Gardens of Kensington Palace London | The Royal Parks
Kensington Garden originally served as an exclusive private lawn for the residents of Kensington Palace. Over the years, this gorgeous 265-acre expanse consisting of lakes, statues, and fountains became a public space in central London. The Serpentine Bridge, Italian Garden, and the Flower Walk are just a few of the fascinating attractions you can see here today.
Kensington Garden Timings
- What are the Kensington Garden opening times?
Kensington Garden opens at 6 AM on all days of the week.
- What are the Kensington Garden closing times?
Kensington Garden closes at different times each week. Between July and September, the closing time can range from 9:30 PM to 7 PM. The closing time gets pushed back to 4:30 PM in the winter months
- How long should I spend at Kensington Garden?
If you are visiting for the first time, you should plan to spend about 3 hours at Kensington Garden.
- What is the best time to visit Kensington Garden?
You should ideally visit Kensington Garden in March, April, or May (Spring). London will be comfortably warm, and you can see all of the flowers in full bloom in the garden. If you intend to avoid crowds, late afternoon is a good time to explore the Kensington Palace gardens.
Kensington Garden History In a Minute
History & Architecture
For centuries, what we know today as Kensington Palace was surrounded by small hamlets and rural spaces. After the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, the area around the gardens began developing rapidly. Consequently, Queen Victoria commissioned a string of new buildings and enhancements to Kensington Garden such as the Albert Memorial in the southeast corner and the Italian Garden. George Frampton’s bronze Peter Pan statue pays homage to the classic fictional character created by J.M. Barrie. This 107-year-old statue was recently reopened after some restoration work. Built to commemorate the passing of Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial is considered one of London’s finest architectural marvels. The ornate marble figures at each corner of the memorial are its distinguishing characteristic. There are several other intriguing monuments in the park including the Speke Monument, which was unveiled in 1866, and the Physical Energy statue by George Watts.
As a part of Hyde Park, a majority of Kensington Garden served as a hunting ground for Henry VIII. When William and Mary ascended to the throne, they purchased the building that stood at the edge of Hyde Park. The building was renamed Kensington Palace, and it became the abode of Queen Mary. Shortly after, in 1728, Queen Caroline appointed Charles Bridgeman as the chief designer for a complete overhaul of the park. Soon, the Round Pond, Long Water lake, and tree-lined avenues were introduced. The famous Sunken Garden and Italian Garden were added much later. Although the royal residence was moved to Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria in 1837, Kensington Park remained a pristine green patch in the heart of London.
Kensington Garden Highlights
Kensington Palace Sunken Garden
Created in 1908, the Sunken Garden has flower beds surrounding an ornamental central pond. The garden was recently redesigned to honor Diana, Princess of Wales, who loved spending time here. Several of her favorite flowers including forget-me-nots, tulips, and dahlias have been added. A statue of the princess was also unveiled by Prince Willian and Prince Harry in 2017.
The Cradle Walk of Kensington Park is an arched tunnel of red-twigged lime trees. The trees need to be regularly pruned to ensure that the stems conform to the structure of the iron frame. For decades, walking through the arbor and watching the bright flowers of the Sunken Garden from the viewpoints on either side has been a favorite summer pastime of Londoners.
Wildflowers at Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace boasts one of the finest wildflower patches in central London. Located in the southeastern section of the park, you can find wild daisies, poppies, and campions blooming in the Wildflower Meadow in spring. This patch is an attempt to give something back to nature, an abode for small birds and pollinating insects such as bees that are hard-pressed to find shelter in the midst of London.
The formal gardens include several iconic attractions such as the Broad Walk, Round Pond, and Long Water. Queen Caroline contributed significantly to the modernization of the formal gardens. You can still see many of the Dutch-style flower beds and box hedges in multiple sections of Kensington Garden.
Buildings & Monuments
Kensington Palace is perhaps the most awe-inspiring building on the grounds. The Diana Memorial Playground, a perfect spot for kids opened in June 2000, boasts a massive wooden pirate ship and the 900-year-old Elfin Oak. The contemporary art exhibits at the Serpentine Gallery and the marble sculptures of The Albert Memorial are also worth witnessing.
Nestled in the northern part of the park near Lancaster Gate, the Italian Garden consists of four ornamental basins. The white marble Tazza Fountain and the central rosettes made of Carrara marble are truly a sight to behold. Owing to Prince Albert’s keen interest in gardening, the flower beds here are arranged in intriguing geometric patterns.
Kensington Gardens in Films
- Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
The film’s famous brawling scene between Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver is shot near The Serpentine Gallery and the Italian Garden in Kensington Park.
- Wimbledon (2004)
This romantic comedy featuring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany briefly shows the couple touring Kensington Garden and visiting the Albert Memorial.
- The Jokers (1967)
The Albert Memorial is also featured in the 1967 flick The Jokers starring Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford.
- The Wings of the Dove (1997)
In this romantic British-American drama starring Helena Bonham Carter, three of the film’s most important characters converge at The Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Park.
- Finding Neverland (2004)
Finding Neverland is a 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet that tells the story of J.M. Barrie, the playwright who brought Peter Pan to life with his enchanting books. Since Kensington Garden was Barrie’s favorite haunt, the movie fittingly features various parts of the gardens.