Holland Park, quiet and exquisite
One of my favourite things to do in summer is have a picnic in the park! And what better place can there be to do just that than Holland Park, quiet and off the main tourist routes.
Holland Park is located west of Kensington Palace, surrounded by stunning Victorian townhouses. On its grounds previously stood Holland House, a mansion built in the early 17th century in Jacobean Renaissance style and largely destroyed in the first weeks of the Blitz in 1940. Owned by British aristocratic families, it had been a popular meeting place for high society and politicians, in particular from the 19th century.
Holland House even had been considered for a Royal residence when King William III, suffering from asthma, sought to move away from London’s pollution. He temporarily lived here before purchasing Kensington House and transforming it into what is now Kensington Palace.
Today Holland Park’s most famous residents are peacocks, wandering around freely among the flowers, visitors and chess pieces on the park’s giant chess board. During their mating season these exotic creatures are notorious for escaping the park boundaries and exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The ruins of Holland House form a scenic backdrop to the beautiful Dutch flower beds and the Rose and Iris gardens and are home to Opera Holland Park. The former orangery has been transformed into a function venue, and other parts of the mansion are now a restaurant and an open gallery.
Holland Park’s Japanese-inspired Kyoto Garden with its waterfall is hidden from plain sight in a “wild” woodland area (as wild as it can be in central London). The park also features a large adventure playground, green open spaces and various sports fields.