Hyde Park is a park in central London, England. It is famous for its Speaker Corner.
Together with the adjacent Kensington Gardens, it forms one of the largest green areas of the city, with an area of 2.5 km². It is crossed by the Winding Lake (Serpentine).
Hyde Park is officially recognized as one of London’s royal parks.
Originally the area where the park is today was owned by the monks of Westminster Abbey. It was acquired in 1536 by the English king Henry VIII, who, accompanied by members of the court, had, as usual, hunt in the region. The use of the Hyde Park (a name that comes from hide, a unit measuring about 0.24 to 0.49 km², which is the original size of the park) was restricted to hunting until the reign of King James I , when the park had limited access. Only in 1637, under the reign of the English king Carlos I, the general public had its entrance allowed.
In 1665, when the Black Death decimated the London population, many decided to camp in the park, hoping to be spared the disease.
At the end of the seventeenth century, the English king William III transferred the court to the palace of Kensington. Considering that the road to St. James’s palace was too dangerous, in 1690 the king decided to install three hundred oil lamps on a road through Hyde Park (this became the first artificially lit road in the country). This new route was (and still is) known as Rotten Row, which is an English version of the French Route de Roi, meaning “King’s Way”.
Close to Lake Serpentine, Hyde Park.
In the 1730s, Carolina of Ansbach, wife of the English king George II, made several changes in the park, including the creation of Sinuous Lake.
Over the years, Hyde Park has become a place for national celebrations. In 1814, the prince-regent (who later would be crowned as George IV) organized a fireworks display, commemorating the end of the Napoleonic wars. Later, it was built, in the park, the Crystal Palace, stage of the Great Exhibition of 1851.
In 1855, a reformist group used the park to make protests, which caused a great clash with the police. This lasted until 1872, when the prime minister passed a bill allowing public acts in a specific part of the park, which became known as the Speaker’s corner. To this day, this is an area where anyone can, in principle, protest on any topic. One of the biggest demonstrations came in 2003, when more than 1,000,000 people protested against the Iraq war.
On July 20, 1982, seven horses and eight members of the Royal Guard who were in the park were killed in a terrorist attack by the IRA group.
Nowadays, the park has a considerable infrastructure, with restaurants, cafes, public restrooms, a learning center about nature and wildlife, as well as other amenities such as carriage rides, pedal boats for use in Sinuous Lake and rent of Reclining chairs. There is also a tennis club and a bowling alley, not to mention the horses available for horseback riding. The practice of sports is very diverse, going from rugby games to the launch of frisbees.
Live 8 at Hyde Park.
The park is also heavily aimed at rock shows. Bands such as Green Day, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queen and Foo Fighters, among others, have performed at the venue. More recently, in 2005, there was Live 8, with presentations by Green Day, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Robbie Williams, The Killers, Paul McCartney and U2, among others. In July 2012, singer Madonna held in the park a presentation of her MDNA tour to 54 thousand people. On June 27, 2015, singer Taylor Swift performed a concert of her tour The 1989 World Tour.
In 2004, a memorial to the late Princess Diana was inaugurated in the park, consisting of a granite fountain in an oval format (see Diana Memorial Fountain, Princess of Wales).
The closest subway stations are Hyde Park Corner (southwest of the park), Marble Arch (northwest) and Lancaster Gate (north).
It hosted the triathlon competitions and the ten-kilometer swimming event of the 2012 London Olympics.