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The park is said to have originally been a swampy burial ground for lepers from the nearby hospital at St James's. It was first enclosed in the 16th century when it formed part of the estate of the Poulteney family. In 1668 an area of the Poulteney estate known as Sandpit Field was surrendered to Charles II, who made the bulk of the land into a Royal Park, as "Upper St James's Park" and enclosed it with a brick wall.2 He laid out the park's main walks and built an icehouse there to supply him with ice for cooling drinks in summer.
There are Government offices and corridors, linking the nearby Royal palaces, beneath the east side of Green Park, which continue to run to the south. These are clearly visible on the edges of Green Park and St. James's Park, with the glass roofs just below ground level. The rooms are thought to be conversions of some of the tunnels built as part of the Cabinet War Rooms from the Second World War.