One of the most renowned districts of London, the West End serves as its undisputed champion centre of shopping and entertainment. Millions and millions of visitors every year flock to the area for its shops, boutiques, theatres, cinemas, bars, nightspots and parks.
Indeed, talking of these parks, one such example of glorious green that those who stay in or near the West End and take advantage of London weekend packages is the legendary Hyde Park. It’s brimming with just so many wonderful features and resonant with so much history – plus, it’s a great choice for a picnic or stroll on a sunny day…
How did Hyde Park become a Royal Park?
Curiously enough, the parkland that, over the centuries, would develop into Hyde Park was once owned by monks who worked in Westminster Abbey; to be exact, up to the early 16th Century, when the iconic King Henry VIII relieved them of it in the year 1563, so he had parkland to sate his desires for hunting in London. Nearly a century on, in 1637, the then monarch King Charles I who laid out the grounds of what was to be named Hyde Park in pretty much the design it has today – lying very near Hyde Park International London – and gave the parkland public access.
The Serpentine lake
What about the park’s wonderful landmarks? One of its most famous and most enjoyed is, of course, the winding, yes, serpent-like Serpentine lake – so, how did it come to be? Well, man-made for recreation (rather than naturally occurring at all), its inclusion in the park was suggested by Queen Caroline (consort of King George II) back in 1730. Today and, in fact, since Victorian times, it’s been much loved for its boating and swimming facilities.
Throughout Hyde Park, dotted here, there and everywhere, are many ornate, proud-looking and always impressive statues. Many strollers and picnickers may walk past them, but if you’re at all interested in history, it’s worth taking a moment during an afternoon (after, say, a breakfast Hyde Park London) to pause and take a look at one or two of them – and admire the artistry involved in their construction and the significant royal and other figures of the past they commemorate.
A good example is the magnificent 18-foot-tall statue of the Greek myth hero Achilles, which was erected way back in 1872. It was made of – yes, really – 33 tonnes of solid bronze derived from Spanish cannons, which had been acquired by the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars.
A spot for speaking
Finally, we can’t forget Speaker’s Corner. Legally declared a space for public speaking in in the late 19th Century, it occupies a small corner of Hyde Park near the opulent Apsley Gate entrance – and only a stroll away, then, from not just the Duke of Wellington’s grand, one-time home Apsley House, but also many a high-quality Hyde Park accommodation.
To this day, it’s used by anyone and everyone who wants to engage in or merely listen to public debate on any issue of the day of import. So, pop along on a Sunday morning and experience free speech and public discourse in action, in person.