Holland Park is one of my favourite parks in London.
Many people visiting London on a sunny day will head automatically to Hyde Park, Green Park or Regent’s Park. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But Holland Park offers something a little bit different. There is just so much variety and beauty condensed into such a small space.
While I was living in Shepherd’s Bush, I would walk there most mornings before work. It took me to a calm, still, place – away from the madness of everyday life.
5 key reasons I love it are:
1) The beautiful flowers
Perhaps it seems an obvious thing to say that the flowers in a park look nice. But these flowers really do.
A lot of care is taken to preserve both the conservation and maintained elements of park.
The flower beds are changed with the season so you see a variety throughout the year.
On the conservation side, there are signs up marking out which parts are being preserved for this purpose.
The park actually has an Ecology Centre which holds events for kids. I have never been, but let me know if you have and if it’s been good!
2) The Forest
A small forest dominates the top end of the park (closes to Holland Park Tube station), and I find that really gives me the feeling of escape and tranquility.
The Japanese have a thing called “forest bathing”, which explains why we feel so calmed by woods. According to Time magazine, it means “simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch”.
To do this, you are supposed to wander aimlessly and slowly, which I’m pretty good at.
This got me thinking about how there aren’t enough forests around. Apparently England’s forest cover used to cover 13% of the land, but many other European countries average about 37% coverage.
Actually, the history of England’s forests is quite interesting – there’s a good article on that in the Guardian here.
Anyway, I digress – the Forest in Holland Park is lovely and great if, you live in West London and can’t get out to a big forest on a regular basis.
3) The Architecture
The Park itself has a rich history. It was originally a 17th Century mansion hidden in the woods, called Cope Castle. It took on the name Holland House after the Earl of Holland’s wife inherited the property (check out the history here).
This makes for some beautiful architecture. It even has an opera house – though I still haven’t checked that out! One for my bucket list.
4) The Peacocks
They strut around, doing their thing. They’re beautiful to look at.
I thought I didn’t have much more to add than that, until I had a bit of a Google and discovered that they escape from time to time and set up camp in the wealthy residents gardens. Because why wouldn’t you?!
But, apparently it’s all gotten a bit out of control lately: They have attacked Robbie Williams’ car (no joke, the Evening Standard said it – so it must be true ). They are apparently attracted to their own reflection and for some reason go in to attack it.
Here are the peahen’s plotting, apparently:
So I say they are one of my favourite things about HP, but I guess that comes with a bit of a warning – don’t get too close, and don’t drive a £130k Lamhorgini near them (not an issue for me..!).
5) The Kyoto garden
It’s a beautiful garden, very peaceful, originally donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in recognition of the Japan festival in 1992.
There is also a Fukushima Memorial, symbolizing paid for the Japanese Embassy to thank the Brits for support during the disaster (click here for more info).
I like the fact that it embodies cultural diplomacy, the connection between two countries. That you can be in the middle of West London and have a taste of Japan.
Stuff to do nearby
You can fit a visit to Holland Park into a larger day out. For example:
- If you’re there at the weekend you can combine with either Notting Hill farmers market or Portobello Road market (see my previous blog on my favourite markets in London).
- If the sun is shining, you can pop to Daunt Books, buy something that tickles your fancy, then go and laze in the sun and read it. Be warned it does get quite busy when the sun is shining though..!
- If you fancy a bit of a drink afterwards you can head over to the Ladbroke Arms
- If you exit the park by Campden Hill, you can walk down some side streets over to Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park. This takes you via some quite cute side streets.
- You can walk down to High Street Kensington and do some shopping.
Let me know if you have any other tips on Holland Park and things to do in the surrounding area.
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