Hyde Park is without a doubt one of London’s most iconic and best-loved open spaces. Spread out across 350 acres, the park is full of great things to do whether you are here for the afternoon or fancy spending the day within its wonderful grounds.
One of the highlights of Hyde Park is the number of historical monuments that have been erected here over the years. These pay tribute to the past and signify a range of different events and happenings, and tracking them all down can be an excellent way to spend the day.
Even if you don’t see them all, it’s worth knowing which monument stands for what while you visit the Royal Park as it will add a deeper historical meaning to your trip.
Here are a few of the best monuments to be found here. See them all or just see a few; whatever you do, it’s sure to make for a fun day out in the capital.
Achilles (the Wellington Monument)
In between the Broad Walk and Lovers’ Walk, next to Hyde Park corner, you will find the Greek hero Achilles stood proudly on a podium of granite.
With his armour beside him, the near-invincible warrior is wielding a sword and shield, and was put in place to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victories in the Peninsular War – the statue’s head is even said to be modelled on the duke.
When it was originally inaugurated in 1822, the figure caused controversy due to the fact that it depicted a nude Achilles. A fig leaf was introduced to cover the warrior’s modesty soon after. Today, the impressive figure, made from the bronze of Wellington’s conquered cannons, is one of the most iconic in the entire park.
Diana Memorial Fountain
Diana, Princess of Wales was much-loved by the British public and following her tragic death the Queen commissioned this fountain in 2004 as a tribute to her life.
The fountain is made up of 545 pieces of Cornish granite and the water cascades down from the highest point in two directions.
Not only does the fountain symbolise the life of the princess, it also stands for her openness and quality. You can use three bridges to step into the heart of the monument, making this feature of the park both interactive and touching.
To find the fountain, head towards the Lido and you will see it to the west of the swimming pool and restaurant. It is just east of the West Carriage Drive.
Boy and Dolphin Fountain
One of the more interesting designs in Hyde Park, this fountain depicts a cherub and a dolphin standing on a rock base.
It was designed by Alexander Munro in 1862 and was once the centrepiece of the Victoria sunken garden before it was demolished when the Park Lane was widened. It as only returned to Hyde Park in 1995 after a 33-year stay at the Regent’s Park.
This intriguing marble statue can be found in the Rose Garden of the park.
7 July Memorial
Perhaps the most sombre of all Hyde Park’s monuments, the 7 July Memorial stands as a permanent reminder of those who lost their lives in the horrific London Bombings in 2005.
Each victim is commemorated in the guise of a steel pillar (in total there are 52), which stand together in four groups that are interlinked to signify the four different sites of the attack.
Each pillar is unique due to the casting process and stands at 3.5 metres high. Visitors can walk amongst the memorial and there are numerous inscriptions on the steel rods which mark the date, time and location of the separate bombings.
It was unveiled in 2009 – four years after the bombings – and can be found in the southeast corner of Hyde Park, just north of Achilles.
Joy of Life Fountain
The Joy of Life Fountain actually stands where the Boy and the Dolphin used to before it was moved to facilitate the widening of Park Lane.
This beautiful piece of art depicts an image of two figures holding hands and dancing. Below them, four children emerge from the water. The entire piece is made from bronze.
It was designed by T. B. Huxley-Jones and unveiled in the park in 1963. You can find it next to Aldford Street North Gate, close to Park Lane which runs alongside it.
This impressive piece shows a triumphant St George atop a mighty steed standing over the vanquished dragon. Around the base of the statue there is a frieze of cavalry men, dedicated to those who lost their lives in the First World War.
It has been in place since 1924 and can be found at the north side of Serpentine Road between the Bandstand and Achilles. Adrian Jones designed St George and Sir John Burnet the base.
Originally, this memorial stood at Stanhope Gate but it was also moved in 1961 to accommodate for the widening of Park Lane.
The Victorian Bandstand
Dating back to 1869, the Bandstand is one of the oldest in the UK. Back in Victorian times, concerts would have been held here at least three times a week. However, they are now put on much less frequently, but do occasionally take place (be sure to check the Hyde Park website before your trip).
The stand was once located in Kensington Gardens, but was moved to Hyde Park in 1886. It is the centrepiece for the Winter Wonderland ice rink, which comes to the park every Christmas.
Simple yet powerful; the Holocaust Memorial is one of the most moving of all Hyde Parks monuments. Two boulders stand amid a sea of raked gravel with silver birch trees surrounding the display.
Located east of The Dell, the memorial was set up in 1983 as a tribute to Jewish people who lost their lives during the horrific events of World War II in Nazi Germany.
The words: “For these I weep. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because of the destruction of my people”, can be found inscribed on the larger of the two rocks.
The Reformers’ Tree
This intricate mosaic representation of a tree symbolises an actual oak tree that once stood here. The Reformers’ Tree was the site where the Reform League would gather to protest in 1866 in order for all men to be able to vote.
The tree was eventually burned down in one particularly heated gathering and the charred stump became a noticeboard. The mosaic is now a symbol that represents what the old tree stood for: the right for people to assemble.
This also relates to another area of the park, one which is not a memorial but still has a great deal of historical significance.
In 1872, parliament decreed that the northeast corner of Hyde Park could be used for public speaking on any topic as long as indecent or offensive language was not used. Speakers’ Corner, as it is known, became famous all over the world and people still use it to this day as a place for debate and discussion.
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