Let’s take a walk!
The daytime is lovely,
Swans adorn Hyde park,
The scene paints a view
of a London landmark. 1
Hyde Park, one of the largest parks in London, was created in 1536 by Henry VIII for hunting when he “acquired” the land from the canons of Westminster Abbey, who had held it since before the Norman Conquest. It was enclosed as a deer park and remained a private hunting ground until James I permitted limited access to “gentlefolk” in the early 17th century. Charles I opened the park to the general public in 1637. Hyde Park is joined with Kensington Gardens, home of Kensington Palace, built by Queen Caroline in 1728.
The park is huge, covering 350 acres with an additional 275 acres in Kensington Gardens. The park was the site of the Great Exhibition of 1851, famous for its Crystal Palace and scientific pavilions. Sites of interest in the park include Speakers’ Corner, 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, a huge manmade lake, is the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial. To the east of the Serpentine is London’s Holocaust Memorial. A botanical curiosity is the Weeping Beech, Fagus sylvatica pendula, cherished as “the upside-down tree.” Opposite Hyde Park Corner stands one of the grandest hotels in London, The Lanesborough, formerly, St George’s Hospital. Stanhope Lodge 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. After leaving the army, Parkes became inspector of the park’s constables. A rose garden, designed by Colvin & Moggridge, was added to the park in 1994. An assortment of unusual sculptures are scattered around the park, including Drinking Horse, made in the shape of a massive horse head lapping up water, a family of 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.
So, let’s take a walk when we are in London for INANE. We will meet in the lobby of The Cumberland at 6 am sharp on both Tuesday, August 2 and Wednesday, August 3, make the short trip around the corner to Hyde Park, entering the park at the Marble Arch and Speakers’ Corner. Depending on the group’s inclination and perhaps the weather, we will take either a 1 mile stroll through Hyde Park greenery or a 2 mile constitutional around the Serpentine. For both we should add about a mile to get the start and return to the hotel. The longer walk to Kensington we will leave for you to try on your own.
And of course, feel free to wander the park at your leisure; it is truly a wonderful place.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.2
Pack your walking shoes! See you in London.
Rita Pickler and Julia Snethen
- From the poem, Beautiful Hyde Park, by Shelley Williams.
- From the poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson