There’s plenty to do and see in Hyde Park, a 350-acre open space in the centre of London. It is one of the eight Royal Parks in the capital and has a history dating back to the 17th century. Famous for Speakers’ Corner, the Serpentine Lake and for playing host to the Great Exhibition in 1851, Hyde Park is also home to a number of memorials.
Thousands of people each year make pilgrimage to the park to visit the memorials and statues, whether for the purpose of reflection or to marvel at their artistic design. Here are six of the best-known Hyde Park memorials: The Holocaust Memorial, Hudson Memorial Bird Sanctuary, Cavalry Memorial, Pan Statue, 7 July Memorial and Diana Memorial Fountain.
1. The Holocaust Memorial
Positioned to the east of the Serpentine in The Dell, an open-air area, the Holocaust Memorial has been a feature of Hyde Park since 1983. It was the first public memorial in the UK dedicated to victims of the Holocaust, funded by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. For more than 30 years, it has paid tribute to the millions of Jews who lost their lives during World War II or suffered persecution as a result of their faith.
The memorial, which consists of two boulders lying within a gravel bed, is surrounded by a copse of silver birch trees. It is inscribed in both English and Hebrew with the words “For these I weep. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because of the destruction of my people”. This is a quotation from the Book of Lamentations, a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem. It is found in the Ketuvim, part of the Hebrew Bible.
2. The Hudson Memorial Bird Sanctuary
Installed in Hyde Park in 1924, the Hudson Memorial Bird Sanctuary is a carved stone memorial commemorating the 19th century writer and naturalist William Hudson. He was one of the founders of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and was actively involved in the campaign for more wild areas in parks.
During the Victorian era, public parks were typically neat and tidy, making life more difficult for Britain’s natural species, some of whom were denied habitat opportunities as a result. Hudson and his contemporaries wanted to see greater balance between landscaped gardens and rough areas which were allowed to develop naturally.
The carving on the Hudson Memorial Bird Sanctuary, which was designed by the celebrated sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, represents Rima, the child goddess of nature. The area around the memorial is now a haven for smaller bird species, including blackbirds, wrens, goldcrests, robins and tits.
3. The Cavalry Memorial
The Cavalry Memorial commemorates members of the mounted armed forces killed during World War 1. It is a bronze sculpture representing St George on horseback, stepping over a defeated dragon above a cavalry of galloping horsemen. The memorial was designed by army vet Adrian Jones and built using guns captured in the 1914-18 conflict. It was originally installed in 1924 at Stanhope Gate, but had to be moved to its present site near Hyde Park’s bandstand in 1961 following the widening of Park Lane.
The Cavalry Memorial also contains a bronze plaque which lists the cavalry of the Empire. In recent years, the text has been updated to include later conflicts, meaning it retains relevance to modern-day military action. The memorial receives many thousands of visitors each year, many of whom are members of the armed forces or their friends and family.
4. The Pan Statue
Commonly known as the ‘Rush of Green’, the Pan Statue is a bronze monument depicting a family and their dog rushing eagerly towards Hyde Park. The figures on the statue are seemingly being urged on towards the park by a Pan, who is playing the pipes.
Designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, who was working on the sculpture on the day he died in 1959, the Pan Statue is located by Edinburgh Gate. It stands in the shadow of the plush One Hyde Park construction on the south side of the park.
5. The 7 July Memorial
The 7 July Memorial remembers the 52 victims of the July 7th London bombings in 2005. Sited in the south-east corner of Hyde Park, the memorial is just north of Achilles, to the east of Lovers Walk. It consists of 52 stainless steel pillars, one for each of the people who lost their lives. A stainless steel plaque listing the names of the people who died is positioned on a grass bank at the far eastern end of the memorial.
6. Diana Memorial Fountain
The Diana Memorial Fountain – which reflects upon the life of HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in 1997 – was unveiled in Hyde Park in 2004. It is a large oval fountain surrounding a grassy field, which sees water flow from the two highest points in two different directions. The memorial fountain contains 545 pieces of Cornish granite, each of which was shaped by computer-controlled machinery. There are three bridges over the water channels, which allow visitors to cross to the centre of the fountain for a period of quiet reflection.
Other things to do in Hyde Park
If you are heading to Hyde Park in London to visit its famous memorials, there are a number of other attractions which may be of interest to you. These include:
Speakers’ Corner – a traditional site for public speeches and debates since the mid 1800s.
Serpentine Lake – offers watersports, outdoor swimming and serene views.
The Bandstand – one of the oldest bandstands in the UK, having been constructed in 1869.
Isis – magnificent bronze sculpture located next to the Serpentine.
Hyde Park Playground – fun for the little ones on the swings and slides in Hyde Park.
Tennis and Sports Centre – play tennis, lawn bowls or putting at the western end of the Sports Field.
Restaurant/ cafes – enjoy a drink and light bite at the Lido Bar and Kitchen or Serpentine Bar and Kitchen.
Arriving at Hyde Park by train
The closest Tube stations to Hyde Park are as follows:
- Knightsbridge (nine-minute walk)
- Lancaster Gate (ten-minute walk)
- Marble Arch (ten-minute walk)
For visitors heading to Hyde Park from the national rail network, the closest mainline stations are as follows:
- London Paddington (16-minute walk)
- London Marylebone (20-minute walk)
- London Victoria (24-minute walk)