|Horse guards parading past the Canade Gate, the Green Park|
|Rocque's Map of London of 1741-5 showing the Green Park|
in London in the Eighteenth Century by Sir Walter Besant (1902)
On the 9th [November 1737], her majesty [Queen Caroline] having walked to her library in the park, and break fasted there, was taken suddenly ill on her return to the Palace of St. James, with a complaint that was erroneously believed to be the gout in her stomach.1
The peace celebrations of 1749
On 27 April 1749, a huge firework display was held in the Green Park to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. George II commissioned Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks to accompany the display. An enormous pavilion, known as The Temple of Peace, was built in the park for the event and caught fire during the firework display.
|View of the peace celebrations in Green Park in 1749|
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
|The Temple of Concord in the Green Park on 1 August 1814|
from An Historical Memento by E Orme (1814)
At ten o'clock, a loud and long continued discharge of artillery announced the commencement of the fireworks; which were, certainly, if not the most tasteful, yet on the grandest and most extensive scale that we have ever witnessed. From the battlements of the castle, at one moment, ascended the most brilliant rockets: presently, the walls disclosed all the rarest and most complicated ornaments of which the art is susceptible: the senses were next astonished and enchanted with a pacific exhibition of those tremendous instruments of destruction invented by Colonel Congreve. Some notion even of their terrible power might be formed from this display, and their exceeding beauty could be contemplated, divested of its usual awful associations. Each rocket contains in itself a world of smaller rockets: as soon as it is discharged from the gun, it bursts and flings aloft into the air innumerable parcels of flame, brilliant as the brightest stars: the whole atmosphere is illuminated by a delicate blue light, which threw an air of enchantment over the trees and lawns, and made even the motley groups of universal London become interesting, as an assembly in romance. These several smaller rockets then burst again, and a shower of fiery light descends to the earth, and extends over many yards. Such was one of the beautiful fireworks, which, during the space of two hours, amused and astonished the people.
But the public, who had been on their legs all day, and were not sufficiently accommodated with seats, began at length to be tired with the endless repetition even of the most striking beauties, and became impatient for the grand metamorphosis of the castle into a temple. This was now the principal object to which the attention of the spectators was awake—the conversion of a fabric, designed for the purposes of war, into a temple of peace, and an illuminated monument of victory. The metamorphosis took place with somewhat less than the celerity generally witnessed in our theatrical pantomines: it resembled the cautious removal of a screen, rather than the sudden leap into a new shape. When fully developed, however, it presented a spectacle, which, for extent of splendour, and not less for tastefulness of arrangement, deserved the admiration, and satisfied the hopes which it had inspired.2
Near Constitution Hill a building was erected from the design of Sir William Congreve (of rocket celebrity), which, with all its palings, and the cordon of sentries round it, covered one-third of the Green Park. This building received the name of the Temple of Concord. The materials of this structure, and of the other erections set up on that occasion, were sold afterwards by auction, and fetched only about £200.3
… after having been ineffectually offered for sale by private contract, with all its remaining magnificence, fell yesterday, ingloriously, under the hammer of the auctioneer … It was doubtless the subject of regret to its admirers, that this temple, after shining in all its brilliancy but for one night, should be doomed to such speedy destruction.4
|The Fountain in the Green Park in 1808|
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
An inclosure, called the Green Park, is a beautiful spot, gradually ascending from St. James's Park, which it immediately joins to Piccadilly, being separated from it by a wall in some parts, and an iron railing in others, and this park is now become the fashionable evening promenade. The lodge of the ranger of Hyde Park stands at the top of this ascent, near the centre, facing Piccadilly and, with its gardens and pleasure-ground, is a very picturesque spot.5
|The entrance to the Ranger's Lodge|
from The story of the London Parks by J Larwood (1874)
In spring and summer the eastern side of the Green Park forms a favourite promenade for the genteel inhabitants of the metropolis; and in fine weather, on every evening, and on Sundays in particular, it is always crowded with well-dressed company. At the north-east corner of this park there is a fine piece of water, which is supplied by the water-works of Chelsea, and forms at once a beautiful embellishment and a useful reservoir.6
Green Park was opened to the general public in 1826. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the Queen’s Basin was filled in and all the buildings were demolished. Several war memorials have since been erected in Green Park, which is open all day, all year round.
|View down Constitution Hill from the top of the Wellington Arch|
showing the Green Park on the left
and Buckingham Palace gardens on the right
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Sources used include: