Discover the green spaces only Londoners know about
London is an invigorating place to be. But sometimes you need an antidote to the noise and fast pace of the city. And though it can be tempting to head straight for its famous gardens and parks, there are other, more hidden gems to explore. Discover our top five secret green spaces within sauntering distance of The Franklin, a luxury London hotel in the leafy heart of Knightsbridge. That's if you can leave its glamorous, Anouska Hempel hallmark interiors.
1. BEGIN WITH BOTANY
Dive into London’s fascinating horticultural past with a short stroll to the city’s oldest botanical garden, the Chelsea Physic Garden. Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries, it’s home to more than 5,000 medicinal, herbal and edible plants. And it’s here you’ll also find one of Europe’s oldest rock gardens. Stroll amongst snowdrops in winter and breathe in heady Mediterranean scents in glasshouses over 100 years old.
2. A BIT OF PEACE AND QUIET
Though its title as one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries makes it sound rather grand, Brompton Garden Cemetery is an ideal place to briefly escape the hustle and bustle of the capital. More magnificent than macabre, admire the stunning chapel at its centre before ambling down leafy tree-lined avenues, spying notable names on the way. Both Emmeline Pankhurst and the scientist John Snow are buried here.
3. ONE PARK, TWO GARDENS
Set within the grounds of Holland Park are two spaces that truly embody serenity: the Kyoto Garden and the Fukushima Memorial Garden. Think tiered waterfalls, rock pools full of koi carp and Japanese stone lanterns. Come here to admire the sakura (cherry blossom) in spring and crimson Japanese maple trees in the autumn. On balmier days, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic, curling up with a book – or just a few moments of quiet contemplation.
4. IF THESE FLOWERS COULD TALK…
In such a cosmopolitan city, it’s enchanting to be able to step, however briefly, into the past. And you can do just that at an unassuming address in Chelsea. The former home of the Scottish philosopher and writer, Thomas Carlyle, and his wife, Jane, has an intimate walled garden that has been beautifully preserved. See the roses, herbs and fruit trees that this famous Victorian literary couple grew – and press ‘pause’ before returning to the modern world.
5. EVERY SPACE TELLS A STORY
And Postman’s Park, in St. Paul’s, tells many tales. Once popular with workers from the nearby General Post Office, this park is both peaceful and poignant in equal measure. At its far end is The Watts’ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. This wall holds 54 ceramic plaques, each commemorating an ordinary person who lost their life trying to save another. Add to this the park’s vibrant flower beds and trickling fountain, and you’ve got a wonderful place for getting lost in your thoughts.
Where to stay…
Close to many of London’s most famous sights yet set in a peaceful part of Knightsbridge, The Franklin offers the best of all worlds. It overlooks the beautiful and exclusive Egerton Gardens. So, if you’re only here for a flying visit and can’t squeeze in all of the parks above (or if rain stops play), ask for one of the rooms or suites with garden views.