Hyde Park London Private Guided Tours
Hyde Park is one of the eight Royal Parks of London and is situated right in the heart of the capital. Covering around 350 acres, it is a popular venue for events and concerts and has long been associated with protests and marches. Public speakers can be heard at Speaker's Corner on Sunday mornings.
The name 'Hyde' has Saxon originins and throughout the Middle Ages the park was the property of Westminster Abbey. In the past Hyde Park was a popular area for May Day celebrations but has also been used as a ground for duals. The park is well known for its lake - the Serpentine, created at the behest of Queen Caroline in 1730. In 1851 Hyde Park was the venue for the Great Exhibition for which the monumental Crystal Palace was constructed.
The area of the park was orignally one of King Henry VIII's hunting grounds having been taken from Westminster Abbey in 1536. The park has been open to the public since 1637 and and during the Restoration the park was sold off by the government but once the monarchy was restored in 1660, King Charles II retook ownership.
Major landscaping was started under the reign of King George I but after his death his daughter-in-law, Queen Caroline continued the project. It was at this point that the Serpentine came into being by damming the River Westbourne.
In 1821 the park was the venue for a fair to celebrate the coronation King George IV and in 1857 Queen Victoria held the first Victoria Cross investature at the there and later in 1887 a major party was held in the park to celebrate her golden jubilee to which Victoria and Albert made a surprise appearance. Queen Elizabeth II's silver and diamond jubilees were also celebrated with events at the park.
Bringing you up-to-date, the story of royal Hyde Park would be incomplete without a mention of the Diana Memorial Fountain. The memorial was made using modern technologies and tradional skills and was designed to reflect Diana, Princess of Wales's life, quality and openness. Three bridges allow visitors to cross to the centre of the construction.
Food & Drink
There are two places to eat and drink in the park - the Sepentine Bar & Kitchen and the Lido Bar and Cafe.
The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen is housed in a striking building designed by modernist architect Patrick Gwynne. The establishment is situated at the eastern edge of the Serpentine and models itself on English country living. Here you can enjoy tasty hot meals and snacks, freshly prepared salads and sandwiches and hot and cold drinks from the bar. Why not indulge yourself with a yummy cake from the bakery!
The Lido Bar and Cafe has recently been refurbished and offers an alfresco dining area and a view along the Serpentine. Hot and cold food options are available as well as good range of vegetarian and vegan options. Beers, wines and even pre-mixed cocktails are available from the drinks menu as well as a range of teas and speciality coffees.
The recently created meadowland area of Hyde Park has encouraged new wildlife to the area. Look out for butterflies feeding from the wild flowers. Robins, dunnocks and tits can be spotted among the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
A wide variety of wildfowl can be seen, attracted to the habitat of the Serpentine as well as bats that feed off the insects around the lake. The optimum time to see the bats is around dusk and best viewed from the Dell and Serpentine bridges. If you are really lucky you might spot a black swan which has been seen in the park in the past.
The environment is rich in insects too, which form an important part of the ecosystems of the park. Limes and maples line the avenues of the park. These were planted after 9,000 elms died from Dutch elm disease - many of which were planted as part of Queen Caroline's landscaping project. Look out for the 'the upside-down tree' a curious weeping beech! The Rose Garden is also well worth a look.
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