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

St. James Park è il parco reale più antico di Londra ed è circondato da tre palazzi reali, il Palazzo di Westminster, St. James Palace e Buckingham Palace. Nel 1536 la corte reale aveva sede presso il Palazzo di Westminster e il re Enrico VIII acquistò un terreno a St. James per costruire il St. James Palace e un nuovo parco dei cervi. Dopo la sua ascesa al trono nel 1603 Giacomo I fece prosciugare il parco, abbellirlo e riempirlo di animali esotici tra cui cammelli, coccodrilli, uccelli e un elefante.

St. James Park subì ulteriori modifiche quando Carlo II lo aprì al pubblico e lo fece rimodellare in uno stile più formale con un grande canale. St. James Park ha visto un altro restyling nel 1820 quando il principe reggente (in seguito diventato Giorgio IV) ha incaricato l'architetto e paesaggista John Nash di dare al parco un aspetto più naturale. Il canale è stato modellato in un lago ed è stato costruito un ponte di ferro che offre eccellenti viste sul lago. L'attuale ponte (The Blue Bridge) è stato costruito nel 1957 ed è il terzo ponte ad attraversare il St. James Park Lake.

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 è un moderno complesso di uffici situato al 120 di Fenchurch Street. Progettato da Eric Parry Architects e completato nel 2019, l'edificio è alto 15 piani e presenta il più grande giardino sul tetto di Londra. The Garden at 120 è un ampio giardino pensile all'aperto, aperto al pubblico gratuitamente dal lunedì al venerdì. 14 Hills, un ristorante, bar e gastronomia si trova proprio sotto il giardino al 14° piano.

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