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Fodor's London 2014
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Kensington Gardens Review
Laid out in 1689 by William III, who commissioned Christopher Wren to build Kensington Palace, the gardens are a formal counterpart to neighbouring Hyde Park. Just to the north of the palace itself is the Dutch-style Sunken Garden. Nearby, the 1912 bronze statue of Peter Pan commemorates the boy in J.M. Barrie's story who lived on an island in the Serpentine and never grew up. The lovely Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground has sections inspired by Peter's other imaginary home, Neverland. Beside the playground, the Elfin Oak is a 900 year-old tree trunk that was carved with scores of tiny elves, fairies, and other fanciful creations in the 1920s. The Italian Gardens (1860) comprise several ornamental ponds and fountains, while the Round Pond is a magnet for model-boat enthusiasts. The park's most striking monument, the Albert Memorial, is a high-Gothic edifice dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband. The central freize depicts different 169 artists, while the heroic figures on the marble corner statues present an archetypally Victorian vision of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Nearby, the Serpentine Gallery holds often controversial exhibitions of contemporary works.
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