Monday 28 March 2022

Let’s draw St James’s Park – Saturday 23 April 2022


Daffs in St James's Park
Sketch by Mike Flynn

[By Jimmy Lu and Sasala Wickramasinghe]

In April we draw St James’s Park in the Royal Borough of Westminster

St James’s Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, which are owned by The Crown and operated by the Royal Parks charity, rather than by the Greater London Authority or the local authority in which they are located. It is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Trees and paths of St James's Park
Sketch by Cynthia Barlow Marrs

April is an ideal time of the year to draw the park because a variety of flowers will be in full bloom. The park is home to a wide range of birds, including pelicans (introduced in the 17th century), herons, and 15 species of waterfowl.

Photograph by Jimmy Lu

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your artist’s materials.

Key times and meeting points

Meeting points and local landmarks are shown on our location map at the end of this blog post.

11 AM

Meet at the Marlborough Gate on the north side of the park. It is located on the Mall, roughly halfway between Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch, and is recognisable by its ornate stone and wrought iron fence. In the case of rain, we will meet at St James’s Café located north-east of the lake. 

1 PM

Meet again at the Marlborough Gate for the lunchtime throwdown. (Wet weather option: St James’sCafé)

3:30 PM

Meet at the same place for the final throwdown. (Wet weather option: St James’s Café)


For those who would like to linger after our final meeting of the day, join us at the traditional pub  Feathers at 18-20 Broadway, opposite St James’s Park station – see our location map below. 

Options for drawing

 The park has plenty of interesting features and views to choose from, including:

Photograph by Jimmy Lu

In addition to St James’s Park itself, nearby drawing options include:

  • The Mall -- it is closed to traffic on weekends, and offers perspectives towards Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch
  • The Mall Galleries (£5 entrance fee)
  • Waterloo Place, the Duke of York Monument and the Duke of York Steps with views overlooking the park
  • St James’s Palace
  • The Horse Guards Building, HMTreasury, and AdmiraltyArch
  • Buckingham Palace (note: the changing of the guard usually does not take place on Saturdays)
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Green Park.

    Trafalgar Square by Isabel Carmona

    Wet weather options: The tall trees in the park should provide some amount of shelter. For more protection, indoor sketching options include:

  • St James’s Cafe
  • The Mall Gallery
  • Admiralty Arch.

    History of St James’s Park

    The park owes its name to a leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less that was located in the vicinity. It was a marshy area irrigated by the River Tyburn when the land was purchased by Henry VIII as a deer park in the sixteenth century. In the next centuries his successors oversaw drainage improvements, its transformation into a garden, and its opening to the public.

    The current appearance of the park is largely due to its early 19th century remodelling by John Nash, who created the lake and redesigned it in a “romantic” style with winding pathways and more natural-looking features. It was around this period that various prestigious buildings were constructed in the area, including Buckingham Palace.

    Fun fact: St James’s Park Underground station has had various spellings. Before the 1930s it was labelled 'St. James' Park' on Tube maps, then ‘St. James Park,' 'St. James's Park' and finally 'St James’s Park' without the full stop after the “St.” The roundels on the platform still bear traces of that spelling evolution. 

    Practical information

    The nearest Tube stations are St James’s Park (Circle, District) and Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly, Victoria). The Park is also within walking distance from Westminster (Circle, District, Jubilee), Charing Cross (Bakerloo, Northern), and Victoria Station (National Rail, Victoria, District, Circle).

    St James’s Café inside the park is run by Benugo and offers a large array of food and drink options. There are also a few food kiosks inside the park. The Mall Gallery Café is another option. Farther afield, the areas around the Green Park and St James’s Park stations offer a wider variety of places to eat.

    The park has two public toilets: one near Marlborough Gate (wheelchair-accessible) and the other one near Horse Guards Parade. 

    A map of St James’s Park with all the practical information can be found on the park’s website.

    COVID-19 visit information

    Since COVID-19 and its variants remain, even though restrictions have been lifted, it's sensible to take all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and fellow sketchers safe throughout the event. The risk of infection for outdoor events is low, but basic guidance still applies:

    • Please do not attend if you feel unwell
    • Wear a face covering when you're close to others
    • Give people space, and
    • Practice good hand hygiene.

     There is also the option of self-testing before the event.


    See you at St James’s Park! 

    The event is run by Jimmy Lu and Sasala Wickramasinghe.

    Location map

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    Draw London with us in May, June, and July!

    We'll be sketching in Camden and Twickenham in the coming months. Find out more at Let's draw London in 2022. Most importantly, keep an eye on for more details on our 10-year anniversary events in July!

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