Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner is an area of London, located around a major road junction at the southeastern corner of Hyde Park. Six streets converge at the junction: Park Lane (from the north), Piccadilly (northeast), Constitution Hill (southeast), Grosvenor Place (south), Grosvenor Crescent (southwest) and Knightsbridge (west).
Evolution and development
In the mid-nineteenth century, the space that is now the Hyde Park Corner traffic island was not entirely surrounded by roadway. In its centre stands the Wellington Arch (or Constitution Arch), designed by Decimus Burton and planned as a northern gate to the grounds of Buckingham Palace. In execution it was laid out as a gate into the Green Park, and was originally sited directly opposite Burton's Ionic Screen (also known as the Hyde Park Corner Screen), which still provides a gate into Hyde Park. Originally, the Arch was topped with an equestrian statue of the Duke by Matthew Cotes Wyatt.
The Arch was moved south because of traffic congestion, and realigned to the axis of Constitution Hill in 1883. The boundary of Buckingham Palace's garden was moved south, and a new road named Duke of Wellington Place was created; this separated the space containing the Arch from the rest of the Green Park. At this time, the large equestrian statue was removed to Aldershot. It was subsequently replaced with another work, entitled The Angel of Peace descending on the Quadriga of Victory, dated 1912, by the sculptor Adrian Jones; this remains in place.
Following the passage of the Park Lane Improvement Act 1958, Park Lane was widened in the early 1960s. For most of its length this was achieved by converting the former East Carriage Drive of Hyde Park into the northbound lanes of a dual carriageway, but at Hyde Park Corner, all lanes of traffic came together on a line immediately to the east of Apsley House that required demolition of houses on Piccadilly. This left Apsley House on an island site. The InterContinental London hotel was subsequently built on the cleared site between the new route of Park Lane and Hamilton Place.
At part of the same scheme, a tunnel was constructed beneath the junction to allow traffic to flow freely between Knightsbridge and Piccadilly. As a result, the area around the Arch became a large traffic island, mostly laid to grass, and accessible only by pedestrian underpassess, and formally ceased to be part of the Green Park.
Subsequent changes to the road layout in the 1990s reinstated a route between Hyde Park and the Green Park for pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders using surface-level crossings.
The traffic island includes a smaller equestrian statue of Wellington by Edgar Boehm—unveiled in 1888—the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, the Royal Artillery Memorial, the Australian War Memorial and the New Zealand War Memorial.
Other monuments in the vicinity of Hyde Park Corner include Adrian Jones's Monument to the Cavalry of the Empire (off the west side of Park Lane), Alexander Munro's Boy and Dolphin statue (in a rose garden parallel to Rotten Row, going west from Hyde Park Corner), the Queen Elizabeth Gate (behind Apsley House), the Wellington Monument (off the west side of Park Lane), and a statue of Lord Byron (on a traffic island opposite the Wellington Monument).
The term is often erroneously used for Speakers' Corner, which is located at the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park.
In popular culture
- The 1935 film Hyde Park Corner takes its name from the area, where it is set.
- "Hyde Park Corner" was used as a codeword to announce to the government the death of King George VI in 1952.
Gallery of memorials
Statue of Lord Byron
- St George's Hospital, originally sited at Hyde Park Corner
- The Lanesborough, a hotel on Hyde Park Corner occupying the former St George's hospital buildings
- Siddall, Ruth; Clements, Di (January 2013), Urban Geology: The War Memorials at Hyde Park Corner and Green Park (PDF), retrieved 7 February 2014