Peter Pan Tombstones
In Kensington Gardens lie two curious stones which are mentioned in the original Peter Pan story,
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. I like to call them the Peter Pan Tombstones.
In the story Peter Pan, who is only 7 years old, has complete faith that he can fly (because all children are, of course, part bird.) So he escapes through a bedroom window and off to Kensington Gardens where he roams around playing games (wrongly) with the children assuming that he can fly like all children. However, he loses his ability to fly when Solomon Craw explains that he’s more like a human now but luckily he eventually gets given back his flying skills by the fairies.
Peter Pan gets locked out
With his renewed flying skills Peter Pan flies home because he’s been missing his family but finds that his mother is caring for another boy (a new born brother) and he returns to Kensington Gardens terribly depressed.
Most of his time in the gardens is spent playing games but when he isn’t playing, after the park closes he passes the time by making graves for the poor babies who have been stranded in the park after falling out of their pram without the mother’s noticing! Once the park gates close, Peter Pan makes his rounds collecting them and burying them. What a depressing story!!
Two of these graves can actually be found in Kensington Gardens a little set back from the path, not far from Kensington Palace where Prince William likes to fly his helicopter to ruin my filming!
Parish Boundary Markers
In the old days, (and in fact still in some more rural areas) a parish boundary would be delineated by the marks made by “beating the bounds”. This would consist of the priest of a parish heading a group of people – usually young boys – to walk around the borders of their parish so that a rut got trodden into the ground. These boundaries were usually passed down by word of mouth so it was important to have young boys present to remember for as long as possible.
Knowing which parish you lived in would denote who would be responsible for the repairs of the local church, a bit like a modern borough or council.
In larger or more important parishes like those in London there would be more permanent markers like the stones that you see dotted around the place. The ones in Kensington Gardens are actually not the tombstones of Phoebe Phelps and Walter Steven Matthews as mentioned in Peter Pan. The markings actually stand for Parish of Paddington and Westminster St Margaret.
Whilst visiting the Peter Pan Boundary Markers why not visit the Peter Pan Statue too!