St James's Park is
the oldest Royal Park in London,
the first Royal Park to be open to the public,
and it is one of the most visited parks in Europe today
The park is surrounded by three palaces
- St. James's, Westminster, and Buckingham -
and often has beautifully landscaped borders

Originally the park was a marshy meadow
where the River Tyburn often flooded on its way to the River Thames
Pigs grazed the land with farms and woodland in the area
In the thirteenth century, a leper hospital for women opened
(and gave the park its namesake)
Like the conversion of Hyde Park,
King Henry VIII turned the land into another deer park in 1536
with a hunting lodge that later became St. James's Palace
Later, King James I brought minor changes to the park
including keeping exotic birds, camels, crocodiles, and an elephant in the park
King Charles II acquired Green Park so he could walk
from Hyde Park to St James’s Park without leaving royal soil


Then in 1827 the Prince Regent (later George IV) commissioned
John Nash to design the park in a naturalistic fashion which included
winding paths, converting the canal into a lake,
and replacing Charles II's formal, French-inspired plantings to something more fashionable

The landscape design has changed little since Nash’s time

Earlier trees were burned for fuel or
accidentally burned due to out-of-control fireworks,

therefore, many of the plane trees (in the Sycamore family)
you see today in the park were planted during the 1827 redesign

In 1837, the Ornithological Society of London gifted the park various birds
The position of bird keeper and cottage (below) remain today

And those fabulous pelicans?

In 1664, the Russian Ambassador gave pelicans as a gift for the park

Just last month the City of Prague gave the park three Great White pelicans,
increasing the pelican population to six

They can be seen feeding between 2:30p and 3:00p daily

It's reported that there once was a naughty pelican
who would fly to the London Zoo to steal fish for lunch
and then return to the park

This one looks a little suspicious

all photos by me
(an unsponsored post)