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Elfin Oak

This 900-year-old oak tree stump from Richmond Park was decorated with ‘little people’ by artist Ivor Innes between 1928 and 1930. Much-loved - but also loathed by some - it is now Listed. The late comedian Spike Milligan paid for restoration work in the 1960s and led a second campaign in the 1990s to preserve it.

Speke Monument

John Hanning Speke was the first European to see Africa’s Lake Victoria, in 1862. He died in a shooting accident in 1864, a day before a controversial debate with his former companion Sir Richard Burton on whether the lake was the source of the Nile. Erected in 1866, this Scottish red granite memorial is by Philip Hardwick RA.

Peter Pan

Writer JM Barrie paid George Frampton to sculpt this work which appeared overnight in 1919. Questions were asked as to why an author had been allowed to erect a tribute to his own creation in a public park but it was so instantly popular it was allowed to remain. There are seven copies around the world. The model was Nina Boucicault.

When Queen Caroline died in 1737, her husband George II was shocked to find she had spent £20,000 on the gardens of Kensington House, then a quiet rural retreat for the royal family. She had opened them to ‘respectably dressed people’ on Saturdays, when promenading the Broad Walk was the height of fashion.

Tube: Lancaster Gate

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Kensington Gardens 1 2

Edward Jenner

This statue by William Calder Marshall - moved from Trafalgar Square in 1862 to the lovely Italian Gardens -was the first erected in Kensington Gardens. Jenner (1749-1823) studied at St George's Hospital, University of London, and developed the vaccine that eventually led to the end of smallpox in 1980.

Queen Anne’s Alcove

This building of 1705 by Christopher Wren (or, more likely, William Kent) was originally south of Kensington Palace so the Queen could see her gardens. She enlarged the Palace Gardens by 'transferring' 30 acres from Hyde Park and laid out The Orangery in 1704. Both Anne and Prince George, her husband, died at Kensington.

Two Bears Fountain

This statue of two embracing bears was put here in 1939 to commemorate 80 years of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. It promoted temperance - ie not drinking alcohol - as well as providing water for market-bound cattle and horses. The original was stolen but replaced with this recast copy in 1970.

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St Govor’s Well

Some lovely calligraphy decorates the 1976 mounting for this ancient spring. It was named after Saint Govor, the patron saint of Llanover  in Wales - famous for its springs - by Benjamin Hall, later Lord Llanover. Hall was London’s first Commissioner for Works - and the man after whom ‘Big Ben’ is named.