Hyde Park

sights / Parks & gardens

Hyde Park information

Location
London , England
Getting there
Tube: Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Queensway
More information
www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park
Opening hours
5am-midnight
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At 145 hectares, Hyde Park is central London's largest open space. Henry VIII expropriated it from the Church in 1536, when it became a hunting ground and later a venue for duels, executions and horse racing. The 1851 Great Exhibition was held here, and during WWII the park became an enormous potato field. These days, it's an occasional concert venue (Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Madonna) and a full-time green space for fun and frolics, including boating on the Serpentine .

While Speaker's Corner is intended for oratorical acrobats, these days it's largely eccentrics and religious fanatics who address bemused onlookers, maintaining a tradition begun in 1872 as a response to rioting. Nearby Marble Arch, designed by John Nash in 1828 as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, was moved here in 1851. The infamous Tyburn Tree, a three-legged gallows, once stood close by and was the place of execution for up to 50,000 people between 1196 and 1783.

A soothing monument, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain is a circular stream that cascades gently and reassembles in a pool at the bottom; paddling is encouraged. It was unveiled in mid-2004, instigating an inevitable debate over matters of taste and gravitas.