What we know as Kensington Gardens was once part of Hyde Park until the land was bought by William III in 1689. The king was looking for a location where he felt he could breathe freely, William was an asthma sufferer and enjoyed the peace and quiet and clean air of the location. He liked the location so much that he then commissioned architect Sir Christopher Wren to design what we know as Kensington Palace. It was Queen Anne that was responsible for creating the palace gardens, after transferring a further thirty acres of Hyde Park into royal ownership; she is also responsible for the creation and development of the orangery within the grounds in 1704.
The grounds and gardens are used extensively by the public today for summer picnics and gentle walks as well as by joggers and cyclists. The gardens here are all about relaxation, kickabouts and other less formal sporting activities are discouraged in order to preserve the garden landscape. The gardens are also home to the Princess of Wales Memorial Playground – constructed in memory of Princess Diana the playground attracts hundreds of thousands of parents and children each year.
Kensington Palace and its gardens occupy a full two hundred and sixty acres of what was originally part of Hyde Park, a park which is still frequented by tens of thousands of visitors every year, looking to escape the confines of the city for a while. This is the palace where Queen Victoria was born and where she called home until her coronation in 1837, after which she moved to Buckingham Palace making many changes to the building during her reign there. Though this place may have one been created to suit the whim of an asthmatic king, it was in fact the word and foresight of three female members of subsequent royal households that provided the gardens with the distinctive look that we recognise and enjoy today.
Kensington Garden on Film
The distinctive look of the gardens have attracted more than one film producers looking to capture the environment on camera. The distinctive shady avenues and elegant walkways make the perfect setting for romantic comedies and period pieces. Those who visit the gardens regularly are likely to have seen some of the biggest starts in Hollywood filming here such as Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Kate Winslet. The gardens were the perfect backdrop for ‘Finding Neverland’ the film of the life of Peter Pan author J M Barrie, as the gardens were where she regularly came for inspiration over one hundred years ago. The gardens were also featured in ‘Bridget Jones – Edge of Reason’ and in the romantic comedy ‘Wimbledon’.
The gardens seem to be a location that never goes out of fashion with a number of blockbuster films having been filmed here over the last fifty years. As you walk around the gardens you will no doubt have a sense of having been there before, or will instinctively know your way around in these elegant and timeless surroundings.