Originally the grounds of Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens is a magnificent 270-acre landscaped garden adjacent to the exclusive residential district of Kensington. The gardens are on the western fringe of Hyde Park, which is 350 acres in size and is the most popular Royal Park in London.
The gardens date back to the era of King Henry VIII, when the area was a popular hunting ground and was surrounded by countryside. This hunting ground was transformed into a formal landscaped garden in the Georgian era, when the large Serpentine Lake was created and the population of London expanded to almost a million by 1801. However, it was not until the mid-19th century, when the city's population swelled to around 2.5 million, that the surrounding area became urbanised, as large numbers of wealthy Londoners built grand residences further away from the centre.
The Serpentine Galleries
Housed in a former tea pavilion that is now a Grade II listed building, the Serpentine Galleries welcome more than a million visitors each year, many of whom visit the venues to see exhibitions of prominent artists such as Richard Prince, Henry Moore and Marina Abramović. The site also organises a renowned temporary pavilion in the summer, which has featured the work of distinguished architects such as Oscar Nimeyer and Jean Nouvel, and exhibits each architect's work for three months.
The Italian Gardens – a special royal gift
Once featured in the Golden Globe-nominated film 'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason' (2004), the Italian Gardens were created in 1860 as a gift from Prince Albert to his wife, Queen Victoria. The Grade II listed gardens are noted for their charismatic stone statues, and are marked by the Tazza Fountain, which was built with Portland stone.
Albert Memorial – commemorating Queen Victoria's beloved husband
Noted for its intrinsic Gothic Revival style architecture, the Albert Memorial was completed in 1872 to commemorate Prince Albert, who passed away in 1861. The statue, which is 54 metres in height, is adjacent to the famous Royal Albert Hall, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and is well within reach of hotels near Kensington Gardens.
Hotels in the local area
Popular places to stay in the area include the elegant Royal Garden Hotel, the value-for-money Thistle Kensington Gardens Hotel, and the exquisite Cheval Thorney Court at Hyde Park. Another venue conveniently located within walking distance of Hyde Park is the Kensington Gardens Hotel, an attractive Victorian townhouse and is one of the most affordable hotels near Kensington Gardens.
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