Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are two large Royal Parks that cover a large portion of the western end of Central London.
Hyde Park was originally established in 1536 as a private hunting ground for King Henry VIII and was first opened to the public in 1637. Points of interest inside Hyde Park include Speakers Corner and Marble Arch at the northeastern corner, Apsley House and Wellington Arch at the southeastern corner of Hyde Park
For an entertaining, though not necessarily an accurate view of the world, make a visit to Speakers’ Corner on the northeast edge of Hyde Park. Speakers’ Corner has been a focal point for free speech since 1872 and political movements including the Chartists, the Reform League and the suffragettes garnered support for their respective causes at this corner of Hyde Park. For street theatre on a weekend mid-afternoon, it is unrivalled entertainment, as there can be as many as a dozen speakers, pushing their own particular barrow in different languages to crowds of more than one hundred people at any one time. If you feel like speaking your own mind then heckling is an integral part of the Speakers’ Corner tradition.
When you’ve had enough of hearing what other people think there are plenty of opportunities to just relax in Hyde Park and the adjoining Kensington Gardens. Rent a rowboat on the Serpentine, which is the long thin lake that arcs through the two parks, or rollerblade among the walking paths, or join the multitude lazing under a shady tree as they enjoy the springtime sunshine.
Further west, the park is known as Kensington Gardens, which was originally the private gardens of Kensington Palace. Kensington Gardens are considered somewhat more formal than Hyde Park and the park is dominated by the Round Pond and Kensington Palace sits at the park’s western edge.
In addition to Kensington Palace, Apsley House and Wellington Arch, places to visit within a short walk from either Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens include Royal Albert Hall and the South Kensington Museums (the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.