London W2 2UH
TfL Fare Zone 1
Kensington Gardens is a delightful, intimate Royal Park adjacent to Hyde Park.
Only 275 acres (111 hectares), it is a popular children’s park because of its associations with James Barrie’s boy hero ‘Peter Pan’, The Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Adventure Playground and the Elfin Oak.
Kensington Gardens is one of a number of Royal Parks in London – some others are St James's Park, The Green Park, Hyde Park, The Regent's Park, Richmond Park and Greenwich Park.
Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground
The Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground is a fantastic adventure for kids up to the age of 12. This children's playground commemorates the memory of the late Princess Diana. It is most popular with both parents and children.
Based on the stories of Peter Pan, the playground centrepiece is a huge pirate ship surrounded by a beach. There is a sensory trail, teepees, play sculptures and toys all designed to stimulate a child’s imagination.
The Playground, located next to Diana’s Kensington Palace home, is close to Black Lion Gate. Opening hours vary for different months of the year - refer to Park website for full details: Diana Memorial Playground Information line, Tel: +44 (0)2072 982 141
The Gardens' history
The gardens originally started life in the 17th century, as the private gardens of Kensington Palace, with Dutch-style formal flower beds and box hedges.
There are a number of statues in the park, the most famous of which is a bronze statue of Peter Pan. Bronze fairies and elves, small animals and a squirrel scramble up the base. Peter gazes out over the Long Water while real squirrels rummage around beside the path leading to the Italian Gardens. Visit the park website for further information Web: Kensington Gardens
In 1728 Queen Caroline extended the gardens by adding the Round Pond, the Long Water, and avenues of magnificent trees radiating from the Round Pond giving views of the Palace. The park has changed little since this time except for the addition by Queen Victoria of the Italian Gardens and the Albert Memorial.
The Elfin Oak
Just outside the entrance to the Adventure Playground is the remains of an ancient oak tree surrounded by railings. Look carefully at the stump and you will see its gnarled surface is covered with painted carvings of the ‘Little People’ – the gnomes, elves and small animals that live within the bark of the tree.
The tree stump is over 900 years old and originally grew in Richmond Park. In 1928 it was moved to its present site. Ivor Innes and his wife had published a children’s book called ‘The Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens’ and Ivor was asked to carve the stump with characters from this book.
The book describes how "for centuries now it has been the home of fairies, gnomes, elves, imps, and pixies. In the nooks and crannies they lurk, or peer out of holes and crevices, their natural windows and doorways. It is their hiding-place by day, their revelry place by night, and when the great moon tops the bare branchless tree the Elfin Clans come out to play and frolic in the moonlight."
(Elsie Innes, The Elfin Oak of Kensington Gardens, Frederick Warne & Co, 1930)
The oak was much loved by comedian Spike Milligan and he paid to have it restored in the 1960s. Thirty years later he organised an appeal to save the oak and have it designated a Grade II listed building. The oak was listed in 1997.
The Round Pond
For decades the pond has been a favourite place for children to sail model boats. It is also a favourite spot to feed the many varieties of waterfowl.
The fictional ‘little boy who never grew up’ was created by J M Barrie to entertain the children of Arthur Llewelyn Davies. Barrie met these children in the company of their nanny, one day while walking his dog in Kensington Gardens. He became great friends with the children and their parents, so much so that he took on financial responsibility for them when their father died. He remained friends with the children right into adulthood.
The Peter Pan statue commemorates J M Barrie.
Monuments in the Park
- Queen Victoria
Outside Kensington Palace, in the park, is a large statue to Queen Victoria. It is particularly interesting because the sculptor was her own daughter, Princess Louise.
- John Hanning Speke
An obelisk commemorates John Hanning Speke, Africa explorer and discoverer of the River Nile.
- Edward Jenner
Near the Italian Gardens a statue of a reflective man, seated, his chin resting on his hand and the single name ‘Jenner’ on the plinth commemorates an almost forgotten but vitally important medical man. His pioneering work led to the worldwide elimination of the fatal disease of smallpox.
Edward Jenner was born, lived and died in the small Gloucestershire village of Berkeley in the mid 18th century. He discovered that the live virus from Cowpox lesions would protect people from catching the highly infectious, often fatal disease of smallpox. He was the founder of immunology and a pioneer in the new science of virology. There is a fine memorial to him in Gloucester Cathedral.
- Albert Memorial & Tours
The largest and most spectacular monument is Queen Victoria’s tribute to her Consort, The Albert Memorial. The memorial is freely accessible but if the visitor wants to know more about it, guided tours run on the first Sunday of the month March to December. All tours last 45-50 minutes.
Attendees meet directly in front of the memorial, on the side closest to the road and the Albert Hall. No need to book and pay the guide at the time of joining the tour. For more information Web: Albert Memorial/ Guided Tours
The Italian Gardens
Commissioned by Queen Victoria for the southern end of the Long Water is a peaceful Italian loggia and fountains. This has become a popular movie location and was the setting for the fight between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in the second Bridget Jones movie ‘Edge of Reason’.
Plan Your Visit
Gardens Opening Hours
Open all year from 06:00 to dusk.
Please note that after 16:00 hours (during winter months) and 17:00 hours (during summer months) the only exit from Kensington Gardens is via Orme Square Gate which is on the north side of the park leading onto the Bayswater Road.
Available for hire in the summer months to help you relax. These deck chairs can be hired by the hour - go to Web: Kensington Gardens/ Park Deck Chairs
Accessible. There are Disabled Toilets at Mount Gate and the Adventure Playground.
- Gardens Disabled Transport
Liberty Drives provides a free electric buggy service with wheelchair facilities. 'Liberty Drives' operates during the warmer months- May to October and can carry up to 5 passengers. Drops off and picks up at favourite spots. For further information go to Web: Kensington Gardens/ Liberty Drives
Parking is available for disabled drivers at Queen's Gate or along West Carriage Drive in the designated bays.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)3000 612 000
TfL Fare Zone 1 Transport for London Journey Planner
To find the best way for getting to Kensington Gardens, visit the TfL Journey Planner.
- By Underground
|Lancaster Gate Station||Central Line|
|Queensway Station||Central Line|
|Bayswater Station||District Line|
|High Street Kensington Station||Circle and District Lines|
- By Bus
Buses to Kensington Gardens are listed on the Park website at Web: Visitor Information/Opening Times & Getting There. Use the 'Tfl Journey Planner' to select a suitable bus route.
Google Maps - Kensington Gardens