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At just 23 hectares, St James's is the second smallest of the eight royal parks after Green Park. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in grooming as it is the most manicured green space in London. It has brilliant views of the London Eye, Westminster, St James’s Palace, Carlton Tce and the Horse Guards Parade; the photo-perfect sight of Buckingham Palace from the footbridge spanning the central lake is the best you’ll find.
The lake brims with ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl, and the rocks on its southern side serve as a rest stop for a half-dozen pelicans (fed at 2.30pm daily). Some of the technicolour flower beds were modelled on John Nash’s original ‘floriferous’ beds of mixed shrubs, flowers and trees. You can rent deckchairs (£1.50/7 per hour/day ) to make lounging around more comfortable during daylight hours from March to October.
At the junction of Horse Guards Rd and the Mall stands the National Police Memorial, one column of marble and another of glass. Conceived by film director Michael Winner (Death Wish) and designed by architect Norman Foster and artist Per Arnoldi, it pays tribute to around 4000 policemen and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Note also the ivy-covered concrete bastion nearby, the Admiralty Citadel, a heavily fortified, bomb-proof command and control fortress built for the Royal Navy in 1941 to prepare for a German land invasion. Sitting over a network of tunnels, the building has 20ft-thick concrete and steel walls (making it impossible to demolish) and a lawn roof to render it invisible to overhead reconnaissance.