History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

27 June 2014

TRAVELS IN ENGLAND IN 1782: St. James’s Park.

A little different than what you see there now:

"The park is nothing more than a semicircle, formed of an alley of trees, which enclose a large green area in the middle of which is a marshy pond.

The cows feed on this green turf, and their milk is sold here on the spot, quite new.

In all the alleys or walks there are benches, where you may rest yourself.  When you come through the Horse Guards (which is provided with several passages) into the park, on the right hand is St. James’s Palace, or the king’s place of residence, one of the meanest public buildings in London.  At the lower end, quite at the extremity, is the queen’s palace, a handsome and modern building, but very much resembling a private house.  As for the rest, there are generally everywhere about St. James’s Park very good houses, which is a great addition to it.  There is also before the semicircle of the trees just mentioned a large vacant space, where the soldiers are exercised.

How little this famous park is to be compared with our park at Berlin, I need not mention.  And yet one cannot but form a high idea of St. James’s Park and other public places in London; this arises, perhaps, from their having been oftener mentioned in romances and other books than ours have.  Even the squares and streets of London are more noted and better known than many of our principal towns.

But what again greatly compensates for the mediocrity of this park, is the astonishing number of people who, towards evening in fine weather, resort here; our finest walks are never so full even in the midst of summer.  The exquisite pleasure of mixing freely with such a concourse of people, who are for the most part well-dressed and handsome, I have experienced this evening for the first time.

Before I went to the park I took another walk with my little Jacky, which did not cost me much fatigue and yet was most uncommonly interesting.  I went down the little street in which I live, to the Thames nearly at the end of it, towards the left, a few steps led me to a singularly pretty terrace, planted with trees, on the very brink of the river.

Here I had the most delightful prospect you can possibly imagine.  Before me was the Thames with all its windings, and the stately arches of its bridges; Westminster with its venerable abbey to the right, to the left again London, with St. Paul’s, seemed to wind all along the windings of the Thames, and on the other side of the water lay Southwark, which is now also considered as part of London.  Thus, from this single spot, I could nearly at one view see the whole city, at least that side of it towards the Thames.  Not far from hence, in this charming quarter of the town, lived the renowned Garrick.  Depend upon it I shall often visit this delightful walk during my stay in London.

To-day my two Englishmen carried me to a neighbouring tavern, or rather an eating-house, where we paid a shilling each for some roast meat and a salad, giving at the same time nearly half as much to the waiter, and yet this is reckoned a cheap house, and a cheap style of living.  But I believe, for the future, I shall pretty often dine at home; I have already begun this evening with my supper.  I am now sitting by the fire in my own room in London.  The day is nearly at an end, the first I have spent in England, and I hardly know whether I ought to call it only one day, when I reflect what a quick and varied succession of new and striking ideas have, in so short a time, passed in my mind."


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