Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4Thornbury, Walter
St. James's Park.
St. James's Park.
At the western end of , which we have already described, we find ourselves at , the entrance of . This gate was so called from Master Edward Storey, the
whose house stood on the spot. This fact has been doubted; but that was so named after a real personage is proved by the entry in the registers of Chapel, in the reign of Charles II., of the marriage of Thomas Fenwick,
The birds, which were among the most innocent toys and amusements of the
were kept in aviaries ranged in order along the road which bounds the south side of the Park, and extends to Buckingham Palace, and which is still known by the significative name of
To corroborate this derivation, we may mention here that the carriage-road between and was, until , open only to the Royal Family and to the Hereditary Grand Falconer, the Duke of St. Albans.
About -half of the south side of , extending from to , is occupied by the [extra_illustrations.4.47.7] , which consist of lofty and commodious ranges of buildings, for the use of the household troops. The barracks were occupied by troops in the year before the battle of Waterloo. In the [extra_illustrations.4.47.8] , which was opened in , are preserved the tattered flags and standards which were taken by Marlborough at Blenheim, and formerly hung in the Chapel Royal at .
As there were no barracks during the reign of Charles II., and as by the Petition of Right it was declared unlawful to billet soldiers on private families, the alehouses and smaller inns of were always filled with privates of the regiments of Guards, which, from the establishment of a standing army nave been generally stationed on duty near and St. James's. Macaulay thus gives us the history of the origin of the Guards :--
At the commencement of the present century a handsome building of storey high, in the Chinese style, was, by order of Government, erected on the left angle of the recruiting-house, in the , for the purpose of serving as the armoury for the whole brigade of Guards. It consisted of archways on the basement for the field-pieces, the room over it being for the small arms, and a range of rooms in the back, for cleaning. The front angles had each a small [extra_illustrations.4.47.9] [extra_illustrations.4.47.10]
|house, for a serjeant-major, and the other for a guard-room. This, we may infer, was the beginning of the barracks on this spot.|
Near this part, as Aubrey tells us, a Mr. James Harrington had a
He describes it as
Mr. Harrington is said to have spent the last years of his life in a house in the Little Almonry, near , of which Aubrey gives us a curious description.
At the western end of is the Duchy of Lancaster office, where all business relative to the revenues of the Prince of Wales, in right of that duchy, is transacted.
itself, which we now enter, was originally a low and swampy meadow, be-
longing to the Hospital for Lepers, which in duel course of time was converted, by the royal will and pleasure of |
It was by the order of Henry that the meadow was drained and enclosed, formed into a
and made also
At this was but a small enclosure inside brick walls; but in course of time Henry VIII. added a
which he threw out, like a wide open noose, from his palace at , forming, where the line of it fell, a large circle, which ran from St. Gilesin- the-Fields, up to , round Highgate and Hornsey and Hampstead Heath, and so back again by Marylebone to and ; and he forbade all his subjects of every degree either to hawk or hunt within those boundaries. Though little more than centuries and a half have passed away since this royal proclamation was issued, yet almost every mark of it has long since been blotted out. Edward VI. and Mary possessed no share of their
father's destructiveness, and the whole chase was gradually
Still, however, retains its verdant and rural character, and in it there are spots where the visitor may sit or walk with every trace of the great city around him shut out from his gaze, except the grey old Abbey, against the tall roof of which the trees seem to rest, half burying it in their foliage, just as they must have done centuries ago.[extra_illustrations.4.49.1]
In the south-west corner, near , and opposite to and was formerly a small sheet of water, known as
to which reference is constantly made in the comedies of the time as a place of assignation for married ladies with fashionable . The pond was made to receive the water of a small stream which trickled down from , and it is shown in or very scarce prints by Hogarth. [extra_illustrations.4.49.3] , soon after the purchase of Buckingham House by the Crown.
It is to its character as recorded above, and as being, in the words of Bishop Warburton to Hurd,
that Pope thus mentions it in the
The same is the drift of a dialogue in Southerne's comedy,
writes the author of
From the same essay we gather that at this date the vineyard close by was in a most scandalously neglected state, and required much labour and art to make it a tasteful addition to the park. As to the , the writer calls it
and commanding a
He urges, however, that variety should be studied in its
| arrangement, and that the circle of trees should be made the |
in which case it would become
writes Mr. Jesse,
[extra_illustrations.4.50.1] , when the avenues of trees were planted along the northern side of the park, where now is the gravel walk known as
under the direction of Le Notre, the French landscape gardener, who was also commissioned to lay out and improve the whole; and when the south side was really, as its name still implies, a walk hung with the cages of the king's feathered pets. Its rural character, at that time, may be inferred from the title of Wycherley's successful comedy, , which was acted in . Close by, at the west end of the water, which was in those days straight, and generally known as the
was a small decoy and an island, called
over which the celebrated St. Evremond was set as
with a small salary. To this we find Horace Walpole alludes in a tone of pleasant banter when, recording in the appointment of Lord Pomfret as ranger of , he adds,
As to the island in the canal, the writer of the
() speaks of it-with some exaggeration, no doubt--as being on the side a wilderness and a desert, and on the other
he complains that
--remarks which show that whoever at that time was the
of the park must have had little eye for either beauty or taste. The canal itself appears to have been feet in breadth and feet long.
Duck Island was abolished and made into towards the close of the last century. In fact,
says Pennant in ,
Pope, who did not approve of Le Notre's stiff and formal style, censures him for the want of good sense--in company, it may be observed, with no less a master than Inigo Jones:--
It is difficult to say to what omission Pope here makes special allusion. Le Notre was largely employed by Le Grand Monarque, Louis XIV., who also ennobled him. He died at Paris in the year .
above mentioned consisted of or straight pieces of water all running parallel to each other and to the canal itself, with which they communicated by narrow openings.
King Charles appears to have been particularly fond of . We are told he would sit for hours on the benches in the walk, amusing himself with some tame ducks and his dogs, amidst a crowd of people, with whom he would talk and joke. It is fancied by some persons that no dogs are now left of the breed popularly called King Charles's breed, except a few very beautiful black-and-tan spaniels belonging to the late Duke of Norfolk, and which used to run riot over Arundel Castle much in the same way that their canine forefathers were formerly allowed to range about the palace at . Charles was foolishly fond of these dogs; he had always many of them in his bedroom and his other apartments; as also so great a number of these pets lounging about the place, that Evelyn declares in his
that the whole court was made offensive and disagreeable by them.
Hard by, in a grove which rose round and between the miniature canals, a little later was a
or rather summer-house, erected by order of William III.; a place where that saturnine king would sometimes spend a summer evening with those of his friends whom he admitted into his confidence.
Although the park comprises less than acres, Charles II. made a strict enclosure of the centre portion, which he surrounded with a ring fence for deer.
writes Samuel Pepys, in his
under date August II, ,
During the reigns of Elizabeth and the Stuarts, the park was little more than a nursery for deer, and an appendage to the Tilt-yard of . In the reign of Charles I. a sort of royal menagerie took the place of the deer with which the
was stocked in the days of Henry and Elizabeth. It was often called the
| Inner or Inward Park, and apparently was not freely accessible to the public at large. At all events, Pepys tells us on occasion in that when he went to walk there, he |
Le Serre, a French writer, in his account of the visit of the Queen-Mother, Mary de Medicis, to her daughter, Henrietta Maria, and Charles I., in the year , mentions several particulars of , as well as of the park, and the then state of the neighbourhood. The palace he calls the
of St. James's; and describes it as embattled, or surmounted by crenelles on the outside, and containing several courts within, surrounded by buildings, the apartments of which (at least, those which he saw) were hung with superb tapestry, and royally furnished.
--then, after noticing the gardens, and the numerous fine statues in them, he adds,
Pepys, in his gossiping manner, records from time to time the progress of the works carried out here by Charles II. Thus, in his
, he writes:--
Again, a month later, :
Further, under date , we find this entry :--
Evelyn, in his
in , tells us how that he went
The exact position of these gardens is not known now; and as allusions to them are of rare occurrence, in all probability they were allowed to pass away and be forgotten, when a botanic garden on a larger scale was commenced under the highest auspices at .
In we find the courtly Waller thus commemorating the improvements which had then been recently made in the park:--
The most beautiful parts of [extra_illustrations.4.52.1] , which is still called
in memory of its former unsightly shape. The water is alive with waterfowl, for whose comfort and protection a quiet and secluded island, with [extra_illustrations.4.52.3] , is reserved, at the southeastern extremity, nearly on the site of the old
The waterfowl here are natives of almost every climate in the world, and the Zoological Society itself has scarcely a finer or more varied collection. Those which are not foreign are mostly descendants of the ducks which Charles II. took such pleasure in feeding with his own royal hands. Around the
stand many fine trees, which throw their green shadows into the water,
as Mr. Thomas Miller quaintly remarks in his
It is almost needless to add that [extra_illustrations.4.52.4] , and the pieces of bread and biscuit which are given daily to the ducks, geese, and swans would well-nigh feed the inmates of a workhouse. At the western end of
| the lake there is a small island richly clothed with verdure, and also a fountain. The |
above mentioned was erected in , by means of a grant of from the Lords of the Treasury. It contains a council-room, keeper's apartments, and steam-hatching apparatus; contiguous are feeding-places and decoys, and the aquatic fowl breed on the island, making their own nests among the shrubs and grasses. The waterfowl of the park can, at all events, boast that they have held undisturbed possession of the lake for more than centuries. Pepys writes, under date of :--
In of , Lord Lansdowne mentions having picked up a snipe, on the of the previous month, under the wall of the Treasury Gardens, on ' Parade. It lay at the foot of a lamp, among some leaves, which had prevented the attention of passers-by being attracted. The spot was out of the line which any carrying dead game could have taken, and the position in which the bird lay was that in which it might have fallen rather than been dropped. The lamp spoken of is opposite the end of the piece of water in . On examination at the office of it was found to be a common jack-snipe. Its bill was fractured across, just at the point where it unites with the skull. It was probably flying at a great pace, and, attracted by the light of the lamp, flew against the iron post, when the force of the concussion killed it on the spot.
In the same publication, in , a correspondent writes :--
A good story is told by Mr; W. C. Hazlitt respecting the waterfowl in this park and a young gentleman, a clerk in the Treasury, not over-gifted with brains, who used to feed the ducks with bread as he went daily from his home in to the office. day, having called the birds, as usual, he found that he had no bread in his pockets, and so threw a sixpence into the water, telling them to buy some. On reaching the office, he told the story with perfect simplicity to his fellow-clerks, with of whom he was engaged to dine the next day. His friend accordingly ordered ducks for dinner, telling the cook to put a sixpence in the stuffing of of them. The next day came, and with it the dinner, in the course of which the sixpence was found inside of the birds, and the young man vowed that he would have the poulterer prosecuted for robbing the king,
is replete with historical associations, not the least interesting of which is the fact of Charles I. having passed through it on foot on the morning of his execution, from his bedchamber in to the scaffold at . The king, as he passed along on that fatal morning, is said to have pointed to a tree which had been planted by his brother, Prince Henry, near .
Strype, the historian, gives us a picture of the Princess Elizabeth's life during the reign of her brother, Edward VI., under date :--
What would not have given to have seen the young princess, thus gaily caparisoned, and in all her pride and beauty, before time had ploughed wrinkles on her brow, and ere the strong passions of middle life had stamped her countenance with their tell-tale marks! [extra_illustrations.4.53.1] [extra_illustrations.4.53.2] [extra_illustrations.4.53.3] [extra_illustrations.4.53.4] [extra_illustrations.4.53.5]
Here Cromwell, as he walked with Whitelock, asked the latter,
To which the memorialist replied,
It is said that late in life Milton met James II., then Duke of York, whilst taking the air in the park. The duke, addressing him, asked whether the poet's blindness was not to be regarded as a judgment from Heaven upon him for daring to take up his pen against Charles I., his (the duke's) father, and his
The story may be true or false: at all events it has been often told, and told as having happened here: we may say of it certainly,
It may be added that the Princess Anne escaped twice from through , once when she joined her husband and the Prince of Orange, and again when the palace was in flames.
This park was a favourite resort of Oliver Goldsmith. In his
we read that,
The strolling player takes a walk in St. James's Par:k,
Between the years and some extensive repairs and improvements were made in the park; but notwithstanding this fact, the
manner in which the walks were still kept caused much discontent and grumbling among its more fashionable . Thus, for instance, in , a letter appeared in the , addressed to Lord Orford, the ranger of the park, complaining bitterly of the disgraceful state of the walks. After some sarcastic remarks upon the delays of the workmen's wages, the writer plainly says that the public intend to petition his Majesty
The writer finally proceeds to give vent to his feelings, and to entreat his Majesty for some instalment of reform, in the following lines, which he heads with the words-
[extra_illustrations.4.47.7] Wellington Barracks
[extra_illustrations.4.47.8] Military Chapel
[extra_illustrations.4.47.9] Firing Park Guns
[extra_illustrations.4.47.10] News of Fall of Sebastopol, Newsclippings re: St. James
[extra_illustrations.4.49.1] Band of Commissionaires Playing in Park
[extra_illustrations.4.49.3] It was filled up in 1770
[extra_illustrations.4.50.1] St. James's Park must have been a rural and pleasant enclosure in the reign of Charles II.
[extra_illustrations.4.51.1] Drawing of Edward in Park
[extra_illustrations.4.51.2] Boat House
[extra_illustrations.4.52.1] St. James's Park are. the walks beside the Ornamental Water
[extra_illustrations.4.52.3] the Swiss cottage of the Ornithological Society
[extra_illustrations.4.52.4] the banks of the canal, and the bridge which spans it, are the haunt of children and their nurses
[extra_illustrations.4.53.1] Account of Jubilee
[extra_illustrations.4.53.2] Peace Commemoration 1814
[extra_illustrations.4.53.3] Grand Jubilee
[extra_illustrations.4.53.4] Carlton House Gardens
[extra_illustrations.4.53.5] Patriotic Lines 1814