Friday, 25 March 2016

Inside Duck Island Cottage


It's a rustic fantasy in the centre of London: a tiny cottage orné bedecked with porches, trellises, diamond-paned windows and carved bargeboards, Duck Island Cottage sits beside the lake in St James's Park, looking more like a country cottage than any real country cottage could manage.

Designed by John Burges Watson (not a famous architect) and built by Mr Dickson of Earl Street, the cottage was built in the 1840s to replace an earlier one destroyed seventy years earlier. It was built as a home for the park bird-keeper; by the time bird-keeper Thomas Hinton died in 1953, having lived there since 1900, it was considered unfit for habitation. Demolition was considered, but a combination of concerns about plans for replacement and a plea for preservation from the Royal Fine Art Commission saw it repaired instead. From 1959 to 1982, two park keepers lived there; it was then finally restored and today, it's home of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust and of London Open Garden Squares Weekend

But could the interior live up to its exterior? Usually, we couldn't know because the cottage is not open to the public. However, it recently hosted an exhibition on bees, allowing visitors to sneak a look inside as they explored the artworks on show. 

And of course, no visit to St James's Park is complete without a look at the pelicans!

1 comment:

Hels said...

I think it was a great idea that From 1959 to 1982, two park keepers lived in the cottage. After all, that is exactly what happened in the original building!

Now that the cottage has been restored, I suppose we have to be grateful that it is being used for a new (and related) purpose, to provide space for the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust and of London Open Garden Squares Weekend.

But it is similar to restored lighthouses - yes, an automatic light will work just as well, but why not use the space for the lighthouse keeper and his family, as was originally intended.

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