Thursday, June 21, 2007
The Haven of Holland Park
As much as I enjoy the accelerated pleasures of London city life, sometimes a peaceful moment to steal away is worth the diversion as well. The high profile green spaces of Regent Park, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James’s Park and Kensington Gardens are always worth a visit. This time I opted to explore the treasures of a smaller neighbor of theirs called Holland Park. Located in the borough of Kensington, Holland Park is widely regarded as one of the more romantic parks in the city.
The former grounds of a country house, Holland Park holds a variety of delights for the visitor. They include woodland walks, formal English gardens, the Kyoto Garden and the high-end French restaurant, Belvedere. Thanks to World War II bombing, only fragments remain of the mansion Holland House. Those remains are the centerpiece of the park and serves as the backdrop for the open-air Holland Park Theatre, sight of a summer season of operas and ballets.
Apparently the park is popular for its many recreation areas to enjoy tennis, football (not the American kind), cricket and golf not to mention a playground for children. But the overcast weather on the day I visited left most areas of the park quiet. The stark contrast between walking from the woodlands area in the northern portion and formal gardens make for a peaceful walk. Don’t be surprised if you encounter one of the many peacocks or squirrels that call this park home.
One unusual attraction here is the Kyoto Garden with a pond full of fat koi fish. Laid out in 1991 for the Festival of Japan, it is landscaped with utmost care. This garden is meant to represent in condensed form the grandeur of natural landscape.
Entry to the park is free and open from dawn to dusk. Nearest tube stations: Holland Park at the park's north end and High Street Kensington east of its southern entrances. HIgh Street Kensington is a popular shopping thoroughfare for the posh residents of the borough. Information about this park and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea found at www.rbkc.gov.uk. (Photos from top of this post to bottom: two photos of the formal gardens around Holland House; path through woodlands area; one of the park's peacocks; statue of Lord Holland; two photos of Kyoto Garden)