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London’s Secrets: Parks & Gardens


A Guide to over 250 of the City's Best Parks, Gardens & Squares

Britain is renowned for being a green and pleasant land, and nowhere in the British Isles has such a rich diversity of beautiful green spaces as London. The capital’s green bounty includes magnificent royal parks, historic garden cemeteries, majestic ancient forests, breath-taking formal country parks, expansive commons, tropical greenhouse collections, elegant squares and enchanting ‘secret’ gardens, many of which are known only to insiders and locals.

            London is more verdant than any other world city of its size – green spaces cover almost 40 per cent of Greater London – and provides a wealth of places where you can play, relax, exercise and commune with nature year round. There are around 400 green spaces in the City of London alone and over 1,000 in Greater London, ranging from famous public parks to semi-private gardens, city farms to converted church yards – each with its own unique character. This book gathers together over 250 of London’s parks, gardens and squares, including all the major ones, and many that are lesser known but just as glorious – most of which can be visited free of charge!

            For London’s largest, best-known (royal) parks we must thank – somewhat surprisingly – Henry VIII. Not that the Tudor monarch ever intended his lands to be opened to the hoi polloi; when he appropriated them in the 16th century it was so he and his friends could hunt deer in private. Bushy Park, Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hampton Court Park, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park and St James’s Park all owe their existence to the royals’ passion for chasing deer.

            The vast majority of London’s public parks were founded by the Victorians from the 1840s onwards (the first was Victoria Park in Hackney, created in 1845) as part of a range of measures to improve the living conditions of the working classes by providing ‘green lungs’ where they could enjoy exercise and fresh air. It’s thanks to the foresight and dedication of those visionary Victorians that modern London is the greenest of green cities; their work is continued today by an army of volunteers (‘friends’), who toil selflessly to restore, maintain and improve the city’s green spaces.

            London’s living network of parks and gardens, commons and woodlands, canals, rivers and reservoirs, is vital to the health and well-being of Londoners (and visitors!) and makes an invaluable contribution to the quality, character and economy of the capital. It also provides food and refuge for the city’s flora and fauna, which – despite living alongside some 8.25m people – is extraordinary in its abundance, variety and scope.

            There’s nothing pristine or precious about London’s parks and gardens, no multitude of signs saying, ‘Keep off the grass’ – heaven forbid! The city’s green spaces are there to be enjoyed by all, as places to sunbathe, nap, play, picnic, read, listen to music or just chill out. They attract all kinds of sportsmen and women, from walkers to joggers, cyclists to horse-riders, Frisbee throwers to rollerbladers, kite flyers to model boat enthusiasts, tai chi practitioners to yoga enthusiasts, and provide a stage for all manner of organised sports including swimming (in lidos, lakes and ponds), tennis, soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, skateboarding, basketball, bowls, golf and much more.

            So, whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, a horticulturist or a fitness freak, or just a deckchair dreamer looking for a bit of peace and quiet, you’ll find your perfect spot in London. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, a sense of adventure – and this book!

            We trust you’ll enjoy discovering London’s profusion of amazing parks and gardens as much as we did.


Download the PDF Sample now FREE of charge (including the Table of Contents) and see for yourself the wealth of information this book contains.


Initially got this as inspiration for somewhere different to walk my dog and was really impressed by the breadth and scope of information, and it's got me exploring London again. It's handy to have such a diverse number of parks all gathered together in one place, and I found the coverage of south London especially good. Same goes for the City - have been travelling up on Sundays to check out some of the unexpected places, like Postman's Park and Bunhill Fields. Nice book!? - avidreader (Amazon)

London can be a demanding city: all that sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking can take it out of you. Luckily the city is packed with hundreds of green places where you can clear your head and let your credit card cool down a bit. Some, like Hyde Park, you may think you already know, but were you aware that that in 1665 Londeners camped there to escape the Great Plague? Have you heard of the tiny "pocket park" of St Anne's Churchyard in Soho? Or that you could go to Highgate Cemertery and pay your respects to Douglas Adams as well as Karl Marx (or George Eliot and Max Wall?) I found this clever little book told me new things about places I thought I knew, and introduced me to plenty of fresh ones I had never heard of, and explained about things like opening hours, cafes etc. Thank goodness the days of guide books in black and white are over - go to the map at the start of each regional chapter, find where you are and head for the nearest patch of green. - Dave (Amazon)

Parks and Gardens JPEG3
RRP: £10.95 Survival Books
Author: Robbi Atilgan & David Hampshire
ISBN-10: 1-907339-95-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-907339-95-0
Edition: 1st
Published: 1st Sep 2013
Number of Pages: 320 Pages
Dimensions: 110mm W x 190mm H
Book Type: Paperback