Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 47 - Hyde Park to Harrods

Marble Arch
Today we walked from Marble Arch at one corner of Hyde Park down to the Wellington Arch corner of Hyde Park, then along Knightsbridge to Brompton Road and Harrods.  For more information about Marble Arch, which I wrote about earlier, see Day 33.

Near Marble Arch is Speakers' Corner, Though Hyde Park Speakers' Corner is considered the paved area closest to Marble Arch, legally the public speaking area extends beyond the Reform Tree and covers a large area from Marble Arch to Victoria Gate, then along the Serpentine to Hyde Park Corner and the Broad Walk running from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch.

Public riots broke out in the park in 1855, in protest over the Sunday Trading Bill, which forbade buying and selling on a Sunday, the only day working people had off. The riots were described by Karl Marx as the beginning of the English revolution.

One are of Speakers' Corner
The riots and agitation for democratic reform encouraged some to force the issue of the "right to speak" in Hyde Park. The Parks Regulation Act 1872 delegated the issue of permitting public meetings to the park authorities (rather than central government). Contrary to popular belief, it does not confer a statutory basis for the right to speak at Speakers' Corner. Parliamentary debates on the Act illustrate that a general principle of being able to meet and speak was not the intention, but that some areas would be permitted to be used for that purpose. Since that time, it has become a traditional site for public speeches and debate, as well as the main site of protest and assembly in Britain. There are some who contend that the tradition has a connection with the Tyburn gallows, where the condemned man was allowed to speak before being hanged.

Speakers' Corner Cafe
We briefly listened to a few of the speakers, then hopped over to the cafe for a hot chocolate and a mochaccino.  While we were sitting and drinking some riders came by with horses from the Hyde Park Stables.

Rider in Hyde Park
Though the day was cool, it was a perfect day for horse riding.  As I watched the horses, I saw a statue of a horse.  Getting up to take a closer look, I noticed it was the Animals in War Monument.

Animals in War Memorial- south side
According to Wikipedia: "The memorial was designed by English sculptor David Backhouse to commemorate the countless animals that have served and died under British military command throughout history. It was unveiled in November 2004 by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.

The memorial was inspired by Jilly Cooper's book Animals in War, and was made possible by a specially created fund of £1.4 million from public donations of which Cooper was a co-trustee. The memorial consists of a 55 ft by 58 ft (16.8 m by 17.7 m) curved Portland stone wall: the symbolic arena of war, emblazoned with images of various struggling animals, along with two heavily-laden bronze mules progressing up the stairs of the monument, and a bronze horse and bronze dog beyond it looking into the distance.  The Animals in War Memorial was officially opened on 24 November 2004 by Anne, Princess Royal.

Animals in War Memorial - North side
In May 2013, it was one of two London war memorials vandalized on the same night. The word 'Islam' was spray-painted on this and the RAF Bomber Command 


Beneath the main header, "Animals in War", the memorial has two separate inscriptions; the first and larger reads:
"This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time"
The second, smaller inscription simply reads:
"They had no choice"
Upon the rear or outside of the memorial are these words:
"Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.
"Their contribution must never be forgotten.""

Joy of Life Fountain
Continuing our stroll, we came upon the "Joy of Life" fountain, considered the largest fountain in Hyde Park. The fountain is decorated with bronze sculptures that float over a large circular basin. At the center are two adults, seemingly dancing and holding each others' arms. Around them are four statues of children who seem to hover over the water. The fountain, a work of sculptor Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones, was created in 1963. It is sometimes also called the Four Winds Fountain.

After admiring the "Joy of Life" we continued along "Lover's Walk" until we came upon the 7/7 Memorial.

7/7 Memorial
The 7/7 Memorial commemorates the victims of the terrorist attack of July 7, 2005. The monument consists of 52 stainless steel columns; with each column representing one of the victims of the bombings and marking the location of where they died

The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.
On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist home-grown terrorists detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Apart from the four bombers, 52 civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured in the United Kingdom's first suicide attacks.

The explosions were caused by homemade organic peroxide–based devices packed into rucksacks. The bombings were followed two weeks later by a series of attempted attacks which failed to cause injury or damage.

The attacks occurred one day after London had won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics, which had particularly highlighted the city's multicultural reputation.

All but one of the 52 victims had been residents in London during the attacks and were from a diverse range of backgrounds. Among those killed were several foreign-born British nationals, foreign exchange students, parents, and one British couple of 14 years. Due to train delays before the attacks, as well as subsequent transport issues caused by them, several victims died aboard trains and buses they would not normally have taken. Their ages ranged from 20 to 60 years old..

Next we came across the Achilles Statue near the Queen Elizabeth gate in Hyde Park.

Achilles Statue
The Achilles Statue, considered to be the largest statue in Hyde Park, was installed there in 1822 to honor the Duke of Wellington, the victor over Napoleon's army at Waterloo. The bronze statue was cast from cannons that were captured from the French. The statue was created by Richard Westmacott, who based his design on the statues of Castor and Pollux at the Piazza del Quirinale in Rome. Originally, the statue was, like the ones in Rome, nude, but true to their reputation, the prudish Georgian Londoners were shocked and Westmacott was forced to add a fig leaf.  Ah well.

Next we came across the Queen Elizabeth Gate near Hyde Park Corner.

Queen Elizabeth Gate
Queen Elizabeth Gate, also known as the Queen Mother's Gate, is an entrance consisting of two pairs and two single gates of forged stainless steel and bronze situated in Hyde Park, London, behind Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner. There is also a center feature made of painted cast iron.

It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 to celebrate the 90th birthday of her mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. It cost £1.5 million to construct, raised by private individuals and public funding, under the patronage of Prince Michael of Kent.

Queen Elizabeth Gate - close-up
The site's architect was Richard Rogers.The stainless steel and bronze gates, railings and lights were designed and made by Giusseppe Lund. The center piece, featuring a red lion and a white unicorn, was designed by sculptor David Wynn.

The organic nature of the forged steel reflects the Queen Mother's love of flowers, particularly those from a cottage garden. Her life spanned most of the century and this is represented by a flow from formal symmetry at the base of the gates upwards to an increasing freedom of line at the top. Many of the elements are free to move when touched and the whole structure vibrates when moved. This is in direct contrast to the heavier rectilinear gates found in other entrances to the park.

Queen Elizabeth Gate view from inside Hyde Park
Although much admired there were initial concerns that the metal was rusting due to a misunderstanding of the nature of the gate's coloring which was in fact a deliberate creation of chromium oxides with the application of heat. This treatment has since proved to be extremely durable thanks to the initial intensifying of the chromium content on the surface by the use of electro-polishing.

Just outside of the park is Apsley House, Apsley Gate, and the Wellington Arch.

Wellington Arch - Back view
Wellington Arch, also known as Constitution Arch or (originally) the Green Park Arch, is a triumphal arch located to the south of Hyde Park in central London and in an isolated traffic island on the western corner of Green Park . Built nearby between 1826-1830 to a design by Decimus Burton, it was moved to its present position in 1882-83. It once supported an equestrian statue of the 1st Duke of Wellington; the original intention of having it topped with sculpture of a "quadriga" or ancient four-horse chariot was not realised until 1912.

The arch, and Marble Arch (originally sited in front of Buckingham Palace), were both planned in 1825 by George IV to commemorate Britain's victories in the Napoleonic Wars. The Wellington Arch was also conceived as an outer gateway to Constitution Hill and therefore a grand entrance into central London from the west. The presence of a turnpike gate at this point had led, in the 18th century, to a strong perception that this was the beginning of London (reflected in the nickname for Apsley House as "No 1, London") and the arch was intended to reflect the importance of the position.

Wellington Arch viewed from the front
The monument was planned as part of a single composition with Burton's screen, which forms the Hyde Park Corner entrance to Hyde Park. The arch was originally positioned directly to the south of the screen, as part of a grand ceremonial route towards Buckingham Palace. Apsley House, the London residence of the Duke of Wellington, adjoins the screen.

It has a single opening, and uses the Corinthian order. Much of the intended exterior ornamentation was omitted as a cost-saving exercise necessitated by the King's overspending on the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, which was underway at the same time.

At this point we continued our walk taking a few more pictures of statues and a couple of Harvey Nichols Windows and a few rather sexy ones of Harrods.  I'll have to add these later, including a picture of the dinner we purchased in Harrods' food court.  I'll advise when I've added these in my later posts, if you're interested.

Until then, I'd best say good-night.

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