Parks and open spaces in London
There are many parks and open spaces in London, England. Green space in central London consists of five Royal Parks, supplemented by a number of small garden squares scattered throughout the city centre. Open space in the rest of the city is dominated by the remaining three Royal Parks and many other parks and open spaces of a range of sizes, run mainly by the local London boroughs, although other owners include the National Trust and the City of London Corporation.
The centrepieces of London's park system are the eight Royal Parks of London. Covering 1976 hectares (4,882 acres), they are former royal hunting grounds which are now open to the public. Four of these — Green Park 16 ha (39.5 acres), St. James's Park 34 ha (84 acres), Hyde Park 140 ha (346 acres), and Kensington Gardens 111 ha (274 acres) — form a green strand through the western side of the city centre, whilst a fifth, Regent's Park 197 ha (486.79 acres) is just to the north. The remaining three Royal Parks are in the suburbs — Greenwich Park 73 ha (180 acres) to the south east, and Bushy Park 450 ha (1,112 acres) and Richmond Park 955 ha (2,359.85 acres) to the south west.
Many of the smaller green spaces in central London are garden squares, which were built for the private use of the residents of the fashionable districts, but in some cases are now open to the public. Notable examples open to the public are Russell Square in Bloomsbury, Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn and Soho Square in Soho.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea contains over a hundred garden squares whose use is restricted to residents. The upkeep of these squares is paid for through a levy on top of residents' council tax.
In addition to these spaces, a large number of council-owned parks were developed between the mid 19th century and the Second World War, including Victoria Park 86.18 ha (213 acres), Alexandra Park 80 ha (197.68 acres) and Battersea Park 83 ha (205 acres).
Other green spaces
Other major open spaces in the suburbs include:
- Hampstead Heath, 320 hectares (790 acres)
- Clapham Common, 89 hectares (219.9 acres)
- Wandsworth Common, 73 hectares (180 acres)
- Wimbledon Common, about 460 hectares (1,136 acres)
- Epping Forest, 2,476 hectares (6,118 acres)
- Trent Park 169 hectares (417.6 acres)
- Hainault Forest Country Park 136 hectares (336 acres)
- Mitcham Common 182 hectares (449.7 acres)
- South Norwood Country Park 47 hectares (116 acres)
- Wildspace Conservation Park 645 hectares (1,593 acres)
- Thames Chase 9,842 hectares (24,320 acres)
They have a more informal and semi-natural character, having originally been countryside areas protected against surrounding urbanisation. Some cemeteries provide extensive green land within the city — notably Highgate Cemetery, burial place of Karl Marx and Michael Faraday amongst others. Completing London's array of green spaces are two paid entrance gardens — the leader is the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, whilst the royal residence of Hampton Court Palace also has a celebrated garden. All Outer London boroughs contain sections of the metropolitan green belt. Furthermore one of the great legacies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be the development of the largest (200 ha/494.21 acre) urban park in Europe at Stratford in East London.
There are over a hundred registered commons in London, ranging in size from small fragments of land to large expanses.
- List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Greater London
- List of Local Nature Reserves in Greater London
- Walking in London
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- "Your garden square and you", Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, UK. URL accessed 20 June 2006.
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- Greater London Authority - London's strategic open space network
- Olympics will leave east London an open space to rival Hyde Park - The Guardian - March 17th 2008
- London Parks and Gardens Trust
- London Landscape Architecture Visitors Guide
- Green-Spaces Guide to London
- Green Spaces Near You in London