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Saint James's Park & Palace
Royal guards marching down the Mall, towards Buckingham Palace, to celebrate the Queen's birthday (© oversnap |


St James's Palace, London (photo by Tony Hisgett - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

Unfolding from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace, Saint James's Park is one of London's eight Royal Parks. It has a lake with two islands, and plenty of ducks, geese, pelicans and other birds. The park commands great views on the famous buildings of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and Carlton Terrace.

North of the park is the upper-class district of St James's, running between The Mall (from Admiralty Arch to St James's Palace), Piccadilly, Green Park and Haymarket. Many 19th-century gentlemen's clubs are to be found there, including the Reform Club (104, Pall Mall) made famous by Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days. On the Mall is the reputed Institute for Contemporary Arts

St James's Palace is currently the residence of Charles, Prince of Wales, and his two sons. The palace was built in 1530 by Henry VIII in the red-brick Tudor style. It has been the principal residence of the British monarch in London from 1699 to 1762 after the Palace of Whitehall was destroyed by a fire. It is the oldest surviving Royal Palace in London, and is still the administrative centre of the monarchy.

A short walk north of St James's Palace is the Palladian-style Spencer House, built between built in 1756 and 1766 by the first Earl Spencer, an ancestor of the late Lady Diana. The Spencer family occupied the house until 1895, then let it to other aristocrats until 1910, and finally moved away to their country home of Althorp in 1927.

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