Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London

The city of London is a city of parks and plays, known for its West End Theatre, a tradition extending centuries into the past when Shakespeare once walked the streets and performed at the Globe Theatre. That tradition has continued to the present day with the West End and its Fringe theatres (equivalent to Broadway and Off-Broadway in the United States). While Paris is known for its parks, London, too, has a variety of places to escape the press of the city, including Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Taken together the two spaces, side by side, form an amazing respite from Greater London, allowing for a sense of calm to descend upon you almost as soon as you walk inside.

Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in Central London, known for its Speaker’s Corner, where people can come stand and speak about virtually any opinion they want; Kensington Gardens lies right next to Hyde Park, and once was a part of it, but it’s been separated since 1728, two hundred and eighty two years ago.

Today, Hyde Park comprises 350 acres, while Kensington Gardens contains 275 acres, for a combined total of 625 acres of park land inside the city. While Central Park in New York is larger at 843 acres, the two royal parks have enough acreage to make the city vanish.

The park has its origins in 1536 when Henry VIII took the manor of Hyde from Westminster Abbey, who held it before 1066. In those years, the park was enclosed as a deer park and private hunting ground; much later, in 1637, the park was opened to the general public. One of the first sights a visitor will see upon entering the park will be the Serpentine, a man-made lake formed by damming the little Westbourne that flowed in the park. The lakes were dug in approximately 1739.

No matter what place you’ve booked, with the aid of the London Transport, you’re always within easy reach of the park and garden, enabling you to enter from a variety of directions — from Hyde Park Corner (on the Piccadilly Line), Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line), Queensway (Central Line), Lancaster Gate (Central Line), Marble Arch (Central Line) and Bayswater (Circle and District Lines).