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The Royal Park Of London: The Hyde Park

Updated on June 1, 2016

Steeped in ancient history, the Hyde Park acquired by Henry VIII back in 1536 has an enthralling past and some breathtaking attractions, including historical monuments as well as exuberant activities for tourists and families to experience. The green space, previously a meadow dotted with foliage and saplings consisting of deer & wild bulls, has been transformed and maintained for a period of almost 500 years now.


Into Hyde Park circa 1950s
Into Hyde Park circa 1950s

History

After the acquisition that took place in 1536, the monks of Westminster Abbey no longer had a control over the land. Part of it was sold by Henry VIII while the rest was converted into a hunting park that stretched from Kensington to Westminster. Being the favourite shooting round for the King and his court men, access was not permitted to the general public. The stunning Westbourne Stream used to flow in the area back then, enhancing the exquisiteness of the park, meandering through the park between Hampstead and the Thames.

Henry VIII ordered the construction of a fence around the hunting area and created dams in the stream to make ponds for the deer to quench their thirst. Royal Hunts were organized for the significant members including ambassadors and dignitaries to entertain them. While the visitors enjoyed from the grand stands, royal feasts were made a part of the program, which were arranged in the temporary banquet halls. As the hunting tradition continued, in 1625, when Charles I took over, he altered the look of the park by creating pathways for the carriages to drive through. Later in 1637, the park was opened for the public and became a “hip” place for people to visit, especially on May Day.

However, in 1642, Civil War broke out and saw the construction of forts in the park, by the parliamentary troops. In order to defend the city of Westminster, defensive earthworks were dug towards the east, which can be seen today as well near Park Lane. When monarchy was finally restored in 1660, the Hyde Park was again maintained as a Royal Park with carriage parades organized by the new King Charles. In 1689, when William and Mary came to throne, major changes took place. As their home in London, they bought the Nottingham House, towards the western side of Hyde Park and named it as the Kensington Palace. Furthermore, they created a route from Kensington to Westminster, lit by 300 oil lamps, cutting through the park. It was known to be the first road to be lit at night, in England and was named as “Route de roi” or the King’s Road.

18th century saw the construction of some of the most amazing and gorgeous features of Hyde Park that we see today. Queen Caroline, in 1728 divided the park to form the 300 acre Kensington Gardens by digging up a trench. Moreover, while the lakes were usually longitudinal in shape, she constructed a large, natural looking lake, called the Serpentine by damming the Westbourne Stream which was later copied by various parks and gardens. For 100 years, the Hyde Park kept its shape, but later in 1820s, Decimus Burton was ordered to give the park a new look, who created a “grand” entrance of the park, at the Hyde Park Corner.

Aerial View of London's Largest Park
Aerial View of London's Largest Park

Things To Do In Hyde Park

Hyde Park is full of activities and places to visit. One can easily spend a day picnicking with family or posing for pictures in front of the historical monuments. You can contact an executive car hire provider, book your minicab and enjoy the following activities with your family and friends:

  • Grab a sandwich and a hot cup of coffee from the Serpentine Café and admire the striking view with geese pecking around in the tranquil lake. Take a swim in the man-made lake or go boating in the fresh water pond.
  • Take a tour of the Kensington Gardens and Palace, where Princess Diana lived. You can also take a stroll up the trendy and busy Notting Hill or grab walk back to Kensington through the Kensington Church Street.
  • Beautifully constructed near the Kensington Palace entrance is Orangery, an affordable yet outclass café with arguably the best tea in town. You can visit the place for a nice afternoon tea with family or friends.
  • The sports lovers can book their minicabs and visit the Hyde Park for activities such as a tennis match, horse riding, football or even bicycle riding.

Hyde Park, a modern place, entailing an almost 500 year old history is certainly worth a visit with its lush green carpets of grass, picturesque view of the lake and ancient monuments, bringing to life the long gone moments of the previous centuries.

Something Very Serene About the Hyde Park
Something Very Serene About the Hyde Park

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful overview of this beautiful and historically significant park.

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