of King William III, who was king of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until 1702.
As the inscription states, the statue was presented to King Edward VII for the British nation by William III’s nephew, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907.
King William III was invited to invade England by a group of political and religious leaders in what became known as the Glorious Revolution, deposing the Catholic James II, who was unpopular with the country’s Protestant majority.
He lived at Kensington Palace because the air was cleaner than at Whitehall and better for his asthma.
Queen Caroline’s Temple
This is a classical style summer house designed for Queen Caroline and overlooking the Long Water. It contains graffiti dating back to 1821, when the park was first opened to visitors on a daily basis.