HYDE PARK is a Grade I-registered major park in Central
London . It
is the largest of four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance
Kensington Palace through
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, via
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner and
Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham
Palace . The park is divided by the Serpentine and the Long Water .
The park was established by Henry VIII in 1536 when he took the land
Westminster Abbey and used it as a hunting ground. It opened to
the public in the early 17th century and quickly became popular,
May Day parades. Major improvements occurred in the
early 18th century under the direction of Queen Caroline . Several
duels took place in Hyde Park during this time, often involving
members of the nobility.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was held in the
park, for which the Crystal Palace , designed by
Joseph Paxton , was
Free speech and demonstrations have been a key feature of Hyde Park
since the 19th century. Speaker\'s Corner has been established as a
point of free speech and debate since 1872, while the
Chartists , the
Reform League , the suffragettes , and the Stop the War Coalition have
all held protests there. In the late 20th century, the park became
known for holding large-scale free rock music concerts, featuring
groups such as
Pink Floyd ,
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones and Queen . Commercial
concerts have continued into the 21st century, such as
Live 8 in 2005.
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 16th – 17th century
* 2.3 18th century
* 2.4 19th – 21st century
* 3 Grand Entrance
* 4 Features
* 4.1 Botany
* 4.2 Statues and sculptures
* 5 Debates
* 6 Concerts
* 7 Sports
* 8 Transport
* 9 References
* 10 External links
Hyde Park is the largest Royal Park in London. It is bounded on the
Bayswater Road , to the east by
Park Lane , and to the south
Knightsbridge . Further north is
Paddington , further east is
Mayfair and further south is
Belgravia . To the southeast, outside
the park, is
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner , beyond which is
Green Park , St.
James\' Park and
Buckingham Palace Gardens . The park has been Grade
I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens since 1987.
To the west, Hyde Park merges with
Kensington Gardens . The dividing
line runs approximately between Alexandra Gate to Victoria Gate via
West Carriage Drive and the Serpentine Bridge. The Serpentine is to
the south of the park area.
Kensington Gardens has been separate from
Hyde Park since 1728, when Queen Caroline divided them. Hyde Park
covers 142 hectares (350 acres), and
Kensington Gardens covers 111
hectares (275 acres), giving a total area of 253 hectares (625
acres). During daylight, the two parks merge seamlessly into each
Kensington Gardens closes at dusk, and Hyde Park remains
open throughout the year from 5 a.m. until midnight.
The park's name comes from the Manor of Hyde, which was the northeast
sub-division of the manor of
Eia (the other two sub-divisions were
Ebury and Neyte) and appears as such in the
Domesday Book . The name
is believed to be of Saxon origin, and means a unit of land, the hide
, that was appropriate for the support of a single family and
dependents. Through the
Middle Ages , it was property of Westminster
Abbey , and the woods in the manor were used both for firewood and
shelter for game .
16TH – 17TH CENTURY
Hyde Park was created for hunting by Henry Vlll in 1536 after he
acquired the manor of Hyde from the Abbey. It was enclosed as a deer
park and remained a private hunting ground until James I permitted
limited access to gentlefolk, appointing a ranger to take charge.
Charles I created the Ring (north of the present Serpentine
boathouses), and in 1637 he opened the park to the general public. It
quickly became a popular gathering place, particularly for May Day
celebrations. At the start of the
English Civil War in 1642, a series
of fortifications were built along the east side of the park,
including forts at what is now
Marble Arch , Mount Street and Hyde
Park Corner . The latter included a strongpoint where visitors to
London could be checked and vetted.
In 1652, during the Interregnum , Parliament ordered the then
620-acre (250 ha) park to be sold for "ready money". It realised
£17,000 with an additional £765 6s 2d for the resident deer.
During the Great Plague of
London in 1665, Hyde Park was used as a
military camp. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660,
Charles II retook ownership of Hyde Park and enclosed it in a brick
wall. He restocked deer in what is now Buck Hill in Kensington
May Day parade continued to be a popular event; Samuel
Pepys took part in the park's celebrations in 1663 while attempting to
gain the King's favour.
Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun fighting James Hamilton, 4th Duke
of Hamilton in Hyde Park; both lost their lives.
In 1689, William III moved his residence to
Kensington Palace on the
far side of Hyde Park and had a drive laid out across its southern
edge which was known as the King's Private Road. The drive is still in
existence as a wide straight gravelled carriage track leading west
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner across the southern boundary of Hyde Park
Kensington Palace and now known as
Rotten Row , possibly a
corruption of rotteran (to muster), Ratten Row (roundabout way),
Route du roi, or rotten (the soft material with which the road is
covered). It is believed to be the first road in
London to be lit at
night, which was done to deter highwaymen . In 1749, Horace Walpole
was robbed while travelling through the park from
Holland House . The
row was used by the wealthy for horseback rides in the early 19th
Hyde Park was a popular duelling spot during the 18th century, with
172 taking place, leading to 63 fatalities. Charles Mohun, 4th Baron
James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton in a duel in 1712.
Baron Mohun was killed instantly, while the Duke died shortly
John Wilkes fought Samuel Martin in 1772, as did Richard
Brinsley Sheridan with Captain Thomas Mathews over the latter's
libellous comments about Sheridan's fiancee
Elizabeth Ann Linley .
Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow fought Andrew Stuart in a Hyde Park
duel in 1770. Military executions were common in Hyde Park at this
time; John Rocque\'s Map of London, 1746 marks a point inside the park
as "the stone where soldiers are shot." Hyde Park c. 1833:
Rotten Row is "The King's Private Road"
The first coherent landscaping in Hyde Park was undertaken by Charles
Bridgeman for Queen Caroline (wife of King George II ), under the
supervision of Charles Withers, the Surveyor-General of Woods and
Forests . The principal effect of the work was to sub-divide Hyde Park
and create Kensington Gardens. The Serpentine was formed by damming
River Westbourne , which runs through the park from Kilburn
towards the Thames. It is divided from the Long Water by a bridge
designed by George Rennie in 1826.
The work was completed in 1733. The 2nd Viscount Weymouth was made
Ranger of Hyde Park in 1739 and shortly after began digging the
Serpentine lakes at
Longleat . A powder magazine was built north of
the Serpentine in 1805.
19TH – 21ST CENTURY
Hyde Park, drawn by
Camille Pissarro , 1890
Hyde Park hosted a Great Fair in the summer of 1814 to celebrate the
Allied sovereigns\' visit to England , and exhibited various stalls
and shows. The
Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar was re-enacted on the Serpentine,
with a band playing the National Anthem while the French fleet sank
into the lake. The coronation of King George IV in 1821 was celebrated
with a fair in the park, including an air balloon and firework
One of the most important events to take place in Hyde Park was the
Great Exhibition of 1851 .
The Crystal Palace was constructed on the
south side of the park. The public did not want the building to
remain after the closure of the exhibition, and its architect, Joseph
Paxton , raised funds and purchased it. He had it moved to Sydenham
Hill in South London. Another significant event was the first
Victoria Cross investiture, on 26 June 1857, when 62 men were
Queen Victoria in the presence of
Prince Albert and other
members of the Royal Family, including their future son-in-law Crown
Prince Frederick of Prussia, later Emperor Frederick III .
The Hyde Park Lido first opened in 1930. It was designed by the
Commissioner of Works,
George Lansbury , and still sees regular use in
As part of the Queen\'s Silver Jubilee in 1977, a Jubilee Exhibition
was set up in Hyde Park. In 2012, a major festival took place in the
park as part of the Queen\'s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The
Winter Wonderland festival has been a popular Christmas event in Hyde
Park since 2007.
On 20 July 1982, in the
Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings , two
devices linked to the
Provisional Irish Republican Army caused the
death of eight members of the
Household Cavalry and the Royal Green
Jackets and seven horses.
Since 2007, Hyde Park has played host to the annual Winter Wonderland
event, which features numerous Christmas-themed markets, along with
various rides and attractions, alongside bars and restaurants. It has
become one of the largest Christmas events in Europe, having attracted
over 14 million visitors as of 2016.
On 18 September 2010, Hyde Park was the setting for a prayer vigil
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI as part of his visit to the United Kingdom ,
attended by around 80,000 people.
Decimus Burton 's Hyde Park Gate/Screen
During the late 18th century, plans were made to replace the old toll
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner with a grander entrance, following the
gentrification of the area surrounding it. The first design was put
Robert Adam in 1778 as a grand archway, followed by John
Soane 's 1796 proposal to build a new palace adjacent to the corner in
Following the construction of
Buckingham Palace , the improvement
plans were revisited. The grand entrance to the park at Hyde Park
Corner was designed by
Decimus Burton , and was constructed in the
1820s. Burton laid out the paths and driveways and designed a series
of lodges, the Screen/Gate at
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner (also known as the
Grand Entrance or the Apsley Gate) in 1825 and the
Wellington Arch ,
which opened in 1828. The Screen and the Arch originally formed a
single composition, designed to provide a monumental transition
between Hyde Park and Green Park, although the arch was moved in 1883.
It originally had a statue of the Duke of Wellington on top; it was
Aldershot in 1883 when the arch was re-sited. Decimus
Wellington Arch ,
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner
An early description reports:
"It consists of a screen of handsome fluted Ionic columns , with
three carriage entrance archways, two foot entrances, a lodge, etc.
The extent of the whole frontage is about 107 ft (33 m). The central
entrance has a bold projection: the entablature is supported by four
columns; and the volutes of the capitals of the outside column on each
side of the gateway are formed in an angular direction, so as to
exhibit two complete faces to view. The two side gateways, in their
elevations, present two insulated Ionic columns, flanked by antae. All
these entrances are finished by a blocking, the sides of the central
one being decorated with a beautiful frieze, representing a naval and
military triumphal procession. This frieze was designed by Mr.
Henning, junior, the son of Mr. Henning who was well known for his
models of the
Elgin Marbles . The gates were manufactured by Messrs.
Bramah . They are of iron, bronzed, and fixed or hung to the piers by
rings of gun-metal. The design consists of a beautiful arrangement of
the Greek honeysuckle ornament ; the parts being well defined, and the
raffles of the leaves brought out in a most extraordinary manner."
Wellington Arch was extensively restored by English Heritage
between 1999–2001. It is now open to the public, who can see a view
of the parks from its platforms above the porticoes.
7 July Memorial to the victims of the 7 July 2005 London
Popular areas within Hyde Park include Speakers\' Corner (located in
the northeast corner near
Marble Arch ), close to the former site of
the Tyburn gallows , and
Rotten Row , which is the northern boundary
of the site of the Crystal Palace .
Flowers were first planted in Hyde Park in 1860 by William Andrews
Nesfield . The next year, the Italian Water Garden was constructed at
Victoria Gate, including fountains and a summer house . Queen Anne's
Alcove was designed by Sir
Christopher Wren and was moved to the park
from its original location in Kensington Gardens.
During the late 20th century, over 9,000 elm trees in Hyde Park were
Dutch elm disease
Dutch elm disease . The park now holds 4 acres (1.6 ha) of
greenhouses which hold the bedding plants for the Royal Parks. A
scheme is available to adopt trees in the park, which helps fund their
upkeep and maintenance. A botanical curiosity is the weeping beech ,
which is known as "the upside-down tree". A rose garden , designed by
Jacob Epstein 's Rima sculpture in Hyde Park
There are a number of assorted statues and memorials around Hyde
Park. The Cavalry Memorial was built in 1924 at Stanhope Gate. It
moved to the Serpentine Road when
Park Lane was widened to traffic in
1961. South of the Serpentine is the Diana, Princess of Wales
memorial , an oval stone ring fountain opened on 6 July 2004. To the
east of the Serpentine, just beyond the dam, is London's Holocaust
Memorial . The
7 July Memorial in the park commemorates the victims
of 7 July 2005
London bombings .
The Standing Stone is a 7-tonne monolith at the centre of the Dell,
to the east of Hyde Park. Made of Cornish stone, it was originally
part of a drinking fountain, though an urban legend was established,
claiming it was brought from
Stonehenge by Charles I.
An assortment of unusual sculptures are scattered around the park,
including: Still Water , a massive horse head lapping up water; Jelly
Baby Family, a family of giant
Jelly Babies standing on top of a large
black cube; and Vroom Vroom, which resembles a giant human hand
pushing a toy car along the ground. The sculptor Jacob Epstein
constructed several works in Hyde Park. His memorial to the author
William Henry Hudson , featuring his character Rima caused public
outrage when it was unveiled in 1925.
There has been a fountain at Grosvenor Gate since 1863, designed by
Alexander Munro . There is another fountain opposite Mount Street on
the park's eastern edge.
A Protestant Christian protesting at
Speakers' Corner in 2010
Speakers' Corner has acquired an international reputation
for demonstrations and other protests due to its tolerance of free
speech . In 1855, a protest at the park was organised to demonstrate
against Robert Grosvenor 's attempt to ban
Sunday trading , including
a restriction on pub opening times.
Karl Marx observed approximately
200,000 protesters attended the demonstration, which involved jeering
and taunting at upper-class horse carriages. A further protest
occurred a week later, but this time the police attacked the crowd.
In 1867 the policing of the park was entrusted to the Metropolitan
Police , the only royal park so managed, due to the potential for
trouble at Speakers' Corner. A Metropolitan Police station ('AH') is
situated in the middle of the park. The 1872 Parks Regulation Act
created positions of "park keeper" and also provided that "Every
police constable belonging to the police force of the district in
which any park, garden, or possession to which this Act applies is
situate shall have the powers, privileges, and immunities of a
park-keeper within such park, garden, or possession." The Free
Hugs Campaign has taken place several times at Speaker's Corner.
Speaker's Corner became increasingly popular in the late 19th
century. Visitors brought along placards, stepladders and soap boxes
in order to stand out from others, while heckling of speakers was
Donald Soper, Baron Soper was a regular visitor throughout
the 20th century, until just before his death in 1998. The rise of the
Internet, particularly blogs , has diminished the importance of
Speaker's Corner as a political platform, and it is increasingly seen
as simply a tourist attraction.
As well as Speaker's Corner, several important mass demonstrations
have occurred in Hyde Park. On 26 July 1886, the
Reform League staged
a march from their headquarters towards the park, campaigning for
increased suffrage and representation. Though the police had closed
the park, the crowd managed to break down the perimeter railings and
get inside, leading to the event being dubbed "The Hyde Park Railings
Affair". After the protests turned violent, three squadrons of Horse
Guards and numerous Foot Guards were sent out from
Marble Arch to
combat the situation. On 21 June 1908, as part of "Women's Sunday", a
reported 750,000 people marched from the Embankment to Hyde Park
protesting for universal suffrage . The first protest against the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq took place in Hyde Park on 28 September
2002, with 150,000–350,000 in attendance. A further series of
demonstrations happened around the world, culminating in the 15
February 2003, anti-war protests , part of a global demonstration
Iraq War . Over a million protesters are reported to have
attended the Hyde Park event alone.
List of concerts in Hyde Park
The bandstand in Hyde Park was originally built in Kensington Gardens
in 1869, moving to its current location in 1886. It became a popular
place for concerts in the 1890s, featuring up to three every week.
Military and brass bands continued to play into the 20th century.
Pink Floyd performing at
Live 8 in Hyde Park, 2 July 2005, their last
of several gigs at the park over their career
The music management company
Blackhill Enterprises held the first
rock concert in Hyde Park on 29 June 1968, attended by 15,000 people.
On the bill were
Pink Floyd , Roy Harper and Jethro Tull , while John
Peel later said it was "the nicest concert I’ve ever been to".
Subsequently, Hyde Park has featured some of the most significant
concerts in rock. The supergroup
Blind Faith (featuring Eric Clapton
Steve Winwood ) played their debut gig in Hyde Park on 7 June
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones headlined a concert (later released as The
Stones in the Park ) on 5 July that year, two days after the death of
Brian Jones , and is now remembered as one of the most
famous gigs of the 1960s.
Pink Floyd returned to Hyde Park on 18 July
1970, playing new material from
Atom Heart Mother . All of the early
gigs from 1968–71 were free events, contrasting sharply with the
later commercial endeavours.
Queen played a free concert organised by
Richard Branson in the park
on 18 September 1976, partway through recording the album A Day at the
Races . The band drew an audience of 150,000 – 200,000, which
remains the largest crowd for a Hyde Park concert. The group were not
allowed to play an encore, and police threatened to arrest frontman
Freddie Mercury if he attempted to do so.
Live 8 concert took place in Hyde Park on 2 July 2005, as
a concert organised by
Bob Geldof to raise awareness of increased
debts and poverty in the third world . Acts included U2 ,
Elton John ,
R.E.M. , Madonna ,
The Who and
Paul McCartney , and the
most anticipated set was the reformation of the classic 1970s line-up
Pink Floyd (including
David Gilmour and
Roger Waters ) for the
first time since 1981. The gig was the Floyd's final live
Acts from each of the four nations in the UK played a gig in the park
as part of the opening ceremony for the
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics . The
Duran Duran , representing England, alongside the
Stereophonics for Wales,
Paolo Nutini for Scotland and
Snow Patrol for
Local residents have become critical of Hyde Park as a concert venue,
due to the sound levels, and have campaigned for a maximum sound level
of 73 decibels . In June 2012,
Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney
found their microphones switched off after Springsteen had played a
three-hour set during the Park's Hard Rock Calling festival, and
overshot the 10:30pm curfew time.
Hyde Park contains several sporting facilities, including several
football pitches and a
Tennis centre. There are numerous cycle paths,
and horse riding is popular.
In 1998 British artist
Marion Coutts recreated Hyde Park, along with
Battersea and Regent\'s Park , as a set of asymmetrical ping-pong
tables for her interactive installation Fresh Air.
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics , the park hosted the triathlon , which
Alistair Brownlee and
Jonathan Brownlee took the Gold and
Bronze medals for
Team GB , and the 10 km open water swimming events.
The park has also hosted the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner tube station , with the Grand
Entrance to the left
There are five
London Underground stations located on or near the
edges of Hyde Park and
Kensington Gardens (which is contiguous with
Hyde Park). In clockwise order starting from the south-east, they are:
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner (
Piccadilly line )
* Queensway (Central line )
* Lancaster Gate (Central line)
Marble Arch (Central line)
Bayswater tube station , on the Circle and District lines, is also
close to Queensway station and the north-west corner of the park. High
Street Kensington tube station , on the Circle and District is very
Kensington Palace located on the Southwest corner of
Paddington station, served by Bakerloo, Circle and
District, and Hammersmith ">
* ^ By comparison, the combined area of Hyde Park and Kensington
Gardens is larger than the Principality of
Monaco (196 hectares or 480
acres), though smaller than the
Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne in Paris (845
hectares, or 2090 acres), New York City's
Central Park (341 hectares
or 840 acres), and Dublin's
Phoenix Park (707 hectares, or 1,750
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