It is well-known for its Speakers' Corner, a traditional place for public discourses and debates and for its artificial lake, called Serpentine, which divides the park into two parts.
The Kensington Gardens, which are next to Hyde Park, once used to be considered a part of it.
In 1728, Queen Carolina, King George II's wife, separated the two and today the extension of Hyde Park is about 300 acres but it would be more than 600 acres if the two were still connected.
Queen Carolina also had the lake added to Hyde Park a couple of years after separating the two gardens.
In 1814, there was in the lake a representation of the battle of Trafalgar, in which the English fleet, commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson, had defeated French and Spanish fleets under the command of Napoleon's admiral.
In 1824, the Royals added the Grand Entrances to the park and back then they consisted in a series of grooved ionic columns, iron and bronze gates and three passages which were wide enough to be used by the carriages. In 1851 the park hosted the Great Exhibition and for that occasion the “Crystal Palace” was built (later destroyed in a fire in 1936).
Back when the Royals and the nobles had exclusive access to the park, the place used to be a hunting reserve for the Royal Family and their friends because there were many deer and foxes living here.
During the plague of 1665 many Londoners retreated into the park trying to escape the contagion.
In the middle of the park there used to be a large road that facilitated the passage of the carriages and back then the park used to be illuminated with three hundred streetlights.
The reason behind this high number of streetlights was safety, because many robbers and criminals lurked in the darkness of the park and the place used to be shady and dangerous after dusk when the nobles left at nobody checked its entrances.
At the end of the 1800s, the “Parks' Policy Act” decreed that the park had to be a place to gather and a place of freedom of expression so the Speakers' Corner was created and anyone could enter the park at all hours.
There are people who make speeches and express their opinions to this day using this corner even though most of the time is used by tourists or flamboyant passers-by.
During the Second World War, potatoes were cultivated in the park to support the population of the city and Hyde Park is also well-known because the suffragette movement used to gather here to promote women’s rights.
Still today it is a gathering place for marches and rallies and it hosts many important events, especially during the warmer summer months.
On Christmas Day, the “Peter Pan Cup” takes place in the Serpentine Lake; it is a special swimming contest whose participants are almost all over 60.
The name is ironic but their bravery isn’t because they swim in the lake in spite of the cold temperatures.
On the southern side of Serpentine Lake, there is a stone fountain in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, inaugurated in 2004, and to the south east of the lake is the monument to the Holocaust victims and the monument to the victims of the attacks in London.
In the park there is also a Rose Garden which hosts many species of plants and trees.
At the edge of the park there are now two triumphal arches, the Wellington Arch to the southeast and the Marble Arch to the northeast which mark its main entrances.
In and around the place we find shops, sports fields, bars, playgrounds, relaxation areas and restaurants, some of which are overlooking the Serpentine Lake.
In the late spring and summer you can swim in this lake, sunbathe on deckchairs or dive from the jetties.
Dedicated to Diana
Fountain dedicated to Diana
Peter Pan statue