duck island cottage

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Duck Island Cottage. Westminster. 69 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ. 

The earliest cottage on Duck Island, in St. James's Park, was built by William III. The present Duck Island Cottage was built in 1840 as a home for the park's bird keeper on the initiative of the Ornithological Society of London. In seeking permission to build, the society argued that it had spent considerable sums stocking the water in St. James's Park with rare and interesting aquatic birds, and that a resident bird keeper was necessary to ensure their care and security.

The Duck Keeper's Cottage was funded by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, on the understanding that although it would be used by the Ornithological Society of London it would remain the property of the Crown. 

The Ornithological Society of London commissioned an obscure architect, John Burges Watson, to design the cottage and adjacent society meeting room. Watson's taste was for rural subjects, and he produced an engaging and rambling cottage decorated with elaborate barge boards and finials in a vaguely Swiss style. The cottage and meeting room are connected by a loggia-like bridge of tree trunk columns and trellis, below which the water flows. Watson apparently intended that his design should contrast with that of the monumental Government buildings being concurrently built in nearby Whitehall. It certainly does. 

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