MAY 03,2013 - MAY 03,2013 (1 DAYS)
Holland Park and West Kensington :
Start & End: Holland Park tube station.
Duration: 1 day.
Weather: please, only sunny day.
Distance: 8-9 km.
Orientation: Expensive houses, mansions and apartments, fashionable shops and roads, mainly, from the 19th century. I think that Holland Park is the most delightful place in London during the first 10 days of May.
Opening Hours: Holland Park is open daily from 07.30 until 30 minutes before dusk.
Entrance to the park is via Ilchester Place Gate, Abbotsbury Road Car Park, The Duchess of Bedford Gate or from Holland Walk and Holland Park Avenue.
It is 2-3 minutes walk from Holland Park station to Holland Park. Head northeast (right) on Holland Park Ave. The entrance to Holland Park is on your right (before you pass Aubrey Road on your right).
Holland House was built in the early 1600s but was largely destroyed by bombing in WWII. Lord and Lady Holland enjoyed entertaining here in the 19th century and it became quite the social epicenter with many artists and aristocrats visiting including Charles Dickens and Lord Byron.
When Holland Park was laid out this area was countryside and considered a day trip for Londoners.
This west London park is in an affluent neighborhood and not tiny, but is one of London's most peaceful parks - not least because of the Kyoto Garden and the free roaming peacocks. A lot of the land has been left to semi-wild woodland but there are also formal gardens.
Passing the opulent mansions (some of them from mid 19th century) along Holland Avenue, walk uphill to find the entrance to the park. We'll now begin a 2-km loop of the park.
The area beyond this entrance to Holland park is called the Sun Terrace. It is a short walk from the Sun Terrace to (SOUTH) Lord Holland statue:
and a small pond:
Turn right to walk westward along the paved path through the woods until you see the sign for the Kyoto Gardens trail, where you turn left and walk past (or loop through) the beautiful little Japanese Gardens. This Japanese garden was built in 1991 as a sign of friendship between UK and Japan. Gardening in miniature is considered a Japanese high art form and this garden is accordingly maintained. It is probably the most authentic Japanese garden in the UK today although it was not the first in Holland Park as the Earl of Ilchester had his interpretation of a Japanese garden nearby in 1902. (The ruins can still be seen). The planting and planning in the Kyoto Garden is extreme and everything is placed for a reason. It is a fabulous vision of contradictions with nature as nothing here is allowed to grow freely. When visiting the Kyoto Garden remember this is a place of peace and tranquility so no dogs are allowed and it's not a children's play area. Kyoto Garden, like all Japanese gardens, is meant to be explored clockwise so start at the main entrance and walk slowly to take it all in. Remember nothing is random here and it all has some sort of significance - even the bushes are shaped to look like waves. Three is important in Japanese symbolism so notice the trios such as the three levels of the waterfall representing the Buddhist trinity.
Do walk across the bridge but watch your step as there is no guard rail and it's easy to get distracted taking photos and looking at the waterfall. It's a European tradition to throw coins in the water and roping off the grass areas is a European influence too as we need to be reminded to keep off the grass yet the Japanese would just respect that fact in a garden.
An extension was added to the Kyoto Garden in 2012 called the Fukushima Garden - celebrating the help Britain offered after the 2011 disaster. This is a simple Zen garden and the paths are metaphorical water.
At the south end of the gardens, keep walking south, and in 100 meters you'll come to the formal gardens. it is another short walk into the formal gardens near the ruins of the Jacobean Holland House. Lady Holland's formal Dutch garden is still maintained. (This was the Portuguese Garden but was renamed after sour international relationships):
Walk to the sundial in the gardens
and turn south to run past the café and rose garden. Another sundial and an unusual one by Wendy Taylor in the 'D' Garden featuring two large tortoises. It was installed in Holland Park following the Millennium Exhibition (with several other statues now removed). A plaque gives details and instructions how to use it to tell the time:
Then, there is a giant chess board:
When you hit the playground, turn left and then right onto the trail heading south along the athletic fields.
Don't follow the street as it leaves the park, but get onto the paved footpath right along the edge of the field, going past the workout machines and then curving to the left along the south edge of the field.
From here you can see Holland (or Commonwealth) House. Most of the building was destroyed during the WW2. The remaining part of it has been transformed to include a youth hostel, a restaurant, a cafe
The glass-walled Garden Ballroom is now the upscale Belvedere restaurant and, inthe past, the Orangery.
The Iris Garden Fountain, designed by William Pye. At dusk there's apparently some laser beam decorations to be seen:
The past Orangery building also hosts art exhibitions and other public events, The (past) Orangery has wonderful murals to admire depicting scenes from the House and the story of the park.
You'll pass the Commonwealth headquarters building on your right side, with its pointed roof. When you reach the southeast corner of the park, go through the little swinging gate and turn north (left) onto the paved path going north along the east edge of the park.
You'll then pass the remains of the old Holland mansion, now used as a youth hostel. Much of the house was destroyed by bombs in the war, and an ugly new addition was stuck on it for the hostel.
When you get back to the north end of the park, follow the path as it turns to the left and takes you back to the spot where you entered the park.
You may note there are several modern statues in Holland Park, mostly abstract; a couple are shown here:
We assume you ended your visit in Holland park at the same point you've entered it. It is totally about 18-20 minutes walk to our next destination. Head southwest on Holland Park Ave. Turn left onto Holland Park Gardens (2nd turn to the left). Continue onto Addison Rd (10-15 minutes walk just this road). Slight left to stay on Addison Rd. Pass Melbury Rd on your left and TURN LEFT at Holland Park Rd. The Leighton House Museum is at 12 Holland Park Rd. Open: Wed - Mon: 11.00 - 17.30. Admission: 7 GBP Adult, 5 GBP Concession (over 60, 16 and under, full-time students). Your entrance fee allows return visits for a year. National Trust members receive a 50% discount on admission. Photos are not permitted. This well hidden museum is well worth a visit for the breathtaking Arab interiors. Built for Lord Leighton, a respected Victorian painter in 1864-1879. Well preserved house with extraordinary decoration and collections. Do not miss the Arab Hall which contains collection of Islamic tiles. Some of them inscribed with phrases from the Koran. The Arab Hall is covered floor to ceiling with peacock blue ceramics mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries, with some Victorian works. The peacock feather colored tiles are stunning. The visit includes Frederick Leighton's library, drawing room, dining room, and upstairs, his huge studio, bed room and the "silk" room. These rooms house an extensive collection of his own fine paintings, as well as a Tintoretto and a Millais.
It is 12-15 minutes walk to Kensington High Street tube station. Head northeast on Holland Park Rd toward St. Mary Abbots Terrace. Turn right onto Melbury Rd. Turn left onto Kensington High St. Slight right to stay on Kensington High St. the station will be on the right. Take the left side of Kensington High Street. When you see the Marx and Spencer on your right and BEFORE you see Cafe Concerto on the left, TURN LEFT to Kensington Church Walk (Cafe Concerto on your right). Walk along Kensington Church Walk, bend right, bend left (St. Mary Abbots Primary School on your right) and walk until the end of Kensington Church Walk.
Turn left to Holland St. and (2nd. turn) left to Drayson Mews. This is example to the quaint alleys that were built behind large town mansions for the stabling of horses and coaches. Most of them had been converted to small houses.
Walk southward in Drayson Mews until its end and turn RIGHT to Philimore Walk / Hornton Place. Pass Hornton St, Opera Holland Park, Campden Hill Rd on your right and TURN RIGHT in Argyle Road. Immediately, turn LEFT at the Stafford Terrace (the first house on the right is a white one with Wisteria tree). In the middle of Stafford Terrace, on your right, is the Linley Sambourne Family House, 18 Stafford Terrace. The house gives an insight into the personal lives of the Sambourne family, and also provides a rare example of what was known as an 'Aesthetic interior' or 'House Beautiful' style. The Aesthetic Movement of the late nineteenth century advocated the use of foreign or 'exotic' influences in the decoration of the home. A surprisingly preserved late Victorian interior remained intact with its original furniture. There are various Chinese, Japanese and Middle-Eastern objects throughout the Sambournes' home.
Continue westward (exiting the house, right) until the end of Stafford Terrace. The Sticky Fingers Cafe' on your left. Owned by Bill Wyman, past Rolling Stones guitarist. No thumbs up.
In the west end of Stafford Terrace turn RIGHT to Phillimore Terrace and immediately RIGHT to Essex Villas. Walk whole Essex Villas (eastward) until its end (two-storeys white-washed terraced houses) and turn LEFT (again) to Argyle Road. In Argyle Road turn LEFT to Phillimore Place. Like most of Kensington roads, these roads are pleasant to stroll and watch. In the 16 Phillimore Place house lived (1901-1908) Kenneth Grahame, the author of children books like Wind in the Willows.
Walk westward along Phillimore Place until its end. Turn RIGHT to Phillimore Gardens. Pass Upper Phillimore Gardens to your right and at Duchess of Bedford's Walk (on your right) turn LEFT to Holland Walk a tarmac path also used by cyclists. Follow Holland Walk to the end (passing YHA London Holland Park and Holland Park on your left). Near the intersection with Holland Park Avenue stands the statue of St. Volodymyr, ruler of Ukraine 980-1015, erected by Ukrainians in Great Britain in 1988 to celebrate the establishment of christianity in Ukraine by St. Volodymyr in 988.
Turn left to Holland Park Avenue and you immediately face Holland Park tube station.