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Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch.
There has been a park here since the 1530s when Henry VIII (1509-47) established a Royal Park on the site so that he could pursue his great love of hunting. The park has been owned and protected by Royalty ever since, and at 360 acres it is the largest of London's parks.
The park is right next to Kensington Gardens, and together they form 620 acres of greenery in the heart of the city. They are separated by the Serpentine that flows through the centre of the park with Hyde Park below and to the right of it and Kensington Gardens to the left.
In Hyde Park you can rent a boat on the Serpentine, ride horses along Rotten Row (a corruption of the French 'Route du Roi' or Kings Road), listen to music played in the bandstand or people speaking at Speakers Corner. And you can feed the ducks, take the dog for a walk, eat lunch or stop for tea, or simply promenade around - all very civilised.
But whilst the park has always been a fashionable place for people to meet and socialise, it hasn't always been quite so civilised. In the 18th century the park was a haunt of highwaymen and the Serpentine was a sewer for north London. And as late as the nineteenth century the park was also home to livestock.
It was here that the Great Exhibition of 1851 was held in the Crystal Palace. And during the Second World War Hyde Park was planted with potatoes to help the war effort.
Nearby, in Kensington Gardens are the Serpentine Gallery and the
Albert Memorial. Hyde Park is open from 5am to midnight, but as with most city parks it is probably best to avoid it during the night-time.
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