Did you know that 47% percent of London consists of green space? Take away the private gardens and that leaves 37% of the capital’s land given over to Royal Parks, allotments, gardens, and public green spaces. It’s the third greenest capital city in the world.
Living in a big city can be tiring, but London’s beautiful green spaces give us all some much-needed respite and a chance to get back in touch with nature. They’re the pride of the city. If you’re planning a tour of London, don’t miss out on the chance for a stroll around these beautiful, historic spaces.
Every park has a history as lush as it’s grass. Let’s take a look at the most fascinating facts about London’s parks.
Handing out flowers in Green Park
Nobody is totally sure how Green Park got its name. There are, however, a few different theories. One tale says that the name stems back to the time of Charles II. The King was walking through the park with his wife and a handful of courtiers when he reached down to pick a flower from the beds. Instead of handing it to Queen Catherine, he handed it to another maid that was said to be his mistress. In a furious rage, the Queen ordered that all the flowers in the park be dug out leaving only grass.
Body swapping at the Wellington Monument
This famous monument in the center of Hyde Park is a tribute to Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, and his victories during the Napoleonic Wars. The statue was recast from a captured enemy cannon and depicts Achilles with his sword and shield. The shape of the body was based on that of a Roman Soldier whilst the head, perhaps rather oddly, is based on Wellesley himself. Hmmm…
Counting trees in the Royal Parks
When counted together, the Royal Parks contain over 170,000 trees, with the oldest being the 400-year-old chestnut trees in Greenwich Park. These are young saplings, though, compared to London’s oldest tree – a great Elm in High Barnet that is said to be over 2000 years old. In total, London has more than 8 million trees; nearly as many trees as there are people.
Underground secrets in Greenwich
As well as its beautiful Chestnut trees, Greenwich Park sports more fascinating features. Deep under the surface are buried a series of secret tunnels that are tall enough for a person to walk upright. It’s been claimed that the tunnels were built as secret escape routes for King Henry VIII. Unfortunately, their real purpose is a little less exciting, and the tunnels were actually built as waterways to allow groundwater from the hillsides to escape. We prefer the myth though!
Dog walking about town
Whilst a few of London’s parks are kept in pristine condition, many are left to grow wild and untamed. This makes them the perfect place to walk your favorite canine companion. London’s parks see over 2.2 million dog walks every year. That’s a lot of happy puppies!
Of course, walking is the best way to explore London’s beautiful green spaces. If you haven’t already, check out our fantastic walking tours of London. We hope you enjoyed these fun facts.