Kensington Gardens certainly has royal pedigree: once part of Hyde Park, it served as Henry VIII’s private hunting grounds. Nearly 200 years later, Queen Caroline (wife of George II) commissioned Kensington Gardens as a landscape garden for the adjoining Kensington Palace, including the creation of the Round Pond and the Serpentine.
Strolling through modern-day Kensington Gardens, the park’s history is still apparent, but its significance has changed. Now, as a wide, green space in central London, you’ll find it filled with families in the summer. In the autumn, the park is quieter, and its colours are even prettier. Tree-lined paths criss-cross the park, and its statues and follies make perfect checkpoints for a morning walk in the fresh air. On the north side, The Italian Garden (location of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant’s fountain fight in Bridget Jones), is now a peaceful – and very pretty – spot to take a break before wandering along the banks of the Serpentine.For a dose of culture, stop off at the Serpentine Gallery, a former tea pavilion that has held exhibitions by the likes of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst and will be featuring the exhibition Marc Camille Chaimowicz: An Autumn Lexicon until late November. Tea lovers need not despair – the Orangery at Kensington Palace offers afternoon tea with a view of the Gardens.
If the Serpentine Gallery has whet your appetite, you’re in luck, as Exhibition Road (a short walk south, past the Royal Albert Hall) has some of the world’s most famous museums. In the rest of Kensington, embassies, rather than trees, line the streets in one of London’s smartest neighbourhoods. And there’s smart shopping too – with Harrods and Harvey Nichols just down the road in Knightsbridge.
Here are three of our favourite homes in Kensington:
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