London's Open Spaces

Thames River Sightseeing have returned to service today (Read Our Coronavirus Update Here) & will be operating from Westminster Pier, Embankment Pier, St. Katharine Pier & Greenwich Pier. While much of London remains closed we’re taking the opportunity to explore some of our favourite outdoor spaces in the capital.

From Royal Parks such as Greenwich & St James to hidden gems like Crossrail Place & 120 Fenchurch Street London has an extensive range of gardens, parks & outdoor spaces we can’t wait to visit again.

Gardens & Spaces

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is the oldest of the Royal Parks & has strong ties to the Tudor & Stuart monarchs. In the 15th century Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (brother to Henry V) was granted 200 acres of land & permission to construct a stone tower which later become known as Duke Humphrey’s Tower.

After the Duke’s death the land passed to the Crown & his riverside manor house was remodelled by Henry VII into what became the Tudor Palace of Placentia. The Tudor palace was the birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I & Elizabeth the I & was a favourite residence of the Tudor monarchs due to its close proximity to the river & ample hunting ground. Henry VIII introduced deer to Greenwich Park & their decedents remain to this day.

The Stuart period saw great changes to the park with the demolition of the Palace of Placentia, the construction of the Queens House, Royal Hospital for Seamen (Now the Old Royal Naval College) & the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The Tudor hunting grounds & pleasure gardens made way for a more formal landscape designed by André Le Notre, gardener to Louis XIV of France.

Today Greenwich Park spans 183 acres & forms one of London’s most magnificent landscapes. Greenwich Hill offers views of the Queens House, Old Royal Naval College, the River Thames & Docklands.

St James Park

Le parc St. James est le plus ancien parc royal de Londres et est entouré de trois palais royaux, le palais de Westminster, le palais St. James et le palais de Buckingham. En 1536, la cour royale était basée au palais de Westminster et le roi Henri VIII acheta un terrain à St. James pour construire le palais St. James et un nouveau parc aux cerfs. Après son accession au trône en 1603, Jacques Ier fit assécher le parc, l'aménager et le remplir d'animaux exotiques, notamment des chameaux, des crocodiles, des oiseaux et un éléphant.

Le parc St. James a subi d'autres modifications lorsque Charles II l'a ouvert au public et l'a fait réaménager dans un style plus formel avec un grand canal. Le parc St. James a subi une autre transformation dans les années 1820 lorsque le prince régent (qui deviendra plus tard George IV) a chargé l'architecte et paysagiste John Nash de donner au parc un aspect plus naturel. Le canal a été façonné en lac et un pont en fer a été construit offrant d'excellentes vues sur le lac. Le pont actuel (le pont bleu) a été construit en 1957 et est le troisième pont à enjamber le lac St. James Park.

Victoria Tower Gardens

Victoria Embankment Gardens

During the construction of Victoria Embankment (complete in 1870) the landscape architect Alexander McKenzie designed a series of public gardens parallel to the river Thames between Westminster Bridge & Temple Stairs Arch. Whitehall Gardens (the furthest stretch West) were designed by George Vulliamy who also designed the pedestals & sphinxes for Cleopatra’s Needle (located 6 minutes downriver on the embankment). Villiamy designed Victoria Embankments camel benches & sturgeon lamps which can be seen along the riverfront.

Victoria Embankment Gardens are well kept & are home to a large number of memorial statues. The gardens are also home to the York Water Gate which would have sat on the bank of the river before the construction of the embankment.

The Garden at 120 (120 Fenchurch Street)

One Fen Court est un complexe de bureaux moderne situé au 120 Fenchurch Street. Conçu par Eric Parry Architects et achevé en 2019, le bâtiment s'élève sur 15 étages et comprend le plus grand jardin sur le toit de Londres. The Garden at 120 est un grand jardin sur le toit en plein air qui est ouvert au public gratuitement du lundi au vendredi. 14 Hills, un restaurant, un bar et une épicerie sont situés juste en dessous du jardin au 14ème étage.

The Tide

Crossrail Place Roof Garden

The Crossrail Place Roof Garden is a hidden oasis perched atop the Crossrail train station in Canary Wharf. The garden sits almost on top of the historic prime meridian separating East from West. The plants in the garden are arranged to WORDWORDWORDWORD  the meridian line, Asian plants including bamboo are located in the East of the garden & plants from the Americas including ferns are located to the West of the garden. Numerous paths wind through the garden & visitors can spend plenty of time exploring, a perfect escape from the busy financial & shopping district located outside. 

Crossrail Place is partially covered providing shelter in inclement weather & is also home to an 80 seater performance space.

Canary Wharf