Apr 20, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Hidden Solstice Symbols Found in Royal “Peter Pan” Gardens

Centuries-old architectural symbols which seem to be designed to track the summer and winter solstices have been discovered hiding in plain sight in one of Britain’s main royal tourist attractions  The symbols were found in Kensington Gardens, which lie in front of Kensington Palace, the lavish London home of Prince William and his family, Prince Harry, and a few other royal family B-listers.

Kensington Palace (bottom), and the surrounding "Peter Pan" gardens.

The gardens are best-known by their nickname, the “Peter Pan” gardens, after the bizarre J. M. Barie children’s story Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens which is set in the royal gardens rather than Neverland. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, an architect at the Polytechnic University of Turin, used Google Earth and an interactive sun map to study any relationships between the Sun’s path and the layout of the “Peter Pan” gardens in London.

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One of the calculations generated by Sun map software SunCalc showing the Sun's path on the Summer Solstice.

According to the Sparavigna’s pre-print research, the gardens contain two separate pathways which align perfectly with the paths of the rising sun on both the winter and summer solstices:

In the case of the Kensington Gardens, we have that one of the main avenues, radiating out from the circle around the pond, is oriented along the sunrise on the summer solstice. Another avenue is oriented along the sunrise on the winter solstice. It means that the architects planned the gardens, including two references to the apparent path of the sun, through the sunrise on solstices.

The layout and ownership of the gardens have changed several times since the gardens began their life as a hunting ground for Henry VII in 1536. The heavily-landscaped modern incarnation was built in 1728 by Queen Caroline, who kept tigers in the gardens and was known for her rich imagination.

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A 1754 map of the gardens.

In all the years of renovation and redesign, however, no buildings have been built to block the view of either solstice pathway from a central point where they meet near a pond.

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The gardens today.

The author of this study says the purpose of these pathways still remains a mystery, but she believes they are symbolic rather than practical. That is, they weren’t actually used as a solar calendar, but perhaps in reference to some unknown symbology or as a nod to ancient Pagan structures. Many of the world’s greatest manmade structures, from the ancient pyramids to Stonehenge, contain symbols or features which align with various astronomical events. Is this obsession with the stars hardwired into our imagination?If the ubiquity of star maps and calendars in our architecture is any guide, yes. After all, we are made of the same matter as all the junk in space left over from the Big Bang. Perhaps that's why we try so hard to get back to them.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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