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Hyde Park

Henry the VIII acquired the land this park now lies on from the Abbey of Westminster by exchanging it for the Priory of Hurley in Berkshire. The monarch then enclosed both Hyde Manor and St. James Park, which already belonged to the crown, with fence and began to stock it with deer forming a hunting-park of roughly 1000 acres.

Charles I opened the park to public use. In 1653 the park was sold. During this period Cromwell began the custom of driving in the park with his own carriage and six. Unfortunately he seems to have been rather cow-handed and often overturned; his wife was much more successful, but equally ridiculed for the cows she kept in St. James Park. After the Restoration Charles II reestablished the crown's ownership of the land and constructed a paddock or "deer harbour" in the Northwest corner. He also enclosed the park with a brick wall. St James was given to the public at this time. It immediately became a fashionable place to walk during the day as well as a home to vendors especially of fruit, maquilage and other women's toiletries.

The keepers lodge or cake-house dates from about 1637. Refreshments such as milk, sylabub, cheese cakes, March pane, mince-pies, and China oranges were served there until the building was torn down in 1826.

Queen Caroline added the Serpentine. Construction took place between 1730 and 1733. Caroline is also responsible for the establishment of Kensington Gardens as an entity separate from Hyde park. She enlarged the garden Queen Anne had laid out. The Achilles Statue in Hyde Park, made from the metal of enemy French guns captured at Salamanca, Vitoria, Toulouse, and Waterloo, was erected in 1822.



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This site last updated March 2003 by webmaster