Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4Thornbury, Walter
Hyde Park (continued).
Hyde Park (continued).
[extra_illustrations.4.394.7] from the west end of , at
is, as we have already seen, imposing and magnificent in the extreme.
writes Mr. James Grant,
At the beginning of the present century, however, it wore a different appearance from that of to-day. For instance, from a print of o, it is clear that on the left, inside the entrance at , was the under-keeper's lodge, a wooden structure. At the bottom of an old view of Kensington Palace, among the topographical illustrations belonging to George III., is the following inscription:--
far surpasses that of St. James's in pure rural scenery. Its trees may not be greener or leafier, but there is in its appearance less of art and more of nature, and this is evidenced by the beauty-artificial as it is--of the .
The air here, though not equal in purity to that on Epsom Downs, or even Hampstead Heath, is fresh enough, as compared with that of close-packed rooms in the centre of London.
observes a writer in ,
The parks, therefore, may well be called the
The Park reaches from as far westwards as Kensington Gardens, and it lies between the roads leading to Kensington and Bayswater, the former a continuation of , and the latter of . It originally contained a little over acres; but by enclosing and taking part of it into Kensington Gardens, and by other
grants of land for building between and , it has been reduced to a little under . It has principal entrances. The (as already mentioned) is at
[extra_illustrations.4.395.2] ; it consists of a triple archway, combined with an iron screen, and was erected from the designs of Mr. Decimus Burton, in . In is , opened about ; and also , which was erected by a public subscription among the neighbouring residents, and named after Sir Richard Grosvenor. At the north-east corner of the Park, at the western end of , is , now adorned with the |
of which we shall have more to say presently. In the is the Victoria Gate, opposite . The entrances on the south side are the [extra_illustrations.4.395.3] , , nearly opposite the road leading into ; the Prince of Wales's Gate, near the site of the old
and close by the spot whereon stood the
of ; whilst further westward is the .
At a very early period, the Park was fenced in with deer-palings. In the reign of Charles II. these were superseded by a brick wall, which again, in the reign of George IV., gave place to an open iron railing. As late as the year the south side was disfigured by large erectionsthe a riding-house, and the other an enginehouse belonging to the Company. The former building, known as the Duke of Gloucester's Riding House, was built in , but pulled down in , having served as the head-quarters of the Volunteer Cavalry during the war against Napoleon. Its site was afterwards occupied for a time by an exhibition of a picture of the Battle of Waterloo, painted by a Dutch artist, which enjoyed a season's popularity as of the sights for
in London, and is now in the Royal Museum of the Pavilion, near Haarlem, in Holland. The licence of the Company terminated towards the end of the reign of William IV., when the engine-house opposite was taken down, and the circular space which it occupied was turned into a basin, with a fountain in the centre. This was filled up about the year , and the place converted into a circular Dutch garden.
The enclosure at the north-west corner was well planted with trees, and stocked with cows and deer, and had a keeper's lodge. Sir Richard Phillips writes thus, in
published by him in :--
Of the recent improvements in this park, Walker speaks thus, in his
We have already described Apsley House, the residence of the great Duke of Wellington.
writes Mr. T. Miller, in his
The statue here mentioned stands on a gently sloping mound in the Park, facing the entrance, about a yards north of Apsley House. It was executed by Sir Richard Westmacott in . The figure is said to have been copied from of the antique statues on the Monte Cavallo at Rome. The statue appears as if in the act of striking. On the pedestal is this inscription :--
This statue, which was erected by a subscription among the ladies of England as a monument in honour of the military successes of the Duke of Wellington, is open to grave objections, besides the fact that the figure is undraped. From the it was made the subject of very uncomplimentary remarks in English circles of refinement and discrimination, and a rather sharp controversy was carried on as to its merits and demerits, both before and after it was set up.
The author of a
published in the year , remarks:
In a work entitled
Westmacott's statue of
is thus dealt with:--
In a newspaper paragraph of , we read that public curiosity was excited by the preparations for erecting here a temple for the exhibition of the long-talked--of painting,
The ground marked out was in advance of the statue of Achilles, viewing it from the Gate, and to the west of the figure; it adjoined the foot-path by the side of . Another object of attraction at that time
was the turning of the road near . The Gloucester riding-house was then rapidly disappearing; and that long useless pile would, it was asserted, make way for a plantation of young trees extending to the canal or basin. The esplanade on the south side of the was then nearly completed. |
added the writer,
The part of the Park near the statue of Achilles, between it and
is, during the London season, what the
was in the old Stuart times, the very maze and centre of fashion.
writes Mr. Thomas Miller,
Out of the
however, is a dull place enough. Tom Hood the elder thus speaks of it in the dull days of November:--
Lord Byron, in
canto , if our
| readers remember, says of , when out of season, that it-
And R. B. Sheridan, in his prologue to talks of the horse seen cantering along its sand and gravel in May or June as-
It has been suggested that the name itself is a corruption of (the king's road); but Mr. John Timbs says,
Mr. Peter Cunningham, in his
contents himself with just mentioning this place, as the part of , on the south of the Serpentine, most crowded with equestrians in the height of the [extra_illustrations.4.398.3] ; but he is wholly silent as to the derivation of its name. The
is about a mile and a half in length, and is laid down with a fine loose gravel, mixed with tan, so that the fair equestrians and their friends can gallop over it without much danger from a fall.
There is extant a most amusing ballad which illustrates the character of the Park and its company shortly after the Restoration, entitled
from which we quote the following stanzas; it is printed at length in the
of the most constant frequenters of the Park, or more especially of the
about the middle of the last century, was Lord Chesterfield,
on whom we have already peeped in at , in May Fair. That nobleman late in life had a severe fall from his horse, which took fright whilst drinking at of the little ponds in the Park.
A few days before his death, of his friends expressed some astonishment at meeting his lordship again there, considering the precarious state of his health.
alluding to his own dark-coloured chariot drawn by horses, and the string of fashionable carriages which followed behind. Thus Chesterfield remained to the last a seeker after the vanities of this world. His constant endeavour was to be more young and more frivolous than was becoming his age. His days were employed in parading in the Park among youth and fashion, his nights at
gaming and pronouncing witticisms amongst
The consequence was, as we find from his own letters, that his old age was of fretfulness and disappointment. He was always attempting to keep up his former reputation, and found it constantly sinking under him.
Here Horace Walpole, as he tells us, was robbed, in the winter of , by the fashionable highwayman, Maclean. He writes:
Such were the perils of the parks, within half a mile of , in the reign of the George! Maclean was the son of an Irish dean, and had once kept a grocer's shop in or near ; but losing his only child, of whom he was very fond, he sold off his business and
and lived in town lodgings in ,
and in country apartments at , whilst carrying on his depredations. He was hung at Tyburn in the year following, when some of the brightest eyes of ladies of high birth were in tears at his loss. Thus [extra_illustrations.4.398.4] writes, in his.
It is clear that a years ago
was the lounge of indolent and effeminate gallants; for a writer in the for mentions, in terms of ill-disguised contempt,
Among the eccentric characters who figured in
in the days of the Regency, was a certain [extra_illustrations.4.399.3] , a wealthy planter from the West Indies, who made a sudden appearance in London, performing
at the , in . We have already informed our readers how ludicrously he played
on this occasion, so as to be called
ever afterwards. His love of notoriety did not end at the . He had built for him a singular shell-shaped carriage, in which he drove fine white horses about the Park almost daily. His harness and every available part of the vehicle was blazoned all over with his self-assumed heraldic device, a cock crowing; and wherever he went his appearance was heralded by half the of London running by his side, and crying
Eventually, having been the fun and sport of the West-end for a season or ,
Coates left London and settled at Boulogne, where he induced a fair lady to become the partner of his existence, in spite of the ridicule of the world.
has always been the chief ground for exhibiting the
among the upper ; and here, during
a good opportunity is afforded to the stranger of seeing the aristocratic world , and of noting the ever varying cut of fashionable attire. Our lady readers will doubtless be amused at the excess to which the belles of even the Georgian era went in the matter of adornment, when we tell them that we read in a newspaper of , under the title of
that Lady Caroline Campbell
From a poetic effusion printed in , Sunday would appear to have been the great day for the and of the middle classes, and the City in general, to
the Park. Here we read :
Captain Gronow says of the Park that, as lately as , it looked a part of the country. Under the trees grazed not only cows, but deer, and the paths across it were few and far between. As you gazed from an eminence, no rows of monotonous houses reminded you of the vicinity of a large city, and its atmosphere was then
Some amusing sketches of scenes in during
with an essay on its equipages and throng of loungers that pass idly along the
from the pen of Mr. Cyrus Redding, appeared in the columns of the newspaper in the hey-day of its early prosperity.
In it was the fashion for the fops of the London season to take a morning stroll in , and then to re-appear there from about to in the afternoon. At that time, however, it was the east side of the Park, parallel to , between and , , which formed the centre of attraction, the
at that date not extending westwards. So changeable is custom or fashion, however, that, some or years later, to have put in an appearance in the Park before the afternoon would have been considered vulgar; now once more it is the custom of the most fashionable persons to take a morning ride in the
It is hinted by Mr. James Grant in his
that it was in the
in that Miss (now Lady) Burdett Coutts caught a glimpse of the irrepressible stranger who persecuted her life, and who interpreted an accidental smile as an encouragement to his attentions.
In spite of all rival attractions elsewhere, an afternoon's lounge in the Park during the summer months is still a delightful recreation to a country cousin, for there he will see a splendid assortment, not only of female beauty and lovely dresses, but also of equine symmetry and magnificent
and it need hardly be said that the sight of the annual meets of the
near the powder magazine at the north-west end of the Serpentine, is well worth taking a little trouble to see. To such perfection has the coaching revival of late years been brought, that the present generation has fairly eclipsed not only that of its fathers, but that of its grandfathers.
observes a writer in the ,
Never were so many -class animals put to such work, and never were
more artistically handled. Even the
coaches which make country trips from London daily during the season are so horsed, so turned out, and so driven, as to be far in advance, in style and appearance, of the best stages of the olden time. And it must be owned that this revival of coaching skill is by no means an unhealthy symptom of the age.
The vehicles formerly used by the
are described as of a hybrid class,
They were horsed with the finest animals that money could procure; and, in general, the whole in each carriage were admirably matched-grey and chestnut being the favourite colours.
Mr. Timbs, in his
mentions, perhaps, of the finest specimens of good
as performed by Sir Felix Agar. He had made a bet, which he won, that he would drive his own -horses-in-hand up , down the passage into Tattersall's Yard (which was formerly close by ), around the pillar which stood in the centre of it, and back again into , . In our chapter on we have spoken at some length of the good old custom of stage-coaching, and also of its recent revival; so that nothing further need be said here.
Having thus described the general features of the Park, and given these few sketches from its historical annals, it is time that we said something about the lake-or river, as it is called-which forms its chief ornament.
The Park is deeply delved, and abundantly supplied with springs which have been renowned for ages.
says a writer in the of ,
It was in that Queen Caroline, the Consort of George II., being a woman of taste, and of great activity, took into her head the idea of improving and embellishing the Park by forming the several ponds and pools and the brook of West-
p.401[extra_illustrations.4.401.1] [extra_illustrations.4.401.2] [extra_illustrations.4.401.3] [extra_illustrations.4.401.4] [extra_illustrations.4.401.5] [extra_illustrations.4.401.6] [extra_illustrations.4.401.7] [extra_illustrations.4.401.8]
bourne into large sheet of water. She consulted the Surveyor-General of Woods and Forests, a gentleman of the name of Withers, who gave to the
[extra_illustrations.4.401.9] its present shape, the slight bend which it makes in the centre being thought sufficient to justify the name at a time when no ornamental water was allowed in landscape gardening, except perfectly straight and square after the Dutch fashion. The works were commenced in the October of the year mentioned above; and apparently the Serpentine was intended only as part of a larger plan; including the erection of a new royal palace in , of which we have already spoken. At all events, we read in the of : |
The old Lodge in the centre of the Park had to be sacrificed.
Mr. Larwood tells us,
The cost of the works was , including a sum of paid to the Company to induce them to forego their right of carrying water-pipes through the Park.
Considerable alterations and [extra_illustrations.4.401.10] have been effected in the Serpentine at different periods. It originally received the water of a stream which had its rise in the neighbourhood of Hampstead; but as this stream was for many years the Bayswater sewer, the result was that we had about acres of stagnant water and other matters, the depth varying from to feet. To remedy this state of things the Bayswater sewer was cut from the Serpentine in , and the loss of water, or rather of sewerage, which the river sustained in consequence was supplied from the Thames by the Company. The accumulation of putrid matter, nevertheless, still remained for many years in the bed of the river; but in the end it became absolutely necessary, in consequence of the effluvia arising from it during the hot weather, to remove the mud deposits, and to take means for ensuring a constant stream of pure water throughout.
It sounds absurd to our ears, but it is nevertheless true, that in the reign of George IV. Mr. John Martin suggested the following
He proposed that a stream should be brought from the Colne (the water of which is excellent), to be taken about -quarters of a mile to the north-east of Denham, near Uxbridge, and to be conveyed, by a somewhat circuitous route, following on the whole the course of the Grand Junction Canal, to the reservoir at Paddington. He calculated that the elevation of the reservoir would ensure the distribution of the water, without the aid of a steam-engine, to all the western end of the metropolis, except the highest parts of Paddington and Marylebone. In order to combine other objects of utility, as well as ornament, with that of affording a supply of wholesome beverage, Mr. Martin proposed that a large bath should be formed, near the great reservoir, capable of containing persons, with boxes for the bathers; and he had marked out upon a map a route by which he proposed to carry the stream under Grand Junction Street and the into Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine, diversifying its course with occasional falls and pieces of ornamental water. From he would carry it underground to the gardens of Buckingham Palace, where
Passing under into the , and
he proposed that the current should be conveyed under into the ornamental water then formed or forming in at the extremities of which he would place fountains. Finally, he suggested that the stream might flow into the Thames at . Although Mr. Martin's plan does not appear to have received the attention it perhaps deserved, thanks to the Board of Works we have now something very nearly approaching what he had proposed. [extra_illustrations.4.401.11] [extra_illustrations.4.401.12] [extra_illustrations.4.401.13]
This sheet of water-something belying its name, it must be owned--is almost straight, instead of being what a stranger might expect to find it-a meandering stream, wandering hither and thither in graceful curves
The Serpentine has been frequently frozen over so strongly as to realise Virgil's description of a real English frost in his days, when it might be said of its water-
In the winter of a fair was held on the ice; and in a Mr. Hunt for a wager drove a coach and horses across the Serpentine during a severe frost. In severe winters this fine sheet of
water is the favourite resort of the [extra_illustrations.4.403.1] , for whose safety the Royal Humane Society has erected on the north side a neat classic edifice as a [extra_illustrations.4.403.2] . It is kept well supplied with boats, ladders, ropes, and everything necessary to the resuscitation and comfort of those who may be suddenly immersed. The building stands on the site of an older , which had been erected in upon ground presented by George III. It was erected in , from the designs of Mr. J. Bunning, the stone being laid by the Duke of Wellington. Over the Ionic entrance is sculptured the obverse of the society's medal--a boy striving to rekindle an almost extinct torch by blowing it, together with the legend, |
(Perchance a spark may be concealed). The Royal Humane Society, whose chief offices are in, , was founded in , by Drs. Goldsmith, Towers, Heberden, and others; and its receiving-houses in the parks cost about a year. This society, which is supported by voluntary contributions, publishes accounts of the most approved and effectual methods for recovering persons apparently drowned or dead; and suggests and provides suitable apparatus for, and also bestows rewards on all who risk their lives in, the preservation or restoration of human life. Its records show that during the past years persons have been granted the society's honorary rewards for exertions in saving life; and that persons have bathed and skated in the royal parks and gardens of the metropolis under the care of the society's officers. In that large number there have been accidents in which life was in danger, and nearly all were rescued by the society. [extra_illustrations.4.404.1]
Early in the morning in the summer months the Serpentine is much frequented by bathers; and have been known to indulge in the luxury of a bath in summer day. This, as may be seen from the Report of the Royal Humane Society in , was before the purification of its waters had been effected!
We must not omit to mention here the Serpentine Swimming Club, whose members have done much to ensure the safety of bathers in these waters. In connection with this club, a handsome silver challenge cup is contested for over a distance of yards. The trophy has to be won times in succession by the same swimmer before he can substantiate his claim to retain it as his absolute property, and is contested on the Tuesday in each month
Close by the receiving-house are the boathouses where boats are let for hire; and the brightly-painted craft being extensively patronised during the summer, a pleasing and animated scene is presented on the water. The boats were introduced here in , but that was not the occasion on which a craft had scudded the waters of the Serpentine, for towards the close of the last century the ingenious and inventive Lord Stanhope here launched a model of a steamboat made by his own hands or under his own superintendence. How little did he expect at that time that his son would live to see the day when steam and a pair of paddle-wheels would carry a large ship across the broad Atlantic!
in , of which we have already spoken in a former chapter, the Serpentine is a favourite place for suicides, and frequently the spot selected by those unfortunate individuals who may have determined upon ending their existence. Here Harriet Westbrook, the unhappy wife of the poet Shelley, drowned herself in .
Somewhat oddly placed, in juxtaposition with the Royal Humane Society's house, is the great Government store of gunpowder. In this magazine it is stated that upwards of million of ball and blank ammunition are kept ready for immediate use. Spanning the river near its western extremity, and at the point where it joins Kensington Gardens, is a handsome stone bridge of arches, which was built from the designs of Sir John Rennie. The view of London from this point is much ad mired.
In it was proposed by Mr. T. S. Dun, combe, then M.P. for Finsbury, that an annual fair should be held in ; but the proposition was defeated in the . Mr. Raikes, in mentioning the subject in his
remarks that it would have been
Little did Mr. Raikes or Mr. Duncombe anticipate that, in a few years later-namely, in -the broad piece of ground south of the Serpentine would become the scene of of the greatest
the world has ever seen. The Crystal Palace, or
was indeed frequently spoken of as the
Our notice of this exhibition, together with that of the Prince Consort's Memorial which now marks its site, we must reserve for a future chapter, when dealing with South Kensington and the various Industrial Exhibitions, of which the Great Exhibition of may be considered the parent.
Some little amusement and excitement, too, was caused in Parliament, in -, by an old woman named Anne Hicks, who, having been allowed to hold an apple-stall at the east end of the Serpentine, had by sheer importunity contrived to surround herself with a small hovel, and to convert that again into a cottage. When preparations were being made for holding the World's Fair in the Park, it became important to remove this cottage; but Anne Hicks refused to give up possession, and
| was turned out at last only by force. Her grievance was brought before Parliament, but it was explained that she had no legal rights as against the Crown, and the agitation died away, the poor old woman receiving a small compensation. |
writes Mr. Chambers in his
[extra_illustrations.4.405.1] [extra_illustrations.4.405.2] [extra_illustrations.4.405.3] [extra_illustrations.4.405.4] [extra_illustrations.4.405.5] [extra_illustrations.4.405.6]
In our time the walk by the
is sometimes called--is frequented by the leaders of fashion; but of late the centre of the Park has come to be looked upon by certain of the working classes as a privileged spot wherein to vent their grievances-real or imaginary-against
and much damage has at times been done by these unruly and disorderly assemblages. On occasion, in the year , during Mr. Walpole's career as Home Secretary, when the park gates were closed against them, and the right of holding a political meeting in the Park was refused, the mob even went so far as to break down the railings in , at the same time doing considerable damage to the shrubs and flowers.
Many of our readers will remember Lord Byron's description of the Park in of the later cantos of
Thanks to various Chief Commissioners of Public Works and Buildings, it can no longer be said with truth that our parks are wholly destitute of flowers, at least; for all along the south, the east, and the north of the drives in there are beds of the gayest geraniums and roses in the summer, and in the spring there are brilliant displays of tulips and hyacinths to gladden the eyes of the Londoners.
, which, as we have said, stands at the north-eastern corner of the Park, at the western end of , was erected about , at the expense of the inhabitants of and its neighbourhood, and took its name after the
Duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden. It was at commonly called Tyburn Gate, from the gallows which stood close by. The original gateway was a mean brick building, comprising an arch with side entrances, and had wooden gates. Here took place, in , a disgraceful conflict between the people and the soldiery at the funeral of Queen Caroline, when persons were killed by shots from on duty. In the following year the unsightly brick arch and wooden gates were removed, and in their place some handsome iron gates were set up, at a cost of nearly ; but in these gates were removed in order to make room for the [extra_illustrations.4.405.7] (see page ) which now occupies the site, and the iron gates placed on each side of it.
The marble arch had, up to that time, stood in front of the chief entrance to Buckingham Palace, bearing the royal banner of England, and carrying the imagination back to that age of chivalry, the departure of which was lamented by Edmund Burke. The arch, which was adapted by Mr. Nash from the Arch of Constantine at Rome, was not included in the design for building the new front of Buckingham Palace. It cost ; the metal gates alone cost . It was originally intended to have been surmounted by an equestrian statue of George IV., by Sir Francis Chantrey. The material is Carrara marble, and it consists of a centre gateway and side openings. On each face are Corinthian columns, the other sculpture being a keystone to the centre archway, and a pair of figures in the spandrils, a panel of figures over each side entrance, and wreaths at each end; these were executed by Flaxman, Westmeath, and Rossi. The centre gates are bronzed, and ornamented with a beautiful scroll-work, with openings, filled with St. George and the Dragon, with
and above, lions . They were designed and cast by Samuel Parker, of , and are said to be the largest and most superb in Europe, not excepting those of the Ducal Palace at Venice, or of the Louvre at Paris. The frieze and semicircle intended to fill up the archway-the most beautiful part of the design--were unfortunately mutilated in the removal, and could not be restored.
Of Tyburn toll-gate, which stood nearly opposite , and at the corner of the and , and also of the old gallows which stood a little beyond, we shall have to speak in future chapters. [extra_illustrations.4.405.8] [extra_illustrations.4.405.9]
[extra_illustrations.4.394.7] The entrance into Hyde Park
[extra_illustrations.4.395.1] Hyde Park Gardens
[extra_illustrations.4.395.2] Hyde Park Corner
[extra_illustrations.4.395.3] Albert Gate
[extra_illustrations.4.398.1] Grand Coronation Firework Temple--Hyde Park
[extra_illustrations.4.398.3] London season
 See ante, p. 353.
[extra_illustrations.4.398.4] Soame Jenyns
[extra_illustrations.4.399.1] Royal Sledge Drive in Hyde Park, 1855
[extra_illustrations.4.399.2] The Cossack in Hyde park, 1813
[extra_illustrations.4.399.3] Mr. Coates
 See ante, p. 225.
[extra_illustrations.4.401.1] Cutting Ice
[extra_illustrations.4.401.2] Microscopic Analysis of water of Serpentine
[extra_illustrations.4.401.3] Bathing Season
[extra_illustrations.4.401.4] Mud in Serpentine
[extra_illustrations.4.401.5] Exhibition of Signals
[extra_illustrations.4.401.6] Trial of Channel Ferry
[extra_illustrations.4.401.7] Draining Serpentine
[extra_illustrations.4.401.8] The Serpentine Marshes
 Lord Bathurst, the friend of Pope, Is said to have been the first person who ventured on a departure from this tasteless style, in a rivulet which he widened into a sheet of water at his seat of Ritchings, near Colnbrook.
[extra_illustrations.4.401.11] Experiments with Pontoon Boats
[extra_illustrations.4.401.12] Swimming and Rowing on Serpentine
[extra_illustrations.4.401.13] New Bridge over Serpentine
[extra_illustrations.4.403.1] lovers of skating
[extra_illustrations.4.404.1] The Old Magazine
 See ante, p. 49.
[extra_illustrations.4.405.1] Rioting in West End of London
[extra_illustrations.4.405.2] Park Sketches
[extra_illustrations.4.405.3] Irish Home Rule Meeting
[extra_illustrations.4.405.4] Demonstration in Hyde park, 1855
[extra_illustrations.4.405.5] Meeting of Protest against Lords
[extra_illustrations.4.405.6] Anti-Sunday Bill Demonstration
[extra_illustrations.4.405.7] marble arch
[extra_illustrations.4.405.8] Jubilee--30,000 School Children
[extra_illustrations.4.405.9] Hospital Saturday Meeting