Winter in St. James's Park

Welcome to St. James's Park

Pomp and circumstance. Buckingham Palace. And a princely pod of pelicans! 

Key information

05:00 - 24:00

Food & drink available

This is the most royal of London’s Royal Parks. Shaped by generations of monarchs and bordered by three royal palaces, St. James’s Park is the home of ceremonial events in the capital. From royal weddings and jubilees to military parades and state celebrations – this is the park where history is made. Come and explore it for yourself…

There’s always something to see here - from soldiers in scarlet tunics marching down The Mall to bright beds of flowers bursting with blooms. Don’t miss the classic London views from the lake, where you should also keep an eye out for the famous pelicans who call the park home. Did you know that pelicans have been kept at the park since 1664, when a Russian ambassador presented them to King Charles II? You can often find them perched on benches by the lake, graciously greeting visitors from around the world.  

You’ll spot many famous landmarks in St. James’s Park – from sweeping Admiralty Arch to the ceremonial hotspot Horse Guards Parade. And then of course there’s Buckingham Palace – head down The Mall for that world-famous view! If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, wander along the peaceful lakeside path where you can admire the spectacular trees and abundance of colourful waterbirds. There’s always something new to discover in this historic landscape – from spring bulbs to autumn colours.  

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Frequently asked questions

Please find some of St. James's Park’s most frequently asked questions below. If you can’t find the information you need then you can get in touch by using our contact form.

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The pedestrian and vehicle gates open from 5am and close at midnight each day throughout the year. Any public notices relating to temporary closures (due to park events or maintenance, for example) can be found on the St. James's Park web page.

St. James's Park is well served by a range of different public transport services:

The closest mainline stations are Charing Cross and Victoria. Charing Cross is served by services from Southeastern and Victoria is served by services from Southern, Southeastern and Gatwick Express. Walking times to the park from both stations is approximately 15 minutes.

You can travel to St. James's Park via the Circle (St. James's Park) underground line located south of the park. Slightly further out is the Jubilee (Green Park) underground line.

There are plenty of options for getting to the park by bus. Use an online planner from TfL or Google to prepare for your journey.

Cycling to St. James's Park has never been easier. There are a wealth of marked cycleways passing around the park, and there are several cycle hire points around the park. Full details of both can be found on the TfL website.

St. James's Park is approximately 23 hectares (57 acres) in size - the equivalent of 8.5 Wembley Stadiums! The park's perimeter is approximately 1.3 miles long. You can view or download the park map here.

St James's Park is the oldest Royal Park in London and is surrounded by three palaces: Westminster (now known as the Houses of Parliament), St. James's Palace and Buckingham Palace. In 1532 Henry VIII acquired the site as another deer park and successive monarchs made subtle changes to the area. Charles II, however, made dramatic changes by redesigning the park, planting avenues of trees and laying lawns. The King opened the park to the public and was a frequent visitor, feeding the ducks and mingling with his subjects.

More information on the park's history can be found here.

St. James's Park has no on-site car parks, so if you plan to arrive by car you will need to find alternative locations in nearby Hyde Park, or use on-street meters or the private car parks found to the north and south of the park. These can be found on information sites such as Parkopedia, and will charge for the duration of your stay.

Cycling is only permitted along the roads which surround the main park. These include The Mall, Horse Guard's Road and Birdcage Walk (which is part of TfL's C3 cycleway and links up with The Green Park and Hyde Park). Smaller paths across the park where cycling is not allowed have clear 'no cycling' signage at ground level. Please be considerate and give space to other park users and the park's wildlife. Pedestrians have priority at all times.

You can check permitted cycleways on OpenStreetMap.

There is a 20p charge to use the public toilets in the parks. We have recently installed a contactless system which accepts credit/debit cards, prepaid cards and mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Cash is no longer accepted.

St. James's Park has two main cafés - St. James's Café and Storey's Gate Café. There are also several smaller refreshment kiosks dotted throughout the park. View the Food and Drink section for full details of each outlet, along with their latest menus.

You can find their locations on the park map.

As a highly landscaped park with a large lake St. James's Park has no dedicated facilities for organised sport. However, its network of quality paths attracts plenty of recreational runners and walkers - including those tackling the seven-mile long Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk. This self-guided walk passes through St. James's Park, The Green Park and Hyde Park before returning to the start at Kensington Palace.

Discover more here.

Generally, dogs do not need to be kept on a lead in St. James's Park. However there is one exception to this - the fenced-off grass area around the lake. Other areas where dogs are not allowed are listed in our Dogs in The Royal Parks policy document.

Commercial dog walkers
Please note, that if you want to use the Royal Parks for commercial dog walking purposes, you must have a Commercial Dog Walking Licence issued by The Royal Parks charity. 

No. Feeding birds and animals in the parks does more harm than good. You can learn more about why this is, and how you can help us in caring for their wellbeing here.

Getting in touch with park offices is quick and easy and all enquiries are handled by our dedicated Visitor & Park Support team.

Simply complete the short online enquiry form and your question(s) will be passed to the most appropriate staff member. To ensure an efficient service, please check that you have provided the following information:

  • Park 
  • Subject
  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your enquiry

You can also contact the park offices by telephone using the following numbers:

Contacting the police in an emergency
For police assistance, please call 101 for non-emergencies, and 999 for emergencies. You can also report a crime online.

To report lost property, please contact our Visitor and Park Support Team via their online contact form with the following information:

  • Your contact details
  • A description of the item
  • Date and time when the item was lost
  • Location (if known) where the item was lost

If the property has been found by staff or handed in to us we'll let you know.

To report criminal activity in the park you should contact the police. For non-emergencies call 101, and for emergencies call 999. You can also report a crime online.

No. St. James's Park is not available as a location for personal training or group fitness sessions.

Fitness training licences are only available for Hyde Park, The Regent's Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Park. They are not available for St. James's Park, Kensington Gardens, Victoria Tower Gardens or Brompton Cemetery.

Detailed information about fitness training licences can be found here, along with an online application form.

If you are filming/photographing by yourself on a mobile phone or action camera for purely personal use then no you don't need a permit to film/photograph in the park. However, for all other purposes you will need to obtain a filming or photography permit from The Royal Parks charity. Full information and online application forms can be found here.

Yes, we welcome informal picnics in the Royal Parks. Please read our guidance document for maximum group sizes and what is and isn't permitted. Please note that barbecues are not allowed.

Every year, we welcome hundreds of small and medium events to the Royal Parks, including walks and runs, large picnics, concerts and community sports. Applications for such events are considered by our dedicated Parks Events team. To find out more, and submit an application click here. At least six weeks’ notice is required.

We welcome the use of our park bandstands for small public events such as music festivals, dance or group fitness workshops or theatrical performances. Applications for such events are considered by our dedicated Parks Events team. To find out more, and submit an application click here. At least six weeks’ notice is required.

For the safety of visitors and protection of park wildlife, public swimming is not allowed in any of the lakes and ponds of the Royal Parks. The only exception is the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park which is manned by lifeguards and open during summer months.

Things to see and do in St. James’s Park

Take a stroll to Duck Island or the seven-mile Diana Memorial Walk through four Royal Parks. Take tea at a café by The Mall. Take a working lunch in the sunshine. Make friends with a pelican. 

Take in the view. Take your time. St. James’s Park has so much to see and do.

St. James’s Park – pageantry, pelicans and picnics

If you love the spectacle and pageantry of a big royal event, a picnic at the bandstand or simply a quiet stroll after work, St. James’s Park is a park for every occasion.

It’s a hugely popular Royal Park, yet it never feels overcrowded, even when the sun brings out office workers on their lunch breaks. It’s a lovely place for a sandwich from one of our kiosks, or a picnic – and you can hire a deckchair if you’re going to make an afternoon of it.

Not surprisingly, since it’s flanked on two sides by royal palaces, St. James’s Park is best known for its royal connections and ceremonies – it plays host to weekly royal events, such as Changing the Guard, outside Buckingham Palace and major state occasions such as Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade in early June. The Mall is the great historical processional route, seen so often on television during landmark royal events.

Whether you’ve planned to attend one of these on your trip to London, or you live here and haven’t quite got round to going yet – combine it with a visit to St. James’s Park.

Don’t miss Duck Island cottage, a quaint, seventeenth century cottage that once belonged to the royal duck keeper. Right by the lake, it's here that you're likely to see the park's famous pelicans. Not a palace, but no less lovely, is the elegant Storey’s Gate Café. For the best views of Buckingham Palace – and The London Eye – stand on the Blue Bridge.

Best time to see the pelicans

The six resident pelicans are fed fresh fish daily between 2:30pm and 3pm. It's always a popular sight.

The wildlife of St. James’s Park

The park, and in particular St. James’s Park lake, is a wonderful natural habitat and haven for wildlife and a great place to spot water-loving birds, from ducks, coots and moorhens, to shy Little Grebes and the occasional Black Swan. The lake in particular has been a major focus for our conservation and biodiversity – you’ll see the newly planted wildflower meadows and established reed beds fringing the water. These provide cover and sanctuary for nesting birds. Duck Island, a focal point in the park, was once a duck decoy.

Take your time and you should spot a rewarding variety of birdlife. Including pelicans – who are pretty easy to spot!

St. James’s Park – its history and monuments

St. James’s Park has a rich royal history from the time of King Henry VIII. It’s home to so many high profile royal events. But even Kings enjoy a moment to stroll unnoticed in the crowd – King Charles II used to meet his mistress, Nell Gwynn here. St. James’s Park’s history is full of surprises and secret stories – not all of them so romantic. King Charles II took his final walk through the park, on his way to be executed.

The park also has the highest concentration of statues, monuments and memorials by area of any of the Royal Parks. From the statue of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – resplendent in a flamboyant plumed hat – to the simple, white marble Boy Statue.  

The best way to uncover the history of the park is to join one of our monthly guided walks, or download a self-guided walking tour map, and discover at your leisure.   

Art and culture in the park

Lovers of military history will find a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, where Sir Winston Churchill planned major Allied offensives in the Second World War, or the Household Cavalry Museum a stimulating and thought-provoking way to spend a few hours. Or if contemporary and cutting edge visual art is your passion, stop by The Institute of Contemporary Arts or The Mall Galleries, both situated in St. James’s Park.

Something for everyone

Take a look at some of the most popular activities and events in St. James's Park this autumn.


Had a wonderful time in St. James's Park?

The Royal Parks are home to much of the city’s wildlife and amazing history. As a charity, we rely on kind people like you to help us care for St. James's Park. Anything you are able to give will help us continue to protect and preserve it.

  • The Princess of Wales Memorial plaque

    The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

    Find out more about the seven-mile-long Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and download the map to plan your route through the central parks.

  • The Mall in St. James's Park

    The Mall

    The Mall in St James’s Park is a grand processional route in honour of Queen Victoria, which has seen innumerable historic Royal processions.

  • Horse Guards Parade

    Horse Guards Parade

    Horse Guards Parade is the ceremonial parade ground in St James's Park and is the scene of Trooping the Colour on the King’s official birthday in June.

  • Duck Island

    Duck Island

    Duck Island is a nature reserve for St James's Park bird collection. It is located on the east end of St James's Park Lake.

  • Pelicans on a bench in St. James's Park

    The pelicans of St. James's Park

    First introduced to the park in 1664, over 40 pelicans have since made the park their home. They are a popular sight with park visitors.

Leisure activities and attractions in St. James’s Park

In St. James’s Park you set your own pace. Share a moment with a pelican. Take an early run on a misty morning. Watch the world go by with an ice cream and a deckchair.

This is the park to explore at your leisure.

Making the most of St. James’s Park

St. James’s Park is London’s oldest Royal Park, and the most visited. It’s the famous setting for many royal ceremonies, from the daily Changing the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, to the full pageantry of Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade in early June.

The parkland itself is a peaceful, green space that allows you to escape the everyday, connect with nature, and boost your wellbeing.

Walking, running and cycling in St. James’s Park

You’ve got the option of many different walking trails, cycle paths and running routes to choose from. Discover the secret stories and rich history of the park with a self-guided walk, or stroll to Duck Island, a nesting sanctuary for many of our smaller birds, ducks and geese. Many regular runners and cyclists use the park a great way to de-stress and stay fit as they commute to work. If you are cycling through, please do respect the walkers and the wildlife, who share the paths and trails.

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

If you have two or three hours, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk covers seven miles, and takes in four Royal Parks, three palaces and two mansions, all of which were special to Princess Diana at different times in her life. You’ll also experience the wildlife, the many gardens and landscapes of the parks, as you walk.

Watch the world go by – from your deckchair

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, why not sit in the sunshine and watch the world and the wildlife go by. Our partners, ParkDeckChairs, rent deckchairs by the hour or by the day, and in the summer we often have live music at the St. James’s Park bandstand.

In summer, it’s hard to miss the spectacular Buckingham Palace flower beds – blazing with thousands of scarlet geraniums and over 50,000 yellow wallflowers. As the backdrop to countless royal occasions, they’re possibly the most televised and photographed flower beds in the country.

If you enjoy team sports and organised activities, head over to Hyde Park, where you can have an open air swim, take a boat out, or book a game of tennis or padel. Park Sports Hyde Park has excellent sports facilities, courts and pitches on the south side of the park.

Make a difference

Run, cycle or swim to raise vital funds for the Royal Parks in London's celebrated races.

  • The Princess of Wales Memorial plaque

    The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

    Find out more about the seven-mile-long Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and download the map to plan your route through the central parks.

  • Buckingham Palace flower beds

    Buckingham Palace flower beds

    The Buckingham Palace flower beds, or Memorial Gardens, were created in 1901 for a memorial to Queen Victoria.

  • Deck chairs in The Royal Parks

    Park deck chairs

    Deck chairs are available for hire within the Royal Parks from March through to October. Find out about prices and book online.

Eating and drinking in St. James’s Park

Lunch at our stylishly contemporary café, sip a drink by the lakeside, or take tea in the historic lodge of the keeper of the King’s birds.

The best places to eat and drink in London’s oldest Royal Park

St. James’s Park has two fantastic cafés – and they couldn’t feel more different to each other. The contemporary St. James’s Café, in the heart of the park, has stunning floor to ceiling windows, giving you a panoramic view of the beautiful woodland and nearby lake and fountain, whatever the London weather’s doing. It’s light and spacious inside. If the sun is out, you’ll probably want to take your food and drink out onto the terrace. 

Storey’s Gate Café dates back to the time of King Charles II, who gifted the lodge to his royal bird keeper. The bird-inspired artworks on the walls make this a lovely spot to stop for tea, coffee or hot food. 

As St. James’s Park has so much wonderful green space and wildlife to enjoy, we’ve located four refreshment kiosks at the most popular spots  – Marlborough Gate, Horse Shoe Bend, Artillery Memorial and the playground. The kiosks’ curved wooden sides are easy to spot.

Check out the park information boards or the park map for the most convenient café or kiosk when you’re planning your visit.

Picnicking in St. James's Park

The park is a great place for a picnic! A selection of freshly cut sandwiches, artisan baguettes and drinks are available in our cafés and kiosks.

Feel free to bring your own food and drink to enjoy in the park but barbecues and any sort of fire lighting is absolutely forbidden.

Please take your litter home with you or place it in one of our bins on the way out – wildlife and litter don’t mix.

Every purchase helps us care for St. James's Park

A proportion of anything you spend at our cafés or kiosks goes straight back to help look after the Royal Parks, and the wealth of wildlife and natural habitats they contain.

  • St. James's Cafe

    St. James's Café

    St James’s Park Café is located in the heart of St James’s Park and offers a range of hot and cold drinks, food and snacks. Find out more.

  • Storey's Gate Café in St Jame's Park

    Storey's Gate Café

    Storey’s Gate Café offers indoor and outdoor seating, serves sustainably sourced single origin coffee, and a health focused menu.

  • Refreshment points in St James's Park

    Refreshment Kiosks in St James's Park

    Refreshment kiosks offer hot coffee, ice cream, snacks and fresh sandwiches. At Marlborough Gate, Horse Shoe Bend, Artillery Memorial and the playground.

Nature and wildlife of St. James’s Park

Pipistrelle bats, hunting at dusk. Tortoiseshell butterflies amongst the flowers and nettles. Reed warblers and dragonflies at the lakeside edge 

 St. James’s Park – a wildlife haven in the heart of the city.

Wildlife habitats in St. James’s Park

St. James’s Park is a rich mix of open grassland, reedbeds, wildflower meadows, and more than 1,200 trees. The St. James’s Park lake, covering a fifth of the park, is an oasis for much wildlife including over 40 species of water bird.

Duck Island and West Island, are mini wildlife sanctuaries, providing nesting sites and refuges for many smaller birds such as robins wrens, and blue tits, as well as woodpeckers and tawny owls.

The reedbeds, to the west of the lake, and north of Duck Island, are key conservation habitats which we’re working hard to protect and develop. They have boosted the biodiversity of St. James’s Park, as well as filtering out pollutants and oxygenating the water. As you stroll past, you may well hear reed warblers or see dragonflies perched on the stems, or spot a little grebe diving for invertebrate prey. 

St. James’s Park is one of the busiest Royal Parks, so finding protecting the wildlife and ecosystem of the park, and welcoming the many people who visit, is a delicate balancing act.

The trees of St. James’s Park

St James’s Park is well known for its avenues of tall, broad-leaved, plane trees stretching the length of The Mall and Birdcage Walk. Plane trees are a landmark London tree – helping to filter out airborne pollutants, as well as providing plenty of shade for visitors. Willows and fig trees border the lake and the sight of ornamental cherry trees in full blossom signals the start of spring for many regular visitors. One of the fig trees was voted a Great Tree of London by the public. 

Birds and bats in St. James’s Park

In migration season, resident mallards, moorhens and coots are joined by tufted ducks flying in from Iceland and northern Europe. You’ll see their tails and their tufted heads as they duck and dive to feed. Looking out over the lake, you may spot shelducks and wigeons, teal and pintails and goldeneye ducks. 

About 20 minutes in warm weather after the sun goes down, the bats come out – you'll most likely spot them flitting over the lake as they hunt for flying insects. The pipistrelle, smallest of the British bats, has an impressive appetite for insects – most average around 3,000 mosquitos or insects a night.

Wildflowers at the waters’ edge

St. James’s Park welcomes millions of visitors each year. That’s a lot of footfall, not to mention the webbed feet of ducks and geese – resulting in some big bare muddy patches around the lake. To combat this, we’ve laid wildflower mats and sown wildflower seed around the lake. 

These rich lakeside wildlife habitats add to the habitat mosaic across the whole park – encouraging new pollinators and providing shelter and forage for a wide range of species, including birds, invertebrates and small mammals.

Wildlife and parklife – a delicate balancing act

The Royal Parks are unique urban parklands, where people and wildlife can come together. Our responsibility as The Royal Parks charity is to balance the best interests of the people, animals, birds, plants and the planet for future generations.

Support your parks

Find out how you can help us care for these beautiful spaces and the wildlife that calls them home for generations to come.

The many flower beds of St. James’s Park

From mulberries and medlars to tree ferns and 70,000 daffodils, St. James’s Park is a garden paradise in the heart of the city. 

St. James’s Park – gardens for all seasons

Some of St. James’s Park’s historic 17th century landscaping by John Nash and formal ornamental beds and borders are clearly visible. The long, seasonal flower borders flanking the Storeyard and Leafyard are in the Nash style, but with more naturalistic touches to suit today’s tastes. Some of the later Stuart landscape can also be seen in the linear walks of Birdcage Walk, The Mall and of course Horse Guards Parade.

The Memorial Gardens – the jewel in the crown

The formal Buckingham Palace flower beds are possibly the most televised and photographed flowers in all the Royal Parks; a memorable backdrop to countless royal occasions. The beds are renowned for the 12,000 scarlet geraniums in summer, traditionally chosen to match the scarlet uniform of the Palace Guards. And even in winter, the beds are alive with colour – an astonishing 50,000 wallflowers, grown sustainably at our super nursery in Hyde Park.

Crossing continents – the Jungle Border

Ever wondered what a pineapple plant looks like? Exotic jungle borders were the height of horticultural fashion in Victorian and Edwardian gardens – we have one here at St. James’s Park, near the St. James’s Café and another in The Regent’s Park

Duck Island Cottage Garden – a garden to give you ideas

Duck Island Cottage Garden is a delightful contrast to St. James’s Park’s grander flower beds. This is gardening on the domestic scale – we grow heritage varieties of fruit, flowers and vegetables, and experiment with new ones each year. We use organic seeds and companion planting to encourage biodiversity and lure as many pollinators as possible. If you’re a keen gardener, the Cottage Garden is a lovely place to take away some practical tips and inspirational ideas.

The trees in St. James’s Park

From the picture perfect cherry trees overlooking St. James’s Park Lake, to the black and white mulberries and medlars, St. James’s Park has an extraordinary collection of must-see trees, many of them rare. Linger in the lakeside meadow, down by the water, beneath the fig trees and mulberries. 

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are welcome in St. James’s Park, but you’ll need to keep your dog on the footpath around the lake.

Be inspired. Get closer to nature.

Join us for an upcoming event and go behind the scenes with hands-on experiences. 

St. James’s Park is famous for hosting royal ceremonies

From coronations and jubilees to Trooping the Colour and Changing the Guard - it’s no surprise, then, that the park is stuffed with royal and military memorials.  

Sitting right outside Buckingham Palace is the colossal statue of Queen Victoria. This was commissioned and unveiled by her grandson, King George V, in 1911.  

Another Queen is commemorated along The Mall – Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She is honoured with a statue that stands next to one of her husband, King George VI. 

Overlooking iconic Horse Guards Parade is a moving memorial to the Guardsmen killed in the First World War. The sculptures are made from guns that were captured during the conflict. 

In the shadow of Admiralty Arch, meanwhile, is the National Police Memorial, commemorating officers who have died in the line of duty. A book behind a glass window lists their names. 

To find out more about these memorials and many others in St. James’s Park, explore the links below. 

Admiralty Arch

Commissioned by King Edward VII to commemorate Queen Victoria's death, and designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1912, Admiralty Arch stands majestically at the North east end of The Mall.

This Grade I listed curved stone building has three arches and links The Mall to Trafalgar Square, adjoining the Old Admiralty Building. A Latin inscription along the top reads:


(In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910)

Admiralty Arch

Admiralty Arch plays an important role on ceremonial occasions, with processions such as royal weddings, funerals, coronations and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games passing through the central arch. The outer arches are used for vehicles and pedestrians.

The inside wall of the northernmost arch has a small protrusion like a human nose. It is at about waist height for anyone on horseback and is traditionally thought to honour the Duke of Wellington, known for having a large nose. Soldiers would rub the nose for good luck as they rode through the arch.

Admiralty Arch was refurbished in 2000 and occupied by the Cabinet Office. In 2012, the building was sold as a 125-year lease and plans were agreed by Westminster City Council to turn the building into a luxury hotel offering views over Buckingham Palace.

Bali memorial

The Bali memorial commemorates the 202 victims of the Bali bombings in 2002.  It is located at Clive Steps, along Horse Guards Road.

Unveiled in 2006, by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, this marble globe has 202 carved doves with the names of the victims carved into a stone wall behind the globe. It was designed by Garry Breeze and sculpted by Martin Cook.

Eighty-eight Australians were among those killed and victims also came from Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Greece, the US and Japan.

Bali memorial

Boy statue

Designed by Charles Henry Mabey and carved by Robert Jackson in 1863, this Grade II sculpture, entitled the Boy Statue, is a marble figure of a boy, set on a plinth.

Originally a drinking fountain, the water came from the mouths of four fish which collected in shell-shaped basins.

The Boy Statue can be found opposite Queen Anne's Gate on Birdcage Walk.

Boy statue

Captain Cook statue

This statue commemorates the British explorer and navigator, Captain James Cook (1728-79). It is located close to Admiralty Arch and is the first sculpture on entry to The Mall.

This bronze statue set on a stone plinth was designed in 1914 by Sir Thomas Brock, who was also responsible for the Queen Victoria Memorial at the other end of The Mall.

The inscription on the plinth reads:

Captain James Cook / R.N. F. R. S. / Born 1728 Died 1779 / Circumnavigator of the globe explorer of / the Pacific Ocean he laid the foundations of / the British Empire in Australia and New Zealand / charted the shores of New Foundland and traversed / the ocean gates of Canada both East and West / Unveiled by H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught / on behalf of the British Empire League 7th July 1914

Captain Cook statue

A complex legacy

In Britain, Captain Cook has traditionally been celebrated for his voyages in the South Pacific.

In the 1700s, he sailed this part of the world with crew of scientists, botanists and artists – together they charted and documented the new lands they travelled through.

Some take a very different view of Cook’s legacy, drawing attention to his role in the violence of colonial expansion.

In 2019, on the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing in New Zealand, the British High Commissioner issued a ‘statement of regret’ over these killings.

Duke of York statue

The Duke of York statue, designed by Sir Richard Westmacott in 1834, is located at the top of the Duke of York Steps, on the north side of The Mall. It features a bronze statue of the Duke of York on a 124ft column designed by Benjamin Wyatt.

It was installed in memory of Frederick William (1763-1827), Commander in Chief of the British Army and second son of King George III. He is probably The Grand Old Duke of York of the nursery rhyme.

The Duke of York was a highly proficient Commander-in-Chief whose administrative reforms won the praise of Wellington. Unfortunately he was less successful in his private life. The revelation that his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke, was selling commissions forced his resignation. Although he was reinstated, he died in debt.  It was claimed that he was placed on a column to avoid the claims of his creditors.

The monument cost £21,000 and much of it was raised by soldiers who donated a day's pay.

Duke of York statue

Graspan Royal Marines memorial

This is a memorial to the Royal Marines who died during the course of two military campaigns: the Boxer Rebellion and the Boer War.

It consists of two bronze figures by sculptor Adrian Jones. They sit on a plinth of Portland stone.

The base is decorated with bronze plaques by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. They depict the battles and Roll of Honour of the two campaigns.

The memorial was originally positioned in the Cambridge Enclosure in St. James’s Park and was unveiled by The King, The then Prince of Wales, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Marines, on April 25th 1903.

In 1941 the memorial was put into storage to make way for the building of the nearby Citadel. It was moved to its present position on The Mall in 1948.

In 2000, in became the Royal Marines National Memorial and is the focus of the annual ‘Graspan Parade’ – named after the Battle of Graspan during the Boer War.

Graspan Royal Marines memorial

The Boer War

Between 1899 and 1902, the British Army was engaged in a war against the ‘Boers’ — descendants of Dutch colonisers in South Africa.

An earlier war, the ‘First Boer War’ of 1880-1 had ended in a defeat for the British.

The ‘Second Boer War’ was especially bitter, and the British suffered heavy losses at the hands of their skilled opponents.

Though the British ultimately won, their tactics have attracted criticism, both from contemporary commentators and modern historians.

During the war, the British established a series of camps that held Boer families.

Unlike the notorious Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War, these were not extermination camps.

However, the conditions in these camps were extremely poor and around 28,000 people died there – predominantly women and children.

The term ‘South African War’ is favoured by many, as it indicates that the conflict was not just a ‘white man’s war’.

Somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 black Africans served with the British Army, with a further 100,000 contributing towards the British war effort.

There were also camps for black Africans. Researchers have documented 17,182 deaths at these camps, but the real number is thought to be far higher.

Guards memorial

Facing the Wellington Barracks, is the Guards memorial  - a cenotaph with five life-size bronze figures sculpted by Gilbert Ledward representing the Foot Guards Regiments - Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh and Irish.

Installed in memory of Guardsmen who died in the First World War, it was unveiled in 1926 by the Duke of Connaught, the uncle of King George V.  It was designed by H. Chalton Bradshaw. After the Second World War an inscription was added to remember those who died between 1939 and 1945.

The sculptures were made from guns captured in the Frist World War and modelled on real guardsmen. The Irish Guardsman got impatient while he was being modelled and left before the artist had finished, so his legs belong to another soldier. The Memorial was damaged by German bombs during the Second World War and during the repairs a small hole was deliberately left in one of the sculptures.

Guard's memorial

Horse Guards Parade

Horse Guards Parade is the ceremonial parade ground in St James's Park and is the scene of Trooping the Colour on the King's official birthday in June.

Horse Guards is the building with a clock tower over an archway, and remains the official entrance to St James's and Buckingham Palace. It dates from the eighteenth century and was designed by William Kent, the then Chief Architect to George II.

The building is guarded by two mounted cavalry troopers of The King's Life Guard who are posted outside from 10am to 4pm daily. The Life Guard change takes place here at 11am daily and 10am on Sundays.

During the Trooping the Colour, the central windows are opened so members of the Royal Family can watch the King reviewing his troops below.

In addition to Trooping the Colour, Horse Guards Parade plays host to the floodlit musical spectacular of Beating Retreat by the massed bands of the Household Division over two successive evenings in June.

Horse Guards Parade

Next to Horse Guards is:

  • Dover House
  • the Cabinet and Privy Council Offices
  • No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister

Also nearby are buildings including:

  • the Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • the Foreign Office
  • Cabinet War Rooms
  • Palace of Westminster

There are a number of memorials located at Horse Guards Parade, they are:

  • Royal Naval Division Memorial
  • Viscount Wolseley Statue
  • Earl Roberts Statue
  • Lord Kitchener Statue
  • Lord Mountbatten Statue

King George VI memorial

Designed by Scottish sculptor, William McMillan, this bronze memorial features a statues of the king dressed in naval uniform, standing on a plinth of Portland stone.

It was unveiled by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1955.

The memorial is located on the north west side of The Mall. In 2009, a statue dedicated to his wife Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was erected nearby.

King George VI memorial

The lake and The Blue Bridge

The Blue Bridge offers spectacular views across St. James's Park Lake to Buckingham Palace to the west and Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben and the London Eye towards the east.

The low-arched concrete bridge is the third to span the lake. The first was designed by John Nash which was replaced by an iron suspension bridge in 1857. The current bridge dates from 1957.

As well as the spectacular views, The Blue Bridge is an excellent spot to view St. James's Park's waterfowl.

The Lake and the Blue Bridge

The Mall

The Mall is a grand processional route in honour of Queen Victoria, which has seen innumerable historic Royal processions including coronations, state openings of Parliament and state visits.

During King Charles II reign, in 1660 he ordered the redesign of St. James's Park and this included a centerpiece - a straight canal, 2,560ft long and 125ft wide, lined on each side with avenues of trees.

The name is derived from Pelle Melle, a game introduced by King Charles I which was traditionally played in St. James's Park. Traffic was permitted on The Mall in 1887.

Today, The Mall plays an important part in ceremonies such as Changing the Guard, Trooping the Colour and also royal events such as weddings and funerals, and the recent Jubilee celebrations.

The Mall

National Police memorial

At the corner of The Mall and Horse Guards, stands the National Police Memorial, commemorating police officers killed in the course of duty in the UK.

Designed by Lord Foster and Per Arnoldi, it was unveiled in 2005 by HM The Queen. The memorial takes the form of a black granite clad tablet with glass chamber containing a book listing the names of those killed, the pages of which are turned every day by the Police Memorial Trust.

National police memorial

Queen Mother memorial

Standing next to the bronze statue of her husband, King George VI, this national memorial to The Queen Mother, who died in 2002 aged 101, was unveiled by the late Queen Elizabeth II in February 2009.

The bronze statue by Philip Jackson, shows the Queen Mother at the age of 51, when she was widowed.

The memorial cost £2m and was funded by a £5 coin, produced by the Royal Mint to celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday.

Queen Mother memorial

Queen Victoria memorial

The Queen Victoria Memorial is located in front of Buckingham Palace and comprises the Dominion Gates (Canada Gate, Australia Gate and South and West Africa Gates), the Memorial Gardens and a vast central monument commemorating the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

The monument is 25 metres high and uses 2,300 tonnes of white Carrara marble. As well as Victoria, there are statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth and motherhood.

The central monument, created between 1906 and 1924, is by Sir Thomas Brock, but the whole design, including the Memorial Gardens, was conceived by Sir Aston Webb. The Memorial was formally unveiled by King George V in 1911.

The gates, piers, balustrades and retaining walls of the Memorial Gardens are all protected landmarks.

The Memorial Gardens

The Memorial Gardens were created in 1901 as part of Sir Aston Webb's overall design for a memorial to Queen Victoria after her death that year.

The formal flowerbeds are laid out in a semi-circular design around the central memorial and are a familiar sight during the many of the famous processions and ceremonies that take place in this area.

The planting schedule follows a traditional seasonal pattern that is repeated each year. Each planting takes approximately two weeks and involves up to ten staff.

Replanting of the beds in summer requires approximately 22,500 plants, including geraniums, spider plants, salvias and weeping figs. Scarlet geraniums are used to match the tunics of The Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace.

In winter time the beds are filled with about 50,000 yellow wallflowers and red tulips.

South African Royal Artillery memorial

This memorial was erected in memory of the 1,083 Royal Artillery soldiers who were killed in the Boer War. Designed by William Robert Colton, it is located on the south side of The Mall.

The memorial features a bronze winged figure of Peace subduing a horse that represents War. The bronze figure stands on a pedestal of Portland stone and there are bronze plates listing the names of the dead.

The inscription on the memorial reads:

Erected by the officers and men of the Royal Artillery in memory of their honoured dead. South Africa. 1899-1902.

The memorial was unveiled by the Duke of Connaught, uncle of King George V, in 1910.

South African Royal Artillery memorial

The Boer War

Between 1899 and 1902, the British Army was engaged in a war against the ‘Boers’ — descendants of Dutch colonisers in South Africa.

An earlier war, the ‘First Boer War’ of 1880-1 had ended in a defeat for the British.

The ‘Second Boer War’ was especially bitter, and the British suffered heavy losses at the hands of their skilled opponents.

Though the British ultimately won, their tactics have attracted much criticism, both from contemporary commentators and modern historians.

During the war, the British established a series of camps that held Boer families.

Unlike the notorious Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War, these were not extermination camps.

However, the conditions in these camps were extremely poor and around 28,000 people died there – predominantly women and children.

The term ‘South African War’ is favoured by many, as it indicates that the conflict was not just a ‘white man’s war’.

Somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 black Africans served with the British Army, with a further 100,000 contributing towards the British war effort.

There were also camps for black Africans. Researchers have documented 17,182 deaths at these camps, but the real number is thought to be far higher.

Royal Naval Division memorial

The Royal Naval Division Memorial is dedicated to the 45,000 members of the Royal Naval Division who died during the First World War. The memorial is located in the northwest corner of Horse Guards Parade next to Old Admiralty Buildings.

The Royal Naval Division was formed in 1914 by Sir Winston Churchill as an intervention force, fighting in the First World War at Gallipoli and on the Western Front before being disbanded in 1919.

Royal Naval Division memorial

The memorial was commissioned by surviving Royal Naval Division members and takes the form of a stone obelisk and fountain. It includes an inscription by Rupert Brooke, who died on active service with the Royal Naval Division in the Dardanelles in 1915. It reads the sonnet:

Blow out you bugles, over the rich dead / There's none of these so lonely and poor of old / But, dying has made us rarer gifts than gold. These laid the world away: Poured out the red / Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be. / Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene / That men call age: And those who would have been / Their sons, they gave their immortality.

It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled at Horse Guards in 1925 by Sir Winston Churchill, alongside Sir Ian Hamilton – the commander of the Gallipoli campaign.

The memorial was removed in 1939 when the Admiralty Citadel was built between Horse Guards Parade and The Mall and later installed at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich in 1951.

It returned to Horse Guards and was re-dedicated in 2003 on Beaucourt Day (the Regimental Day on November 13 marking the successful attack on Beaucourt-sur-L'Ancre in the Battle of the Somme in 1916).

Tiffany fountain

At the centre of St. James’s Park lake is the Tiffany Fountain. The fountain sends a six metre (20ft) plume of water straight into the air, enhancing the special views across the park to Buckingham Palace, Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade.

On special occasions the jet is illuminated at night, in any one of a rainbow spectrum of colours.

The Tiffany Fountain was restored to the lake in 2011. It re-creates an earlier fountain which was installed at Pelican Rock in 1966, and removed thirty years later due to wear and tear.

Tiffany fountain and Duck Island

Tiffany Fountain facts

  • The fountain helps provide a better habitat for wildlife in the lake. The process of sending water into the air improves the lake’s water quality and is known as aeration.
  • The jet can reach a height of eight metres and is aligned to the Buckingham Palace balcony.
  • The volume of water recycled continuously from the lake through the jet could fill your bath at home in just 24 seconds.
  • A clever wind speed sensor is located at the end of Duck Island to reduce the jet height in strong winds. This keeps the fountain operating and avoids the pelicans having a cold shower in winter.
  • The lighting system uses low energy LEDs and is automatically switched off during the day.

The fountain was made possible by a generous gift from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

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The history and architecture of St. James’s Park

Three historic palaces. Two island wildlife sanctuaries. And the most famous royal balcony in the world.

St. James’s Park – the oldest Royal Park in London

Once a quiet, marshy backwater, St. James’s Park is now bounded by three historic palaces  the ancient Palace of Westminster, now the Houses of Parliament, St. James’s Palace and the King’s residence, Buckingham Palace.

When you walk the elegant paths of St. James’s Park today, it’s hard to imagine that pigs once grazed here. But, 470 years ago, the St. James’s area was a peaceful water meadow known for its woods and a hospital for women suffering from leprosy. 

It was this hospital, the Leper Hospital of St. James the Less, that gave the park its name.

St. James’s Park and the Tudors

In 1532, King Henry VIII added St. James’s to his royal collection of deer parks, fenced it off to the general public and built the hunting lodge that would become the Palace of St James's. The park was a Tudor playground for jousting, fetes and festivals.

The Elizabethans and and St. James’s Park

King James I played a key role in shaping the historical landscape of St. James’s Park. He improved the drainage and created the romantically named pool known as Rosamond's Pond. At the east end of the park, the small ponds and islands he created would eventually become today’s wildlife sanctuary, Duck Island.

The Royal Menagerie and Birdcage Walk

King James I also kept a collection of exotic animals in St. James’s Park, including camels, crocodiles and an elephant. His large number of exotic birds were housed in aviaries along the road that is now known as Birdcage Walk. The King’s animals and birds were eventually transferred to the newly formed Zoological Society in The Regents Park.

King Charles II and St. James’s Park

But it was King Charles II who made sweeping and dramatic changes to the park landscape.

While exiled on the Continent during the Civil War, King Charles I had developed a love for formal French gardens. When he became king in 1660, he ordered a complete redesign of St. James’s Park from French landscaper, Andre Mollet.  

Mollet’s design included a showstopping, tree-lined canal almost half a mile long, where Charles could mingle with crowds and meet up with his mistress, Nell Gwynn.

King George IV and the grand St. James’s Park Regency redesign

In the 1820s, the park got another grand makeover, courtesy of the Prince Regent, later George lV. He and architect John Nash brought a touch of romance and naturalness to the formality of St. James’s.  Nash replaced the canal with a curving lake and formal avenues became winding paths.  He was also responsible for designing Buckingham Palace.

Be inspired. Get closer to heritage.

Join us for an upcoming event and go behind the scenes with hands-on experiences.