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St. James's Park

St. James's Park is one of the Royal Parks of London in the City of Westminster, just east of Buckingham Palace and west of Downing Street. The St James's area, including St. James's Palace to the north is 58 acres in size.

It is bounded by The Mall to the north, Horse Guards to the east, and Birdcage Walk to the south. The park has a small lake, with two islands Duck Island (named for the lake's collection of waterfowl) and West Island. A bridge across the lake affords views of Buckingham Palace framed by trees and fountains.

The area was bought as a marsh by Henry VIII, who had it turned into a deer chase. It was opened to the public by Charles II.

The Park is the easternmost of an almost continuous chain of parks that also comprises (moving westward) Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

St. James's Palace is one of London's oldest and most historic palaces and is situated just north of St. James's Park. The palace was commissioned in 1530 by Henry VIII, on the site of a former leper hospital dedicated to Saint James the Less (from whom the Palace and the nearby Park take their names). It was constructed in the red-brick Tudor style around four courtyards. It became the principal residence of the monarch in London from 1698, when Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire, and became the administrative centre of the monarchy (a role it still retains). It was used as a barracks during the English Commonwealth period, before being renovated by Charles II.

The Palace forms part of a sprawling complex of buildings housing Court offices and officials' apartments. The complex includes York House, the former home of the Prince of Wales and his sons, the Princes William and Harry, Lancaster House which is used by HM Government for official receptions, as well as the nearby Clarence House, the home of the late Queen Mother and now the residence of the Prince of Wales.

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