St James’s Park, 300 Years Ago

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St James’s Park, 300 Years Ago

Click/tap for high-resolution. Green labels are by us, and not contemporary.

This is St James’s Park, pictured in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1707). The scene is still recognisable today, more than 300 years on.

On the far left we see Buckingham House — a newly built mansion that would become the famous palace under George III, 50 years later. The ornamental lake, or ‘canal’, was built by joining several existing ponds and springs. It remained linear for a century, before John Nash added some wiggles.

The square pool to the bottom left was known as Rosamond’s Pond. It was filled in in 1770. The map’s accompanying text tells us that wizened cavaliers would gather under the trees beside the pond to reminisce about the bad old days of the Civil War. Today it’s a children’s playground.

The Mall is clearly visible, north of the park, doing pretty much what it still does today. The alignment with Buckingham Palace would arrive with the Nash remodelling.

Over to the right, Horse Guards and Whitehall are visible. Charing Cross is positioned in its original location, where the Charles I statue now stands. Trafalgar Square is still more than a century away, while the National Gallery and Admiralty Arch are for the distant future. Curiously, St Martin in the Fields is absent. The current church wouldn’t be built until the 1720s, but its predecessor would have been standing.

The biggest change of all? Where are all the tourists?

Map taken from London 200 Years Ago by W Crawford Snowden.

Last Updated 16 February 2018

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