Saturday, June 13, 2009

Horse Guards Parade and the Lake in St James Park

Every evening in St James Park in London, round about 6.00pm, a very small lady arrives next to the Inn in Park to feed the birds which live in and around the lake. She brings her trolley and lots of bread and the pigeons and ducks and coots and geese all love her.

The Bird Lady and the St James Park (with Horse Guards in the background)
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a sketch I did about 6.00pm yesterday after the pastels workshop with Felicity House at the Mall Galleries and a stroll around the park.

It's a rather nice view with the buildings of Horse Guards Parade peeping out inbetween the trees at the end of the park which flanks Horse Guards Road.

A very long time ago, the Parade ground used to be a tilt yard where jousting festivals were held in the time of King Henry VIII.
Horse Guards Parade is a large parade ground off Whitehall in central London, at grid reference TQ299800. It was formerly the site of the Palace of Whitehall's tiltyard, where tournaments were held in the time of Henry VIII. It was also the scene of the annual celebrations of the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I.
Wikipedia - Horse Guards Parade
Today Horse Guards Parade is being used for Trooping the Colour - here's the BBC news page. They were getting ready for it yesterday - huge Union Jack flags lined The Mall and banks of seats surround the parade ground - which has got a very nice top surface of pea shingle at the moment - which I know because I walked across if on my way home to Embankment tube station!

You can read more about Horse Guards Parade, the buildings and Trooping the Colour on this website.

I came across an interesting picture on Wikipedia which shows you the view I was sketching from a slightly different perspective.

The Prospect of Whitehall from the Park of St James, by John Stow, published under licence dated 1755. This picture is problematic as it shows only the central block of Horse Guards, and even that is not the final design as built. It may have been prepared a few years before publication and based on preliminary designs seen by Stow. Despite the title Horse Guards is the focus of the picture, rather than the main section of the park, which is behind the artist, or the street Whitehall, which is behind the buildings.
The RWS Friends Sketching Group are going to be sketching in the Trafalgar Square/St James Park area next Sunday - so I'll be back sketching here again on the 21st. If you're interested contact Libby Tomlinson - details in the link.

Sketchercise: yesterday I did 8194 steps and walked 3.88 miles

[UPDATE: here's a slideshow from the BBC of Trooping the Colour on 13th June 2009]


  1. how interesting - Trooping the colour, I couln't figure out what it could mean.
    And I think I far more prefer your sketch than the ancient view.
    It sounds very lonely, the small old lady with her can build a story around her, which there probably is.

  2. A lovely sketch, and story - makes me want to burst out in song: "feed the birds, tuppence a bag"... does anyone else remember that from Mary Poppins? I just love these British traditions!

  3. Great painting and a great story.


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