20 April 2020

Spotlight on Hyde Park

100 Queen’s Gate – Hyde Park

Often referred to as the ‘Lungs of London’, the capital’s parks are credited with providing vital breathing space to the surrounding urban sprawl. And none more so than central London’s largest green space, Hyde Park.

One of eight Royal Parks, it was originally established by Henry VIII in 1536, when he acquired the land from Westminster Abbey and used it for hunting purposes. It was opened to the public a century later and quickly gained popularity for hosting events such as duels, often contested by high-ranking members of society. At the start of the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, a series of fortifications were built along the east side of the park, including the current monuments which now stand at Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner. They were used as vetting points where visitors to London could be checked and approved, before being granted entry.

In 1726, major landscaping works were undertaken, altering the layout of the park and dividing it, resulting in the creation of Kensington Gardens. Shortly after, the Serpentine Lake was created, following the damming of the River Westbourne, a small tributary of the River Thames that runs through the park.

The park has played host to many important moments in British history, including events such as royal jubilee celebrations and a prayer vigil from Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, attracting an enormous 80,000 attendees. The honour of hosting these events has been bestowed upon the park largely due to its vast size and central location in the capital. Its 350 acres of land also provides ample space for concerts, with legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Pink Floyd just some of the megastars to have entertained the crowds during their careers. In recent years, BST Hyde Park has established itself as a staple of the UK festival scene with its annual concerts, cementing the site’s reputation as one of the world’s finest open-air venues. Not content with that, the park also hosts the spectacular annual Winter Wonderland festival. One of the largest Christmas events in Europe, it attracts around three million visitors each year. With over 100 rides, ice skating, street food stalls, festive bars, and a Bavarian village, it’s not hard to see why!

Today, the park attracts visitors from far and wide, offering an array of fun activities and events throughout the year. Brave an open water swim in the Serpentine, saddle up for a spot of horse riding or simply kick back and relax at a waterside café – there is no shortage of things to do. At under 20 minutes' walk from 100 Queen’s Gate, it is the perfect spot to unwind in whatever way you choose.