Everyone knows and loves the lake in St James’s Park but not everyone knows that there was another one before that called Rosamond’s Pond which was just as famous, indeed infamous, in its day and a source of delight for poets. 

Pope, in “The Rape of the Lock” summed it up:

"This the blest lover shall for Venus take, 

And send up vows from Rosamonda's lake."

Bishop Warburton was even more succinct, describing it as "long consecrated to disastrous love and elegiac poetry". 

The pond was situated at the Buckingham House end of the park stretching from near the end of the existing lake, then a canal, to St James’s Street (now Buckingham Gate) in front of Tart Hall (long since demolished). There was also a vineyard nearby.



Often referred to in contemporary comedies as an assignation for married ladies with fashionable lovers but it also had a darker side which Fanny Burney hinted at in her writings, as a place where thwarted lovers drowned themselves in it. It was filled-in around 1770 when the Crown purchased Buckingham House and turned it into a palace.

Who was Rosamund? She is sometimes supposed to be ‘Fair Rosamond” Clifford, the favourite mistress of Henry ll who was later painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Burne-Jones and was the subject of many poems and myths (such as that she was murdered by Henry’s wife Eleanor of Aquitaine). A less flattering contemporary description came from the Welsh chronicler Gerald of Wales who dismissed her as 'that rose of unchastity.'

It seems that everyone can make their own images of Rosamond just as Hogarth did of the pond in his painting (above) which has Westminster Abbey with elongated wings posing between conveniently separated trees.