"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: The Regent’s Park, London.

Visit Regent's Park London.

The Regent’s Park, London.

May 2019.

It was a grey afternoon in London and the lazy wanderings of the day had led me to The Regent’s Park, one of London’s eight royal greens. As with all of London’s royal parks, there was much history to grapple with. Thus I wasted no time in grabbing a nearby bench, from which to follow the park’s long, action-packed timeline. And it seemed a sizeable gathering of the local bird community was also keen on a history lesson.

Regent's Park London. Pigeons and blackbird.

The Regent’s Park, London.

According to those in the know, Regent’s Park traces back to The Middle Ages when it grew as the grounds of a manor house belonging to Barking Abbey. The abbey was a royal monastery described by historians as one of Britain’s most important nunneries.

Visit beautiful Regent's Park in London

The Regent’s Park, London.

Next comes Henry the 8th. No matter what London park I write about, he always seems to get involved. In the 1530s Henry got rid of Britain’s monasteries and, ta dah, found himself with sprawling chunks of new land. Some of it he sold to fund his grisly military campaigns. Others, he said, “I’ll have that, thank you very much”. 

Henry The 8th the dissolution of the monasteries

“Give me your monasteries…. now.”

This particular park became a hunting and forestry ground. Henry, who apparently couldn’t obtain enough hunting land, called it Marleybone Park. And here he’d come to kill animals. You know, when he wasn’t doing away with wives and peasants.

The Regent’s Park, London.

A peaceful afternoon in Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

It was at this point of my reading that I realised the birds around me were increasing in numbers. And they definitely weren’t there for the history. Rather, the focus was entirely on the pastry I’d begun munching on, brought from a nearby bakery. They certainly weren’t shy in getting very close! So much so, that for several hairy moments it was all getting positively Hitchcockian.

Meet the birds in Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

Marleybone Park remained in royal hands until the early 1800s. This is when The Prince Regent (George Augustus Frederick) who eventually became King George IV, proposed transforming it into a pleasure garden. Initially, The Crown itself was going to fund the project. However, it ultimately pulled out, leaving the park’s future in a state of limbo.

The Prince Regent King George IV.

The Prince Regent: “I’m bored, let’s build a park”. 

Thoroughly determined, the prince recruited the renowned property developers James and Decimus Burton, who secured private funding for the new park. Moreover, he hired the famed architect John Nash to design the place.

John Nash British architect.

John Nash (1752-1835).

After years of meticulous landscaping, The Regent’s Park, named after the prince, finally opened in 1811. In those early years it was only available for royalty, aristocrats and by special invitation. In fact, general public admission didn’t happen until 1835, some years after King George’s death. And even then it was for just two days a week.

A Princely Park.

Spring flowers in Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

The Regent’s Park wasn’t just eye candy. It helped develop the entire area, with rows of grand townhouses springing up all around it. Again it was The Burton Brothers and Nash who were behind the development. Having finished my pastry and left the birds behind (for the moment at least), I soon saw one of these buildings, the striking Sussex Place.

Sussex Place London.

The Regent’s Park, London.

John Nash designed Sussex Place, which opened in 1823 as 26 terraced houses. By the 1840s some of Britain’s wealthiest people lived here, including William Crockford, who owned the infamous London gambling club Crockford’s. Today the building houses The London Business School.

Sussex Place in London.

Sussex Place.

Photo courtesy of Sylla 24.

One thing I soon realised, as I explored that day, is that this is undoubtedly the most bird-friendly park in London. They really are everywhere… not just around the benches, but paddling in the water, waddling in the grass and flitting between the trees.

The Regent’s Park, London.

Waddling goose Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

Apparently, Regent’s Park has around 200 species of birds. On any given day you’re likely to see pigeons, ducks, geese, swans and swallows. Canaries, house martins, sparrows, finches, black birds and wag tails. Furthermore, if you’re luck’s in, you may catch a glimpse of several peregrine falcons that nest in a nearby townhouse.

Feeding the birds at Regent's Park in London

The Regent’s Park, London.

Eventually, I arrived at the lovely Boating Lake. In better weather it’s common to see dozens of pedal boats scurrying back and forth. But I much preferred it like this, sleepy and mystical, just a couple of blue boats causing mild ripples across the water.

The Boating Lake Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

What’s more, the quietness and general gloom made appropriate companions for some reading on a grim chapter of the park’s history. On the 15th of January 1867, over 200 people crashed into the lake after the ice they’d been walking on broke. 40 of them died, leading park management to reduce the depth of the lake to just four metres.

The Boathouse Cafe.

The Boathouse Cafe in Regent's Park London

The Boathouse Cafe.

It was a touch too chilly for me to consider boating myself. Consequently, I made do with a warming cup of coffee at The Boathouse Cafe. Open from 9:00-18:00, they do a wide range of hot and cold drinks, in addition to sandwiches, toasties, soups and pizzas.


With a bellyful of hazelnut latte, I pushed on to the north end of the boating lake. Here, I crossed the pretty Hanover Bridge, a wooden walkway that has a twin bridge of the same name a little further down the canal. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to track down any info on the bridges.

Hanover Bridge The Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

What I do know is that they take their name from the Kingdom of Hanover, established in 1814 by the Congress of Vienna. This was to restore the Hanoverian territories to King George III following The Napoleonic War. In short, I’m not sure if the bridges are originals, or modern additions. Nevertheless, it was fun to lean over the eastern bridge and grab a shot of its nearby sister.

Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

Sometime later, the sky getting darker by the second, I came across a match at Regent’s Park Cricket Club. Serving children and teenagers aged between 8 and 17, the club is run by parents and volunteers and is fully accredited by The English Cricket Board.

I have never been a cricket fan. To be honest, I can barely claim to even understand the sport. And yet, having spent so many years of my life living abroad, there was something strangely comforting about sitting in the park that day embracing the bottled Englishness unfolding before me.

The Regent’s Park, London.

Regent's Park Cricket Club London.

The Regent’s Park, London.

Fearful that the sky was working its way towards heavy rain, I picked up the pace along the park’s northern edge, heading for the exit that would lead me to Mornington Crescent Tube Station. As I went, the path took me past the backs of several animal enclosures at London Zoo. Separated by what seemed like some flimsy fencing, I spotted some emus… a huddle of flamingos… a dusty camel.

Camel enclosure London Zoo seen from Regent's Park

A brief glimpse into London Zoo.

Generally speaking, I’m not into zoos. But a window into this one did make me smile, especially as I have a vague memory of my mum and dad taking me here as a kid. London Zoo has a decent reputation, as zoos go, plus it would be cool to look around the world’s oldest scientific zoo, which opened its doors in 1828. Maybe one day…

Information board Regent's Park London

The Regent’s Park, London.

I can’t say I explored all of Regent’s Park that day. As a result, it has gone onto my list for a revisit in 2022. Sladja and I have this idea of spending a day investigating all eight of London’s royal parks. If we do make it back here, we’ll be sure to stop by Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, closed on the day of my visit.

Queen Mary’s Rose Garden.

Queen Mary's Rose Garden Regent's Park

The Regent’s Park, London.

Photo courtesy of Royal

And, among other things, to pay our respects to the seven British Army soldiers who died in 1982 when The IRA detonated a bomb at the park’s bandstand. Regent’s Park is open daily (except Christmas Day) all year round from 5am. Closing times vary depending on the season. 

I Really Love Regent's Park London.

The Regent’s Park, London.

For more on my home city, why not delve through my many reports from across London.

Or maybe search further afield with my articles from all around England.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • salsaworldtraveler

    It must have been nice to be a king back then and have all of these great spaces to play in and no press to deal with. The birds seem to think it is their park. Thanks for the tour.

    October 30, 2021 - 9:19 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I think it might belong to the birds actually. One of those crows looked like it could have bullied someone into signing a land deed.

      October 30, 2021 - 11:21 am Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Another of London’s fine open spaces Leighton. I’ve also treated myself to a coffee in the cafe there and relaxed by the lake. I like the facade of Mornington Crescent Underground Station with its brick arches and lettering. Great post, Marion

    October 30, 2021 - 10:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your thought, Marion, as ever. I hope you are having a good weekend in England. It is 1 degree here in Sarajevo and wonderfully foggy and atmospheric.

      October 30, 2021 - 11:23 am Reply
  • Alison

    Yes I think I’ll have to visit again after reading this post, thanks. But I think you’re being very optimistic about doing all the parks in one day!

    October 30, 2021 - 10:24 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Probably… but you know, would be fun to sweep aside a day, start early and see how much we can wade through. Thanks for visiting!

      October 30, 2021 - 11:24 am Reply
      • Alison

        Yes it would would need a plan

        October 30, 2021 - 11:44 am
  • Sheree

    I love all London’s Parks – so much green space. I used to live close to Hyde Park and very much regarded it as my back garden.

    October 30, 2021 - 10:48 am Reply
    • Leighton

      And what a back garden to have, Sheree. Unfortunately, I had to scrap a potential Hyde Park piece for this series. I wasn’t happy with the volume/quality of my photos. So it’ll be high on the 2022 to-do list. Thanks for reading!

      October 30, 2021 - 11:27 am Reply
      • Sheree

        I shall look forward to that!

        October 31, 2021 - 2:37 pm
  • wetanddustyroads

    What? Another great park … the UK surely have wonderful green spaces to explore (even on a grey day)! Hmm, I was wondering about those birds right from the start … they didn’t really look like ‘students listening to a history lesson’, but more peckish!! The Rose Garden looks like a great place to visit, hope you get your chance soon! Thanks Leighton, I’ve enjoyed the stroll through another lovely garden … for me, it was the perfect way of spending a Saturday morning 😉.

    October 30, 2021 - 11:54 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hooray! Glad you got to visit London on this Saturday morning. And hope you enjoy the next three instalments before I turn my attention back to Vietnam for a bit.

      October 30, 2021 - 11:56 am Reply
  • Memo

    What a lovely park and so walkable. Fascinating history as well. Too bad the weather didn’t allow you out in a blue boat. Those are fun to explore in. I’ll have to remember not to take a pastry to a park full of birds. Is the building you show as Sussex Place just a single home or multiple co-joined homes? A cozy little weekend getaway nonetheless. I hope someday you can find a place to take a photo dressed as Henry VIII. I’ll order my copy now.

    October 30, 2021 - 4:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Sussex House is now almost entirely owned by The London Business School, but was originally 26 terraced homes. It’s a really fine building.

      October 30, 2021 - 4:46 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    I have not seen The Regent’s Park so green and flourishing with leaves: when I visited in December 2015, all trees were bare of any greenery, and the ducks were nowhere to be found (as it was the dead of winter). Spring in London is another world, and it looks to be the perfect time to visit!

    October 30, 2021 - 8:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh wow, I’m trying to picture Regent’s Park in such a skeletal mode. Glad you enjoyed this version Rebecca, thanks for dropping by. And congrats on the booster jab! We’ll be looking to grab those in December when we’re back in Belgrade.

      October 30, 2021 - 9:01 pm Reply
      • Rebecca

        Thank you! I’m surprised that countries in Europe are rolling out the boosters, too. Aside from a numb-like chill I experienced when I slept last night, the side effects are not as bad as the previous doses I’d received!

        October 30, 2021 - 9:08 pm
  • WanderingCanadians

    This looks like such a beautiful park with so much interesting history. It also looks like the pigeons and geese are starting to take it over though!

    October 31, 2021 - 3:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Don’t mess with da birdz.

      October 31, 2021 - 3:21 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Wonderful tour and history of the park, amazing it dates back so far! Also quite a bird collection you acquired ha – reminds me of the pigeons all over NYC

    November 1, 2021 - 2:43 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The park is now owned by Lord Pigeon The 3rd of Nestville.

      November 1, 2021 - 2:45 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Another wonderful tour of the history and natural beauty of London’s parks!!! I will never be a fan of great collections of birds coming up to me though, especially ducks as they bite and bite hard if food might be available. I like bird watching from a distance but not up close like that.

    November 1, 2021 - 6:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Fair enough Meg. Birds generally don’t bother me much except for swans. Most I’ve come across, while undeniably beautiful, are pure evil!

      November 1, 2021 - 9:09 pm Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        Hitchcock should of used swans and ducks in ‘The Birds’- that would’ve certainly raised the fear factor.

        November 2, 2021 - 5:15 pm
  • Lookoom

    I remember venturing to Regent’s Park at least once, away from my usual St James’s, but I was unaware of all its rich history. The birds, however, were already greedy. A side question, how come the word ‘boathouse’ is so popular in English and used for all sorts of trades. I don’t think other languages have the same.

    November 2, 2021 - 2:24 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad you enjoyed the historical backdrop. Ha, I’m not sure how boathouse (or boat house) became so flexible, as strictly speaking it should be a shed (not even a proper house) used for storing… yes… boats. This one I guess was a boathouse and got converted into the cafe of today.

      November 2, 2021 - 8:22 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    A lovely spot. I like the term pleasure garden. I would have stopped at that cute little cafe as well. And there are the blue highlights on that little bridge again!

    November 9, 2021 - 9:46 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha yes, it’s a lovely shade of blue right? It gives off such a quaint feel.

      November 9, 2021 - 9:51 pm Reply

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