24. Hyde Park. Kensington Gardens and Palace.
Park Lane, a street about Y2 M. in length, connecting the W.
end of Piccadilly with Oxford Street, forms the eastern boundary of
Hyde Park (PL H 10, etc.), which extends thence towards the W.
as far as Kensington Gardens, and covers an area of 390 acres.
Before the dissolution of the religious houses, the site of the park
belonged to the old manor of Hyde, one of the possessions of AVest¬
minster Abbey. The ground was laid out as a park and enclosed
under Henry ATII. In the reign of Elizabeth stags and deer were
still hunted in it, while under Charles II. it was devoted to horse¬
races. The latter monarch also laid out the 'Ring', a kind of corso,
about 350 yds. in length, round an enclosed space, which soon
became a most fashionable drive. The fair frequenters of the Ring
often appeared in masks, and, under this disguise, used so much
freedom, that in 1695 an order was issued denying admission to all
whose identity was thus concealed.
At a later period the park was neglected, and was frequently
the scene of duels, one of the most famous being that between Lord
Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton in 1712, when both the princi¬
pals fell dead on the ground. Under William HI. and Queen Anne
a large portion of the park was taken to enlarge KensingtonGardens,
and, finally, Queen Caroline, wife of George II., caused the Ser¬
pentine, a sheet of artificial water, to be formed. The Serpentine
was originally fed by the Westboume, a small stream coming
from that ancient region of fountains, Bayswater, to the N. ; but it
is now supplied from the Thames.
Hyde Park is one of the most frequented and lively scenes in
London. It is surrounded by a handsome and lofty iron railing,
and provided with nine carriage-entrances, besides a great number
of gates for pedestrians, all of which are shut at midnight. On the S.
side are Kensington Gate and Queen's Gate, both in Kensington
Road, near Kensington Palace ; Prince's Gate and Albert Gate in
Knightsbridge ; and Hyde Park Corner at the AV. end of Piccadilly.
On the E. side are Stanhope Gate and Grosvenor Gate, both in Park
Lane. On the N. side are Cumberland Gate, at the W. end of Ox¬
ford Street, and Victoria Gate, Bayswater. The entrances most used
are Hyde Park Corner at the S.E., and Cumberland Gate at the
N.E. angle. At the latter rises the Mariile Arch, a triumphal
arch in the style of the Arch of Constantine, originally erected by
George IV. at the entrance of Buckingham Palace at a cost of
80,000/. In 1850, on the completion of the E. facade (p. 233),
it was removed from the palace , and in the following year was re-
erected in its present position. The reliefs on the S. are by Baily,
those on the N. by Westmacott; the elegant bronze gates well
deserve inspection. The handsome gateway at Hyde Park Corner,