The Marble Arch is one of the most visited sites in London and is instantly recognisable standing on the corner of one of the Royal Parks, Hyde Park. But do you know the history of this iconic location? It will give you a new appreciation for the historic archway.
As a historic slice of London and a strong connection to the British royal family, it’s no surprise that the Marble Arch features on the itinerary of many tourists. It’s situated just on the opposite side of Hyde Park from the Park Grand London Kensington Hotel, making it easily accessible. If you want to walk through Hyde Park and take in the sights, it will take about 45-minutes or, alternatively, you can use the Underground, changing from the Central line to the District line at Notting Hill Station and arriving in around 20-minutes.
Even before the Marble Arch was moved to its current location, the spot has strong historic links. It was a village originally known as Tyburn and was one of the most notorious public execution sites in the country. Executions were held here for almost 600 years and you’ll notice a stone memorial where the distinctive gallows once stood. One of the most famous ‘executions’ held here was that of Oliver Cromwell, though he was already dead. Cromwell, the military leader that is famous for his role in the English Civil War, had already been buried before being exhumed and symbolically hung from the Tyburn Tree.
Of course, a lot has changed since then and the Marble Arch is now one of the busiest corners in the whole of London.
The Marble Arch was designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars and act as a gateway to the expanding Buckingham Palace. However, the arch that was built isn’t as grand as architect John Nash originally planned. A model of the original concept can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, just a 20-minute walk from the Kensington London hotels.
The arch had been commissioned by King George IV, his death put Willian IV on the throne, who believed the rising costs were too great. As a result, when the arch was completed in 1833 it was missing parts of its design, including a statue of the deceased king.
After Queen Victoria took the throne and moved into Buckingham Palace, which up until then had remained unoccupied, in 1837 it was found that it was too small to hold a large court. As a result, expansion work took place and the Marble Arch was dismantled and rebuilt on the corner of Hyde Park where it still stands today, acting as the entrance to the park.
However, the Marble Arch is now separated from Hyde Park follow a scheme to widen the roads as London continued to grow. It’s also given its name to the closest tube station, which connects it to the Park Grand London Kensington Hotel and other parts of the city.
Since completion, it’s continued to be used in royal processions, including the gold state coach used during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation passing through the gates in 1953.