Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park, together with Kensington Gardens, which adjoin it on the west, forms the largest open space in London, extending for 2km/1.25mi from east to west and 1km/0.5mi from north to south. Originally belonging to Westminster Abbey, it was taken over by Henry VIII in 1536 and became a royal deer park. Charles I threw it open to the public in 1635. In 1730 Queen Caroline, George II's wife, laid out the Serpentine, an artificial lake which now offers Londoners facilities for rowing, sailing, swimming or merely watching the birds.
Hyde Park Map
Entrance fee: FREE
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Transit: Underground: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate.
Opposite Marble Arch is Speakers' Corner, a traditional forum of free speech where anyone with a grievance or a mission can find an audience. Speakers' Corner is particularly busy on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, when numbers of soapbox orators address large groups of listeners or a few indifferent bystanders with equal eloquence. The speakers' themes are usually religious or political, and they are frequently exposed to lively heckling. Jomo Kenyatta, President of Kenya, spoke here in his younger days, and Idi Amin, later notorious as Dictator of Uganda, was often a member of the crowd when he was an NCO in the British army.
Hyde Park Riding Stables
For the past 300 years, the stables have been England's most famous equestrian center. Located at Bathurst Mews, close to Victoria Gate, they offer 5.5mi rides through bridleway and around Serpentine Lake. Lessons are also available.
Queen Mother's Birthday Gun Salute
On August fourth a gun salute takes place in Hyde Park and the Tower of London to celebrate the Queen Mother's birthday.