Glimpse history through old images of St James’s Park in London’s City of Westminster.
During World War I
This short footage shows a building under construction in St James’s Park in 1916, during the Great War, which later became known as World War I.
It is possible that they are building a barracks for soldiers.
Building In St James’s Park (1916) – British Pathé on YouTube
The next clip is also during the Great War, filmed in 1917.
Massed Guards Band In St James’s Park (1917) – British Pathé on YouTube
Sleeping Children 1929
In 1929, group of schoolchildren were filmed having a healthy nap in loungers and blankets in the springtime air of St James’s Park.
Not much happens, but it’s a quick look at a quirky event in 1929.
Springtime: children sleeping in St James’s Park (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Heat Wave 1930
There’s a lot of focus on young ladies in bathing costumes in this Reuters clip from the 1930s, but it’s a great look at the bathing suit fashions of the time.
Australian cricketer Don Bradman briefly smiles at the camera at the end of the clip.
Heat Wave scenes in St James’s Park (1930) – British Pathé on YouTube
Neville Chamberlain 1938
In 1938, Neville Chamberlain and his wife Anne were filmed walking through St James’s Park.
The commentator tells us how simple things, such as leaves on the ground, could be enjoyed thanks to Chamberlain’s attempts to reach agreement with the Nazis, which had prevented war.
The following year, of course, World War II started.
Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain walk through St. James Park (1938) – British Pathé on YouTube
Skating in 1947
The summer heatwave of 1930 may have brought everyone to the park in bathing costumes, but in 1947 the cold winter brought snow and a frozen lake.
Huge crowds of people turned out, either to skate on the lake or to watch the skaters. It’s astonishing just how many people are in the park or on the bridge.
Skating In St. James’ Park (1947) – British Pathé on YouTube
Mr May the bird keeper is looking after young fledglings in a corner behind the scenes, but elsewhere in the park everyone is out enjoying the sunshine and feeding the birds.
Birds In The Park (1967) – British Pathé on YouTube
A Bit of St James’s Park History
“An Account of the Attack Upon the King in St. James’s Park, in 1795 … Extracted from the History of the Political Life of W. Pitt”
By John GIFFORD (pseud. [i.e. John Richard Green.])
Published in 1809
Pages 11 – 12
STATEMENT OF H. J. PYE, Esq.
On the day the outrage was committed on the King on his return from the House of Lords, I attended in the Park as a Magistrate. I was stationed, with the officers of Queen Square Office, at a considerable distance from the spot: but as soon as I was informed of it, I went towards it as expeditiously as the pressure of the crowd would permit. When I came opposite to the way that leads to the Palace, between St. James’s and Marlborough House Gardens, I met Mr. Frankland, who told me he was close to the place where the mob attempted to force open the door of His Majesty’s carriage, and which they must inevitably have effected, if it had not been for the spirited and powerful exertions of a gentleman, whose name he had learned was Bedingfeld. Mr. Frankland, (who is since dead) was a gentleman of great respectability.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM LAMBERT, Esq.
of Woodmanstone, near Cashalton, Surrey.
I was in St. James’s Park, on the 29th of October, 1795, when the mob attacked the carriage in which the King was, in his way to Buckingham House. The guards were absent. I saw Mr. Bedingfeld, he drove part of the mob against the wall of the garden, and placed himself close to the carriage. The fury of the mob was so great, that, in my opinion, if it had not been for Mr. Bedingfeld’s exertions, the door would have been forced open.
STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENERAL BARTON.
I was well acquainted with Captain Lees of the First Regiment of Horse Guards. He commanded a detachment on the day the King was attacked in the Park. By some mistake the troop was marched away from St. James’s towards the Horse Guards. Captain Lees informed me that hearing a great noise, he ordered the troop to wheel round. He saw Mr. Bedingfeld in the crowd, waving his hand towards him to urge him on. He galloped accordingly with several men, and found that gentleman close to the carriage in which the King was, with a pistol in his hand. Captain Lees afterwards conducted his Majesty in safety to Buckingham House.