London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles


3. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.


Kensington Gardens are properly part of . William III., not long after his accession to the throne, purchased from Daniel, Earl of Nottingham, his house and gardens at Kensington. The extent of the gardens was about acres, and with this William seems to have been perfectly satisfied. Even in this small space a part of the original was already included; for not long after , Sir Heneage Finch, then Solicitor-General, obtained a grant of

All that ditch and fence which divide

Hyde Park

from the lands, grounds, and possessions of the said Sir Heneage Finch, adjacent to the said park, and all wood, underwood, and timber trees, growing and being within, upon, or about the said ditch and fence, containing in breadth


feet, and in length

one hundred and fifty

roods, beginning from the south highway leading to the top of Kensington, and from thence crossing to the north highway leading to the town of Acton, which said piece of ground is by this grant disparked for ever.

Queen Anne enclosed nearly acres of the park (lying north of her conservatory) about , and added them to the gardens. Caroline, Queen of George II., appropriated no less than acres of it, about ; and it is only since her time that the great enclosure of Kensington Gardens, and the curtailed , have a separate history.



In the survey of church lands made in pursuance of an Act of Parliament of the of Henry VIII., and returned into the Court of Fruits, the

Manerium de Hyde,

belonging to the

Monasterium Sanct. Petr. Westm.,

is valued at


No notice having been preserved of the original enclosure of this park, and the~ keeper on record (George Roper, who had a grant of per diem for his service) having been appointed early in the reign of Edward VI., it has been conjectured that the park was enclosed while the manor was still in the possession of the Abbot and Convent. The list of keepers--who succeeded Roper is unbroken down to the time of the Commonwealth. In a patent of of Elizabeth, granting the office to Henry Cary, Lord Hunsdon, mention is made of

the herbage, pannage, and browse-wood for the deer.

In the custody of was granted to Sir Edmund Cary, Knight,

with all the lodges, houses, and edifices in the same,

reserving to Anne Baroness Hunsdon, during her life,

the lodge and mansion in the park, with the herbage and pannage of the same.

The resolutions adopted by the in relative to the sale of the Crown lands contain some curious details regarding .

The House resolved on the , that should be sold for ready money; and in consequence of this resolution it was exposed for sale in parts, and sold to Richard Wilcox, of Kensington, Esq.; John Tracy, of London, merchant; and Anthony Deane, of St. Martin in the Fields, Esq. The parcel, called the Gravel-pit division, containing acres, roods, poles, was sold to Wilcox for , of which sum was the price of the wood. The Kensington division, consisting of acres, roods, poles, was purchased by Tracy, who paid , of which only was for the wood. The other divisions--the Middle, Banqueting-house, and Old Lodge divisions--were sold to Deane, and cost him , of which was for the wood. At the south-west corner of the Banqueting-house division stood

that building intended at its


erection for a Banqueting-house :

its materials were valued at On the Old Lodge division stood the Old Lodge, with its barn and stable, and several tenements near : the materials of the Lodge were valued at

The deer of several sorts within the said park

were valued at The ground and wood of were sold for . .y. ; the wood on it being (exclusive of the deer and building materials) valued at The yearly rental of the park was assumed to be

The specifications in the indentures of sale enable us to trace with accuracy the boundaries of the park at that time, and also to form some idea of its state and appearance. It was bounded by

the great road to Acton

on the north; by

the way leading from Brentford great road to Acton great road

on the east; by the road designated, in part of its course, the



and in another;

the highway leading from


to Kensington,

evidently the--

Brentford great road

mentioned above, on the south; and by

part of the house and ground usually taken to belong to Mr. Finch of Kensington,


the ground lying near the Gravel-pits,

on the west. About of these boundaries there is little difficulty: they are clearly the great lines of road which pass along the north and south edges of the park at the present day, and what is now called . The whole of the ground within these


boundaries was within ; for, in the description of Old Lodge division, especial mention is made of

that small parcel of ground formerly taken out of the park, and used as a fortification, being at the corner of this division called Park Corner.

The fortification here alluded to was the large fort with bastions thrown up by the citizens in , on the ground now occupied by . On this several houses were subsequently erected during the Protectorate, which were after the Restoration granted on lease to James Hamilton, Esq., the Ranger. Upon his death, the lease was renewed for years to Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton in . Apsley House stands on the site of the Old Lodge, and is held under the Crown: the original Apsley House was built by Lord Bathurst, when chancellor. By these grants the triangular piece of ground between the present gate and came to be cut off from the park, the south-east corner of which, in , extended along the north side of the highway, quite up to the end of . The gradual encroachments made upon the park at its west end render it more difficult to ascertain its extent in that direction. The following indications may assist:--When King William purchased his mansion of the Earl of Nottingham at Kensington, there were only acres of garden-ground attached to it. The , on the west of the palace, was part of these acres. We know that the old conduit of Henry VIII., on the west side of , was built by that monarch on a piece of waste ground, called

the Moor,

outside of the park. The mansion of the Earl of Nottingham must therefore have stood pretty close upon the eastern limits of his acres. This view is corroborated by circumstances. The is, that the grounds acquired by Sir Heneage Finch, Recorder of London, ancestor of the Earl of Nottingham, between and , are described in old charters as lying within the parishes of Kensington, , , and Paddington. These parishes meet at a point to the west of Kensington Palace, nearly equidistant from its outer gate in the town of Kensington, the circular pond in Kensington Gardens, and the junction of Bayswater and Kensington Gravel-pits on the western descent of Bayswater Hill. The circumstance alluded to is, that the grounds purchased by King William from the Earl of Nottingham contained a small part of the original ; Sir Heneage Finch, son of the Recorder, having obtained from Charles II. a grant of a

ditch and fence which divide

Hyde Park

from the lands, grounds, and possessions of the said Sir Heneage Finch;


the said ditch containing in breadth


feet, and in length

one hundred and fifty

roods, beginning from the south highway leading to the town of Kensington, and from thence crossing to the north highway leading to the town of Acton, which said piece of ground is by this grant disparked for ever.

All these considerations seem to warrant the assumption that originally extended at-its western extremity almost up to the east front of Kensington Palace.

But the indentures of sale enable us also to form some kind of idea of the appearance of the ground within these boundaries at the time the park was sold by order of Parliament. Great care seems to have been taken, in dividing the park into lots or parcels, to divide the


in the park equally between them. are attached to the Gravel-pits, to the Kensington, to the Middle, and to the Old Lodge division. The relative positions and extent of these


divisions, and the manner in which the


are described, show that they must have formed a chain extending in a waving line from

Bayard's watering


the Spittle mead

at Knightsbridge--the exact course of the , and the stream sent off from its lower extremity. No pools are allotted to the Banqueting-house division, the reason of which seems to have been that it contained

a parcel of enclosed ground lying on the north-east corner of this division, formerly used as a meadow, commonly called Tyburn Meadow,

the north-east corner being the angle formed by the great road to Acton and the road now called . From this corner a depression of the ground can still be traced extending to the Serpentine between the heights on which the farm-house and the powder-magazine stand. These facts lead us to infer that was then intersected by a chain of


(which old muniments of the manor of Paddington and the manor of show must have been expansions in the bed of a stream,) tracing the same line as the Serpentine of the present day, and a shallow water-course running down to it from an enclosed meadow where now stands. The indentures of sale moreover enable us to make a pretty near guess as to the appearance of the ground intersected by these water-courses. The wood on the north-west or Gravel-pit division was valued at ; that on the south-west or Kensington division only at ; and yet the Gravel-pit division contained not much more than acres, while the Kensington division contained about acres. Again, the Middle division, which lay on the north side of the park between the Gravel-pit division on the west and the Banqueting-house division on the east, contained only acres, roods, poles, and the Banqueting-house and Old Lodge divisions contained between them acres, roods, poles; yet the wood on the Middle division was valued at , while that on the other was not valued at more than From these facts we infer that the north-western parts of the park and the banks of the


were thickly wooded; that its north-east corner had fewer trees; and that the part which lay towards and the town of Kensington was almost entirely denuded of wood. To complete the picture we must bear in mind that in the south-west part of the Kensington division there was

a parcel of meadow-ground enclosed for the deer;

that in the Banqueting-house division there was the enclosed Tyburn meadow on its north-east corner, and

that building intended at the


erection thereof for a banqueting-house, situate near the south-west corner of this division,

--from its position the house afterwards called Cake House or Mince-pie House, where the farm now stands; that where Apsley House is now was

the Old Lodge with the barn and stable belonging,

and immediately east of it the remains of the temporary fortification thrown up in . The park was enclosed--it is described in the indentures as

that impaled ground called Hide Park

--but with the exception of Tyburn meadow, the enclosure for the deer, the Old Lodge, and the Banqueting-house, it seems to have been left entirely in a state of nature. Grammont alludes to the park as presenting the ungainly appearance of a bare field in the time of Charles II. The value put upon the materials of the Old Lodge and Banqueting-house does nob excite any very inordinate ideas of their splendour; it is probable, however, that the Ring, which we find a fashionable place of resort early in the reign of Charles II.,


without any mention being made of its origin, was originally the ornamental ground attached to the latter.

In this state seems to have continued with little alteration till the year , and even then the improvements were almost exclusively confined to the part enclosed under the name of Kensington Gardens, to the history of which we must now turn our attention.

It has already been stated that the gardens attached to Kensington Palace when purchased by King William did not exceed acres. Evelyn alludes to them on the -, in these words :--

I went to Kensington, which King William had bought of Lord Nottingham, and altered, but was yet a patched building; but with the gardens, however, it is a very neat villa, having to it the park and a strait new way through this park.

In a view of the gardens near London in , communicated to the Society of Antiquaries by Dr. Hamilton from a MS. in his possession, and printed in the volume of the


the gardens are thus described :--

Kensington Gardens are not great, nor abounding with fine plants. The orange, lemon, myrtle, and what other trees they had there in summer, were all removed to Mr. Loudon's or Mr. Wise's green-house at Brompton Park, a little mile from them. But the walks and grass were very fine, and they were digging up a plot of




acres to enlarge their garden.

Bowack, who wrote in , has given an account of the improvements then carrying on by order of Queen Anne:--

But whatever is deficient in the house, is and will be made up in the gardens, which want not any advantages of nature to render them entertaining, and are beautified with all the elegancies of art (statues and fountains excepted). There is a noble collection of foreign plants, and fine neat greens, which makes it pleasant all the year, and the contrivance, variety, and disposition of the whole is extremely pleasing; and so frugal have they been of the room they had, that there is not an inch but what is well improved, the whole with the house not being above


acres. Her Majesty has been pleased lately to plant near


acres more towards the north, separated from the rest only by a stately green-house, not yet finished; upon this spot is near

one hundred

men daily at work, and so great is the progress they have made, that in less than


months the whole is levelled, laid out and planted, and when finished will be very fine. Her Majesty's gardener has the management of this work.

It appears from this passage that previous to , Kensington Gardens did not extend farther to the north than the Conservatory, originally designed for a banqueting-house, and frequently used as such by Queen Anne. The eastern boundary of the gardens would seem to have been at this time nearly in the line of the broad walk which crosses them before the east front of the palace. seems at that time to have been considered a part of the private pleasure-grounds attached to the palace, for the low circular stone building now used as an engine-house for supplying the palace with water was erected by order of Queen Anne, facing an avenue of elms, for a summer recess. The town of Kensington for some years later did not extend so far to the east as it now does. The kitchen gardens which extend north of the palace towards the Gravel-pits, and the acres north of the Conservatory, added by Anne to the pleasure gardens, may have been the acres

detached and severed from the park, lying in the north-west corner thereof,

granted in the


of Charles II. to Hamilton, ranger of the park, and Birch, auditor of excise, to be walled and planted with

pippins and red-streaks,

on condition of their furnishing apples or cider for the King's use. The alcove at the end of the avenue leading from the south front of the palace to the wall on the was also built by Anne's orders. So that Kensington Palace in her reign seems to have stood in the midst of fruit and pleasure gardens, with pleasant alcoves on the west and south, and a stately banqueting-house on the east-the whole confined between the Kensington and Uxbridge roads, the west side of , and the line of the broad walk before the east front of the palace. Tickell has perpetrated a dreary mythological poem on Kensington Gardens, which we have ransacked in vain for some descriptive touches of their appearance in Queen Anne's time, and have therefore been obliged to have recourse to Addison's prose in the th Number of the

Spectator :


I think there are as many kinds of gardening as poetry: your makers of pastures and flower gardens are epigrammatists and sonnetteers in this art; contrivers of bowers and grottoes, treillages and cascades, are romance writers. Wise and London are our heroic poets; and if as a critic I may single out any passage of their works to commend, I shall take notice of that part in the upper garden at Kensington, which was at


nothing but a gravel-pit. It must have been a fine genius for gardening that could have thought of forming such an unsightly hollow into so beautiful an area, and to have hit the eye with so uncommon and agreeable a scene as that which it is now wrought into. To give this particular spot of ground the greater effect, they have made a very pleasing contrast; for as on


side of the walk you see this hollow basin, with its several little plantations lying so conveniently under the eye of the beholder, on the other side of it there appears a seeming mount, made up of trees


higher than another as they approach the centre. A spectator who has not heard of this account of it, would think this circular mount was not only a real


, but that it had been actually scooped out of that hollow space, which I have before mentioned. I never yet met with any


who had walked in this garden who was not struck with that part of it which I have mentioned.

In reference to the operations of Queen Caroline, Daines Barrington remarks, in his

Essay on the Progress of Gardening :


It is believed that George I. rather improved the gardens at Herrnhausen than those of any of his English palaces. In the succeeding reign, Queen Caroline threw a string of ponds in

Hyde Park



, so as to form what is called the

Serpentine River

, from its being not exactly straight, as all ponds and canals were before. She is likewise well known to have planted and laid out the gardens of Richmond and Kensington upon a larger scale, and in better taste, than we have any instances before that period. She seems also to have been the


introducer of expensive buildings in gardens, if


at Lord Barrington's is excepted.

And yet Queen Anne's Green-house or Conservatory in the very gardens he was writing about must have cost something. Nearly acres were added by Queen Caroline to Kensington Gardens. Opposite the Ring in a mound was thrown across the valley to dam up the streams connecting the chain of


already mentioned. All the waters and conduits in the park, granted in to Thomas Haines on a lease of years, were re-purchased by the Crown. Along the line of the ponds a canal was begun to be dug. The excavation was


yards in length and feet deep, and cost At the south-east end of the gardens a mount was raised of the soil dug out of the canal. On the north and south the grounds, of which these works formed the characteristic features, were bounded by high parallel walls. On the north-east a fosse and low wall, reaching from the to the Serpentine, at once shut in the gardens, and conducted the eye along their central vista, over the Serpentine to its extremity, and across the park. To the east of , immediately below the principal windows of the east front of the palace, a reservoir was formed into a circular pond, and thence long vistas were carried through the woods that circled it round, to the head of the Serpentine; to the fosse and low wall, affording a view of the park (this sort of fence was an invention of Bridgeman,

an attempt then deemed so astonishing, that the common people called them Ha-has, to express their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk

), and to the mount constructed out of the soil dug from the canal. This mount was planted with evergreens, and on the summit was erected a small temple, made to turn at pleasure, to afford shelter from the wind. The principal vistas were crossed at right angles, by others at regular intervals--an arrangement which has been complained of as disagreeably formal, with great injustice, for the formality is only in the ground plot, not in any view of the garden that can meet the eye of the spectator at time. underwent no further alteration than was necessary to make them harmonise with the extended grounds, of which they had now become a part.

Since the death of George II. and Kensington Gardens have undergone no changes of consequence. The Ring, in the former, has been

deserted for the drive, and presents now an appearance which any Jonathan Oldbuck might pardonably mistake for the vestiges of a Roman encampment. New plantations have been laid out to compensate for the gradual decay of the old wood. That part of the south wall of Kensington Gardens which served to intercept between it and the a narrow strip of the park where the cavalry barracks have been erected, has been thrown down. Queen Caroline's


artificial mound had previously been levelled. A new bridge has been thrown across the Serpentine, and more ornamental buildings been erected on its bank to serve for a powder-magazine and the house of the Humane Society, (beautiful antithesis!) and infantry barracks have been erected within the precincts of the park near .

Kensington Gardens now occupy the Gravel-pit division and the larger portions of the Kensington and Middle divisions of the time of Oliver Cromwell. Farther along the Serpentine, and below the waterless waterfall, at its termination, the appearance of the park has been wonderfully changed since the time of the Protectorate. The remainder is characterised, perhaps, by a more careful surface-dressing, but in other respects it has, if anything, retrograded in internal ornament. Of the Ring, once the seat of gaiety and splendour, we may say with Wordsworth, that-

Dying insensibly away

From human thoughts and purposes,

it seems

To yield to some transforming power,

And blend with the surrounding trees.

We sometimes feel tempted to regret its decay, and also the throwing down of part of the south wall of the gardens, which seems to have let in too much sunlight upon them (to say nothing of east winds), and spoiled their umbrageous character. On the whole, however, the recent changes in are more striking in regard to its immediate vicinity, to the setting of the jewel as it were, than to the ground itself. Any who enters the park from (opened in )]and advances to the site of the Ring, will at once feel this change in its full force. Hemmed in though the park now is on all sides by long rows of buildings, feels there, on a breezy upland with a wide space of empty atmosphere on every side, what must have been the charm of this place when the eye, looking from it, fell in every direction on rural scenes. For until very recently was entirely in the country. And this remark naturally conducts us to those adventures and incidents associated with which contribute even more than its rural position to render it less exclusively of the court, courtly, than St. James's.

was a favourite place of resort for those who brought in the with the reverence once paid to it. Pepys breathes a sigh in his


on the evening of the , (he was then on a pleasure jaunt,) to this effect:----

I am sorry I am not at London to be at Hide Park to-morrow morning, among the great gallants and ladies, which will be very fine.

It was very fine, for Evelyn has entered in his


under the date of the identical referred to by Pepys :--

I went to Hide Park to take the air, where was his Majesty and an innumerable appearance of gallants and rich coaches, being now at time of universal festivity and joy.

But even during the sway of the Puritans, the Londoners assembled here

to do observance to May,

as we learn from

Several Proceedings of State Affairs,

27th April


4th May, 1654




1st May

. This day was more observed by people going a maying than for divers years past, and indeed much sin committed by wicked meetings with fiddlers, drunkenness, ribaldry, and the like; great resort came to

Hyde Park

, many hundreds of coaches and gallants in attire, but most shameful

powdered hair men, and painted and spotted women. Some men played with a silver ball, and some took other recreation. But his Highness the Lord Protector went not thither, nor any of the Lords of the Commonwealth, but were busy about the great affairs of the Commonwealth.

We would give a trifle to know whether John Milton, a Secretary of the Lord Protector, were equally self-denying. In the morning view from the Ring in must have been not unlike this description of what had met a poet's eyes in his early rambles-

Some time walking not unseen

By hedge-row elms on hillock green,

Right against the eastern gate

Where the great sun begins his state,

Robed in flames and amber light

The clouds in thousand liveries dight,

While the ploughman near at hand

Whistles o'er the furrowed land;

And the milk-maid singeth blithe,

And the mower whets his scythe,

And every shepherd tells his tale

Under the hawthorn in the dale.

And of the poet's earlier compositions had afforded a strong suspicion of his idolatrous tendencies-

Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,

Comes dancing from the east, and brings with her

The flowery May, who from her green lap throws

The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail! beauteous May, that doth inspire

Mirth, and youth, and warm desire;

Meads and groves are of thy dressing,

Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.

Thus we salute thee with our early song,

And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

To all which circumstances may be added that the said John Milton is affirmed (perhaps with a view to be near the scene of his official duties) to have resided for some time in a house on the south side of , at no immeasurable distance from the place where the enormities of May worship were perpetrated in , under the very noses of a puritanical government.

Be this as it may, the sports affected by the habitual frequenters of at all times of the year had a manly character about them, harmonizing with its country situation. For example, although the Lord Protector felt it inconsistent with his dignity to sanction by his presence the profane mummery of the , he made himself amends for his self-denial a few days afterwards, as we learn from the Moderate Intelligencer:--

Hyde Park


May 1st, 1654

. This day there was a hurling of a great ball by


Cornish gentlemen of the side, and


on the other;


party played in red caps, and the other in white. There was present his Highness the Lord Protector, many of his Privy Council, and divers eminent gentlemen, to whose view was presented great agility of body, and most neat and exquisite wrestling, at every meeting of


with the other, which was ordered with such dexterity, that it was to show more the strength, vigour, and nimbleness of their bodies than to endanger their persons. The ball they played withal was silver, and designed for that party which did win the goal.

Evelyn mentions in ,

I went to see a coach-race in Hide

Park, and collationed in

Spring Gardens


Pepys mentions in :--

To Hide Parke by coach, and saw a fine foot-race


times round the park (


. Ring?) between an Irishman and Crow that was once my Lord Claypole's footman.

Evelyn's coach-race (by which we must not understand such a race as might take place now-a-days between professional or amateur coach-drivers, but more probably some imaginative emulation of classical chariot-races, for such was the tone of that age) recalls an accident which happened to Cromwell in in . We learn from the

Weekly Post,


His Highness the Lord Protector went lately in his coach from


to take the ayr in Hide Park; and the horses being exceedingly affrighted, set a running, insomuch that the postilion fell, whereby his Highness was in some danger; but (blessed be God) he was little hurt.

Ludlow's version of this story is:--

The Duke of Holstein made him (Cromwell) a present of a set of grey Friesland coach-horses; with which taking the air in the park, attended only with his secretary Thurloe, and a guard of Janizaries, he would needs take the place of the coachman, not doubting but the


pair of horses he was about to drive would prove as tame as the


nations which were ridden by him; and therefore, not content with their ordinary pace, he lashed them very furiously. But they, unaccustomed to such a rough driver, ran away in a rage, and stopped not till they had thrown him out of the box, with which fall his pistol fired in his pocket, though without any hurt to himself: by which he might have been instructed how dangerous it was to meddle with those things wherein he had no experience.

There may be some truth in this, although Ludlow was a small man, virulent in his vindictiveness, and a ; for the cautious journalist admits that the Protector was hurt; and Bates, Cromwell's physician, mentions that, from an idea that violent motion was calculated to alleviate some disorders to which he was subject, it was his custom when taking the air in his coach to seat himself on the driving-box, in order to procure a rougher shake. Cromwell-since we have got him in hand we may as well despatch him at once-seems to have been partial to and its environs. The

Weekly Post,

enumerating the occasions on which Syndercombe and Cecill had lain in wait to assassinate him in (

the hinges of Hide Park gate were filed off in order to their escape

) enumerates some of his airings all in this neighbourhood :--

when he rode to Kensington and thence the back way to London;

when he went to Hide Park in his coach ;

when he went to Turnham Green and so by Acton home;


when he rode in Hide Park.

could fancy him influenced by some attractive sympathy between his affections and the spot of earth in which he was destined to repose from his stirring and harassing career. The unmanly indignities offered to his dead body harmed not him, and they who degraded themselves by insulting the dead were but a sort of sextons more hardened and brutal than are ordinarily to be met with. Cromwell sleeps as sound at Tyburn, in the vicinity of his favourite haunts, as the rest of our English monarchs sleep at or Windsor.

The fashionable part of was long confined within very narrow limits; the Ring being, from all time previous to the Restoration till far in the reigns of the Georges, the exclusive haunt of the . Subsequently Kensington Gardens, at the opposite extremity of the park, was appropriated by the race that lives for enjoyment; but even after that event a considerable space within the park remained allotted to the rougher business of life. During the time of


the Commonwealth, as we have seen, it became private property. Evelyn () complains feelingly of the change:--

I went to take the aire in Hide Park, where every coach was made to pay a shilling, and horse sixpence, by

the sordid fellow

(poor Anthony Deane, of

St. Martin's

in the Fields, Esq.) who had purchased it of the state, as they are called.

The courtly Evelyn had no words of reprobation for Mr. Hamilton, the ranger appointed at the Restoration, who continued for good years to let the park in farms; it not having been enclosed with a wall and re-stocked with deer till .

has from an early period down to our own times been a favourite locality for reviews.

Mercurius Publicus

announced to the public on the , that the Commissioners of the Militia of London were to

rendezvous their regiments of trained bands and auxiliaries

at ; that Major Cox,

Quartermaster-general of the City,

had been to view the ground; and that the Lord Mayor intended to appear at the review

with his collar of



and all the Aldermen

in scarlet robes, attended with the mace and cap of maintenance, as is usual at great solemnities.


Exact Account

of the pageant, published not long after, informs us that in

was erected a spacious fabric, in which the Lord Mayor in his collar of SS, and the Aldermen in their scarlet gowns, with many persons of quality, sate, by which the respective regiments in a complete order marched, giving many volleys of shot as they passed by ;


in the White regiment of Auxiliaries in the


rank Major-General Mysse trailed a pike, who was followed with a numerous company of people with great acclamations;


the like hath hardly been seen, it being conceived that there could hardly be lesse than

twenty thousand

men in arms, besides the Yellow regiment which came out of


, and also that complete regiment of horse commanded by Major-General Brown, where was likewise present so great a multitude of people, that few persons hath seen the like;


they marched out of the field in the same handsome manner, to the great honour and repute of the City of London, and satisfaction and content of all spectators;

and lastly,

which is observable, that in the height of this show the Lord Mayor received notice that Colonel John Lambert was carried by the park a prisoner unto



Evelyn records a more courtly spectacle of the kind that took place on the same ground in :--

I saw his Majesty's Guards, being of horse and foote


, led by the General the Duke of Albemarle in extraordinary equipage and gallantry, consisting of gentlemen of quality and veteran souldiers, excellently clad, marched, and ordered, drawn up in battalia before their Maties in Hide Park, where the old Earle of Cleveland trailed a pike, and led the right-hand file commanded by the Viscount Wentworth his son, a worthy spectacle and example, being both of them old and valiant souldiers. This was to show ye French ambassador, Monsieur Comminges; there being a great assembly of coaches, &c., in the park.

The prejudices of education might predispose to imagine that the titled heroes celebrated by Evelyn

trailed the puissant pike

more gallantly than Major-General Mysse; but the observations of Pepys, who slipped into the park to see the review described by Evelyn, after cherishing his little body at an ordinary, induce us to suspend our judgment:--

From the King's Head ordinary with Creed to hire a coach to carry us to Hide Park, to-day there being a general muster of the king's guards, horse and foot; but they demand so high, that I

spying Mr. Cutler the merchant did take notice of him, and he going into his coach and telling me he was going to the muster, I asked and went along with him; when a goodly sight to see-so many fine horses and officers, and the King, Duke, and others-came by a-horseback, and the


Queenes in the Queen-mother's coach (my lady Castlemaine not being there). And after long being there I light, and walked to the place where the King, Duke, &c., did stand, to see the horse and foot march by and discharge their guns, to show a Frenche Marquisse (for whom this muster was caused) the goodnesse of our firemen; which indeed was very good, though not without a slip now and then; and


broadside close to our coach as we had going out of the parke, even to the nearnesse to be ready to burn our hairs.

Yet methought all these gay men are not the soldiers that must do the king's business, it being such as these that lost the old king all he had, and were beat by the most ordinary fellows that could be


Horace Walpole's account of a somewhat similar scene, , may serve as a pendant to these remarks :--

I should weary you with what everybody wearies me--the militia. The crowds in

Hyde Park

when the King reviewed them were inimaginable. My Lord Orford, their colonel, I hear looked ferociously martial and genteel, and I believe it; his person and air have a noble wildness in them; the regimentals too are very becoming, scarlet faced with black, buff waistcoat and gold buttons. How knights of the shire, who have never shot anything but woodcocks, like this warfare I don't know; but the towns through which they pass adore them, everywhere they are treated and regaled.

The Brobdignaggian scale of the reviews of the Volunteers in the days of George III. are beyond the compass of our narrow page. The encampment of the troops in in after Lord George Gordon's riots, and of the Volunteers in , must be passed over in silence; as also the warlike doings of the Fleet in the Serpentine in , when a Lilliputian British frigate blew a Lilliputian American frigate out of the water, in commemoration of--the founders of the feast confessed themselves at a loss to say what.

But , unlike St. James's, has witnessed the mustering of real as well as of holiday warriors. It was the frequent rendezvous of the Commonwealth troops during the civil war. Essex and Lambert encamped their forces here, and here Cromwell reviewed his terrible Ironsides. And though Butler's muse, which, as the bee finds honey in every flower, elaborates the ludicrous from all events, has sneered at the labours of the citizens of London who threw up the fort in , the jest at which royalists could laugh under Charles II. was no joke to the Cavaliers of Charles I. The very women shared the enthusiasm, and, as the irreverend bard alluded to sings-

March'd rank and file with drum and ensign,

T' entrench the city for defence in;

Raisep rampions with their own soft hands,

And put the enemy to stands.

From ladies down to oyster wenches,

Labour'd like pioneers in trenches,

Fall'n to their pick-axes and tools,

And help'd the men to dig like moles.

circumstance that tends to impress us with the idea of the solitary character of and its environs when compared with


during the reigns of the last Stuarts and the sovereigns of the present dynasty is its being frequently selected, in common with the then lonely fields behind , now the , as the scene of the more inveterate class of duels. In the days when men wore swords there were many off-hand exertions of that species of lively humour. Horace Walpole, sen., quarrelled with a gentleman in the , and they fought at the stair-foot. Lord Byron and Mr. Chaworth stepped out of a dining parlour in the Tavern, , and fought by the light of a bed-room candle in an adjoining apartment. More than duel occurred in itself. But there were also more ceremonious duels, to which men were formally invited some time beforehand, and in which more guests than participated. The pistol-duel in which Wilkes was severely wounded occurred in . Here too the fatal duel in which the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mahon () fell, and their seconds were wounded, took place. Swift enables us to fix with precision the locality of this last event: he says in his

Journal to Stella,

The Duke was helped towards the Cake-house by the Ring in

Hyde Park

, where they fought, and died on the grass before he could reach the house.

Its loneliness is also vouched for by the frequency of highway robberies in its immediate vicinity: pocket-picking is the branch of industry characteristic of town places like ; highway robbery and fox-hunting are rural occupations. The narrative of the principal witness in the trial of William Belchier, sentenced to death for highway robbery in , shows the state in which the roads which bound were at that time, and also presents us with a picture of the substitutes then used instead of a good police:--

William Norton

: The chaise to the Devizes having been robbed




times, as I was informed, I was desired to go in it, to see if I could take the thief, which I did on the

3rd of June

, about half an hour after


in the morning. I got into the post-chaise; the post-boy told me the place where he had been stopped was near the Half-way House between


and Kensington. As we came near the house the prisoner came to us on foot and said,

Driver, stop!

He held a pistol tinder-box to the chaise and said,

Your money directly: you must not stay, this minute your money.

I said,

Don't frighten us; I have but a trifle; you shall have it.

Then I said to the gentlemen (there were


in the chaise),

Give your money.

I took out a pistol from my coat-pocket, and from my breeches-pocket a


piece and a dollar. I held the pistol concealed in


hand and the money in the other. I held the money pretty hard: he said,

Put it in my hat.

I let him take the


piece out of my hand: as soon as he had taken it I snapped my pistol at him; it did not go off: he staggered back, and held up his hands and said,

Oh Lord! oh Lord!

I jumped out of the chaise: he ran away, and I after him about



seven hundred

yards, and there took him. I hit him a blow on his back; he begged for mercy on his knees; I took his neckcloth off and tied his hands with it, and brought him back to the chaise: then I told the gentlemen in the chaise that was the errand I came upon, and wished them a good journey, and brought the prisoner to London.

Question by the prisoner

: Ask him how he lives.


: I keep a shop in

Wych Street

, and sometimes I take a thief.

The post-boy stated on the trial that he had told Norton if they did not meet the highwayman between and


Kensington, they should not meet him at all--a proof of the frequency of these occurrences in that neighbourhood. Truly while such tricks were played in the park by noblemen and gentlemen in the daytime, and by foot-pads at night, the propinquity of the place of execution at Tyburn to the place of gaiety in the Ring was quite as desirable as it seems upon thought anomalous.

The Ring we have already observed was the part of the park taken possession of by--the gay world. Evelyn's complaint of the exaction of the

sordid fellow who had purchased it of the state, as they are called,

seems to imply that it had been a resort for horsemen and people in carriages previous to . He more than once notes a visit to ,

where was his Majesty and abundance of gallantry.

The sight-seeing Pepys, too, appears from his journal, as might have been anticipated, to have been a frequent visitant. We have already seen how dexterously he

did take notice of Mr. Cutler, the merchant,

to save himself the expense of coach-hire; and heard the melodious sigh he breathed on account of his inability to be there on May-day. His Paul Pry disposition has led him to leave on record that on the , he went

after dinner to Hide Parke; at the parke was the King, and in another coach my Lady Castlemaine, they greeting


another at every turn.

Nor must we pass over in silence his own equestrian feats, worthy of his tailor-sire:--



December 22

. [Followed the Duke and Mr. Coventry into

St. James's Park

], and in the park Mr. Coventry's people having a horse ready for me (so fine a


that I was almost afraid to get upon him, but I did, and found myself more feared than hurt), and followed the Duke and some of his people to Hide Parke.

The grave Etherege thought a ride in on the whole more conducive to morality than a walk in :

Young BellairMost people prefer Hyde Park to this place.

HarrietIt has the better reputation, I confess; but I abominate the dull diversions there: the formal bows, the affected smiles, the silly by-words, and amorous tweers in passing. Here one meets with a little conversation now and then.

Y. BellThese conversations have been fatal to some of your sex, madam.

HarIt may be so: because some who want temper have been undone by gaming, must others who have it wholly deny themselves the pleasure of play?

After King William took up his abode in Kensington palace, a court end of the town gathered around it. The praises of Kensington Gardens, as they appeared in the days of Queen Anne, by Tickell and Addison, have already been alluded to. The large gardens laid out by Queen Caroline were opened to the public on Saturdays, when the king and court went to Richmond. All visitors, however, were required to appear in full dress, which must have lent a stately and character to the scene. These occasional glimpses into the seclusion of sovereigns who were foreigners in the land they reigned over, contrast characteristically with the publicity-courting manners of the time of Charles II. The formal solitudes of Kensington, remote from the brilliant gaiety of the Ring and Mall, mark a new and widely different era. was the appropriate locality of a court in which Etherege, Suckling, Sedley, and Buckingham dangled. The umbrageous shades of Kensington, into which the clatter of the gaudy equipages at the further end of the park penetrated

like notes by distance made

more sweet,

was the equally appropriate retirement of a court, the type of whose literary characters was Sir Richard Blackmore, and from which the light graces of Pope kept at a distance. They were, however, not an unamiable race; these German sovereigns, as they could tell who were admitted to their society- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu knew that George I. could appreciate in his own quiet way a pretty face and lively disposition. A couple of anecdotes somewhere told of George II. have a bearing on our subject, and leave a favourable impression of a King of whose character ostentation formed no part:--

His Majesty came


day to the Richmond Gardens, and finding the gates of them locked, while some decently dressed persons were standing on the outside, called for the head gardener and told him to open the door immediately:

My subjects,

added he,

walk where they please.

The same gardener complaining to him


day that the company in Richmond Gardens had taken up some of the flower roots and shrubs that were planted there, his only reply was,

Plant more, you blockhead.

When the court ceased to reside at Kensington, the gardens were thrown entirely open. They still, however, retain so much of their original secluded character that they are impervious to horses and equipages. Between their influence and that of the drive, the whole park has been drawn into the vortex of gaiety. Its eastern extremity, except along the Serpentine, still retains a homely character, contrasting with that which has long worn, and the is now assuming. It is questionable whether any attempt to make it finer would improve it. The effect produced by the swift crossing and re-crossing of equipages, and the passage of horsemen--the opportunity of mingling with the crowd of Sunday loungers and country cousins congregated to catch a glimpse of the leading characters of the day, or determine the fashionable shade for trousers, constitute the attraction of the park. The living contents throw the scenery amid which they move into the shade. The plainness of the park, too, makes it perhaps a more fitting vestibule to the more ornamented gardens at its west end.

Having ventured to point out the most eligible method of entering the and St. James's, we may do the same office for the visitants of and Kensington Gardens. Enter from . After crossing the drive, if your object is to see the company, walk along the footpath, in the direction of , where Apsley House now stands and the Parliamentary fort once stood; then returning, extend your lounge on the other side till you reach , near where the elms of Tyburn witnessed the execution of the

gentle Mortimer;

and where, in after days, terminated the walk prescribed by way of penance to the Queen of Charles I. by her Confessor, and the less voluntary excursions of many offenders against the law; and where an iron plate, bearing the inscription

Here stood Tyburn turnpike,

marks the last earthly resting-place of Oliver Cromwell. Walk backwards and forwards along this beat, like a wild beast in its cage, till satiated with the sight. [N. B. Do not forget to admire the little carriages for children, drawn by goats, which have a stand near , as donkeys for juvenile equestrians have on Hampstead Heath.] Next cross the park from to the vestiges of the Ring, which scene of the gallantry of Charles II. you will in all probability find occupied by half-a-dozen little chimney-sweeps playing at pitchand-toss. Advance in the same direction till midway between the Ring and the


farm-house, and you stand on the spot which witnessed the tragedy described by Swift in the passage quoted above from his . Here turn down towards the Serpentine, and in passing admire the old elm-old amid an aged brotherhood, of which a representation is here inserted; it served for many years
as the stall of a humorous cobbler. Then passing along the edge of the Serpentine, hasten to reach the centre of the bridge which crosses it, and there


allow your eyes to wander across the water to the gateways admitting to and , and behind them to the towers of . This is also a favourable spot for a morning or mid-day peep into Kensington Gardens. It is a curious feeling with which amid the freshness of a spring or summer's morning watches the boatman of the Humane Society slowly oaring his way across the


sparkling in the early sun, as if in quest of those who may have availed themselves of the silence of night to terminate their earthly sufferings in the water. It reminds of the horrible grotesque of the inscription below a plate of Rosamond's Pond, which we quoted when talking of that scene. Once in Kensington Gardens, you cannot go wrong. Ramble deviously on along the vistas and through the thickets, now surrounded by nibbling sheep, now eyeing the gambols of the squirrel, till you come into the airy space surrounded by the palace, the banqueting-house of Queen Anne, and stately trees, where a still pond lies mirroring the soft blue sky.[n.221.1] 


[n.221.1] Hyde Park, the Green and St. James's Parks, may be regarded as forming part of an uninterrupted space of open pleasure-ground. This is not so apparent now that they only touch with their angles, but it was otherwise before the ground on which Apsley House and Hamilton Place stand was filched from Hyde Park. Even yet the isthmus which connects them, where Hyde Park Gate and the gate at the top of Constitution Hill front each other, is only attenuated,not intersected. They have moreover since the Revolution been invariably intrusted to the care of the same ranger. To remind the reader of their continuity, a plan of old St. James's Park, in which the position of Hyde Park Corner is indicated, is subjoined.