Temporary Brit

My three months of adventures in London!

A Park and a Palace and a Place of Execution August 5, 2011

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I thought it was time that I used my Historic Royal Palaces membership card again, so I headed out to Banqueting House today (that’s one of the five properties I get into for free).  Banqueting House is the only part of the old Whitehall Palace that survived a fire in the 1600’s, and it’s also where King Charles I was beheaded. Before seeing the actual place itself, visitors are directed to a video on the history of the place.  I found it interesting, since I’m into that sort of thing, but I can see how some might just want to skip it.  The part of Banqueting House that visitors are allowed to see is really just one room….but what a room it is!  Imagine the best wedding reception hall EVER; that’s kind of what it’s like. It’s very easy to image fancy balls and parties being held there.  Banquets too, of course. 😛


The ceiling is the real draw; it was painted by Rubens, and it’s beautiful.  There are mirrors placed around the room so you don’t have to strain your neck to see the artwork…although I looked up anyway. 🙂  Tea is also served there every day, and prices aren’t as bad as you think they would be at a place like that.  I don’t even like tea, but it would be an experience to drink it there!  Overall, I don’t know that I would have gone to Banqueting House if it wasn’t included in my HRP membership.  In fact, I KNOW I wouldn’t have. If I come back after my membership has expired, I doubt I’ll go again.  After all, it IS just one room.  If you’re interested in Rubens art or the history of the Stewart/Stuart kings, I recommend making a stop here. 🙂


After Banqueting House, I walked over to St. James’s Park.  Charles I actually walked FROM the park TO Banqueting House on the way to his execution, so I guess I did the walk in reverse.  Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time in St. James’s Park when I was here in London in 2009; my hotel wasn’t far away, so that was where I ended up by default if I needed a little unwinding time.  It was also where I went on my first morning in the city; I had collapsed at about 8pm the night before, so I was up EARLY.  As soon as it was light out, I left my hotel and headed in the direction of the park.  There was NO ONE else around, except some squirrels and a few joggers.  I had the park to myself, and I got to see Buckingham Palace up close (well, as close as you can get) with no one else around me.  It was a different story today, of course!  There were plenty of people out enjoying the park, and I can see why.  It’s a very easy park to enjoy! St. James’s is smaller than Hyde and Regent’s Parks, so it’s easier to navigate. There are plenty of paths for walking, lots of water birds (including pelicans), and the people watching is almost as good as it is from the steps of St. Paul’s.  Pictures from my afternoon at the park:

Another example of fabulous English gardening/landscaping

There were three or four of the tiniest, cutest baby ducks I have ever seen, hanging out with their mother in the water at the park.

One of the very photogenic views from the park.


Buckingham Palace from (more or less) the other side of St. James's Park

….aaaaaannnnddd that last picture brings me to the other thing I technically saw today: Buckingham Palace.  I didn’t get that close to it; too many people, and seeing it wasn’t really my goal for the day.  I figured I’d get a few shots while I was there, though.  I’m sure I’ll swing by there another time or two before I leave.  I won’t be going inside, though; too rich for my blood! 🙂

Buckingham Palace

Gate leading from the Buckingham Palace/St. James's Park area to Green Park. St. James's, Green, and Hyde Parks form a kind of row of greenery across London.

Actual gate to Buckingham Palace...and all the tourists waiting for something to happen. Not sure what; the Queen was not in residence today. 🙂

View down The Mall (street leading away from Buckingham Palace).