I hadn’t a clue The Italian Gardens existed until I decided to visit Kensington Gardens one fine day for a long walk around this Royal Park and chanced upon them. Essentially, it is an ornamental water garden which is sited to the north side of Kensington Gardens near Lancaster Gate.
They are believed to have been created as a gift from Prince Albert to his adored Queen Victoria and they sit at the head of The Long Water – the river which flows through Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park where it becomes the Serpentine.
Now over 150-years old, they were restored with the help of the jeweller Tiffany’s as part of their outreach programme Tiffany Across the Water. The design, which apparently bears a marked resemblance to that designed at Osborne House on the Isle of White, was created by James Pennethorne who incorporated many of Osborne’s features.
The gardens consist of four main basins with central rosettes – all carved in Carrera marble, Portland stone and white marble – with silhouettes of both Victoria and Albert sited near each other. Intricately carved stone statues and urns surround them with five main designs – the Swan’s breast, a woman’s head, a ram’s head, a dolphin and an oval. It’s now Grade II listed by English Heritage.
Several films have featured The Italian Gardens including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Wimbledon.
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry
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