Welcome to St. James's Park
Pomp and circumstance. Buckingham Palace. And a princely pod of pelicans!
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.
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 is a grand processional route in honour of Queen Victoria, which has seen innumerable historic Royal processions.
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 is a nature reserve for St James's Park bird collection. It is located on the east end of St James's Park Lake.
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.