Speak Freely: The History of Hyde Park

Versie Dortch

Hyde Park is one of the most famous parks in London and it is not hard to see why. Spanning 350 acres sitting in the center of London, Hyde Park is home to a number of must see landmarks including Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain within its 350 acre landmass. Hyde Park has a rich history and an abundance of things to do for every member of the family, so pick out some parking in central London and have a wonderful time!

History of Hyde Park

Hyde Park was created by King Henry VIII in 1536 to satisfy a royal passion for hunting. While this initial origin story may not appeal to many in modern times it is worth noting that nowadays recreational activities within Hyde Park are much more peaceful. According to Historic UK Hyde Park’s location can be attributed to its proximity to The Palace of Whitehall. During this time Hyde Park was an important source of drinking water, giving rise to an area in Hyde Park to be called London Gallows, which is notorious for public executions. Public executions in the area predated Hyde Park, between 1196 and 1783 when The Gallows were dismantled more than 50,000 people were executed according to The Royal Parks.

Public Executions

Rather interestingly a positive social change was seeded before public executions, as the condemned had the opportunity to make a final speech to a waiting crowd. “Some confessed; others protested their innocence or criticized the authorities.” According to Royal Parks. Whatever they chose to say they knew that they had already been handed a death sentence, inspiring them to speak what was truly on their mind. When public executions stopped at The Gallows the sentiment that freedom of speech is an incredibly important social right remained in the hearts of many.


Protests are one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about Hyde Park. This all kicked off in 1886 when The Reform League, who campaigned for the right for men across all social classes the opportunity to vote in political elections staged a protest. According to the UK Parliament. Protesters were met with suppression from the government, which led them to the area of Hyde Park. According to the UK Parliament, police barred entry to the park. In response protesters broke down railings and rioted in Hyde Park for three days. “In the 1872 Parks Regulation Act, the right to meet and speak freely in Hyde Park was established through a series of regulations governing the conduct of meetings.” According to The Royal Parks.

Women’s Suffrage

Hyde Park was also instrumental for women’s suffrage, in 1913 “50,000 suffragists and supporters of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) converged on Hyde Park for a rally calling for votes for women.” According to The National Archives. Protests within Hyde Park have not stopped since, ranging from anti war protests to pro marijuana demonstrations. Hyde Park is beautiful in its scenery and serenity, but also for the advances in social change that have happened within its grasslands.  

If you are planning on going for a picnic with family and friends this weekend, why not consider Hyde Park and explore one of the most famous parks in Europe for yourself. Or perhaps you prefer going for a boat ride on The Serpentine lake in the center of Hyde Park. Just make sure you check out Hyde Park parking options ahead of time as it can get very busy, but with good reason!

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