Hyde Park is one of the largest parks
in central London, England and one of the Royal Parks of
London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.
park is divided in two by the Serpentine. The park is contiguous with Kensington Gardens;
although often still assumed to be part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens
has been technically separate since 1728, when Queen Caroline
made a division between the two. Hyde Park is 350 acres
(140 hectare/1.4 kmē) and Kensington Gardens is
275 acres (110 ha/1.1 kmē) giving an overall area of 625 acres (250 ha/2.5
kmē), making this park larger than the Principality of Monaco (1.96 square kilometres or 485
acres), but still smaller than New York City's Central Park (3.41 square kilometres or 843
acres). To the southeast (but outside of the park) is Hyde Park Corner. Although, during
daylight, the two parks merge seamlessly into each other, Kensington
Gardens closes at dusk but Hyde Park remains open throughout the year from 5 am
park was the site of The Great
Exhibition of 1851, for which the Crystal Palace
was designed by Joseph Paxton.
park has become a traditional location for mass demonstrations. The Chartists, the Reform League, the Suffragettes and the
Stop The War Coalition have all held protests in the park. Many
protestors on the Liberty and Livelihood March
in 2002 started their march from Hyde Park.
On 20 July 1982 in the Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings, two bombs
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.
Hyde Park: Rotten Row
In 1536 Henry VIII
acquired the manor of Hyde from the canons of Westminster Abbey, who had held it since
before the Norman Conquest; it was enclosed as
a deer park and used for hunts. It 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.
In 1689, when William III
moved his habitation to Nottingham House in
the village of Kensington on the
far side of Hyde Park, and renamed it Kensington Palace, he had a drive laid out
across its south edge, leading to St. James's Palace;
this Route du Roi came to be corrupted to Rotten Row, which still exists as a wide
straight gravelled carriage track leading west from Hyde Park Corner across the south boundary
of Hyde Park. Public transportation that was entering London from the west paralleled the King's
private road along Kensington Gore,
just outside the park.
Serpentine, looking east from Serpentine
The first coherent landscaping
was undertaken by Charles Bridgeman
for Queen Caroline; under the
supervision of Charles Withers, Surveyor-General of Woods and Forest, who took
some credit for it, it was completed in 1733 at a cost to the public purse of ₤20,000.
Bridgeman's piece of water called The Serpentine, formed by damming the little
Westbourne that flowed through the park was not truly in the Serpentine
'line of beauty' that William Hogarth described, but merely
irregular on a modest curve. The 2nd Viscount Weymouth was made Ranger of
Hyde Park in 1739 and shortly began digging the s Serpentine lakes at Longleat. The Serpentine is
divided from the Long Water by a bridge designed by George Rennie
One of the most important events
to take place in the park was the Great
Exhibition of 1851. The Crystal Palace
was constructed on the south side of the park. The public in general did not
want the building to remain in the park after the closure of the exhibition,
and the design architect, Joseph Paxton,
raised funds and purchased it. He had it moved to Sydenham Hill in South
The Grand Entrance to the park,
at Hyde Park Corner
next to Apsley House, was erected from the designs
of Decimus Burton in 1824-25. An early
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
A rose garden, designed by Colvin &
Moggeridge, was added in 1994.
Sites of interest
Sites of interest in the 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.
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.
A magnificent specimen of a botanical curiosity is the Weeping Beech,
Fagus sylvatica pendula,
cherished as 'the upside-down tree' (illustration). Opposite
Hyde Park Corner stands one of the grandest hotels in London, The Lanesborough, which offers its top
suite at Ģ8,000 per night.
Stanhope Lodge (Decimus Burton,
1824-25) at Stanhope Gate, demolished to
widen Park Lane, was the home of Samuel Parkes
who won the Victoria Cross
in the Charge of
the Light Brigade. Parkes was later Inspector of the Park Constables
of the Park and died in the Lodge on 14 November 1864.
Hyde Park in fiction
In Volume II of Alan Moore's graphic novel, The
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Allan Quatermain implies that Hyde Park is
named in honour of Mr. Edward Hyde, the bestial alter ego of Dr. Henry Jekyll,
the titular character(s) of Robert Louis
Stevenson's novella, The
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was a posthumous honour, done so to recognise
Hyde's death while attempting to stop invaders from the planet Mars
in their advance
upon London (adapted from H. G. Wells' The War of
the Worlds). In this story, Hyde Park was originally named
park is mentioned in the 2007 film, Sweeney
Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
In the Bernard Cornwell novel Sharpe's Regiment,
a reenactment of the Battle of Vitoria
was staged. During the reenactment, Major
Richard Sharpe, led the Second Battalion of the South Essex
Regiment into Hyde Park holding a French Imperial
Eagle, which Sharpe had captured during the Battle of Talavera,
to present his men to the Prince Regent in
order to secure their protection from Sharpe's enemies.
In The Face of Evil (a serial
in the British science
fiction television series Doctor Who), The Doctor
is attempting to reach Hyde Park when he lands on an alien planet.
Park is also the setting for Anne Perry's Victorian murder mystery, The
Hyde Park Headsman in which several murder victims are found
beheaded in or near the park under strange circumstances, causing
near-hysterical terror in the residents of 1892 London. Superintendent Thomas Pitt is charged with discovering the
murderer before he/she can strike again.
Hyde Park features as a setting in The Eye in the Door
by British novelist Pat Barker.
Chapter one in particular alludes to the park's history as a gay
cruising ground before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.
featured where Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver fight in the 2004 sequel
discovery of a young scientist's body in the Long Water, near the Peter Pan statue, is a central incident in Boris Starling's 2006 novel Visibility.
In Destroy All
Humans! 2, it is an area in Albion, a fictionalised London.
in Libba Bray's Rebel Angels and
The Sweet Far Thing