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Title: Hyde Park, Its History and Romance

Author: Mrs. Alec-Tweedie

Release date: February 2, 2018 [eBook #56485]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by MWS, Brian Wilcox, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by MWS, Brian Wilcox,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See




publishers mark

Art Repro. Co.

The Four-in-Hand Club in Hyde Park.
From and old print in the Grace Collection, British Museum.













A Royal Hunting-Ground


Vagaries of Monarchs


Under the Commonwealth


Fashion and Frivolity


Masks and Patches


In Georgian Days


Early Chronicles of Tyburn


Beneath the Triple Tree


Nineteenth-Century Fragments


Duels in the Park


The People’s Park


Nature in the Park


The Evolution of the Carriage


List of Trees, Shrubs, and Plants in Hyde Park






The Four-in-Hand Club in Hyde Park


Execution of Earl Ferrars

Facing p. 1

Map of Westminster, illustrating Charter of King Edgar, granted to Dunstan


Bathing Well in Hyde Park


Henry viii.


The Cheesecake House, to which the Duke of Hamilton was carried mortally Wounded


Queen Henrietta Maria’s Penance at Tyburn


Prostitute Drummed out of Hyde Park


Tyburn Ticket, Preserved in Guildhall


Drinking Well in Hyde Park


Entrance to Hyde Park on a Sunday


Map, 1725


Molly Lepell, afterwards Lady Hervey


Map, 1746


The Original“Tattersall’s,” and St. George’s Hospital


Maria Countess of Coventry, née Gunning


William Pitt, Earl of Chatham


Marble Arch at Three o’clock in the Morning


London Bridge


Jack Sheppard


x Jonathan Wild pelted by the Mob on his Way to Tyburn


The Execution of Catherine Hayes at Tyburn


Camp in Hyde Park during Gordon Riots, 1780


Winter Amusements


Jubilee Fair in Hyde Park, 1814, to Celebrate the Fall of Napoleon


Lady Blessington


Festivities on the Ice, 1857. By John Leech


Cumberland Gate


A Camp Kitchen


An Airing in Hyde Park, 1793




The following books have been consulted in the compilation of this volume:—

Stow’s “Annals.”

Hollinshed’s “Chronicles.”

Baker’s “Chronicle.”

Whitelock’s “Memorials of English Affairs.”


Macaulay’s “History of England.”

Hume’s “History of England.”

Lingard’s “History of England.”

Craik and Macfarlane’s “Pictorial History of England.”

Domesday Book. Translated by Sir Henry James.

“The Chronicle of the Greyfriars.” (Camden Society.)

Lyttelton’s “History of Henry II.

Gilbert Burnett’s “History of my Own Times.”

State Papers. Public Record Office.

MSS. from Muniment Room. Westminster Abbey.

Strickland’s “Queens of England.”

Riley’s “Memorials of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries.”


Stow’s “Survey of London.” (Strype.)

Dean Stanley’s “History and Memorials of Westminster Abbey.”

Knight’s “London.”

Walford’s “London Old and New.”

Wheatley’s “London Past and Present.”

Timbs’ “Curiosities of London.”

Larwood’s “The London Parks.”

Ashton’s “Hyde Park from Domesday to Date.”

Jesse’s “London: its Celebrated Characters and Remarkable Places.”

Malcolm’s “Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London.”

Besant’s “London in the Eighteenth Century.”

Fuller’s “Worthies of England.”


Drake’s “Shakespeare and His Times.”

Osborne’s “Historical Memories on Reigns of Elizabeth and James I.

Ellis’s “Original Letters.”

“Diary of John Evelyn.” Edited by Wheatley.

“Diary of Samuel Pepys.” Edited by Wheatley.

“Memoirs of the Comte de Gramont.” Trans. by M. Boyer.

“Letters of the Earl of Chesterfield” (2nd).

Colley Cibber’s “Apology for the Life of C. C.”

Defoe’s “Narrative of Jack Sheppard.”

“Thomas Brown’s Amusements, Serious and Comical.”

Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes of the People of England.”

“Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.”

Mrs. Eliz. Montagu’s “Lady of the Last Century.”

“Letters of Horace Walpole.” Edited by Mrs. Paget Toynbee.

“Letters of Lord Hervey.”

“Letters of the Earl of Chesterfield (4th) to Dayrolles.”

“George Selwyn and his Contemporaries.”

“Some Account of the Military, Political, and Social Life of the Rt. Hon. John Manners, Marquis of Granby.” By W. Granby.

Stephen’s “Literary and Social Life of the 18th Century.”

“Autobiography of Madame Piozzi.” Hayward.

Wraxall’s “Historical Memoirs of My Own Times.”

Thackeray’s “Four Georges.”

Fitzgerald Molloy’s “London under the Georges.”

“Diary of the Hon. William Windham.” Edited by Mrs. Baring.

“The Two Duchesses of Devonshire.” Vere Foster.

“Life and Letters of Lady Sarah Lennox.” By the Countess of Ilchester.

Rosebery’s “Life of Pitt.”

“William Wilberforce and His Friends.”

Ashton’s “When William IV. was King.”

Paston’s “Sidelights on the Georgian Period.”

“Journal of Charles C. F. Greville.”

Cook’s “Tyburn Chronicle.”

Dr. Millinger’s “History of Duelling.”

Mrs. Stone’s “Chronicle of Fashion.”

“Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle.” Thomas Carlyle.

Kingston’s “Romance of a Hundred Years.”

“Report of Historical Commission on MSS.”


Wilson’s “Memoirs of Wonderful Characters.”

Richard Davey’s “The Pageant of London.”

“The Letters of Queen Victoria.” Edited by A. C. Benson.

“Treason and Plot.” By Major Martin Hume.

“Calendar of Spanish State Papers.” By Major Martin Hume.

Execution of Earl Ferrers.From Print in “Old and New London.”
The populace flocked to hangings at Tyburn, and filled the grand stand.






Hyde Park. What a world of memories is suggested by the name.

Standing right in the heart of London, it is almost the only surviving out-of-door public pleasure resort left in the West-End, wherein fashion may display itself and take exercise, since St. James’s Park has now no social life, and Spring Gardens, Vauxhall, Old Ranelagh, and Cremorne are long since dead.

Gay as it is now in the season with its well-dressed saunterers, its beautiful equipages, its noble trees, and its wide expanse of water, it conjures up dark and evil memories, for the Park has been the scene of stirring events in our national history. Nor is its romantic mystery entirely of the past, even now.

Surrounded by the palaces of the rich, the resort of the favoured ones of the earth, for whose wealth and ostentation it provides a fitting background;2 it forms also the refuge of the vicious and the destitute, and, alas, its green sward serves as the dormitory of filthy vagrants, whose very existence in this city of boundless wealth is an eyesore and a reproach. There, vice and virtue still jostle each other, poverty and riches, greed and simplicity: there, every creed is expounded, every grievance aired, every nostrum advocated with violent vociferation hard by the spot where, upon the fatal Triple Tree of Tyburn, scores of miserable martyrs went to their doom for daring to put into words the thoughts that were their own.

The Park now extends from Park Lane to Kensington Gardens, and from the Bayswater Road to Knightsbridge; but the creation of Kensington Gardens in the reign of George II.—sheltering the Royal Palace where Queen Victoria was born in 1819—robbed Hyde Park of 300 acres of land. Queen Caroline devoted much time and thought to the formation of the Serpentine and the beautifying of the surroundings of her Palace.

Roughly speaking, Hyde Park is about 3¼ miles round, or covers an extent of 360 acres. This is by no means enormous, not as large as the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, nor as wild as Thier gaarten in Berlin, but there are trees in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens which far surpass in bulk and beauty the trees of either of these Continental rivals. We have in Hyde Park none of the “ancestral statues” such as Berlin has to represent the noble army of the Kaiser’s forebears. Our Park is not quite like the Castellana in Madrid, where fashion drives from the Prado during the dusk,3 shut up in truly Spanish fashion in closed carriages, or the Prater in Vienna, where so many beautiful women may be seen; nor is it nearly as large as the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, which, however, is more of wild common than cultivated land.

Hyde Park differs from all these; and Hyde Park stands within a huge city, and not a mile or two outside. It is not newly planted or freshly made, and some of the trees within its railings, dating back through many centuries, would be hard to rival in any land. So interesting, indeed, are the trees and shrubs and plants, the birds and beasts, that a list will be found in an appendix.

At an early period in the history of Great Britain, this district must have been part of the vast forest that lay inland from the little British settlement, founded on the banks of the Thames before the Romans landed. These early inhabitants of London lived in rude huts, probably stretching from where the Tower now stands to Dowgate, their simple tenements forming the beginning of the present great throbbing heart of the Empire.

It is probably true that at the time of the Saxons, parts of the Park of to-day were cultivated in the primitive fashion of the race; while the forests afforded good feeding-ground for the hogs which later formed such an important item in the farming operations of our ancestors.

It must be remembered that a forest in ancient times meant not only a thickly wooded area, but also wide open glades and spaces, in which simple homesteads nestled and cattle grazed. In these the Saxons, according to the sparse records of the4 period, turned their attention to their “wyrt-tun” (plant-enclosure) or “wyrt-geard” (plant-yard), from which probably originated the modern kitchen garden. The leek seems to have been the favourite object of culture as a vegetable, the name leac being a pure Anglo-Saxon word, and in the old MSS. the terms “leac-tun” and “leac-ward” are equivalent to the modern designations “kitchen garden” and “gardener.” The rose and the lily are mentioned; but whether cultivated or not is a matter of uncertainty, for probably the only plants cherished and propagated were those which provided material for food, or had medicinal qualities of value.

Later, as will be seen, an orchard stood in Hyde Park, and in due course many other queer institutions and customs within that field will be disclosed, for Hyde Park has, indeed, had a curious history; so curious that it reads more like fiction than fact.

As Hyde Park, however, its importance really began under Henry VIII., who seized it from the Church. Then it became Hyde Park for the first time; before that it was merely grazing land and ditches of no particular interest, known as “The Manor of Hyde.”

Crown hunting lands were called Forests, Chases, and Parks.

Forests were portions of land consisting both of woodland and pasture circumscribed by certain bounds, within which the right of hunting was reserved exclusively for the King, and subject to a code of special laws, often of great severity, and5 a special staff of officers—Verderers, Regarders, Agistors, Foresters, and Woodwards.

A Chase was, like a Forest, unenclosed, but it had no special code of laws, offenders being subject to the Civil Law, and its custodians were only keepers and woodwards.

A Park was like a Chase, as to laws and custodians, but was always enclosed by a wall or paling. Later, Parks and Chases could be held by private individuals, but a Forest could only belong to a King.

Situated as Hyde Park now is, right in the heart of the great city, with its seven million inhabitants, it seems well-nigh impossible to picture the same place even half a century ago, standing as it then did on the border of market gardens. Yet such was the case. The Memoirs of a modern artist like William Frith, R.A., painter of the once famous “Derby Day,” and only published at the end of the nineteenth century, speak of the writer’s youthful rambles through the market gardens on which now stands Cromwell Road, adjacent to the Park.

A perfect storehouse of such recollection is Frederic Harrison, historian, essayist, Positivist, and man of letters. In 1907, referring to Hyde Park, he wrote me the following:

“I am more of a boy at seventy-five than I was at fifteen”; and then he goes on to say how well he remembers the neighbourhood where Tyburn formerly stood.

“When I came to London in 1840, Connaught Place was nearly the farthest western extension of regular houses along the Bayswater Road.6 From Albion Street, westwards and northwards, there were open market gardens. Hyde Park Gardens and Square, Oxford and Cambridge Squares, Gloucester and Sussex Squares were just beginning to emerge, and I have played cricket on the site of Westbourne Terrace. At that time a long brick wall ran along the north side of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens beside the Bayswater Road, and very dismal and dirty it was. There was no Marble Arch then, and the burial-ground was used daily. Notting Hill Gate, of course, was a “pike.” Working people, servants in livery, and dogs were not allowed in Kensington Gardens. On the occasion of a storm the rule was relaxed, and footmen for once were allowed to bring in the umbrellas!

“My father, who was born in the eighteenth century, as a boy lived in No. 9 Berkeley Street, opposite to the garden of Devonshire House, in the house which my aunt ultimately sold to Prince Louis Napoleon. About the year 1810, the boys would often spend a holiday in Hyde Park, which was then a deer-park, as rural and solitary as Windsor Forest now. Of course, there was neither bridge over the Serpentine nor Powder Magazine. The corner of the Park between Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine was a solitude, where the boys would bring their baskets and picnic.

“Sixty years ago I can remember magnificent forest trees, chestnuts, oaks, and elms, in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, as fine as any in this island. They are nearly all gone. I have seen about a thousand swept away.


“The rows of carriages, often two deep, continued in Hyde Park down to about 1860, as thick as shown in Doyle’s sketches for Pip’s Diary in Punch. Ten or twenty thousand ‘bucks’ or ‘dandies’ hung over the rails on the footpath to look on. And the carriages were so closely packed in line that they could only just walk. On one occasion, about 1856, the throng of carriages to see the muster of the Four-in-Hand Club Drags was so great that the carriages could not be extricated from the line. Many had to remain into the night, and the fine ladies were obliged to descend and walk home in the dusk.

“The famous tearing down of the railings of the Park in 1866 was an accident, and almost a joke. A good-humoured crowd had gathered to see what Mr. Edmond Beales and the Reform League would do when the police stopped them from entering the Park. Mr. Beales turned back and went home, and never knew what happened, as he told me himself, till he reached his home at night. The crowd, seeing no fun, began to amuse themselves with singing and climbing up on the railing, which was hardly strong enough, or high enough, to stop a flock of sheep. Suddenly, with shouts of laughter, the rail fell inwards, and the crowd naturally followed, but without a thought of any concerted action. The people got hot and angry on the following days. But the famous Hyde Park Riot of 1866 was a mere street scramble owing to the rotten state of the old railing.”

These are the words of a living writer, and yet how much is changed. Cricket on the site of8 Westbourne Terrace seems almost as remote as the hundreds, aye, thousands, of hangings that took place near where the Marble Arch now stands. There stood Tyburn, probably the most gruesome, gory spot in the whole of the British Isles.

The brick wall has long since disappeared, and even the inner railings between the side-walks and the road have almost all gone.

Wisely Tyburn has been swept away by its later rulers. Not a vestige of the name survives to remind the passers-by that it once existed, except on the iron tablet which marks the site of the old turnpike gate, and bears the following inscription:

here stood tyburn gate 1829


This iron plate is about 4 feet high, and is a little to the west of the clock-house at the Marble Arch, just opposite Edgware Road. So it was well within the last hundred years that Tyburn Gate disappeared.

Hyde Park, as a place for intrigue, strongly appealed to the dramatist of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and has been immortalised by many poets. Ben Jonson speaks of it in the Prologue of The Staple News, and in The World in the Moon (1620). An old ballad in the Roxburgh Collection sings:

“Of all parts of England, Hyde Park hath the name
  For coaches and horses and persons of Fame.”

Shirley, too, named one of his plays Hyde Park, and laid his plot within its boundaries. Pepys went to see the performance of the play, and formed a poor opinion of it. Other authors have written of the Park in this sense, as a background for dramatic tales of intrigue; such as Etherage in The Man of Mode (1676), Howard in The English Monsieur (1674), Southerne in The Maid’s Last Prayer (1693), Farquhar in The Constant Couple (1700), and Congreve in The Way of the World (1760).

From those far distant days to the present Hyde Park has never lost its prestige as a meeting-place for all classes of English Society; and the present volume is an attempt to depict its story in a more or less connected form.

Nor must the grim records of Tyburn, so closely10 associated with the Park, be forgotten. From the date of the first public hanging on the outskirts of the Park in 1196, right down to late in the eighteenth century, a constant succession of unhappy beings were done to death here, sometimes for crimes which in our more merciful days would be hardly punished by a forty-shilling fine; and in the dread days of the religious persecution in the times of the Tudors, this place of heroic martyrdom saw some of the sublimest deaths in the history of our land. Upon hurdles, bound in ignominy, down Snow Hill and along the Oxford Road, just stopping for a last stirrup-cup to speed them upon their way at St. Giles’s Spital, were drawn martyrs and malefactors innumerable.

The doomed Carthusians, the Maid of Kent, heroic Campion, the miserable Dr. Lopez and his Portuguese confederates; priests, protestants, patriots, and rogues, for ages all such took their last look on earth at Hyde Park; first from the rise behind Connaught Terrace, and later from the open space at the corner of the Edgware Road.

Sporting ground, shambles, dwelling-place, scene of intrigue, theatre of Royal magnificence and military display, the Park through the centuries may be said almost to epitomise the history of England, and to the present day it has never ceased to be interesting.

The enormous crowds that frequent the place even now is seen by the fact that it contains about 35,000 chairs, and even that number is often insufficient in the height of the season. Hundreds of long wooden benches, too, are scattered all over the11 Park, where “Love’s young dream” continues from morn till eve, year in year out. Soldiers from the barracks hard by at Knightsbridge make love to pretty nursemaids; young men from the shops in Bayswater or Kensington whisper sweet nothings into the ears of handsome girls, and, according to the practice favoured by them, sit with their arm round one another’s neck or waist.

Various classes are to be found in Hyde Park. For instance, the élite drive on summer afternoons from five to seven, when four or five rows of motors and carriages moving along at crawling pace is quite a common sight. The fashionable drive used to be from Hyde Park Corner to Knightsbridge Barracks, but every few years fashions change, and during the last two seasons far more carriages were to be found between Hyde Park Corner and the Marble Arch.

Every afternoon when she is in town, the Queen drives round the Park between six and seven. There is no pomp or show. A mounted policeman goes in front to clear the way, and at a distance of fifty yards follows the royal carriage, just an ordinary, high C-spring barouche with red wheels, and a couple of men-servants in black livery with black cockades. Behind the coachman sits the Queen of England. She often has guests with her, but if not, drives alone with a Lady-in-Waiting, generally the Hon. Charlotte Knollys, one of that faithful family attached to the Court, and a Gentleman-in-Waiting opposite.

The carriage passes along at an ordinary trot, and every one bows, the gentlemen raising their12 hats, in fact keeping them off until the Queen has passed. No woman in Europe knows how to bow more graciously than Queen Alexandra. She is blessed with a long swan-like neck, exquisitely set upon her shoulders, and whether in her carriage or in a décolletée gown at Buckingham Palace, the gracious inclination of her head is a form of queenly bow to be admired.

Her Majesty is always very quietly dressed, never wearing anything outré in fashion. When huge sleeves are worn, hers are of medium size. She is probably the best-gowned woman in Europe, and is certainly one of the most simply dressed. Since the death of her eldest son, in 1892, she has never worn bright colours,—black, white, grey, dark blue, purple, or heliotrope being her favourites.

When the King or Queen is in town, the centre gate of the Marble Arch is thrown open for them to pass through, and the ground is neatly sanded. This rule is also observed at the entrance to Constitution Hill.

Probably the Park is at its fullest in this year of grace 1908 on Sunday between twelve and two; there are practically no carriages; it is the hour of the Prayer-Book Brigade. Everybody has been to Church, and those who have not are said to carry small books in their hands, so that their friends may imagine they have freshly returned from a service. On hot days in May, June, and July, it is delightfully cool beneath the trees from the Achilles Statue to Stanhope Gate, and literally thousands of people sit and chat to their friends at that time. Some walk up and down while looking13 for acquaintances or waiting for a chair; others go early and pay for their seat, determined to occupy it until it is time to go home to luncheon. Some of the most beautiful women in Europe may be seen in the Park on Sunday.

Of course the place is public, and the crowd is therefore mixed. It is not as aristocratic, for instance, as the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, or the lawn for the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown; but then it is not one day in the year, but any and every Sunday during the warmer months, that these people may be found congregated together. Two o’clock being the ordinary luncheon hour, there is a general exodus a little before that time, and it was amusing in 1906 to notice the people all endeavouring to engage the smart public motor landaulettes and hansoms which plied for hire at Hyde Park Corner for the first time. They were a new invasion—one that quickly found favour in the eyes of the public, followed a year later by taximeter cabs.

After tea on Sundays in the summer the Park fills again. People stroll in to have chats with their friends or rest in the cool shade; and again those thousands of chairs are occupied.

It is curious how the classes divide themselves. Between the Achilles Monument and the Serpentine is a bandstand, round which a certain proportion of the seats are railed off. In the summer evenings excellent music is given, but very few of the upper-ten avail themselves of the privilege which the middle classes so eagerly enjoy. It is a great occasion for shop people and servants, who seem to14 thoroughly revel in those Sunday Concerts, which each year prove more and more successful.

The year passes in Hyde Park like the figures in a kaleidoscope.

In January, when it is dark in the mornings and cold in the evenings, the riders come out about ten, and the drivers, dwindled in numbers, mostly vacate their vehicles and take a quiet walk before luncheon. All is cold and damp and drear.

Then come the early spring flowers. Yellow, white, or purple crocuses raise their heads in the Park. They are not planted in beds or in stiff rows; but come up in patches of colour in the grass. Here a mass of yellow, there a mass of heliotrope, filling the air with the early cry of spring. These crocuses, in themselves a joy, are quickly followed by daffodils, narcissi, and groups of gorse and broom. Then the leaves unfold upon the trees, laburnum fights pinky-brown copper beech, horse-chestnuts raise their blooms, hawthorn scents the air, and lilac abounds. Then it is that the hyacinth beds become a dream along the precincts of Park Lane, giving forth sweet scents and glorious masses of colour. Flower beds were first instituted in Hyde Park in 1860.

Rhododendrons burst into flower, quickly followed by those gorgeous beds of yellow azalea that we, who love the Park, know so well.

The bedding plants for Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and St. James’s Park are largely supplied from the nursery gardens near the Ranger’s Lodge in the centre of the Park itself, and not from Kew, as is ordinarily supposed.


In the autumn these plants are given away to the poor of the parishes who care to apply for them.

People have returned to town. The hunting is over; the Riviera has ceased to attract. Egypt is too hot. The Academy and Opera are open, and the London Season has begun.

Certain hours are given up to certain things, and the first occupants of the Park in the early morning are the members of the Liver Brigade. As a child at the age of seven, and for ten years after that, I rode with my father every morning at half-past seven in Rotten Row, returning to breakfast, to change my habit, and go to school; and for nearly ten years more I did the same with my husband, going—instead of to school, on my return—to the kitchen to order the dinner. My acquaintance with Hyde Park is, therefore, not imaginary, but real—very real.

The Liver Brigade in the Park is a regular London institution. Judges, barristers, surgeons, physicians, actors, writers, African millionaires, and German Jews all ride in the morning between half-past seven and ten o’clock. Many of them are known to each other, consequently friendly greetings and pleasant chats are exchanged while the Liver Brigade take exercise, knowing well that on their return home to bath and breakfast they will have to settle down to the Law Courts, Chambers, or the Consulting-room for the rest of the day. That hour’s ride in the morning has been the salvation of many a brain-weary man and woman.

In the eighties and nineties the people dressed most smartly. I well remember my tight-fitting16 habit and tall silk hat, my white stock in winter, or high collar and white tie in summer. The menfolk wore silk hats and black hunting coats, smart breeches and high patent boots. All this is changed; a go-as-you-please air has overtaken the riders. The women wear loose coats with sack backs, cotton shirts, sailor hats, billycocks—anything and everything that brings comfort, even if it deprives them of grace. The men don caps and tweeds, brown boots and putties, in fact, any rough-and-tumble country kit.

No sooner has the Liver Brigade departed than the Park is given over to the babies and nurses. In the summer these women are entirely dressed in white piqué, and in winter in grey cloth or flannel. There are literally hundreds—one might say thousands—of nurses and aristocratic babies disporting themselves every day in Hyde Park. The infants go home fairly early to their midday sleep, at which hour the governesses and bigger children, having accomplished their morning’s work, come out to the Park, which by twelve o’clock is given over to older childhood.

These are the regular habitués, but there are others who are constant visitors to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. There are men and women who, year in year out, come daily with their little bags of crumbs to feed the birds,—people who are followed by whole flocks of sparrows and pigeons, or, nearer the Serpentine, by ducks and swans.

Except in the height of the season, men and women no longer dress smartly in the Park. The17 magnificent horses, high-steppers with well-arched necks and splendid paces, are rapidly being superseded by the motor-car. Instead of beautifully dressed ladies and smartly groomed men in silk hats and frock coats, sitting in carriages, women smothered in veils and hideous goggles, and men looking more like cut-throat villains than gentlemen, are seen dashing through the Park in motors. No more unbecoming attire was ever invented for men and women than the modern motor get-up.

Ten weeks complete the great social event known as the London season. No sooner has July dawned than palms and canes, semi-tropical flowers and plants, appear upon the scene. Their pots are so cleverly planted that the date palm, the sugarcane, and the sweet corn of the Indies really look as if they were growing out of the grass itself, and convert Hyde Park into a semi-tropical botanical garden for a couple of months. Then station-omnibuses laden with babies and bundles begin to ply our streets, and day by day the crowd grows thinner in the Park. By August only foreigners with Baedekers are to be found where Society fluttered but a short time before. Then come autumn tints, winter fogs, and utter desolation.

And thus from generation to generation Hyde Park has been the playground of London’s rich and poor, the wide theatre upon which their tragedies and comedies have been enacted, the forum in which many public liberties have been demanded, the scene where national triumphs have been celebrated.

To write fully the history of a space so crowded18 with pregnant memories would be too great a task for any one pen, nor could a single book hope to hold one tithe of the interesting memories which throng these precincts; but I trust that the rapid survey given in the following pages, of some of the famous happenings and curious traditions connected with the place, may not be unwelcome to those who now adorn Hyde Park.




Hyde Park in its present guise is essentially modern. It preserves nothing of that old-world air which makes the lawn of Hampton Court and the formal gardens of Windsor Castle so delightful.

Rotten Row as a tan ride has been laid out in the memory of people still living. The Marble Arch on its present site is Victorian. Burton’s Arch, and the screen at Hyde Park Corner, are but a little earlier. Queen Caroline, consort of George II., formed the Serpentine. Queen Anne planted avenues of stately elms. Charles I. made “The Ring,” though few now-a-days will identify the spot which for so long was the meeting-place of the fashion of the town. With all this the Park is very old, and as open land left to nature undisturbed, its history may be traced back in an unbroken record to the time when it was part of the wild forest that originally surrounded London.

The earliest record of any definite facts concerning this locality dates from the year 960 A.D., when St. Dunstan, zealous to establish monasteries under the strict rule of the Benedictine Order, received a grant of land from the Saxon King Edgar for the purpose of forming a religious house20 at Westminster. The Charter conferring this grant clearly defined the area allotted to the monastery, the boundary on the west being the course of the river Tyburn, traced from the Thames to the Via Trinobantia—the military way of the Romans from their fortified settlement on the Thames to the coast of the Solent. Later, this part of the Roman highway out of London became known as Tyburn Road, and to-day is Oxford Street.

The original name of London was almost the same as it is to-day. Londinium is described by the earliest historian Tacitus, on the right bank of the Thames, forty years before Christ. A little Roman colony—a very rude affair, and yet advanced enough to have a bath in almost every house—was all there was of London two thousand years ago, and this was on the site of the still ruder huts of the Trinobantes, whose name was perpetuated by the Romans in linking up their colonies in their newly acquired possession.

Map of Westminster, showing the course of the Tyburn, and the Western boundary of the land granted by King Edgar to Dunstan.
From Map of London in Archælogia.

The Tyburn—it is spelt indifferently Tyburn, Ty-burne, Tibourne, and in other ways—was a very little stream to figure so largely in history. Surely no rivulet of its size has borne a name more feared or written about, unless it be the Styx itself. From the northern heights of Hampstead and Highgate the waters drained off into many brooks. Of these the most important was Tyburn, which ran from Hampstead across the district now known as Regent’s Park to Tyburn Road, which it crossed somewhere near Stratford Place. Thence the stream made its way through the modern Brook Street, Hay Hill, Lansdowne Gardens, Half Moon21 Street, and along the valley in Piccadilly, where it was crossed by a bridge.

How few of us realise what a hill there is in Piccadilly, or that a bridge over a stream there could ever have been necessary. When Piccadilly is full of traffic the steep dip is scarcely noticeable, but at night, when the lamps are lighted, one discovers by the ups and downs in the rows of twinkling lights that there is a veritable hill and vale, along which some of the most famous clubs in London are now built.

In the Green Park the Tyburn widened into a large pond, from which it ran past the spot where Buckingham Palace now stands, and fell into the Thames in three branches, the main stream emptying itself at Chelsea. The burn spread into a marsh as it neared the river, and finally surrounded the wooded Thorney, or Isle of Thorns, on which Westminster Abbey was built.

Running nearly parallel with the little Tyburn was another rivulet, which flowed through our present Park, namely, the West-bourne. This, too, rose in the high lands near Hampstead, fought its way down hill to Bayswater, where Westbourne Terrace now stands, and crossed Hyde Park, taking a southerly course near the present site of Albert Gate, where a foot-bridge was built. It passed thence through Lowndes Square and Chesham Street, finally discharging into the Thames by two mouths near the grounds of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.

The accompanying map will illustrate this description and give interest to the above details.


These two little rivulets practically watered that part of the forest, while London for centuries afterwards was confined to the walled town ending at Blackfriars. Both are lost to sight to-day. They can no longer be seen above ground, although their springs help to flood our drains and keep them fresh and clean. As Dean Stanley says: “There is a quaint humour in the fact that the great arteries of our crowded streets, the vast sewers which cleanse our habitations, are fed by the lifeblood of those old and living streams; that underneath our tread the Tyburn, and the Holborn, and the Fleet, and the Wall Brook, are still pursuing their course, still ministering to the good of man.” The identical course of the Tyburn given in the Charter of King Edgar is followed by the “King’s Pond Sewer.”

It will be seen that the land lying between the Tyburn and the Westbourne was practically an island. It was known as the Manor of Eia—the Ey-land—and included all the district between Westminster and Chelsea to the extent of some 890 acres. Hence in the words Hyde and Hay may be seen the corruption of the Anglo-Saxon “ey” or “ei,” an island; in Ty-bourne, of “Ey-bourne.” Anyone familiar with Cockney dialect will easily account for the “H” in Hyde and Hay. The “T” in Ty-bourne is probably an abbreviation of the Saxon word “aet,” the road near; the word thus signifying “the-road-near-the-island-stream.”

This Manor of Eia was, after the completion of Domesday Book (1086), in accordance with the custom of Feudal times, divided into three Manors, namely, Neyt, Eubery, and Hide, and here again23 is found the corruption of the word “ey” in “Neyt” and “Eubery” (Ebury). There seems to be some doubt as to the origin of Knightsbridge, but it most probably took its name from the bridge over the West-bourne, near the site of the Albert Gate, which apparently was held as a military post, to control the outlaws who infested the morass to the south.

The land had, before the Norman Conquest, been one of the emoluments of the Saxon Master of the Horse, and was probably a Royal hunting-ground, for Edward the Confessor, who, historians agree, was more of a monk than a ruler, had a passion for hawking and hunting. The chase followed his morning prayers with curious regularity. More than that, he pursued his game to the death, and was as hard-hearted in watching their struggles as he was severe in his forest laws, or angry at any contretemps that marred his sport. Through the thick forests which surrounded London he rode forth, hawk on wrist, watchful for bird or hound to give sign of the hidden quarry. Bull and boar, deer, wolf, and hare were all victims of the Saxon’s sport. Harold is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry hawk on hand, his hounds round him, ready for the chase, which, like his predecessor, he may have enjoyed within the precincts of Hyde Park.

If we could see again our present Park lands with the eyes which saw them eight or nine centuries ago, we should doubtless find them sheltering game in abundance. Owls screeched among the gnarled trunks of the old trees which grew in the24 undisturbed forest, foxes and squirrels played at hide-and-seek, deer abounded, wild boars and wolves were plentiful, flocks of wild fowl stayed their flight at the marshes; in fact, all the wild animals known in Britain at that time were to be found in those forest lands, protected by the strictest game laws.

After his coronation in London, William the Conqueror gave a wide extent of land, including the Manor of Eia, to Geoffrey de Mandeville, a Norman knight who had distinguished himself in the battle of Hastings. When Geoffrey and his wife found age creeping upon them, they wished to secure the right of being buried in Westminster Abbey, and as a bribe the old knight handed over the Manor of Eia to the monks of Westminster. Thus, what is now Hyde Park, throughout its wide extent, became Church land.

In the Domesday Book the area of modern Hyde Park is thus described:

Osvlvestane Hundred.

“Geoffrey de Mandeville holds Eia. It was assessed for ten hides. The land is eight carucates. In the demesne there are five hides and there are two ploughs there. The villanes have five ploughs, and a sixth can be made. One villane (has) half a hide there, and there are four villanes each with one virgate, and fourteen others each with half a virgate, and four bordars with one virgate, and one cottager. Meadow for eight ploughs; and sixty shillings for hay. For the pasture, seven shillings. With all its profits it is worth eight 25pounds; when received, six pounds: in the time of King Edward, twelve pounds. Harold the son of Earl Ralph held this manor; whom Queen Editha had charge of with the manor on the very day in which King Edward was alive and dead. Afterwards William the Chamberlain held it of the Queen in fee to farm for three pounds yearly, and after the death of the Queen he held it of the King in the same manner. There are now four years since William lost the Manor, and the King’s farm has not been rendered therefrom, that is twelve pounds.”

Some explanation of the terms used is desirable.

“Villeins” were the serfs, and were divided into classes, namely, those who were sold with the land on which they dwelt and worked, and those who were the absolute property of their master, and could be bought and sold at his will. The former class, known as villeins regardant, often rented small holdings from their master, and paid rent by produce, amongst these being the “bordars.”

A “hide” of land was of different sizes in different localities, but probably contained about 100 acres, and apparently four virgates formed a hide. The carucate was rather larger than a hide. The assessment referred to was Danegelt, a tax of twelve pence on every hide of land, first imposed by Ethelred the Unready as a means of raising money to keep the Danes out of England.

“Meadows for eight ploughs” meant feeding capacity for teams of eight ploughs. The woods26 were estimated in like manner. “Pannage and woods for swine” was the mode of expressing the extent of the coppices and forest land, where the Saxon pigs were given their due, and allowed to roam in cleanliness and comfort, routing up the roots and munching the berries. They were a very different kind of animal from the poor degraded beast that wallows in the mire nowadays, which we call a pig.

There is a record extant of our Tudor Queen Mary, after a day’s hunting in one of the forests in the neighbourhood of London, sending a command to a farmer who held land there, that he must not allow his swine to roam in the woods and grub holes, in which the horses stumbled, thus endangering the life of the Royal lady; and, in terms brooking no delay, she demanded that the holes already made should be filled up.

After its mention in Domesday Book, and the subsequent gift by Geoffrey de Mandeville of the Manor of Eia, Hyde Park remained Church land for close on four and a half centuries, during which period it had little history. It was the lardour of the monks. Lying remote from the town, chroniclers of the mediæval ages would probably have passed it over with barely a word of notice but for two associations, one grim and dreadful, the other pleasant enough. The former, at least, has carried the name of Tyburn down through centuries as a word of blackest omen.

By the side of the burn where it trickled down into the Park, stood the common gallows, of which much more will be said in another27 chapter. From springs feeding the burn, London obtained its first systematised water supply, which served the needs of a portion of the town for two or three centuries.

A few remote cottages were placed about the burn, and a little village grew up, but at the close of the fourteenth century it was deserted. Small wonder! The setting up of the gallows in its neighbourhood was sufficient cause for abandonment, within hearing, as the hamlet was, of the shrieks of the dying, and in sight of the processions that wended their way from the City to the gibbet. It was an age steeped in superstition, when people of high and low degree were staunch believers in witchcraft. Many a simple countryman must have been chilled with horror at the weird sounds he heard when the wind swept over the scaffold at night, or in his disordered imagination he saw, amid the darkness, the ghosts of victims return to visit the scenes where a violent death had ended their tortures and sufferings.

So complete was the demoralisation of the district, that the church built near Tyburn was the constant scene of robberies. Bells, vestments, books, images, and other ornaments were stolen, and in consequence, in the year 1400, Robert Braybrooke, Bishop of London, granted a licence to pull down the edifice. This was done, and a new one was erected farther back from Tyburn Road, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the words “le-bourne” being added to the name of Mary to distinguish it from other churches dedicated to the Virgin, hence Marylebone.


Pepys writes of the district as “Marrow-bones,” and this appears to have been the corruption in use in his day, as the form is often to be found in the early eighteenth-century newspapers, at which time “Marrow-bone-Fields” seems to have been a popular pleasure resort.

From Tyburn the famous Great Conduit was fed. This remarkable enterprise is of more than passing interest, as it is among the earliest examples in this country of which record survives of a municipal water supply. The story of its origin is quaintly given by Stow, who used such authorities as were at hand or traditions which he could himself pick up in Queen Elizabeth’s reign:

“The said River of Wels, the running water of Walbrooke, the Boornes afore named, and other the fresh waters that were in and about this Citie, being in process of time by incroachment for buildings, and heightnings of grounds mightily increased; they were forced to seeke fresh waters abroad, whereof some, at the request of King Henrie the third, in the 21 yeere of his reigne, were (for the profit of the Citie, and good of the whole Realme thither repairing; to wit for the poore to drink, and the rich to dresse their meat) granted to the Citizens, and their Successors, by one Gilbert Sandford, with liberty to convey water from the towne of Teybourne, by pipes of lead into their Citie.”

The date thus ascribed to the origin of the Great Conduit was 1237-8.

Near the close of the fourteenth century there was a large cistern, castellated with stone, in the29 Chepe—modern Cheapside. The expense of the works seem to have been heavy. Not only were various specific sums set aside, but foreign merchants visiting our shores were actually made to share the cost of the enterprise. Northouck says, writing of the year 1236:

“The foreign merchants, who were prohibited to land their goods in London, and were obliged to sell their merchandise on board a ship, purchased this year the privilege of landing and housing their commodities, at the expence of fifty marks per annum and a fine of one hundred pounds, towards supplying the City of London with water from Tyburn. This project was put in execution by bringing water from six fountains or wells in the town of Tyburn, by leaden pipes of 6-inch bore; which emptied themselves into stone cisterns or conduits lined with lead.”

This conduit was largely an open channel, exposed to all the vicissitudes of weather and accident, and partly piped. Its course was by Tyburn to St. James’s Hill (now Constitution Hill); thence to the Royal Mews, which occupied the present site of the National Gallery, and on through the Strand and Fleet Street to the Chepe. The pipes were a great source of annoyance to the inhabitants of Fleet Street and thereabouts, as they frequently burst and caused inundations. So much so, indeed, that in 1388 the residents requested that they might make a penthouse at their own cost; the request was granted, and it was erected where Salisbury Square now stands.

In the accounts of the Keepers of the Great30 Conduit for 1350, is the following interesting little item: “For bringing the pipes of the said Conduit into the King’s Mews, three men working for three days, each man receiving 8d. per day.” A little later the poet Chaucer was Clerk of the Works at these Royal Mews, so called because the King’s hawks were kept there, the word mews originating from the hawks “mewing,” or changing their feathers.

The Mayor (which title was substituted for that of “Port-Reeve” at Richard I.’s accession) and Aldermen made periodical inspections of these important Conduits; the 18th of September seems to have been an especially festive day in connection with these visits. Waggons brought the ladies in grand fettle to the scene, while the gentlemen rode. It was a great fête, a sort of country outing from the City, when all made merry. They had a picnic and a feast in the Banqueting House, which then stood near Hyde Park.

Stow gives an account of one of these visitations in his quaint language, when he politely speaks of a hare as “she” and a fox as “he.”

“These conduits used to be in former times visited; and particularly, on the 18th of September 1562, the Lord Maior [Harper], Aldermen, and many Worshipful Persons, and divers Masters and Wardens of the Twelve Companies, rid to the Conduit Heads for to see them after the old Custom; And afore Dinner they hunted the Hare, and killed her, and thence to Dinner at the Head of the Conduit. There was a good number entertained with good Cheer by the Chamberlain. And after Dinner they31 went to hunting the Fox. There was a great Cry for a mile; and at length the Hounds killed him at the end of St. Giles’s. Great Hallowing (hallooing) at his Death, and blowing of Hornes: And thence the Lord Maior, with all his Company, rode through London to his Place in Lombard Street.”

Fancy anyone being put to bed at eight o’clock!

At eight the bell of St. Martin’s-le-Grand—where the General Post Office now stands—tolled the Curfew, and every other church in the Metropolis took up the note and rang forth the knell of day. It was supposed that all lights and fires should be immediately put out, and the city being in darkness everyone would retire to bed. Any way, it may be reasonably supposed that the larger bulk of the population did as they were bid, and only very exalted personages dared appear at night, and then escorted by a retinue of servants bearing torches and lanterns, and followed by armed men. London must indeed have been a city of the dead by a few minutes past eight.

What a running, hustling, and scuttling there must have been once Curfew had started, just as there is in Regent’s Park to-day when at sundown the Keeper calls forth that all gates must be closed. Surely this must be a remnant of Curfew.

The principal gates of the Parks are now closed at midnight, although some of the foot-gates are shut at sundown, so that even after all these hundreds of years the parks are practically shut at night, except the main thoroughfare which crosses from the Bayswater Road to Knightsbridge, between the Victoria and the Alexandra Gates,32 which is also the only part of the park where public vehicles, such as cabs, are allowed at any time, and no carts or vans have permission to pass.

In the Muniment Room at Westminster lies a paper (to which, through the courtesy of Dean Armitage Robinson, I have been able to refer) that records in 1285 the granting of parcels of land in the Manor of Hide to a tenant, reserving the right to enter and repair the “aqueductum subterraneum” running through them. This is the first of many references to the springs in Hyde Park which for long supplied the surrounding districts with water. When the Manor of Hide became a Royal hunting-ground, the “original fountain” and all the watercourses leading from it to the site of St. Peter’s, and the right of entering to repair them, were restored to the Dean and Chapter.

Dean Stanley notes in his History of Westminster how the Tyburn water was considered especially good on account of its having run through a bed of gravel somewhere near the present site of Buckingham Palace. There was in his time an ancient and well-worn pump standing in Dean’s Yard, under the shadow of the Abbey.

Bathing Well in Hyde Park. From a Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

Speaking the other day to an old inhabitant of Westminster who remembered this pump, I learnt that it was in existence until about twenty-five years ago, when the underground railway interfered with the spring, and although water was laid on from another source to provide passers-by with refreshment, the new supply was so little used that the pump was removed. In my informant33’s remembrance an old woman used to sit there, with a glass, to dole out the pure liquid from the spring; and in his youth (1835) old people told him that numbers of halt, sick, and lame came to Dean’s Yard, under the shadow of the Abbey, and pumped the water on to their ailing limbs, or bathed their sores, while other visitors carried away buckets full to sick folk at home, just as they do at Lourdes to-day.

But to return to the Manor of Hide. Some writers think that about the time of Edward III. it passed from the control of the monks, doubtless because there exists a document recording that Edward III. granted parcels of land in the Manor of Hide to his Barber, Adam de Thorpe. But probably the King held the land in some way from the Abbot. It was in this reign, too, that John of Gaunt (son of Edward III.), styling himself “King of Leon and Castille,” begged the Abbot of Westminster to grant him the use of the Neyte Manor House during the sitting of Parliament; while about the same time Abbot Nicholas Littlington, who did much good work for Westminster, and improved the Hide ground vastly, lived and died in the Neyte House.

Hyde Park as a Royal enclosure, as we have seen, is a Tudor creation. Like much else that has altered the appearance of this western area of London, its origin is traced back to the fall of Wolsey in 1530, when the Cardinal’s magnificent Palace of York Place was promptly seized by his imperious master. Henry VIII. renamed it Whitehall, and various additions were planned. Grasping as he was by nature, Wolsey had not encompassed34 his home with any great extent of land. The river front was the best part, and on the interior he had lavished his wealth.

Henry had other ideas of a palace which he intended should be befitting a King. To his larger ambitions is due the whole range of parks which now extend from Westminster right across West London to Kensington. His actions, however, show that he was entirely selfish, and he had at no time contemplated sharing his enjoyment with the people. Before he had been twelve months in possession of Whitehall, the monarch had exchanged the Priory of Poughley, in Berkshire, for about 100 acres of land forming part of St. James’s Park and Spring Gardens, and of this he made a convenient enclosure for the use of the Court.

The next extension of the Royal domain was on a much larger scale.

Henry had evidently quite a reasonable desire to improve the surroundings of his Palace at Whitehall, and no wonder. A Leper Hospital and a swamp were neither desirable nor healthy adjuncts to a Royal dwelling. Some kindly citizens of London had in the early days of the city endowed a hospital for the accommodation of fourteen sisters suffering from this cruel disease. They gave two hides of land, and dedicated the charity to St. James. With various later gifts, the hospital had acquired by the reign of Henry VIII. over 480 acres of land, and a Brotherhood had been established in connection with it. By a grant of Henry VI. the control of the Hospital and Brotherhood had been given to the authorities of35 Eton School. In 1532, Henry VIII. exchanged certain lands in Suffolk for those adjoining his Palace at Whitehall. He suppressed the Brotherhood and pensioned off the inmates of the Hospital; and thus, with the 100 acres secured from the monks of Westminster in the previous year, the area that stretched from Whitehall to the Manor of Hyde came into his possession.

On the site of the Hospital the King built the “Manor House of St. James,” afterwards known as St. James’s Palace. It did not become a Royal residence, however, until long afterwards. A new tilt-yard was laid out close by the palace at the Mall, and bowling alleys, tennis courts, and a cockpit between St. James’s and Whitehall added to the attractions of this Royal quarter of the town.

As time and events ripened for the dissolution of the monasteries, the enclosure of yet more of the Church lands became an easy matter. But a few years had passed before Henry VIII. made a still greater enlargement of his Park and hunting-ground by crossing the little Tyburn stream, which had hitherto formed its boundary, and taking in the whole of the Manor of Hide which lay beyond.

Westminster was one of the few religious houses that the Tudor monarch treated with a light hand, possibly inspired by some superstitious dread, as his father was buried in the Abbey. Instead of waiting a convenient opportunity to seize all that the monks possessed, giving nothing in return, as was his habit, he granted in exchange for Hide, lands that had previously belonged to the Priory of St. Mary, Hurley, Berks.


The charter of 1537 granting the Manor to the King is printed in the Calendars of State Papers and Letters of Henry VIII. It describes the area surrendered to the Sovereign by the Abbot of Westminster, as “the manor of Neyte within the precinct of the water called the mote ... the site of the manor of Hyde, Midd. and all lands etc. belonging to the said manor ... the Manor of Eybery, Midd. with all lands etc. reputed parts or parcels thereof....” Three years later the Monastery at Westminster was itself surrendered to the Crown, and the Abbey converted into a Cathedral church under the governance of a Dean and twelve Prebendaries.

So Hyde Park by successive bargainings, in which no doubt the monarch, and not the monks, had much the best of the deal, became a personal possession of the King, and in a measure has remained so ever since, though the public have the free enjoyment of its glorious spaces. It was far otherwise at the outset. Once in possession of his new domain, now extended by successive additions from Whitehall to the modern Kensington Gardens, Henry VIII. took effective steps to secure its privacy. A wooden paling was raised to keep in the deer and keep out intruders, thereby making it a park. The cotters who had tilled patches of land amidst the swamps and woodland while it belonged to the Church were turned adrift. The whole area was given over to the chase. Officials were appointed to the estates of Hide and Neyte. The cruel laws of the time were applied with uncompromising vigour to preserve the game.


In his soaring ambitions, flattered by the growth of absolute power, Henry contemplated a great Royal hunting-ground, encircling the capital away to Hampstead. It would have gratified his selfish craving for enjoyment, at whatever expense to others, and at the same time served the yet more important purpose of curtailing the growth of the capital to dimensions he could rule by his personal will. But this gigantic encroachment on the rights of the people proved too much even for Henry VIII. and his self-willed daughter Elizabeth to accomplish.

Hyde Park and the adjoining lands, denuded of their few human inhabitants, must rapidly have returned to the condition of primeval forest. The streams feeding the numerous marshes doubtless attracted numbers of wild fowl, and hawking was a popular sport. It was practised on foot with a long hawking pole. King Henry loved the sport, which required even more energy than following the falcon’s course on horseback. He was addicted, in spite of his size, to taking immense leaps on his pole, and there is a quaint record of an accident on one of these occasions when following the hawk over swampy ground. His pole broke, and, failing to clear a muddy brook, the king fell headlong into the oozy slush, where he would have been suffocated but for the aid of his attendants. What an amusing spectacle this pompous monarch must have made, mud-besmeared, being hauled out of the mire by his servants.

More cheerful things than hunting and death appear in the days of Henry VIII. Sometimes38 romance steps in. May Day games begun in early Plantagenet times were a national festival.

One can only hope that May Day in the sixteenth century was warmer than it is in the twentieth, for light muslin frocks with bare arms, and flower head-dresses, to say nothing of dancing-shoes, would be somewhat cold on modern English May Days, when we sit huddled over fires in Mayfair.

These May Day festivals were more like the Carnivals des Fleurs now annually held in the south of France. Cars almost smothered in flowers were drawn by white horses. According to an account of May Day in 1517, the Royal party had gone to Greenwich Palace to join the festivities. The entertainment finished with the first recorded English horse-race. The King raced his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, who—respecting his head—wisely allowed his opponent to win: their steeds were not thoroughbreds, oh dear, no! they were Flemish dray-horses. Queen Katharine was much chagrined that she lost £2 over her wager, as she had backed the Duke of Suffolk.

Bluff King Hal and his beautiful spouse Anne Boleyn passed many hours in Hyde Park. There, they disported themselves in the sunshine, and enjoyed freedom from public show and conventionality. There, they played at boy and girl, forgot affairs of State, and enjoyed themselves as heartily, romping along the sylvan glades, as Napoleon I. and the beautiful Josephine on the sands at Biarritz.

Anne Boleyn appears to have been a somewhat extravagant lady, for, in spite of all the gorgeous presents he showered upon her, the King paid her39 debts, and in 1531 still had to redeem the jewels which she had pawned. Her betting propensities were enormous, and gambling parties were her chief joy; but, after lavishing wealth upon her, Henry tired of her as he did of others.

These few words give some idea of the gorgeousness of the time, from which we can picture the scenes in Hyde Park:

“The Queen went to the Abbey,” says Hall, “in a chariot upholstered in white and gold, and drawn by white palfreys. Her long black hair streamed down her back and was wreathed with a diadem of rubies. She wore a surtout of silver tissue, and a mantle of the same lined with ermine. A canopy of cloth-of-gold was borne over her by four knights on foot. After came seven great ladies, riding on palfreys, in crimson velvet trimmed with cloth-of-gold. In the first of these was the old Duchess of Norfolk and the Dowager Marchioness of Dorset, and in the other chariot were four Ladies of the Bedchamber. Fourteen other Court ladies followed, with thirty of their waiting-maids on horseback.”

In order that he might refresh himself when tired with the chase, Henry VIII. had a banqueting-house built at Hyde. A family supper party was once given there, of which some scant particulars are contained in a MS. preserved at Belvoir Castle.

The Royal Household.

“An ordinance for the kynges Majesty my lorde Princes grace, the Ladies Mary and Elizabethe with divers other lordes and ladies ...40 Thursdaye the xxvj the daye ... (xx )xv° regis Henrici VIIJᵛⁱ with the Duke of ... of Lynes before his going to Bullen. List of dishes for five courses and ‘the voyde.’

“Sooper at Hyde Parke the same daie. List of dishes for five courses.

“Supper ibidem. List of dishes.”

In contemplating the luxury of these banquets, one must try to realise the incongruities of the functions of that time. Our British mind is apt, when we read of such events, to conjure up a vision of spotless damask, glittering plate, and shining glass; beautiful flowers, set in harmonious surroundings, crowned by the advent of a well-cooked dinner; of guests with dainty manners and charming personalities.

A rough, hand-woven cloth in the early sixteenth century was certainly forthcoming, and was laid on the wooden board, while the first thing that was placed upon it was the salt-cellar—this in accordance with a prevailing superstition. Plate abounded on the Royal tables, and pewter on those of the nobility. Knives and spoons were used. The guests arrived in gorgeous array. The greatest delicacies appeared in wild extravagance. The walls were sometimes hung with tapestry; but instead of velvet pile carpets the shoes of these gentlefolk rested on rushes, often not too clean. And, alas! there were no forks.

Although several forks were given to Queen Elizabeth, it is an accepted fact that she ate with her fingers. The introduction of these pronged articles was looked on as a great innovation, and41 one clergyman preached against them as “an insult to Providence not to touch one’s meat with one’s fingers.” Forks were brought from Italy, and the prejudice seems to have arisen from the word “furcifer” having been applied to slaves who bore a fork, or cross of torture.

Writers of the day, Ben Jonson included, held up these new-fangled implements to ridicule, and they did not come into general use for well-nigh a hundred years. As fingers were so much in favour the Ewerer attended to the provision of water and towels before and after each meal. The office came into prominence in the reign of Edward IV., and so important had it become in that of Elizabeth that she employed a sergeant, three yeomen, two grooms, two pages, and three clerks in her Ewrie. The custom was kept up to the middle of the seventeenth century.

In his curious Essays On Behaviour at Meals, Erasmus reminds his readers that it is “very rude to blow your nose on the table-cloth,” or “to wipe your fingers on your neighbour’s coat.” And then he goes on to remark:

“Never praise the results of your cook’s labours or press your guests to eat whether they like or not. Never criticise your host’s dinner unfavourably, even if it be badly cooked. Pass all these things over in silence. Do not give dogs your bones to crack under the table, or feed the cat, or encourage animals to jump on the table. This may offend your host, or lead to the soiling of his carpet,” and, above all, “do not lick your plate; it is an act that ill becomes a cat, let alone a gentleman!”


Some writers aver that until Elizabeth’s reign stews and hashes were the chief dishes. She it was who adopted the use of large joints, and the advent of the fork followed. Stews were eaten with spoons, but lumps of meat required other handling. Still, this theory scarcely stands against the records of feasts in earlier days, when the Saxons and Normans each had his knife and hacked from the roast itself.

Hyde Park, the cradle of manners, shared the favour of Henry in conjunction with similar pleasure-lands. Around London lay the parks of Richmond, Windsor, Hanworth, Hampton Court (after the death of Wolsey), and, farther afield, Oatlands, besides other Royal demesnes, while Greenwich had been a Royal Palace from the time of Edward I.—and Greenwich, his birthplace, he loved best of all.

The expenses of Henry VIII.’s Court were prodigious, including the salaries and expenses of such people as the officers of State, prelates, esquires, physicians, astrologers, astronomers, secretaries, ushers, cupbearers, carvers, servers, madrigal singers, and choir boys, virginal players, Italian singers, and a complete orchestra of musicians who played upon the rebeck, the lute, the sackbut, and all manners of musical instruments. There were three battalions of pages, all dressed in the most gorgeous costumes; in fact, it is said that Henry’s retinue numbered over a thousand persons, for which the State paid £56,000 per annum, a sum equivalent to a much larger amount in these days.

All this sounds rather appalling, but still the beauty of the costumes and gorgeous pageantry must have added to the beautification of London.



Henry stopped at nothing. His Yeomen of the Guard were even more magnificent than the rest. They rode immediately behind the King, and their horse-cloths, made of cloth-of-gold, cost £5 a yard.

One of the prettiest sights in London to-day is that of the Guards riding through Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace for a Court, or some other grand festival. The sunlight on their clothes looks almost as if their uniforms were made of gold as they glint in the rays; and I well remember as a child being puzzled as to how the golden men carrying the big drums ever managed to guide their horses with the reins attached to their feet.

The wild freedom of the Park continued under Henry’s youthful son, Edward VI., who there entertained foreigners of distinction with hunts and banquets. A special banqueting house was erected for the French Ambassador, Marshal St. André, who was received with Royal distinction. Through the kindness of the Marquis of Salisbury, I am able to give the description of this building, preserved in the MSS. at Hatfield:

“The Charges and the proporcyon as well of the banketing howse newlye erected in hyde parcke agaynste the commyng of marchiall Sainte Androwes wᵗʰ all thinges longynge to the same as also for the makyng of dyvers Stondynges in the said hide parcke and also in Marybone parke as it shall appere here after begynnyng the vjth Daye of Julie and endyng the xxviiith of the same in Anᵒ vᵗᵒ RRs Edward vjᵗⁱ as yt Apperith by the bookes of particulers for the same44.”


Imprimis the banketing howse in hid parke conteynyng in length lxij foote in wydeth xxj foote/ the Stayers cont one waye lx foote and thother waye xxxᵗⁱ wᵗʰ a greate towrett over the halpase.

Item made there three Ranges if bryke for Rosting and Furneces for boylyng.

Item All kynde of Tabulles formes Trestelles dressers Russhis Floʳˢ wᵗʰ suche lyke for the Furnyshing of the banketyng howse and bankett.

Item in the said parke were made three small standynges of a foote thone waye and viij foote thother waye of every of them.


Item made in Marybone parke one standing conteynyng in Length xl foote and in bredth xviij foote/ The flowre is jestide and boorded and the Reste is Skaffold poles.

Item in the said park three small standinges of x foote long and viij foote wyde every of them.


The hole charges of the sad banketing house and standynged in bothe the said parkes wᵗʰ all thinges to them belongyng Amontith to cccclˡⁱ ixˢ viiᵈ wherof Recevyd the vijth of Julie ij dayes before the procly macyon uppon preste after the Rate then cxxxiijˡⁱ vj viijᵈ, which wase sence payd at sondrye tymes for cxiiijˡⁱ xvjˢ xᵈ And so Remaynith to be Recevid.


Sir Thomas Camerden to Sir William Cecil.

“After most hertie Comendacons It may like yoᵘ to understande/ that the same tyme the Marshall of Saint Andrewes was here, I was willed by the Counsaill to se a Banketting howse and sondry standinges wᵗʰ all the furniture requisite therunto prepared at hyde and Maryboon parkes/ wᶜʰ were doon accordingly/ And the Surveioʳ wᵗʰ the Comptrolleʳ of the Kinges Maᵗᵉˢ workes to furnishe me wᵗʰ men and all other necessaryes for the same/ at wᶜʰ time the Surveior Laurence brodshawe (noiated [nominated] by the Lord Winchester) was then appointed to se the Solucons of the premisses/ wherunto he Receyved (as I understande) by a warrant from the said Lordes) the Summe of twoo hundreth Markes/ in the bestowing wherof I was not pryvey/ nor yet to the making of their bookes/ but by a Docket of a grosse Summe/ wᶜʰ doth not agree wᵗʰ the particulars taken to the Clercke of the Tentes and Revelles (as by him I understande) by the summe of nyne poundes and more by what meanes I knowe not/ for that I have not seen/ nor can gett their booke of particulars to peruse/ wherby having perfytt notice of all thinges doon to Hyde Parke I might conferre the bookes together/ and subscrybe the same/ that the poore artificers were discharged wᶜʰ verely I thought had been fully paide or thir tyme/ for that the Surveioʳ was fully appointed thereunto/ and I but only to se the same doon and furnished accordinglye. And whereas they looke (as I conjecture) I shuld put my handes to their doinges 46(wherunto I can not be made pryyve) I thinke it for diverse respectes not convenyent/ of one thinge I assure yoᵘ/ I never receyved one peny for the same hytherto/ and yet was it chargeable besydes my paynes unto me/ Sʳ if any things be in these partes/ wherein I may do yoᵘ pleasʳ I shall want of my good will, then yoᵘ therfor. Thus most hertely fare yoᵘ wel. Scrybelyd in hast From Bleachingly the xxvjᵗʰ of October 1551.

“Yoʳ assueryd to hys power       

Th. Cawerden.”

But of Edward VI.’s short reign there is really little to be said.




Queen Mary has not come down to us in a social light. The very idea of her as a Society personage seems grotesque.

“Bloody Mary” she was in her own time, and as such she will probably always be known. She rarely went far afield, and her only association with Hyde Park seems to have been the unusual number of people she hanged at Tyburn.

The park was still far remote from the town. Streets did not creep up to its precincts until quite a century and a half later. When Sir Thomas Wyatt marched with his rebels upon London, his ordnance was planted at Hyde Park Corner, and his men occupied the fields where now stand Grosvenor Square and the neighbourhood to the south.

It must be recollected that Sir Thomas Wyatt had raised his standard in Kent to protest against the Spanish marriage of Queen Mary. He had travelled slowly towards London after defeating the Queen’s forces at Rochester Bridge. He had wasted much time at Blackheath; and when at last (3rd February 1554) Wyatt and his army appeared in Southwark, they found the Queen and the citizens of London prepared, and London Bridge48 closed and fortified. He remained at Southwark shooting impotently and trying to get into London, until the 5th, when he started to march to the next bridge up the river (Kingston-on-Thames). The weather was wet and miry, Wyatt’s men disheartened, and he inept as a commander. They found Kingston Bridge broken and had to ferry across. They then marched all night through the rain without food, and, tired and wet, reached Hyde Park Corner early in the morning of the 7th. He posted his main body across the road at Hyde Park Corner, whilst the Queen’s forces were set at the top of the opposite hill where Devonshire House now stands. Wyatt himself, with five companies of men, seems to have turned down what is now Grosvenor Place, and to have gone along the Mall towards Charing Cross, a part of his men under Vaughan dividing from them and going towards Westminster, the object apparently being to attack Whitehall on both sides, from Charing Cross and from Westminster.

In an extract from the Diary of a Courtier (Sir E. Peckham, probably), published by the Camden Society, the following passage occurs:

“Here was no small ado in London, and likewise the Tower made great preparation of defence. By 10 of the clocke or somewhat more, the Earle of Pembroke had set his troopp of horsemen on the hill in the highway above the new bridge, over against St. James, his footemen was set in 2 battailes somewhat lower and nearer Charing X ... his ordnance being posted on the hill side. In the mean season Wyatt and his company planted his ordnance49 upon the hill beyond St. James over against the Park Corner; and himself after a few words spoken to his soldiers came down the olde Lane on foot, hard by the Court Gate of St. James, with 4 or 5 ensigns, Cuthbert Vaughan and about 2 ensigns turned down towards Westminster. The Earle of Pembroke hovered all this while without moving, until all was passed by, saving the tayle, upon which they dyd sett and cut off. The other marched forward and never stayed or returned to the ayde of their tayle. The great ordnance shott off freshly on bothe sydes. Wyatt’s ordnance over shott the troope of horsemen. The Queen’s ordnance one piece struck three of Wyatt’s Company in a rank upon their heads and slaying them, struck through the wall into the (Hyde) Park. More harm was not done by the great shott of neither partie. The Queen’s hole battaile of footmen standing stille, Wyatt passed along the wall towards Charing X, and here the said horsemen that were there, set upon part of them but were soone forced back.”

An account of this is also given in an extract from Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 15215:

“And so came (Wyatt) that day toward St. James felde where was the Earle of Pembroke the Queen’s lieutenant, and my lord Privy Seal (the Earl of Bedford) and my Lord Paget, and my Lord Clynton which was Lord Marshal of the camp, with dyvers other Lords on horsebacke—which Lord Clynton gave the charge with the horsemen by the Park Corner about 12 of the clocke that day, and Wyatt so passed himself with a small company towards Charing X50.”

Machyn’s Diary (Camden Society) records this battle of Hyde Park as well:

“The 7th day of February in the forenoon Wyatt with his army and ordnance were at Hyde Park Corner. There the Queen’s host met him with a great number of men at arms on horseback besides foot. By one of the clock the Queen’s men and Wyatt’s had a skirmish; there were many slain, but Master Wyatt took the way down by St. James’s with a great company and so to Charing Cross.”

Hyde Park saw brighter scenes under Elizabeth. Splendour and pageantry marked the age. The Parks, like everything else, were used for purposes of ostentatious display, with greater frequency than had been the case under Henry VIII. Hyde Park remained a close Royal preserve, but the general public began to see more of it.

Among other traits of her father, the Queen inherited his love of hunting, and herself killed deer in the Royal parks, as also on her stately progresses through the country when visiting her favourite nobles. Sometimes she stayed at Westminster, and made hunting expeditions from there to Hanworth and Oatlands. Lord Hunsdon, her cousin, she appointed Keeper of Hyde Park, in which office he received an allowance of fourpence a day, with the “herbage, pannage, and browse wood for deer.” During his tenure, 1596, the first review was held in the Park.

Of course, the visits to England of Elizabeth’s many admirers were made occasions for grand doings, hunts being enjoyed at the outlying parks of Hampton Court, Windsor, and also in Hyde51 Park. When John Casimir, Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria, came over, he was entertained right royally, and Hyde Park was the scene of a great hunting party. It is related that the favoured guest “killed a barren doe with his piece, amongst three hundred other deer.”

Indeed, the confines of Hyde Park were kept pretty busy with hunts and executions, sometimes one, sometimes the other; for the great Queen had the Tudor abruptness of method in dealing with undesirable busybodies. There must have been many days, indeed, when Elizabeth rode with courtly grace along the paths, listening to the flatterer’s tongue, coquetting with one of her many suitors, her courtiers thronging around their Royal mistress, while just through field and wood some fellow-creature was ending his earthly career by her decree at Tyburn.

When, in 1581, Count John of Emden and Count Waldeck came to see the Royal lady, Elizabeth demanded from Lord Hunsdon a report respecting the game in Hyde Park, and was not at all pleased with the result. Whether birds and beasts increased thereafter is not told. A year later stands were erected in Marybone and Hyde Park for the Queen and her visitor and suitor, the Duke of Anjou, with his train, to view the chase. Probably, however, the results of the various hunting parties were unsatisfactory, for a record still exists among the State Papers of a command by Queen Elizabeth to the cooks of London as to the buying and selling of venison, forbidding them to purchase from unauthorised people in the city.


It was evidently supposed that the cooks were the chief offenders in the matter, and ordered their venison at a cheap rate purloined from her Majesty’s preserves. On 11th June 1585 we find Sir Thomas Pullyson, Lord Mayor of London, writing to Walsingham:

“Right Honourable,

“Here yesterday I received this from Her Majesty’s most honorable prime [minister] advertising me that her Highness was informed that venison that was ordinarily sold by ye cookes of London was often stole—To the great destruction of the game—Commanding me thereby to take severall bondes of —— the yeere of all the cookes in London not to buy or sell any venison hereafter uppon payne of forfayture of the same bondes; neither to receive any venison to bake without keeping note of their names that shall deliver the same unto them. Whereupon presently I called the wardens of the Cookes before me, advertising them each. Requiring them to raise their whole company to appeare befor me to the end I might take bondes.”

The bond was a surety of £40 each—an enormous sum in those days—given by each cook not to sell any manner of venison in or outside of the City. It is rather amusing to find that the theft of venison from the Royal Park was so highly punished in Elizabethan times, but the bond did not do away with poaching. How those old cooks would smile if they could see the pheasants, grouse, and partridges on sale in the best London shops, almost before there has been time for the cartridges53 to be fired on the opening days appointed by law, still less for the game to reach the London market.

Coaches came in with Elizabeth. There was no fashionable chronicler of the day to tell us exactly which were the favourite resorts of Society, but it would not be surprising if the rough roads cut in the spacious parks which extended so far from Whitehall were first put to use for carriage exercise by Elizabeth’s courtiers. Hyde Park has been the fashionable drive for centuries. One likes to think of those bumpy old contrivances, of colossal weight and build, with the stoutness of a farmer’s cart, as setting the fashion of driving in the park which has come down unbroken to the present year of grace. These vehicles afforded Elizabeth’s beruffed gallants and gorgeously attired dames an opportunity of airing themselves, and probably gave them as much pleasure, lumbersome though they were, as smart-horsed victorias and electric landaulettes give their occupants to-day.

That Hyde Park was looked upon as a rural resort for the courtiers and others who wished for greater seclusion than was to be found in St. James’s Park, is shown in Major Martin Hume’s Calendar of Spanish State Papers of Elizabeth (Record Office).

“Count de Feria writes to Philip II. from London, 19th March 1559:

“Since I wrote on the 6th instant I have had a long conversation with the Treasurer of the Household (i.e. Sir Thomas Parry) about religious affairs, and the obligations that the Queen and the country54 owe to your Majesty. He is not so good a Catholic as he should be, but he is the most reasonable of those near the Queen. She knew that he was coming to St. James’s Park on that day to speak with me; and she told him to ask me to go with him to another Park higher up nearer the execution place, so that the Earl of Pembroke and other gentlemen would be walking in St. James’s Park might not see us together. The Earl and the others who were walking there would have been just as shy of being seen with me, by the Queen or the Treasurer. I say this to show how suspicious and distrustful they are.”

It was easy enough to take a drive in Hyde Park, but when the Queen moved farther afield, even for such a short distance as the seven or eight miles from Chelsea to Richmond, the arrangements required more attention. Preserved in the Records of the Stationers’ Company is the following letter:

“By the Mayor,

“To the Wardens of the Companye of Stationers.

“Where the Quene’s most excellente Majestie intendith in her Royal psonne to repair to her Princelie Palace of Whitehall, on Thursdaie next, in thafternoone; and for that I and my brethren thaldermen are commanded to attend on her Majesties psonne from Chelsey to the Whitehall; Theis therefore in her Majestie’s name to require you, that yourselfes, with six of the comliest psonages of your said Companye, be readie at the Parke Corner above Sainte James, on horseback, apparelled in velvette coats with chaynes of gold 55on Thursdaie by twoo of the clocke, in the afternoone, to waite upon me and my brethren the Aldermen to Chelsey for the recreating her Majestie accordinglie. And also that you provide sixe staffe torches lighth as need shall be required. Not failinge hereof, as you will answere the contrarie at your perill.

“From the Guyldhall, this 28th of Januarie, 1588-9.


Accordingly, on 30th “January 1588-9” (one may learn from Nichols) the Queen “travelled from Richmond to Chelsea and so to Westminster, and the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commoners of her Citie of London, in coates of velvet and chaines of golde, all on horsebacke, with the Captaines of the Cittie, to the number of fortie, betwixt five or six of the clock at torchlight.”

Foreigners say we English take our pleasures sadly; and so we do in this rushing age. It is well, therefore, that we are being made to realise what the pageantry of ancient times really meant when our land was known as “Merrie England.”

Latterly, our so-called “pageants” have been very tame—a few Venetian masts, some tawdry paper flowers, a little stained bunting, a multitude of dirty flags of all descriptions, and the route is ready.

This tinsel display reached such a pitch in America, that a few years ago an order was made forbidding tawdry decorations, and nothing is allowed but flags—a perfect sea of flags. It so chanced that I was in America during the last two56 Presidential campaigns, and both in New York and Chicago there were thousands, yes, tens of thousands of flags arranged most beautifully and producing a wonderful effect: nothing more majestic could be imagined, even sky-scrapers looked less hideous. The appearance of our quaint old English streets on such occasions could be much improved by such a systematic arrangement, instead of festoons of damp and draggled pink and green tissue paper we call decoration.

In olden times the houses along the route of a pageant were hung with silks, brocades, and costly cloths. The City Companies marched in gorgeous array along the ill-kept roads, which at an early date were gravelled for the honoured one to pass, just as they are sanded to-day for a Royal procession. The Tyburn waters were checked at the Conduits, and wine—red and white—flowed from them as the goodly company paced by with stately mien. At every landmark along the route were stationed groups of citizens in symbolic costumes. Each forming in itself a picture.

Every movement of Royalty was accompanied by pageantry, a very different state of affairs from these modern days, when the King of England hires a hansom off the rank, or the Prince of Wales strolls through the streets alone shopping. Edward VII. steps into his motor at Buckingham Palace absolutely unheeded by anyone, and starts for Newmarket. His life, except for public functions, is that of a private gentleman; big displays are few and far between, and even then seldom, if ever, reach the gorgeousness of olden57 times. Maybe our ancestors would be surprised at the great length of route traversed by present-day Royal personages in their Progresses, for it must be borne in mind that the pageants of old relate to a very limited London.

Apart from coronations, many records remain of mediæval pageantry. Edward I., on his return from Palestine in 1274, found wine pouring from the Conduits, and handfuls of gold and silver were showered upon him as he passed. A little girl, dressed as an angel in spotless white, handed wine from the Conduit in Chepe to Richard II. and his Queen; Henry V., after his victory at Agincourt, was greeted at the north end of London Bridge by an “angelic host,” and another “heavenly choir” was stationed in Chepe, while virgins blew golden leaves upon him. When the child-king Henry VI. arrived in London from France in 1432, Enoch and Elias addressed him, while Nature, Grace, and Fortune, each attended by fourteen Virgins, showered gifts upon him.

But to Elizabeth belongs the crowning point of perfection in pageantry. She loved the pomp, the show, the acclamations of her people; she encouraged her subjects to vie with each other in the conception and execution of symbolic groups, asking the meaning of, and bestowing admiration on, the symbolic groups formed to do her honour. Charles I., after a sojourn in Scotland, was the hero of a pageant through London; Charles II. attended the Lord Mayor’s Show for many years, and as time passed this display was the chief remnant of those old Progresses our forbears so enjoyed.


It is strange that the outcome of the Pageant Revival at Sherborne, 1904, by Louis N. Parker, the Master of Pageantry, should have heralded the “Pageant of London” to be held in 1909. No sooner was the idea mooted than ten, nay, twenty, thousand people came forward to take the parts selected.

The love of display is inherent in human nature. The Chinese, the Greeks, the Romans, and the savage of to-day all in turn have enjoyed beating drums, flaring torches, and “dressing up.” A revival such as we are having in London is of the greatest value. The man in the street at Sherborne, Warwick, St. Albans, Oxford, Bury St. Edmund’s, all learnt something of the history of their own towns through the pageants which have lately taken place in their midst.

These revivals in pageantry are a great history lesson, and as improving to the adult mind as the picture-book is to the child. We realise so much quicker what we see than what we hear or read.

Poor Elizabeth. Stout-hearted as any man when large matters of State called for her decision, and yet essentially feminine in her love of dress, her vanity, and coquetry. Dress became a truly serious burden of expense in her day, and she wisely regulated it by sumptuary laws to encourage thrift and common-sense among the masses. Costumes were ill-adapted for outdoor use, and if we could see again any of those splendid fêtes in the Royal Park of which the Queen was the central figure, surrounded by her gallants and grand dames, we should probably smile at the preposterous awkwardness of everybody59 in that brilliant company, despite their magnificence. There is a wonderful picture of Elizabeth at the Lodge of Trinity College, Cambridge, the residence of the Master (Dr. Butler), wherein she appears so tightly laced as to have no interior organs at all, and her voluminous hoops, ruff, and sleeves cover all the canvas.

Largely it was outward show. Elizabeth has come down to us as a Queen possessing three thousand silken gowns and one chemise. She did not own a pair of silk stockings until 1560, when, after receiving some as a gift, she insisted on always wearing silken hose, and they became universal. Both ladies and gentlemen wore high-heeled shoes, and sometimes the heels measured over four inches. Fans were much used, people of rank having the handles inlaid with diamonds and precious stones, while those of the middle class adopted silver and ivory handles. Perfume was in great vogue.

Here is a vision of the Queen as we may imagine her at one of the fashionable crushes of the time:

“The ruff was profusely laced, plaited, and apparently divergent from a centre on the back of her neck; it was very broad, extending on each side of her face, with the extremities reposing on her bosom, from which rose two wings of lawn edged with jewels, stiffened with wire, and reaching to the top of her hair, which was moulded in the shape of a cushion and richly covered with gems. The stomacher was strait and broad, and though leaving the bosom bare, still formed a long waist by extending downwards; it was loaded with jewels60 and embossed gold, and was preposterously stiff and formal.”

Men’s ruffs never reached the extravagant size of the ladies’ attire, but they grew to such an extent that Elizabeth considered it necessary to order that any beyond “a nayle of a yard in depth” should be clipped. The edge of the ruff was called a “piccadilly,” as may be seen in several of the earlier dictionaries, hence the name of the fashionable street abutting on Hyde Park to-day. When there were practically no houses there, a ruff shop kept by a man named Higgins existed, and was called a “piccadilly.” Higgins is said to have made money, and built a row of houses to which he handed on the name. The term “Pickadilla” is applied to this district in Gerarde’s Herbal, where it is mentioned that “the small wild buglosse” was growing on the banks of the dry ditches “about Pickadilla.”

Queen Elizabeth was so anxious that she should not be surpassed in the beauty of her own dress, that in addition to her sumptuary laws regulating the clothes worn by the different classes of society, young and old alike, she personally snubbed anyone who she thought wore too rich a gown or too high a ruff. It is told of Lady Mary Howard that she appeared at Court in a velvet suit richly trimmed, Her Majesty looked at it carefully, and the next day sent privately for the robe, and, donning it herself, entered the room where Lady Mary and her other ladies were sitting. She then asked what they thought of her “new-fancied suit,” further inquiring of the owner if it were not too short.61 That chagrined lady delightedly answered in the affirmative. Whereupon the Sovereign gave a sharp retort that if it was too short for her, it was certainly too fine for Lady Mary, and she must never wear it more.

Of course, as Queen Elizabeth had sandy-coloured hair, that also became the fashion, and ladies dyed their tresses and painted their faces. This curious old Queen, with her enamelled complexion and darkened eyes, her love of dress, her endless admirers, her hard-hearted and level-headed administration, is reported to have danced an Irish jig only a few days before her death.

Pinched and old, and yet rouged to the eyes—for she was vain to the last—Elizabeth disappears from the scene she had so adorned, and James VI. of Scotland rides into London—in hunting costume, “a doublet, green as the grass he stood on, with a feather in his cap, and horn by his side”—to claim the English throne. On the way he had delayed his progress to make two or three sporting expeditions from the great houses at which he stayed. Clearly this was a type of monarch under whom Hyde Park would be put to other uses than the shows and fêtes and fashionable dallyings of Elizabeth. So it quickly proved. His first act of authority over the Royal demesne was to appoint Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, Keeper of Hyde Park for life, with significant instructions. The Queen, his predecessor, being a woman, had been too lenient; he now wished closer supervision, more careful preservation of the game, and a smart eye to be kept on poachers.


Hyde Park again became the closest of Royal preserves, maintained for hunting alone. An occasional passage met with in contemporary letters shows how strictly the forest laws were enforced. Osborne, writing of this time in 1658, long after James’s death, says of the game laws instituted by that monarch:

“Nay, I dare boldly say one Man might with more safety have killed another than a raskall-Deare; but if a Stagge had been knowne to have miscarried, and the authour fled, a Proclamation with a description of the party had been presently penned by the Attourney-generall, and the penalty of His Majesty’s displeasure (by which was understood the Star-Chamber) threatened against all that did abet comfort or relieve him. Thus satyricall, or if you please Tragicall, was this sylvan Prince, against Dear-Killers and indulgent to man-slayers.”

A deer was of more value than a man, and a mole was apparently of importance. Among the State Papers is a Warrant issued the day after Christmas, 1603, authorising the Vice-Chamberlain to pay Richard Hampton, official Mole-taker in St. James’s Park, and the gardens and grounds at Westminster, Greenwich, Richmond, and Hampton Court, the fee of fourpence a day and twenty shillings yearly for livery. A man had just resigned the post, which was evidently considered a lucrative one, as there were several applications for it.

James I. was a good sportsman, even down to cock-fighting, for he restored the cockpit which63 Elizabeth had been at particular pains to abolish, and appointed a Cockmaster for breeding, feeding, and managing the King’s game-cocks. But this was an occasional pastime. He enjoyed many a manlier diversion in the excitement of the hunt, refreshing himself between times at the Banqueting House erected in the middle of Hyde Park, with a deep draught of good sack ere he returned to the Palace of Whitehall. When his Queen was visited by her brother, the King of Denmark, a series of Royal entertainments were arranged for him. In an old MS. preserved in the Harleian Miscellany a full description of some of these occasions is given, and it may be read that:

“... In the morning very early, being Saturday (Aug. 2nd, 1606), they hunted in the park of St. James, and killed a buck. Then passed they on to Hyde Park, where they hunted with great delight, spending the rest of the forenoon in following their pastime; and about the time of dinner they returned and there dined; and about four o’clock, their barges being by commandment ready at the privy stairs, they went by water to Greenwich.”

To the sporting proclivities of James I. we owe a Book of Sports, in which the Royal writer authorised all those who had been to their own parish church, to indulge in “sports on the Lord’s Day,” including dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting, May games, morrice dances, and setting up of Maypoles; though bull and bear baiting, interludes, and bowls, were prohibited. The King ordered the book to be read in the churches, but the64 Primate absolutely refused to do so. About twenty years later, news of deer escaping from the Old Park at Wimbledon, and having been killed, reached Charles I. He therefore forbade any person to go into his woods carrying a gun, or engine, to take, or destroy the game, and if any presumed after notice given in the churches, to come thus provided, the King would have them punished.

Is it not a bit of delightful irony that the Lord’s Day Observance Act, abolishing all these revels, and under which even now tradesmen are occasionally fined for opening their shops on Sundays, was a gift to our generation from that austere monarch Charles II.?

Owing, no doubt, to the strict laws for its preservation made by James I., game seems to have much increased in the forest glades and about the marshes and rivulets in Hyde Park. Still the cooks appear to have been playing their old trick of trying to get venison cheap, for in 1619 the State Papers have a record that two men were found shooting deer in Hyde Park. They were captured by the keepers, and were hanged at Hyde Park Corner, as well as an unfortunate labourer whom they had employed to hold their dogs. One wet season played havoc with the deer in “Marybone” Park—known to-day as Regent’s Park—and a warrant was issued to the Keeper of Hyde Park to send three brace of bucks to help make up the deficiency.

A quaint manuscript is in existence, recording an outlay for the upkeep of Hyde Park at this period.


“An account of monneys disbursed by Sʳ Walter Cope, Knight, in his Majesties Parke called Hide Parke, from October 1611 until October 1612:

“Imprimis laid out for two hundred of lime trees brought out of the Lowe Countries at ten shillings the peece amounts unto twentie poundes; wᶜʰ were planted along the walkes in the places of those that were decaied. Also for mending the pondheads and gravelling them, being spoiled by the floudes in the winter. Also for reparacions about the lodges, the Parke pale, the standinges, and charges for making the haie for the deere twentie marks. All wᶜʰ amounts unto 33 li.

(Signed) “Walter Cope.”

An order for the payment of these moneys follows in the handwriting of the Earl of Suffolk of the day.

With all his usurpations and vagaries and the pedantry of a narrow mind, one retains a lingering fondness for James I. He was the last of the line of British monarchs, going back to the earliest feudal times, with whom the love of hunting the wild animal in his native glades remained an absorbing passion. When he passed the way of all men Hyde Park underwent a great change. It ceased to be a close game preserve, and became for the first time a real centre of social enjoyment, such as we still find it. In the wilder parts hunting was practised, but Charles I. seems to have thrown the park—or at least a large part of it—open to all comers, with few limitations.

With the ill-fated Stuart King, rather than with66 Henry VIII., the park as a place of popular resort really begins.

Life out of doors became more safe, people took more pleasure in going about, locomotion became easier and money circulated more freely. As the fashionable world began to take the air farther afield than St. James’s Park and Pall Mall, more keepers, more lodges, and more accommodation were required in Hyde Park. Mention is made in the State Papers that on 20th November 1635, £800 was paid for building a new lodge in Hyde Park; and three years later there was a payment of £1123, 5s. 5d. for further work done at the new lodge, according to the estimate of the famous architect, Inigo Jones.

The area of the Park in which the fashion and beauty of Stuart London mostly foregathered was that which in after years became famous as “The Ring,” the precursor of modern racing.

CHEESECAKE HOUSE. Print from “The Gentleman’s Magazine.”
Where Society partook of syllabub, and the Duke of Hamilton was carried mortally wounded.

From before the Restoration until far into the Georgian period it remained the great resort of all the beau monde. The site lay to the north of the present Serpentine, close by the ground now enclosed in the Ranger’s private gardens. Such a space—only 300 yards in diameter—seems too limited to be the rendezvous for the votaries of fashion, when we think of the crowds in Hyde Park to-day. But Society was then but a fraction of what the term represents in our time, and it will be seen that this was the case even after the Ring had long disappeared. The new tea-house to be opened about 1908, under the auspices of Mr. L. Harcourt, will stand upon the south-western67 corner of the “Ring.” It seems a pity that part of Crosby Hall, anyway the old banquetting hall, could not have been utilised for this object. By such means one of the most historical spots in London would have been kept in our midst. It would be curious should fashion again migrate to the spot which to Pepys and other gossips, two and a half centuries ago, was the centre of all the town’s attractions.

A lodge, built of timber and plaster and probably erected in the reign of James I., stood near by the Ring. It was first known as “Grave Maurice’s Head,” and there the people frequenting the Park obtained refreshment. It figures as “The Lodge” in Pepys’ accounts of his outings, but later was known as the Cheesecake House, probably from the fact of that special viand being sold there; another name was the “Lake House.”

There, amid the greenery, the gay world thronged. Cavaliers with waving plumes, some riding with spurs and swords, others in their new equipages, while bright-eyed ladies accompanied them to watch the races and the crowd. Gay gallants courted pretty wenches, smart diplomatists dropped secrets in the ears of beautiful women. Love-making and court intrigues were hatched in Hyde Park, and many a romance, many a comedy, was unfolded under the shade of the trees.

Of the social life of the times in which Hyde Park now began to play an important part, there is a delightful picture in a letter from one Mrs. Merricke to Mrs. Lydall, written on 21st January 1638. It is very modern in sentiment, although written nearly three hundred years ago. The68 poor lady was most anxious about her personal appearance, even in bed, and equally distressed that her library consisted of only two books. The letter runs:

Letter from Mrs. Merricke to Mrs. Lydall, 21st January 1638.

“Faire Mrs. Lydall,

“For soe my owne eyes bid mee call you, whilst others happie in a neerer familiaritie intitle you wife, sister, sweetehart, chayce conceite or the like: give me leave in this rude paper to present my service, and humblie to begg a boone of you: ’Tis the felicitie of your place to bee neere the person of my honourable Lady; and ’tis not unknowne how lovelie and solitarie the countrie at this tyme is, soe tedious indeede to mee (whoe have ever lived among good companie) that longer than the springe I shall never be able to indur’t. My earnest suite to you therefore is, to solicite her honor in my behalfe that her Laᵖ will be pleased to graunte mee her favour to come upp to towne in Hide-park time. For (howe it comes about I cannot tell) I feele in my selfe a strange desire to be satisfied whether I shall injoye my love this yeare or noe; and I beelive your nightingales there, knowe more in the saye of love then ours at Wrest, by reason they have the advantage of being bred neere the Court. Yet I confesse the feare of war with the Scotts does not a litle trouble mee; for should all the young gallants goe for souldiers, howe shuld you and I doe for servants? (which, I take it, is all wee ladyes consider in that businesse) or whoe shuld attend us to that place of pleasure, which both of us soe jealouslie affect, that rather then be absent weele venture to committ 69the absurditie of going with our own husbands! You would not think how I long to see those French ladyes, Madam Mornay and Madam Daray, whose beauty has ariv’d to our eares, and those new starres of our English Court, Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Vaughan. I remember when you and I last discourst of hansome woemen wee thought our penny as good silver as the best, nor will wee ever, if rul’d by mee, yeild precedence to anie. Let it not be grievous to enquire of you the newest fashions, whether they weare theire sleeves downe to the wrests still, the mode the Dutchesse of Chevereuse brought over, or whether they weare their neckes up; a fashion in which I confesse I love not my selfe; nor doe I hold her worthy of a faire necke, or any other good part, that is not free to showe it. I have a further request unto you, that wou’d bee pleas’d, when your owne occasions invite you to the Exchange, to buy mee halfe a dozen of white night coyfes which tye under the chinn, and as many white hoods to weare over um a dayes, when I’m not well; for truelie I endeavour as much to looke well by night as by daye; in the house as abroade; and (for I dare tell you any thing) I constantly dresse my selfe by my glasse when I goe to bed, least shou’d a gentleman peepe in my Chamber in the morning (and gentlemen, you knowe, sometymes will bee uncivill) I shou’d appeare to him, though not ill-favoured, yet lesse pleaseing. I cou’d wish my selfe with you, to ease you of this trouble, and with all to see the Alchymist, which I heare this tearme is reviv’d, and the newe playe a friend of mine sent to Sʳ John Sucklyn and Tom Carew (the best witts of the time) to correct. But for want of these gentile recreations, I must content my selfe here with the Studie of Shackspeare, and the historie of Woemen, all my Countrie70 Librarie. Newes have I none to send you, onely at my Lady Mores wee have lately had a ball, where your Company was much wished. I had intended to ha’ requited ’um with another at Wrest, and given ’um the addition of a small banquet, but they desired it might be put off till you come downe, that your presence mayᵉ crowne the meeting. I beseech you at your best leisure honour me with a few lines from your faire hand.

“Your most humble and most affectionate servant,

Ann Merricke.

“Wrest, Janua: 21, 1638.”

Driving and walking became daily more fashionable at the Piccadilly end of Hyde Park. The gay and frivolous George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was wont to trip along in all his frills and frippery, or sitting stately in his coach drawn by six horses, joking with King Charles, and urging the monarch to some fresh imprudence. Many looked darkly on the silly intercourse between these two men. Charles, clinging to the ambitions of his powerful minister, with the obstinacy of a weak and incapable nature, was far advanced on the way to the scaffold, when John Fenton,—mixing with the crowds assembled at Portsmouth to witness Buckingham’s departure for France,—stabbed the favourite to the heart.

Queen Henrietta Maria’s Penance at Tyburn beneath the “Triple Tree.”
From an old Print in the Crowle Collection, British Museum.

An incident of which much has been made, and which there is little reason to doubt was grossly exaggerated by the religious bigots of the time, associated Charles’s Queen, Henrietta Maria, with Hyde Park. The early years of his French marriage were certainly not happy, the meddling71 household of the Queen’s French attendants and Catholic priests being responsible for the luckless monarch’s domestic broils. His fierce hatred of their interference obtains expression in a letter to Buckingham, by virtue of which the lot were “sent packing.” It is addressed to his “faithful, constant, loving friend Steenie”:

“I command you to send all the French away to-morrow out of the towne, if you can by fair meanes (but stike not long in disputing), otherwise force them away, dryving them away lyke so manie wilde beasts, until ye have shipped them, and so the devil goe with them. Let me heare no answer, but of the performance of my command.”

Whatever his subsequent weakness, Charles I. was at least in early years of kingship a forceful letter-writer.

Shortly before this missive was dispatched, the King had been moved to intolerable anger by the accounts presented to him of the infamous treatment of his Queen by her Popish entourage. In the early summer of 1626, Henrietta had asked to spend a certain time in retirement and devotion. After a quiet day passed in the services of her church at the chapel in St. James’s Park, she turned into Hyde Park, directing her walk towards Tyburn, whether by intention or not remains unknown. In any case, it was quite probable that, especially impressed by her religious seclusion, she bethought herself of those who, not so many years before, had suffered as martyrs on that gruesome spot for the very religion she held so dear.72 She knelt to pray for them, and perhaps for strength to bear her own weary lot.

A week or two passed before the tale of her surreptitious visit to Tyburn reached the King. He was told that the Queen had been made to walk thither barefoot as a penance, and to offer up prayers for traitors who had ended their days on Tyburn gallows.

Whitelock’s Chronicle gives the Protestant version of the affair:

“Distastes and jealousies were raised about the Government of the Queen’s Family; wherein the King held himself traduced by some of her French servants, who said that the King had nothing to do with them, he being an Heretick.

“The Queen was brought to insist upon it, as part of the Articles, that she should name all her servants, and some unkindness arose upon it. The King was also distasted, that her Priests made the Queen to walk to Tyburn on Penance.

“Upon these Passages the King dismist, and sent back into France all the Queen’s French Retinue, acquainting the French King with it, and excusing it to him; but it was ill resented in France, and by them held contrary to the Articles of Marriage.”

That this was the account generally accredited and sedulously fostered by the anti-Romish party in the State, is further shown by a letter preserved in the Harleian MSS., written by Mr. John Pory, a well-known public man, who had been a Member of Parliament in 1610. After relating the dismissal of the servants and priests, he says:


“No longer agon then upon St. James his day last, those hippocritical dogges made the pore Queen to walke afoot (some add barefoot) from her house at St. James to the gallowes at Tyborne, thereby to honor the Saint of the day in visiting that holy place, where so many Martyrs (forsooth) had shed their blood in defense of the Catholic cause. Had they not also made her to dable in the durte in a foul morning from Somersett House to St. James, her Luciferian Confessor riding allong by her in his Coach! Yea, they have made her to go barefoot, to spin, to eat her meat out of tryne dishes (wooden dishes), to waite at the table and serve her servants, with many other ridiculous and absurd penances.”

There is a picture of the Queen’s penance, of which a reproduction is here given. The Queen is seen kneeling by the triangular scaffold, whither she has been accompanied by her Father Confessor—presumably a Cardinal—in his coach and six.

Of the “triple tree” itself, its origin and use, there is much to be said in later chapters on Tyburn.

Strangely enough, when, in 1628, Charles I. raised the jointure of Henrietta Maria to £28,000, one of the manors assigned to her to produce the additional £6000 was that of Hyde.

As already said, the Park first became under Charles I. the fashionable society rendezvous. Its greatest attraction, maybe, was the racing in the Ring. The occasions, when organised meetings took place, were special scenes of gaiety, and were evidently thought important events, as even among the State Papers there is preserved74 the agreement for a race that took place there. Though admitting the public so freely, and himself mixing among them, Charles still looked upon the Royal Park as a personal possession, and exercised his full authority within it. It was on one of these occasions that the King, seeing a licentious Berkshire squire among the company, peremptorily ordered him out of its confines, speaking of him to the courtiers as an “ugly rascal.” This expression the squire overheard. He went away quietly; but vowed vengeance, and gradually embittered the whole of his county against the King. He had, indeed, his revenge, for writ large on Charles I.’s death-warrant was the name of the “ugly rascal.”

In the tumultuous years with which the reign closed, Hyde Park saw other scenes. There the Parliamentary troops mustered in stern array; there Essex lay waiting with a small force the threatened attack on London by King Charles, who was expected to march from Oxford to seize the capital. There came band after band of sturdy patriots to join the Roundhead army, and General Lambert added his men to those of his chief. Raw recruits were drilled into the celebrated train-bands, and in Hyde Park Cromwell reviewed his invincible Ironsides, his own particular force whom he had especially trained to meet the cavalry attacks of Prince Rupert.

In 1642 the inhabitants of the City of London made a large fortress with four bastions south-east of Hyde Park, on the ground now occupied by Hamilton Place. It was from part of this erection,75 which was called “Oliver’s Mount,” that Mount Street, Park Lane, takes its name.

The following year, as the civil strife was still waging fierce and hot between Royalists and Roundheads, three forts were constructed on Tyburn Road. It is quaint to think of impromptu fortresses built by an alarmed populace near Lancaster Gate and Oxford Street. The Perfect Diurnal, an invaluable record of the time, states that the anxiety of the citizens was such that thousands of men, women, servants, and children, many members of the Council of the City, well-known public men, and the trained bands from the Camp, together with feltmakers, shoemakers, and other tradesmen, all worked their best in throwing up these fortifications outside the City.

Samuel Butler, in his Hudibras, refers to this:

“Women, who were our first apostles,
  Without whose aid w’ had all been lost else;
  Women, that left no stone unturned
  In which the Cause might be concern’d:
  Brought in their children’s spoons and whistles,
  To purchase swords, carbines, and pistols;
  Their husbands, cullies, and sweethearts,
  To take the saints’ and church’s parts;
  Drew several gifted brethren in,
  That for the Bishops would have been,
  And fixed them constant to the Party,
  With motives powerful and hearty:
  Their husbands robb’d, and made hard shifts,
  T’ administer unto their gifts
  All they could rap, and rend, and pilfer,76
  To scraps and ends of gold and silver;
  What have they done, or what left undone,
  That might advance the Cause at London?
  March’d rank and file, with drum and ensign,
  T’ entrench the city for defence in;
  Rais’d rampires with their own soft hands,
  To put the enemy to stands;
  From ladies down to oyster-wenches
  Labour’d like pioneers in trenches,
  Fell to their pick-axes and tools,
  And help’d the men to dig like moles?”

The women, and even ladies of rank and fortune, not only encouraged the men, but worked with their own hands. Dr. Nash mentions Lady Middlesex, Lady Foster, Lady Anne Walker, and Mrs. Dunch as having been particularly celebrated for their activity.

Again in the Perfect Diurnal of 4th January 1643, one reads:

“Collonell Browne the Scotchman, upon some Complaints made against him by his Souldiers, for detaining their pay, was apprehended this day by the Court of Guard at Hide Park, by an order from the Close Committee, and Committed to safe custody to answere the same.”

So we may conclude that all was not peace among the troops encamped in the Park.

In the State Papers there are several references to Hyde Park, throwing sidelights on the life of the people of the day. For instance, after the Battle77 of Naseby every person of consequence who had been engaged in the struggle was strictly supervised, and it was necessary for all strangers to have a pass to enter the City of London.

The Earl of Northampton, wishing to cross to Holland, secured a pass to embark from London, and arriving at the fortress at Hyde Park Corner, then so called, but now the Marble Arch, duly handed it to the Captain commanding the Guard. That officer, finding the Earl was accompanied by five servants while his pass only allowed four, seized one of the horses. The Earl, detained much to his annoyance by this incident, petitioned the Committee of both Kingdoms to restore the animal. The Committee, although commending the Captain for close observance of duty, explained that as the Earl of Northampton was going beyond the seas he would need the horse, and therefore they wished it returned.

This examination at Hyde Park must have been very searching, for in the Perfect Diurnal of 5th January 1643, it is recorded that

“Sir Edward Wardner, Doctor Castle of Westminster, Doctor Fuller of the Savoy, Mr. Dinckson of Saint Clements, and some others this day set forward towards Oxford with a Petition to His Majesty for an accommodation (as is pretended); and being examined upon the way by the Courts of Guard at Hide Parke, they produced a Warrant from the Lords in Parliament for the free Passage with their Petition to His Majesty without interception. Whereupon the Captaine of the Guard told them that though he was commanded by their78 Warrant to give them free Passage with their Petition, yet he would search them, that they should carry nothing else to his Majesty, which he did accordingly, and found divers Letters about them, especially Doctor Dinckson.”

These papers were handed to the Commons, and the Committee found them to be “of a very high and dangerous consequence.” The party, after having been stripped of all papers except their petition, had been allowed to proceed to Oxford, but a troop of “Dragouners” was sent to bring them back to Parliament, so back they came, done.




As soon as the death of Charles I. upon the scaffold under the windows of Whitehall Banqueting House left the Regicides in undisputed possession of the Royal lands, new difficulties arose.

No one knew what to do with them. Hyde Park entered upon a period of unexampled vicissitude. No doubt the sterner section of the Puritans, who had now gained the upper hand, looked upon all the gallantries and follies of which the Park had been a centre as so much devilment, and would gladly have seen the place swept away.

It was a time when bartering was keen, and money sorely needed for the service of the State. The spacious Park grounds must have been a tempting bait to offer for sale. On the other hand, a numerous body of the citizens would have been quite content to seize the Royal Parks for their own unrestricted use, and were strongly adverse to their being handed over for enclosure by the farmer or for destruction by the builder.

For the moment, at least, the parks were saved. About three months after the Royal tragedy the Council took the whole matter under their consideration, with the result that the record of their80 proceedings contains the following important decision:

“To report to the House that the Council think Whitehall House, St. James’s Park, St. James’s House, Somerset House, Hampton Court, and the Home Park, Theobalds, and the Park, Windsor, and the Little Park next the House, Greenwich House and Park, and Hyde Park, ought to be kept for the public use of the Commonwealth, and not sold.”

The Parliament, however, undertook the care of its new acquisitions with bad grace. It was continually selling portions of its patrimony, and where sales could not be effected it freely destroyed. Nothing seems to have been done for Hyde Park while its ultimate fate remained in suspense; meanwhile the populace used it for their own amusement. Gradually the cover for game became less good as the invasion extended. New areas were converted into grass lands.

The Park lost for ever its characteristics as a game preserve, which for so long it had retained.

Wars and alarms continued to be the public state. Soon great preparations were made for Cromwell’s departure for Ireland, and a grant was given to William Yarvell, a carriage master, to put all the horses provided for the campaign which could not be accommodated in Marylebone into Hyde Park to graze. Again, in the following year, a notice appears in the State Papers that Colonel Hammond received two hundred horses, and was told to turn them out to grass, but this permission was withdrawn the same year.


On Cromwell’s return to England, in the spring of 1650, from the scenes of the bloody massacres by which he had subdued Ireland, he entered London in triumph. When passing the old camp where he had reviewed his Ironsides years before, multitudes of citizens came out to greet him. The soldiers stationed there discharged a volley, big guns were fired, and the people shouted and cheered all the way to Whitehall.

The fate of Hyde Park did not remain long undecided.

In spite of much haggling by the Council, the vandals of Parliament succeeded in two or three years in obtaining their own way. London lost its playground. The Park was condemned to be sold by order of Parliament in 1652, and realised about £17,000. The “eligible” property, as an enthusiastic auctioneer of to-day would probably describe it, was divided into three lots, namely:

The Gravel-pit division was bought by Richard Wilcox for £4144.

The Kensington division, bought by a merchant, John Tracy, for £3906; and

The Middle, Banqueting, and Old Lodge Divisions were purchased by Anthony Deane, of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, for £9020.

Of this sum, £4899, 10s. was realised for the timber, so evidently the Park must have been thickly wooded at that time. There were also sold Tyburn Meadow and the enclosed meadow-land used for the deer, which were numerous. These animals brought in the sum of £765, 6s. 2d., the money being devoted to the Navy.


What Richard Wilcox may have done with the Gravel-pit division I have not been able to discover. Possibly he dug more gravel-pits; if so, they have long since been filled up, and all traces have disappeared. The pits came into the possession of a man named Orme in the nineteenth century, who amassed a fortune by selling gravel from them to Russia, and the money he afterwards invested in building. It is probable that Orme Square, the home of Sir Rowland Hill (father of the penny post) for so many years, was named after him.

John Tracy, the merchant who had secured the Kensington division, was evidently a man of ambitions. We know that he built two houses at Knightsbridge within the Park area, from the fact that after the Restoration he mentions them specifically in his petition to Charles II.

The public purchasers of Hyde Park under the Commonwealth had never received any confirmation of their transaction from Parliament. From the Royalist standpoint they were liable to arrest for having acquired Crown lands, and knowing their peril they were only too glad to restore them to the King. The Law Courts declared the purchases annulled. Tracy pleaded absence abroad, and consequent ignorance of the condition of things in England when he made the purchase, and begged that he might be allowed to retain the two Knightsbridge houses. King Charles, being an easy-going soul, let him have his way.

Anthony Deane, who took by far the biggest share, set to work on the notion that he could get83 his money back by making the people pay for what they had hitherto freely enjoyed. He still kept up his land as a park; but a charge was made for entrance, whereat there was much discontent. Evelyn in his diary (April 1653) voices the universal grumble:

“I went to take the aire in Hide Park, when every coach was made to pay a shilling and every horse sixpence by the sordid fellow who has purchas’d it of the State, as they were called.”

That shilling was worth about four times the present sum, so a drive with a coach and pair was an expensive outing. Nevertheless, the Park seemed fairly popular with the fashionable world, but not so much as formerly, though necessarily more exclusive. A figure-head—a leader of fashion—was sadly needed. Besides, the times were not favourable to festivities. Here and there passages in private letters and extracts from diaries permit us to peep at the social gatherings in Hyde Park in the days of the Commonwealth; but they seem to have been dull, dismal affairs, entirely lacking the abandon and freedom—not to say licence—which set in after the Restoration.

Long before this a rival promenade had been opened for Society, and, strangely enough, in a church. After the destruction of the Monasteries the middle aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral became both a market-place and a common walk. When Hyde Park was taxed, and Spring Gardens closed by Act of Parliament, “Paul’s Walk” came into still greater vogue, and between the hours of eleven and twelve, and three and six, fashion of all grades84 of Society met there, for the citizens wended their way to the Cathedral for recreation, and to show off their gowns, and chat with their friends instead of going west.

Yet even the Puritans had their moments of rejoicing when the dourest of natures unbent.

The old custom of Maying, which had been abolished by the Puritans, was revived in 1654. May Day was more generally observed than it had been for many years, the people “going a-Maying” to Hyde Park in large numbers.

One can easily conjure up the scene on a warm sunny day, merry, tripping, dancing, laughing maids accompanied by their swains. These young men were ’prentices in the City Companies, and donned their best accordingly to go “a-Maying” with their ladyloves. The same old, old story. Cupid was, and is, as powerful as his gloomy enemy Death, and just as eternal.

There were no Bank Holidays then, but money was saved to buy finery, new gowns were donned for the May games, and the difficulties of transport made an outing to Hyde Park just as great a business to the worker as a trip from London to the sea is to-day.

The poles were erected; they were gaily decorated with flags, bunting, and flowers; pretty dances were performed around them, while entanglement of ribbons provoked entanglement of hearts, and all made merry in Hyde Park on May Day.

Maying began early in the morning with a service, and was looked upon as a thanksgiving85 festival to celebrate the advent of spring and disappearance of winter.

These May-Day games and rejoicings had their origin in pagan festivals, and from the earliest days of England’s history they had probably been a gala day for her people. In the days of Chaucer the King and Queen and their courtiers took part in them, for the poet writes:

“Forth goeth all the Court, both most and least, to fetch the flowers fresh.”

In the sixteenth century it was customary for the middle and lower classes to go out at an early hour to gather flowers and hawthorn to bring home at sunrise, with horn and tabor, singing and much merriment; and the Robin Hood Games, perpetuating the adventures of Robin Hood, formed a great feature in the May-Day pageants, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Little John, and other characters disporting themselves among the May garlands. Now that mediæval pageants are being revived all over England, May-Day fêtes and dances may become common again.

Under the early Stuarts May Day continued to be a great national holiday.

London kept it in later days in a fashion of its own. Until within the nineteenth century it continued to be the festival of milkmaids and chimney-sweeps.

A cow, much garlanded with flowers, was led by dairy women in light, fantastic dresses, and wreathed with flowers, who would dance round it, playing on musical instruments. Some of them used to86 polish up their tin cans, others used to hire silver articles from pawnbrokers at so much an hour. These used to be hung upon a frame which went over a man’s head and shoulders, only his legs being visible, and as he joined the dance, he was a somewhat comical apparition.

The sweeps were the last to keep up May Day in the Metropolis. A band of them in character dress marched round the streets until the middle of the century, accompanied by a man concealed in a huge flower-be-trimmed frame, with a flag at the top, and known as “Jack-in-the-Green.” This march was interrupted at times by dances to a fife-and-drum accompaniment. Of course, the Act forbidding the employment of boys and men for climbing chimneys, reduced the numbers of these chimney-sweepers, and that as much as anything led to the abolishment of their festival. During her residence in Portman Square, Mrs. Montagu annually entertained the chimney-sweeps on May Day.

An old superstition that washing the face with dew on May Day was beneficial to the complexion, existed to the end of the eighteenth century. Mrs. Pepys on various occasions rose at four o’clock in the morning—and once at three—to go and wash her face in the renowned May dew—so her husband records.

To the restored May-Day scene in Hyde Park came Cromwell, then Lord Protector, and many of his Privy Councillors—strange figures for such company. It is told of the Protector that he looked on with keen enjoyment at a hurling-match.87 The game is described as “a bowling of a great ball of fifty Cornish gentlemen of one side and fifty of the other; one party with red caps, and the other in white. The ball they played withal was silver, and designed for that party which did win the goal.” The ancient game, from which Hurlingham, now famous for its fashion and its sports, takes its name, is still played each year at Newquay, in Cornwall.

In a “Letter from John Barber to Mr. Scudamore,” dated “London, 2 Maij, 1654,” the following account of the scene is given:

“Yesterday each coach (and I believe there were 1500) payed 2: 6d., and each horse 1s., but yᵉ benefit accrewes to a brace of citizens who have taken yᵉ herbage of yᵉ parke of Mr. Deane, to wᶜʰ they adde this excise of beauty: there was a hurlinge in yᵉ paddock-course by Cornish Gentlemen for yᵉ greate solemnity of yᵉ daye, wᶜʰ indeed (to use my Lord protector’s word) was great: when my Lord protector’s coach came into yᵉ Parke wᵗʰ Col. Ingoldsby and my lord’s daughters onely (3 of them all in greene-a) the coaches and horses flock’d about them like some miracle, but they gallop’d (after yᵉ mode court-pace now, and wᶜʰ they all use where ever they goe) round and round yᵉ parke, and all yᵗ great multitude hunted them and caught them still at yᵉ turne like a hare, and then made a Lane wᵗʰ all reverent hast for them, and soe after them againe, that I never saw yᵉ like in my life.”

Evelyn, still grumbling at the payment to be made, and with all the disgust of a courtier at times so much out of joint, gives a little picture of88 the Park a year before King Charles II. came back to the throne, but he can say nothing good for it.

“... I did frequently in the spring accompany my Lord N. into a field near the town, which they call Hyde Par: the place not unpleasant, and which they use as our Course: but with nothing of that order, equipage and splendour: being such an assemblage of wretched jades and hackney-coaches, as, next a regiment of carmen, there is nothing which approaches the resemblance.”

“A field near the town which they call Hyde Park.” What measureless contempt is contained in that phrase! But Evelyn lived to enjoy brighter scenes. He proceeds:

“This park was, it seems, used by the late King and nobility, for the freshness of the air and the goodly prospect. But it is that which now, besides all other excises, they pay for here in England; though it be free in all the world beside: every coach and horse which enters, buying his mouthful, and permission of the publican who has purchased it: for which the entrance is guarded with porters with long staves. The manner is, as the company returns, to alight at the Spring Gardens, so called, in order to the Park, as our Tuilleries is to the Course. The enclosure not disagreeable for the solemnesse of the Grove, warbling of the birds; and as it opens into the spacious walks at St. James’s. But the company walk in at such a rate, as you would think the ladies were so many Atalantas, contending with their wooers: and, my lord, there was no appearance that I should prove the Hippomenes; who89 could, with very much ado, keep pace with them. But as fast as they run, they stay there so long, as if they wanted not time to finish the race; for it is usual here to find some of the young company till midnight, and the thickets of the garden seem to be contrived to all advantages of gallantry, after they have been refreshed with the collation, which is here seldom omitted, at a certain cabaret in the middle of this paradise, where the forbidden fruits are certain trifling tarts, neat’s tongues, salacious meats, and bad Rhenish: for which the gallants pay sauce, as indeed they do at all such houses throughout England. For they think it a piece of frugality beneath them to bargain, or account for, what they eat in any place, however unreasonably imposed on.”

Such feeble effort of would-be gallantry, at which Evelyn, himself a somewhat precise person, so openly flouted, was yet sufficient to cause pain to many good Puritans, though they were no longer able to suppress it. The other day I came across a contemporary pamphlet, by a writer who evidently had been much agitated by these terrible doings. Its full title is:

“The Yellow Book, or a serious letter sent by a private Christian to the Lady Consideration, the first of May 1656, which she is desired to communicate in Hide-Park to the Gallants of the Times, a little after Sun-set; also a brief account of the names of some vain persons that intend to be there,” whose company the new ladies are desired to forbear. It begins:

“Lady, I am informed fine Mrs. Dust, Madam90 Spot, and my Lady Paint are to meet in Hide-Park this afternoon; much of pride will be there,” and so on to considerable length, with many a befitting admonition.

In Hyde Park on one occasion Cromwell very nearly lost his life. Some beautiful Friesland horses had been presented to him by the Duke of Holstein, and when taking the air in the Park, accompanied merely by his Secretary and a small guard of janissaries, he became so infuriated at the slowness of their pace that he exchanged places with the coachman, and with great impatience thrashed the animals soundly to make them quicken their speed. High-spirited, and not understanding such rough usage, they promptly bolted, and, tearing along at a frantic pace, threw the Protector off the box. As he fell his pistol went off in his pocket, and his legs became so entangled in the harness that the poor man was dangling from the pole for some seconds. However, he received no substantial injury beyond a good shaking and some bruises.

A plot against his life was laid by two men named Syndercombe and Cecill, who meant to assassinate him as he took daily exercise in Hyde Park, as ordered by his physicians. The assassins’ fellow-conspirators filed off the hinges of the Park gate in order to facilitate their escape, but their scheme was unsuccessful.

Another experience the Protector had at the entrance to Hyde Park, was an interview with George Fox, the founder of that great and good body of “Friends” or Quakers. This enthusiast91 approached Cromwell’s coach in spite of the protestations of his attendants, and, riding by the vehicle, Fox rebuked its occupant for the harsh measures he was dealing out to his political enemies. Fox rode thus to “James Park Gate,” where, on his taking leave, Cromwell, who had already told his people not to interfere with the Quaker, bade his reprover come and see him again.

It was a bold act to reprove Cromwell.

In spite of the perils with which he met there, Cromwell was very fond of Hyde Park. It must still have been delightfully wild, though less picturesque than before the timber was cut down and the game driven away. A few building sites were marked out and dwelling-houses planned. Either no houses were built, or they have since been removed and all traces obliterated, for no private residences exist in Hyde Park, although there are a few fine ones in Regent’s Park, still standing in their own grounds, notably those belonging to the Marquis of Bute and Lord Aldenham. As late as 1658, land in the park was still being offered for sale. There is an interesting advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus of 13-20th May in that year:

“This is to give notice That if any persons have a minde to imploy their money in Building, they may have Four Acres of Ground, and a convenient place to build on in Hide Park.”

Spring Gardens existed on the site and surroundings known by that name to-day. It was probably so called in the reign of James I. from a spring of water, which was arranged in order that when a92 certain spot was trodden upon, a jet was thrown up all over the unlucky person. It contained a pheasantry, shooting butts, a bowling green, and a bathing pool, and soon became a popular place of resort, where refreshments were obtainable by the fashionables of the day.

This custom of taking refreshments in Spring Gardens has continued to our own time. It will be remembered that a couple of old dames kept cows behind Carlton House Terrace until 1904, charging one penny for a cup of warm milk direct from their kine. When the new Processional Drive was being planned in memory of Queen Victoria, it was found that their little booth and tethered cattle were in the way, and they were told to move.

This the old dames refused to do, and after much talk, much correspondence, and much fuss, King Edward VII., with his customary kindliness, had a little kiosk built for them. So they are the sole remaining trace of the refreshment booths in Spring Gardens, and proudly print on their little paper bags that they were “Established 1623.”

A movement is on foot to reinstate refreshment booths in Hyde Park, as we saw in the last chapter, by placing one on the site of the old horse-racing Ring; but it is to be hoped many more will be opened on the lines of the charming little tea kiosks that have been instituted in Kensington Gardens,—a long-delayed reform that is much needed.

Tea and light refreshments in our parks would be a great boon to many. Breakfast, luncheon, or tea in the open is very enjoyable, and even in93 our queer climate (which is really the best in the world, God bless it) could be enjoyed for several months every year, especially if wide balconies were added to the little restaurants for shelter.

In 1777 the Marybone Tea Gardens were celebrated for just this kind of thing. They were on the site of Devonshire Street, Devonshire Place, and Beaumont Street. They were open for public breakfasts and evening concerts to high-class, select company, fireworks being occasionally introduced in the evenings. Mighty fashionable they were. Who knows but we may soon have the same again at Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, instead of having to go to Ranelagh, or Hurlingham, some miles from town, and where it is necessary either to be, or to accompany, a member?




Great changes came over Hyde Park with the arrival of Charles II. in England.

All the purchases of Royal Lands were annulled as unlawful and the property was seized for the Crown. As the new King, once he had made his position secure, showed no desire to prevent his subjects sharing with himself the enjoyment of the parks, the step was most popular. Anthony Deane’s “porters with long staves”—presumably to trounce intruders who did not pay for entrance—were swept away, and again the public were free to pass in at their own will.

On the very spot where the Parliamentary troops had been massed, and Cromwell had harangued them, enormous crowds assembled to shout a welcome to the returned monarch.

That was a great day.

In order that the reception should be a thoroughly imposing one, all the representatives of the City attended. Troops were poured into the Park, and there was an Order by the new Council of State to the militia of London1

“to Rendezvous their Regiments of Trained Bands95 and Auxiliaries at Hide Park. Major Cox, Quarter Master General of the City, hath since by their order been to view the Ground; and hath allotted a place to be erected for the reception of the Lord Mayor, the Court of Aldermen, and the Commissioners for the Militia. The Lord Mayor intends to appear there with his Collar of Esses, and all the Aldermen in Scarlet Robes, attended with the Mace and Cap of Maintenance as usual at great Ceremonies.”

So, amid tumultuous rejoicings, and surrounded by all the glamour and pageantry of the restored Court, King Charles II. came back to England from his exile on the Continent. The breach from the sterner Puritan ideals was complete. The coarse spirit of the age, so long suppressed, broke out afresh in utter abandonment of all restraint, and with Charles II. there came a period of open licentiousness which happily is unexampled in our history—though, truth to tell, the scandals to which the Merry Monarch and his voluptuous courtiers gave rise in such profusion form piquant reading for people of later days.

Charles had no idea of restoring the Park to its original condition as a game preserve. Such liberties as his father had granted to the public he freely extended. The public took full advantage of them. The diaries of the day are packed with references to Hyde and St. James’s Parks, which at a bound again became the centre of all the gay and fashionable life of the town. To do him justice, Charles made no pretentions towards a love of sport. A cock-fight amused him, but96 rather he preferred the excitement of his flirtations, his amours, the races in the Ring, his birds, his spaniels, and his passion for gambling.

A few scattered portions of the pasture lands, however, seem to have been let out as farms. The Park was placed in the general care of the Duke of Gloucester, to whom a warrant was made “of the Custody of Hyde Park with all Houses, etc. belonging thereto; fee, 8d. per day.” Mr. James Hamilton—after whom Hamilton Place was named—was appointed Ranger. Some one with a money-making turn of mind evidently thought it would be a good plan to utilise land for growing fruit, and Hamilton began negotiations for enclosing a portion of the grounds as an orchard. Later in the reign some of the deer were restored to the Park, and an ornamental path and wall were made round it. A more substantial brick wall, 6½ feet high inside and 8 feet outside, was built by George I. to enclose the Park, and remained standing until 1828, when it was replaced by open iron railings.

Hamilton fared by no means badly with his Rangership, for on his retirement he received a pension of £850 a year, and a pension of £500 was granted to his widow to commence on his death, to be paid out of the clergy tenths or tithes in certain dioceses.

The fashion of the period was to resort to Hyde Park for a drive, but St. James’s Park, Spring Gardens, the Mulberry Gardens (on the present site of Buckingham Palace, which had been planted by James I. to encourage the silk industry) were the favourite places of recreation. Sports and games97 abounded in St. James’s, which, being close to Whitehall, was always held in the highest favour by the Merry Monarch, who loitered there mornings and afternoons, surrounded by his courtiers and mistresses. He extended its attractions, planting trees, laying out walks, and improving the canal, which, however, still remained straight and uninteresting. Cages with numerous species of birds were placed in the trees of Bird Cage Walk, then known as the Aviary. The King loved to feed and fondle these pets of his, coming with his pockets full of their favourite foods, his dogs following him. So numerous were the pet birds and so carefully tended by their Royal Master, that hemp-seed remained for a long time one of the items of expense in the bills of the Royal Mews.

The Mall was kept in splendid condition for the old game of Paile Maille, from which some say we derive the word Pall Mall, now the name of a neighbouring street, while the Royal Cockpit was again in constant use by the King and his courtiers. Dryden is said to have wandered in the Mulberry Gardens and eaten the fruit while he composed his verses.

“Hyde Park” (writes Count de Grammont) “as every one knows, is to London what the Cours is to Paris. Nothing was then so much in Fashion during the fair Season as the taking the Air at the Ring, which was the ordinary Rendezvous of Magnificence and Beauty. Whoever had bright Eyes or a fine Equipage never failed to repair thither, and the King was extremely delighted with the place.”

Those were the days of wigs and velvets and98 extravagance in men’s dress. They wore silk stockings with shoes, or long boots curling over at the top, embroidered coats, lace, frills, and plumed hats. Picturesque and beautiful was their attire. The women’s full skirts were made of handsome stuffs, and rivalry of splendour was still rampant. Verily an age of extravagance. The Ring long remained the chief social centre in the Park. It seems to have been but poorly laid out, judging by Wilson’s description, 1679, in his Memoirs, published many years afterwards:

“Here the people of fashion take the diversion of the Ring. In a pretty high place, which lies very open; they have surrounded a circumference of two or three hundred paces diameter with a sorry kind of balustrade, or rather with postes placed upon stakes but three feet from the ground; and the coaches drive round this. When they have turned for some time round one way, they face about and turn tother: so rowls the world!”

Among the customs of the Stuart and early Hanoverian periods was that of issuing—in the absence of the voluminous Press of our time—“broadsides” and “satyrs” on leaflets, which were distributed through London, and “took off” the leading people and topics of the day. The Ring afforded a rich field for these so long as it lived, and held as important a place in that class of literature as Hyde Park does in our modern Society papers.

So much is said about the Park by the diarists Pepys and Evelyn, that the social life of the place may almost be pictured from their pages alone.


Pepys is always a delight. One may still see his famous MS. “Diary” in the Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge. It is in four or five volumes of shorthand, neatly written, with tidy margins, and the names of persons and places in well-formed letters in longhand. Presumably he did not intend it for publication, or he would not have written it in shorthand, and that of an extraordinarily complicated nature. Years elapsed before it was deciphered, and still more years passed before it became a classic in literature.

Samuel Pepys was the son of a tailor; but he became Secretary of the Admiralty, an appointment he filled most ably for many years. He was also President of the Royal Society. His mind was both as refined and as coarse as the age in which he lived. He jotted down the minutest details of the day. At his death he left his library to his old College, and, strange to relate, the double rows in the shelves were arranged by him according to size, and in no way according to subject, so that a tiny note-book of James I. in this remarkable collection comes number one.

John Evelyn, the contemporary of Pepys, has also left entries of his daily round for a period of about sixty years, made complete by a slight sketch of his life up to the time his Diary commences. He came from a good Surrey stock, Royalist to their heart’s core; but owing to the Great Rebellion he lived abroad for some years, returning to England in 1652, when he diligently wrote various books. Evelyn was later made a Fellow of the Royal Society, then newly founded, and now the most100 coveted position a man of science and learning can attain. From that time his work embraced various scientific subjects. Amongst them he laid before the Society observations on the growth of trees, which he afterwards fully discussed in Sylva. The early Reports of the Royal Society contain this quaint announcement: “Mr. Evelyn gave some account of the experiment recommended to him, of putting some flesh and blood in a vessel covered with flannel, in order to see what insects it would breed, and he observed that it bred nothing. He was requested by the Society to continue the Experiment.”

Bacteriologists who find such wondrous products and germs in blood must smile over his barren result.

As soon as the gaieties of the Park were revived we find Pepys to the fore, anxious to miss nothing. In the autumn of the Restoration year he writes:

“With Mr. Moore and Creed to Hide Park by coach, and saw a fine foot-race three times round the Park between an Irishman and Crow, that was once my Lord Claypole’s footman. Crow beat the other by above two miles.”

In the following year the Diarists both refer to the May-Day demonstrations as unsurpassed. Pepys was obliged to be out of town on business, and again expresses his regret at not being “among the great gallants and ladies, which will be very fine”; while one detects in Evelyn’s note the Royalist’s satisfaction over the Restoration: “I went to Hide Park” (he says) “to take the air, where was His Majesty and an innumerable appearance101 of gallants and rich coaches, being now a time of universal festivity.”

Pepys was more fortunate in reaching the Park on May Day, 1663, but he was not pleased:

“Turned and rode through the fields and then to Holborn ... towards Hide Park, whither all the world, I think, are going.... I saw nothing good, neither the King nor my Lady Castlemaine nor my great ladies or beauties being here, there being more pleasure a great deal at an ordinary day; or else those few good faces that there were were choked up with the many bad ones, there being people of all sorts in coaches there, to some thousands I think. Going thither in the highway, just by the Park gate, I met a boy in a sculler boat, carried by a dozen people at least, rowing as hard as he could drive, it seems upon some wager. By and by, about seven or eight o’clock homeward ... coaches going in great crowds to the further end of the town almost.”

Hearts seemed light and Society gay, for the Diarist makes mention of several visits to the Park during that year; of the King and his mistress Lady Castlemaine, who finally died in poverty, greeting one another from their respective coaches “at every tour”; of a drive with Mrs. Pepys, wherein there was little pleasure on account of the dust, and one of the horses falling down and getting his leg over the pole; and another occasion when the worthy couple enjoyed the sight of a “store of coaches and good faces.” Only when Charles II. pulled up to speak to his friends—chiefly ladies—was the continuous string of carriages allowed to stop.


But the day of that season seems to have been a great Review held in Hyde Park on 4th July. Both Diarists write of this event, and as the entries are truly characteristic of the different style of the two journals, I give them both. First Evelyn:

“I saw his Majesty’s Guards, being of horse and foot 4000, led by the General, the Duke of Albemarle [General Monk, who had done so much to bring about the Restoration], in extraordinary equipage and gallantry, consisting of gentlemen of quality and veteran soldiers, excellently clad, mounted and ordered, drawn up in battalia before their Majesties in Hyde Park, where the old Earl of Cleveland trailed a pike, and led the right-hand file in a foot-company, commanded by Lord Wentworth, his son: as worthy spectacle and example, being both of them old and valiant soldiers. This was to show the French Ambassador, Monsieur Comminges; there being a great assembly of coaches etc. in the Park.”

It is left to Pepys to pourtray the lighter side:

“Thence 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 the demand so high, that I, spying Mr. Cutler the marchant, did take notice of him, and he going into his coach, and telling me that he was going to shew a couple of Swedish strangers the muster, I asked and went along with him; where a goodly sight to see so many fine horses and officers, and the King, Duke, and others come by a-horseback, and the two Queens in the Queen-Mother’s coach, my Lady Castlemayne not being there, I ’light and walked103 to the place where the King, Duke, etc., did stand to see the horse and foot march by and discharge their guns, to show a French Marquisse (for whom the muster was caused) the goodness of our firemen; which indeed was very good, though not without a slip now and then; and one broadside so close to our coach we had going out of the Park, even to the nearness to be ready to burn our hairs.”

A few days later Pepys describes another visit to Hyde Park:

“Hearing that the King and Queen are rode abroad with the Ladies of Honour in the Park, and seeing a great crowd of gallants staying here to see their return, I also staid walking up and down.... By and by the King and Queen, who looked in this dress (a white laced waistcoat and a crimson short petticoat, and her hair dressed à la negligence) mighty pretty; and the King rode hand in hand with her. Here was also my Lady Castlemaine rode among the rest of the ladies, but the King took, methought, no notice of her.”

Pepys was a man of many parts, and one of the most human of his kind. This wonderful Diary of his contains the moralising of a philosopher, mixed with descriptions of the skittish flirtations of the man about town, the deeper amours of the licentious Court, and the coarsest scandal and gossip, prices of various articles, political events, the weather, the servant question, and details of ladies’ gowns. He even sent a “poor fellow” to sit at the Duke of York’s playhouse to keep a seat for him, as messenger boys are sent to-day to secure seats in the pit.


When at this time the riding habit for ladies was first displayed in Hyde Park, Pepys writes:

“I saw them with coats and doublets with deep skirts, just like mine, and their doublets buttoned up the breast, with perriwigs and hats, so that only for a long petticoat dragging under the men’s coats, nobody would take them for women in any point whatever.”

On another occasion we find him discussing ladies’ dress with Lady Carteret:

“She tells me the ladies are to go into a new fashion shortly, and that is to wear short coats, above their ancles; which she and I do not like, but conclude this long trayne to be mighty graceful.”

In 1664 he thus speaks of Lady Castlemaine:

“To Hide Parke, where I have not been since last year; where I saw the King with his periwigg, but not altered at all; and my Lady Castlemayne in a coach by herself, in yellow satin and a pinner on; and many brave persons. And myself being in a hackney coach and full of people, was ashamed to be seen of the world, many of them knowing me.”

Poor Pepys, what a love of display and dress.

Gloves seem to have been a valued article of dress at this time. De Grammont mentions the fact that they were given as presents, and much store put upon them: “Martial gloves were then very much the fashion.” This rather flavours of reviews, but he does not refer to anything military, only to a famous firm of glovers in Paris, Martial by name, whose gloves—like all things French in those days—were in great request.


Pepys leaves behind him a graphic chronicle of the licentiousness and profligacy of the period, which had best be thrust aside, but his description of the Court generally may be quoted here:

“The Court, as hinted before, was the seat and Fountain of Sports, Pleasures and Enjoyments, and all the polite and magnificent Entertainments, which are generally inspired by the Inclinations of a tender, amorous and indulgent Prince. The Beauties studied to charm, the men to please; And all, in short, improved their talents the best they could. Some distinguished themselves by Dancing, others by Show and Magnificence, some by their Wit, many by their Amours, but very few by their Constancy.”

It was about this time that Lord Arlington erected a house near the Mulberry Gardens, and during the Plague he brought the first pound of tea from Holland, which cost him thirty shillings; so that probably the first cup of tea drunk in England was enjoyed where Buckingham Palace now stands.

James Hamilton, the Ranger of Hyde Park, and John Birch, the Auditor of Excise, were, after much discussion, successful in the negotiations for their orchard, and in 1664 they received a grant “of 55 acres of land on the borders of the said park, to be planted with trees for eating-apples or cider, reserving a way through Westminster to Kensington, on condition of their enclosing and planting the ground at their own cost, paying a rental of £5, and giving half the apples” (which were to be redstreaks or pippins) “for the use of the King’s Household.” The State Papers also record that a lease of forty-one106 years of 55 acres in the north-west corner of Hyde Park, for growing apples, was granted on the above conditions.

But in the following year the Great Plague, more virulent and more fatal than ever, broke out and raged in London. Such a visitation, bad as the plagues had been in mediæval times, had never been known. Panic ensued, and everyone who could do so left London and its suburbs. The Metropolis became a deserted city.

Hyde Park was made a plague camping-ground. Among those quartered within its boundaries were regiments of soldiers from the Tower and elsewhere. One of these men, evidently an amusing, observant fellow, without any poetical gifts, bethought himself to write a doggerel account of his experiences. It is an excellent picture of the time, and depicts the horrors of the Plague even as far afield as Hyde Park was at that day:

Hide Park Camp

Limnd out to the Life,

Truly and Impartially, for the Information and Satisfaction of such as were not Eye Witnesses, of the Souldiers’ sad sufferings, In that (never-to-be-forgotten) Year of our Lord God, one thousand six hundred and sixty-five.

Written by a fellow souldier and Sufferer
in the said Camp.

Help now (Minerva), stand a Souldier’s friend,
Direct my Muse, that I may not offend.
’Tis known I write not for to gain applause,107
My Sword and Pen shall maintain Martial Laws.
In July, Sixteen hundred sixty and five,
(O happy is the Man that’s now alive)
When God’s destroying Angel sore did smite us,
’Cause he from sin by no means could invite us;
When lovely London was in mourning clad,
And not a Countenance appeared but sad;
When the Contagion all about was spread;
And people in the streets did fall down dead;
When Money’d Fugitives away did flee,
And took their Heels, in hopes to scape scot-free,
Just then we march’t away, the more’s the pitty,
And took our farewell of the Doleful City.
With heavy hearts into Hide Park we came,
To chuse a Place whereas we might remain.
Our ground we viewed, then straight to work didfall,
And build up Houses without any wall.
We pitch’t our Tents in ridges and in Furrows,
And there encamp’t, fearing the Almighty’s Arrows.
But O, Alas! what did this avail;
Our men (ere long) began to droop and quail.
Our lodgings cold, and some not us’d thereto,
Fell sick and dy’d, and made no more adoe.
At length the Plague amongst us ’gan to spread,
When ev’ry morning some were found stark dead.
Down to another Field the sick were t’ane;
But few went down, that e’er came up again.
For want of comfort, many I observed,
Perished and dy’d, which might have been preserved.
But that which most of all did grieve my soul108
To see poor Christians dragged into a hole.
Tye match about them, as they had been Logs,
And Draw them into Holes, far worse than Dogs.
When each man did expect his turn was next,
O then our Hearts with sorrow was perplext.
Our officers amazed stood, for dread,
To see their men no sooner sick than dead.
But that which most of all did grieve them, why?
To help the same, there was no remedy.
A Pest house was prepared, and means was us’d,
That none should be excluded, or refused:
Yet all would not avail, they dy’d apace,
As one dy’d out, another took his place.
A sad and dismal time, as ere was known,
When Corps, in the wide fields, about was thrown.
Methinks I hear some say, Friend, Prithee hark,
Where got you drink and victuals in the Park?
I, there’s the Query; we shall soon decide it,
Why, we had men called Sutlers, provided;
Subtle they were, before they drove this Trade,
But by this means they all were subtler made.
No wind or weather, ere could make them flinch
Yet they would have the Souldiers at a pinch.
For my part I know little of their way,
But what I heard my fellow-Souldiers say:
One said, Their Meat and Pottage was too fat;
Yes, quoth another, we got none of that:
Besides, quoth he, they have a cunning sleight,
In selling out their meate by pinching weight,
To make us pay sixpence a pound for Beefe,
To a poor Souldier, is no little grief.
Their Bread is small, their Cheese is markt by th’ Inch,109
And to speak the Truth, they’re all upon the pinch.
As for their Liquor, drink it but at Leazure,
And you shall ne’re be drunk with over measure.
But leave them now because Tattoo has beat
And fairly to our tents let us retreat,
Where we keep such a coyl, and such a quarter,
And all to make the tedious nights seem shorter.
Then down we lie, until our bones do ake,
First one side, then the other weary make.
When frost did pinch us, then we shake and shiver,
And full as bad we were in stormy weather.
A boisterous blast, when men with sleep were dead,
Would bring their houses down upon their head.
Thus in extremity we often lay,
Longing to see the dawning of the day,
Which brought us little comfort, for the Air
Was very sharp, and very hard our fare.
Our sufferings were almost beyond belief,
And yet we found small hopes to have relief.
We were as glad when we got to a Cup
Of Nappy ale, to take a pretty sup:
But durst not go to town, on any cause,
For fear the Martial catch us in his claws.
About the park to walk for recreation,
We might be free, we knew our bounds and station,
But not a coach was stirring anywhere,
Unless ’twere such as brought us in our Beer.
Alass, Hide Park, these are with the sad dayes,
The Coaches all are turned to Brewers’ Drayes;
Instead of Girls with Oranges and Lemons,110
The Baker’s boys, they brought in Loaves by dozens;
And by that means, they kept us pretty sober
Until the end of wet October.
They proms’d we should march, and then we leapt,
But all their promises were broke (or kept).
They made us all, for want of Winter Quarters,
Ready to hang ourselves in our own Garters.
At last the Dove came with the Olive branch,
And told for certain, that we should advance
Out of the Field; O then we leapt for joy,
And cried with one accord, Vive le Roy.
What did the Sutlers then? nay, what do ye think?
For very grief, they gave away their drink.
But it’s no matter, let them laugh that wins,
They were no loosers. (God forgive their sins.)
Upon Gunpowder Treason Day, (at night)
We burnt our Bed-straw, to make Bonfire light;
And went to bed that night so merry-hearted
For joy, we and our Lodgings should be parted:
Next morning we were up by break of day,
To be in readiness to march away.
We bid adue to Hide Park’s fruitful Soil,
And left the Countrey to divide the spoyl.
God bless King Charles, and send him long to Reign,
And grant we may never know the like again.
(London. Printed by P. L. for J. P.)

A Prostitute Drummed Out of Hyde Park.

People were at their wits’ end to know what to do at the time of the Plague, but some laughed at111 a novel proposal made in London while the scourge was raging, that a vessel should be freighted with peeled onions and sail along the Thames to absorb the infection of the air; after which it should proceed to sea and throw them overboard.

But an unexpected disinfectant followed in the Great Fire, which stamped out the contagion so well that never again has London been visited by the plague. A half-witted Frenchman swung on the gallows at Tyburn on his own confession of having started the conflagration, though when making his final exit from this world he denied it.

This Frenchman was named Robert Hubert. In the opinion of many he was a madman, but in spite of this an inscription was placed on the Monument that the Great Fire was the result of a Papist conspiracy. This was removed by James II., but replaced by William III. and remained until 1830, when it was finally done away with.

In the same year as the Fire, and almost before its flames were quenched, the gay world resumed the daily drive to the Park, and we again find Pepys joining a colleague at the Admiralty and adjourning thither in a coach to secure a quiet tête-à-tête on some State question. We read of him attending a theatre or conducting his favourite actress or another of his amours, for a drive in the Park, or refreshment at the Lodge. Syllabub was greatly in fashion at Cake House. It was composed of milk whipped up with wine and sugar, or cream whipped with cider.

Pepys took his wife for frequent outings,112 enjoying the gossip round the Ring, dining at the “Pillars of Hercules”—an inn near the site of the present Apsley House—or eating a cheese-cake at the Lodge “with a tankard of milk”; experiencing a sense of shame at being seen in a hackney coach. “To Park in a hackney coach, so would not go into the Tour, but round the Park, and to the House, and there at the door eat and drank.”

His criticism of dress was strong to the last, for one of the first entries he makes after the return of “London” to Hyde Park was on 21st April 1666, and runs:

“Thence, with my Lord Brouncke [the first President of the Royal Society] in his coach to Hide Parke, the first time I have been there this year. There the King was; but I was sorry to see my Lady Castlemaine, for the mourning forceing all the ladies to go in black, with their hair plain, and without any spots [patches] I find her to be a much more ordinary woman than ever I durst have thought she was.”

When the effect of the Plague and Fire had worn off, Hyde Park evidently became gayer and gayer. Our old Diarist, who, like all the gossips of the seventeenth century, was gifted with great powers of curiosity and criticism, gives a full account of May Day, 1667.

At this time a most eccentric figure played a conspicuous part in Society, in the person of the Duchess of Newcastle. Her attire and equipage were so peculiar that she never sallied forth without a crowd of boys and girls following to look at the113 quaint display. Such a sight would delight Pepys, who several times mentions, with genuine disappointment, the fact of not being able to see her properly on account of the crowd of onlookers who formed her escort. She was a great attraction in the Park on this May Day, for we read:

“Thence Sir W. Pen and I in his coach, Tiburne way, into the Park, where a horrid dust, and number of coaches without pleasure or order. That which we, and almost all went for, was to see my Lady Newcastle; which we could not, she being followed and crowded upon by coaches all the way she went, that nobody could come near her; only I could see she was in a large black coach adorned with silver instead of gold, and so white curtains, and every thing black and white, and herself in her cap, but other parts I could not make. But that which I did see, and wonder at with reason, was to find Peggy Penn in a new coach, with only her husband’s pretty sister with her, both patched and very fine, and in much the finest coach in the park, and I think that ever I did see one or other, for neatness and richness of gold, and everything that is noble. My lady Castlemayne, the King, my Lord St. Albans, nor Mr. St. Jermyn have so neat a coach that ever I saw. And Lord! to have them have this, and nothing else that is correspondent, is to me one of the most ridiculous sights that ever I did see, though her present dress was well enough, but to live in the condition they do at home, and be abroad in this coach, astonishes me.”

Reviews were held frequently. In the autumn of 1668, Pepys attended one of these: “Colonel114 the Duke of Monmouth in mighty rich clothes, but the well-ordering of the men I understand not,” he writes. A “thousand coaches” were present, for it was a gay sight. The soldiers on these occasions made a brave show with their Cavalier hats and bright coats, while even the horses were bedecked with ribbons on their heads, manes, and tails.

The next year saw the fulfilment of a long-deferred hope in Pepys’ fashionable life, for he then started his own coach. His words are too quaint to omit:

“Thence to Hyde Park, the first time we were there this year, or ever in our own coach, where with mighty pride rode up and down, and many coaches there; and I thought our horses and coach as pretty as any there, and observed so to be by others. Here staid till night.”

The new coach was put to frequent use. A fortnight later he writes:

“Thence to the Park, my wife and I: and here did Sir W. Coventry first see me and my wife in a coach of our own: and so did also this night the Duke of York, who did eye my wife mightily. But I begin to doubt that my being so much seen in my own coach at this time may be observed to my prejudice: but I must venture now.”

This new purchase added much to Mr. and Mrs. Pepys’ enjoyment of the May-Day show, although their tempers were none of the best on that occasion, seemingly:

“At noon home to dinner, and there find my wife extraordinary fine, with her flowered tably115 gown that she made two years ago, now laced exceeding pretty; and indeed was fine all over; and mighty earnest to go though the day was very lowering; and she would have me put on my fine suit, which I did. And so anon we went alone through the town with our new liveries of serge, and the horses’ manes and tails tied with red ribbons, and the standards there gilt with varnish, and all clean, and green reines, that people did mightily look upon us; and the truth is, I did not see any coach more pretty though more gay, than ours, all the day. But we set out, out of humour—I because Betty, whom I expected, was not to come to go with us; and my wife that I would sit on the same seat with her, which she likes not, being so fine: and she then expected to meet Sheres, which we did in Pell Mell, and against my will, I was forced to take him into the coach, but was sullen all day almost, and little complaisant; the day also being unpleasing, though the Park full of coaches, but dusty and windy and cold, and now and then a little dribbling rain; and what made it worst there were so many hackney coaches as spoiled the sight of the Gentlemen’s; and so we had little pleasure. But here was W. Batelier and his sister in a borrowed coach by themselves, and I took them and we to the Lodge; and at the door did give them a syllabub and other things cost me 12s. and pretty merry: and so back to the coaches and there till evening.”

It was at a Review a few days after that Pepys “saw more, walking out of my coach as other gentlemen did, of a soldier’s trade than ever I did in my116 life; the men being mighty fine, and their commanders, particularly the Duke of Monmouth, but methought the trade but very easy as to the mustering of their men, but indifferently ready to perform what was commanded, in the handling of arms.” This entry is followed up by a bit of gossip such as Pepys dearly loved to retail:

“Here the news first talked of Harry Killigrew’s being wounded in nine places last night by footmen in the highway, going from the Park in a hackney coach towards Hammersmith to his house at Turnham Greene; they being supposed to be my Lady Shrewsbury’s men, she being by, in her coach with six horses, upon an old grudge.”

The above quotations are among the closing entries of the old writer. That month of May often brought him to Hyde Park—“in our own coach” as he proudly indites. He drove there on Whit-Sunday, and twice took his wife for refreshment to “The World’s End,” which he describes as a drinking-house by the Park, at Knightsbridge; and both he and Evelyn mention the wonderful display of fireworks on the King’s birthday (29th May 1669).

Records and letters preserved by many of the noble families contain numerous references to the gaieties of Hyde Park under the Restoration.

In the Harley Papers at Welbeck Abbey, and the Rutland Manuscripts at Belvoir Castle, letters exist written by Edward Harley to his father, Sir Edward Harley, and from Lady Mary Bertie to her niece, describing in detail the review that was held in “Hide Parke” in honour of the visit of the117 Prince of Orange (afterwards William III.), then a youth of nineteen. Mr. Harley says: “Yesterday there was a review in Hyde Park of all the Guards, horse, foot, cannon, and pioneers, to entertain the Prince of Orange.”

Lady Rachel Russell writes to Lady Granby at Belvoir Castle:

“Lady Salisbury was at Hyde Park a Sunday night, mighty Frenchified in her dresse, as your brother says.... Mr. Beaumont was upon the road and met two coaches and six horses, and the lady lifted up a curtain, and in French, spoke to aske how far ’twas to Hatfield.”

This was another evidence of the love of everything French under the régime of Charles II.

With another letter from the Rutland Papers, delightful and only a trifle scandalous, this chapter may be fitly closed. The little incident, told in such a matter-of-fact way, of her Grace of Sussex and Madame Mazarin going down to St. James’s Park with drawn swords under their night-gowns, and making “several fine passes” before an applauding circle of men, tells more of those times than pages of moralising. It is from Lady Chaworth to Lord Ross:

Dec. 25, 1676.

“... I shall send your Lordship the peck of chesnuts, and 5 lb. of vermicelli by the Munday carrier, and hope you will find them all good, 3 lb. of the vermicelli being the same, but made up in new shapes, which Signore Brunetti sends me word the King had 300 lb. of last weeke.... Lady 118Sussex is not yet gone, but my Lord is better and holds his resolution of goeing as soone as the weather breakes up to make good travailing. She and Madame Mazarin have privately learnt to fence, and went downe into St. James’s Parke the other day with drawne swords under theire night gownes, which they drew out and made severall fine passes with, to the admiration of severall men that was lookers on in the Parke.... The Dutchesse [of York, sister-in-law to Charles II.] is much delighted with making and throwing of snowballs, and pelted the Duke soundly with one the other day, and ran away quick into her closet and he after her, but she durst not open the doore. She hath also great pleasure in one of those sledges they call Trainias, and is pulled up and downe the ponds in them every day, as also the King, which are counted dangerous things, and none can drive the horse which draws them about but the Duke of Monmouth, Mr. Griffin, and Mr. Godolphin, and a fourth whose name I have forgot!”




A Well-known story relates that one day Charles II. was returning from Hyde Park, where he was just as fond of walking as James Duke of York was of riding. He was attended by two courtiers only, and was crossing at Hyde Park Corner when he met James coming home from the hunt on Hounslow Heath. The Duke of York was driving in great style in his coach, with an escort of Royal Horse Guards. He stopped, stepped from his carriage to greet the King, and remonstrated with him for putting himself in danger by walking in the public highway attended by only two gentlemen.

“No kind of danger,” said Charles, “for I am sure that no man in England will take away my life to make you King!”

And King Charles, who knew men and women well, and concealed many a telling truth under his buoyant humour, was quite right. The three years of James II.’s misrule are doubtless full of interest to the historian, but they give little material for this volume, and may be passed over with a bare mention.

Society, however, pursued its way, and the daily drive and lounge survived during all the religious120 and political turmoil. Hyde Park remained the great rendezvous, though James was rarely seen there, and under the trees were discussed, as of old, the affairs of the Court, the plots of the Roman Catholics, precedence of great ladies, rivalries and jealousie, dress and equipage. A new excitement was added to the fashionable walk by a custom which began among the beaux and grandes dames of wearing masks in the Park, and by their means many intrigues were set afoot. Philip 2nd Earl of Chesterfield has left in his Letters a short correspondence with a masked lady with whom he had walked in the Park four times. She remained unknown. It was a point of honour not to attempt to identify a masked person unless the name was guessed outright.

What a curious thing it must have been to see men and women at all hours of the day walking or riding masked. They even went to theatres so disguised. These half-masks were called “visors,” and by some people “hide-blushes.”

Others found methods of gallantry more daring than this. From Nell Gwynne’s time—I do not know whether the Royal favourite’s previous and more honourable calling had anything to do with it—it had become the custom to buy oranges and cakes from orange-girls in Hyde Park. This custom lasted for many years. Constant mention is made of these girls in the gossip of the day, and they are reported to have carried more romantic wares than the yellow fruit, for they were often the chosen bearers of billets doux from gallants to their ladies, and vice versâ.


From the half concealment of a mask it was but a step for a great lady of a sportive turn to disguise herself as an orange girl and bear the burden of the basket, the true owner of which, washed, painted and powdered, and dressed out of recognition, mixed among the gay crowd and added to their bewilderment. The great figure of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough appears as one of those who found amusement in this very undignified change of station.

King James retired, unlamented, into exile, and his daughter Mary and William of Orange came over to take the English throne. Though great as a Queen, Mary seems to have been a somewhat unfilial daughter, if we accept Evelyn’s testimony when saying that she came into Whitehall “laughing and jolly as to a wedding, seeming quite transported,” or that other account of her routing about the Queen’s apartments, in and out of every room, in her night attire, before the household were astir in the morning.

The fashionable crowd about the Parks seemed less at ease, and no doubt there were numerous absentees. Men pursuing their daily duties, the merchant in the City, or the dandy of the day sauntering in the morning, on whom the slightest suspicion of Jacobitism rested, would be accosted by a gruff individual, shown a Privy Council warrant, and dragged off, ruffle, cravat, embroideries, and wig notwithstanding. An ignominious retreat from a gay scene or a busy world.

Writing in 1690 to her husband, William III., who was in Holland, Queen Mary says: “I was122 only last night in Hyde Park, for the first time since you went: it swarmed with those that are now ordered to be clapt up.”

Mary, unfortunately, was not able to convey much of her “jolliness” to the Park, where the lighter side of London life loved to assemble. King William suffered from asthma, and a damp riverside Palace at Westminster did not suit him. He was recommended to migrate to Kensington, near the Gravel Pits. This was far remote from the town; but possibly the dryness of the gravel soil settled the choice.

Ten years after his reign began, old Whitehall Palace was consumed in flames, and the severance was then complete. The King had bought a house and grounds from the Earl of Nottingham, and there raised the present building of Kensington Palace, wherein Queen Victoria was born.

Though still so near, Hyde Park saw little of them, for William was occupied in State affairs, and Queen Mary preferred the quietness of their private gardens. Thus whatever little tone and vigour remained in Society, soon disappeared, and a greater laxity made itself apparent. The Park, as it ceased to be a Royal preserve and properly cared for, became infested with undesirable characters, and Knightsbridge, which, as already mentioned, had always been looked on as a locality frequented by robbers, presented many hiding-places for footpads of the most desperate description. Hyde Park sank into a period of degradation unexampled either before or since.


Still it was an age of romance. It is rather amusing to read of the tax on bachelors. It must be remembered that at the beginning of the reign of William and Mary the population of England was only five and a half millions, and the revenue amounted to £1,400,000.

No wonder that in 1695 an Act was passed obliging all bachelors and widowers above twenty-five years old to pay a tax of one shilling yearly; a bachelor or widower duke, £12, 10s.; a marquis, £10 a year.

While attempting to increase the revenues, the only attempt made at municipal improvement during the reign seems to have been the lighting of the principal thoroughfares from St. James’s. Apparently William had little use for the Park but to pass through it and the Green Park on his way from Kensington to the town, and this he often had to do after sunset. The road was rough and dark; in fact, was altogether unsafe after nightfall. The King decided that, whatever the cost, it must be lighted. Accordingly he had about three hundred lamps placed along the way. But this was too great an expense in those days to be kept up except in the winter, and the spluttering oil-wick lamps only dimly lighted it for a few months of the year.

This was rather a difference from our present-day lighting arrangements, which many people still consider totally insufficient. Vice flies before illumination. In this year of grace the Park is lighted with electric arc lamps as well as incandescent gas. The policy is to light up main124 roads and paths, but not the whole surface of the Park. Certain wide spaces, like the “Lecture Ground” near the Marble Arch, the road from the Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner, and the Band Stand enclosure, are lighted by electricity.

When William and Mary increased the popularity of Kensington by going to live at the new Palace, they also improved the prospects of the ever enterprising light-handed fraternity. Social gatherings of all sorts took place, gambling was indulged in for high stakes, and ladies attending Court functions at St. James’s and private entertainments at Kensington had to pass along this dreary road, laden with jewels or the proceeds of the basset tables. The thieves were so active and daring that at last a guard-house had to be erected within the park, and the place patrolled, while on occasions of any Court functions the Park guard was doubled.

The London Post of 7th December 1699 records that

“On Monday night the Patroul of the Guards was doubled between Kensington and the City, and marched continually to and fro till day to prevent any Robberies being committed upon those that returned from the Basset-tables held there that Evening.”

In ill-repute though it had become, “persons of quality” still enjoyed their afternoon drive in Hyde Park. Its worst side was reserved for the night. The gilded coaches, the painted women, and swaggering men, with their wigs, their long waistcoats and125 their swords, moving about among the trees, gave an appearance of festivity, even if the times were remarkably dull. Tom Brown’s Amusements Serious and Comical, published in 1700, gives a picture of Hyde Park manners near the close of William III.’s reign which is certainly not edifying. The author is supposed to be showing “an Indian” over London:

“From Spring Garden we set our Faces towards Hide Park, where Horses have their Diversions as well as Men, and Neigh and Court their Mistresses almost in as intelligible a Dialect. Here People Coach it to take the Air, amidst a Cloud of Dust, able to choak a Foot Soldier, and hinder’d us from seeing those that come hither on purpose to show themselves. However, we made hard shift to get now and then a glance at some of them.

“Here we saw much to do about nothing: a World of Brave Men, Gilt Coaches, and Rich Liveries. Within some of them were Upstart Courtiers, blown up as big as Pride and Vanity could swell them to; as if a Stake had been driven through them. It would hurt their Eyes to exchange a Glance upon anything that’s Vulgar, and that’s the Reason they are so sparing of their Looks, that they will neither Bow nor move their Hats to anything under a Duke or a Duchess, and yet if you examine some of their Original; a Covetous, Soul-less Miser, or a great Oppressor, laid the Foundation of their Families, and in their Retinue there are more Creditors than Servants.


“‘See,’ says my Indian, ‘what a Bevy of Gallant Ladies are in yonder Coaches; some are Singing, others Laughing, others Tickling one another, and all of them Toying and devouring Cheese-cakes, March Pane, and China Oranges. See that Lady,’ says he; ‘was ever anything so black as her Eye and so clear as her Forehead? one would swear her face had taken its Tincture from all the Beauties in Nature.’ ‘And yet perhaps,’ answered I to my Fellow-Traveller, ‘all this is but Imposture; she might, for ought we know, got to Bed last night as ugly as a Hagg, tho’ she now appears like an Angel; and if you did but see this Puppet taken to pieces, her whole is but Paint and Plaster ... these are Birds to amuse one, that change their Feathers two or three times a Day.... In a word, the generality of Women are Peacocks when they walk: Water-wagtails when they are within doors, and Turtles when they meet Face to Faces.’”

Even in broad daylight the fashionable throngs were liable to be subjected to annoyance. In the Post Boy of 7th June 1695 it says:

“Some days since several Persons of Quality having been affronted at the Ring in Hide Park, by some other Persons that rode in Hackney Coaches with Masks, and Complaint thereof being made to the Lords Justices, an order is made that no Hackney Coaches be permitted to go into the said Park, and that none presume to appear there in masks.”

The law against hackney coaches survives, and they are still only allowed to cross between the127 Park and Kensington Gardens. Masked ladies and gallants have ceased to exist, although a music-hall performer, apparently wishing to attract attention and advertisement, drove through Hyde Park fully masked in 1906, and even plunged into the Serpentine to rescue a boy she presumed to be drowning. The modern policeman on duty probably had never heard of the old law forbidding masks to be worn in the Park, and let the good lady pass with a smile.

The deplorable condition into which affairs had fallen is duly admitted in the Act of Parliament passed in 1695, the preamble of which recites: “Whereas the crimes of burglary and breaking open of houses in a felonious manner, and the crime of stealing goods privately out of shops and warehouses, commonly called Shop-lifting, and the stealing of horses, are of late years much increased.” However, the method adopted for dealing with the growing evil shows how little the true means of diminishing crime and handling criminals was then understood. The Act provided that—

“All and every person or persons, who shall apprehend and take any person guilty of any of the felonies beforementioned, and prosecute him, her, or them so apprehended and taken, until he, she, or they be convicted of any of the aforesaid felonies, such apprehenders and takers, for his, her, or their reward, upon every such conviction, without any fee or reward to be paid for the same, shall have forthwith, after every fresh conviction, a certificate, which shall be under the hand or hands of a judge, Justice or128 justices, before whom every such conviction shall be had, certifying such conviction, etc. ... which certificate shall and may be once assigned over and no more, and the original proprietor of such certificate, or the assignee of the same, whomsoever of them shall have the interest therein, by virtue thereof and this present Act, shall and may be discharged of and from all and all manner of parish and ward wherein such felony or felonies shall be committed, and such party or assignee is hereby declared to be discharged therefrom.”

A fee of one shilling was charged for the enrolling of this certificate, which became known as the “Tyburn Ticket,” and acted as a small incentive to the righteous to bring the thief to the gallows. It remained in use for more than a century.

As late as 1772 the state of Hyde Park was so bad that a bell used to be rung at stated intervals in Kensington, to gather together people who had ventured from London and were wishing to return. When a sufficient number had assembled the party started eastwards, and were safely escorted through the lonely neighbourhood of Hyde Park by the guard. Mr. Horsley, the artist, mentions in his Memoirs that a friend of his childhood could remember this arrangement, and he himself knew the time the Park gates were closed at eight o’clock in the evenings.

Tyburn Ticket.
Preserved in the Guildhall Library. Market value in the 18th Century was from £25 to £30.

London was, indeed, unsafe at night until well into the last century. In fact, when the great Duke of Wellington was speaking in the House of Lords in favour of the Police Act, he was able to quote—as129 proof of need of an efficient police force—that his mother’s coach had been stopped in Grosvenor Place, and valuables, money, and jewellery carried off.

Twice at least Queen Mary reviewed the troops in Hyde Park when her husband was absent on the Continent; not, it would seem, with very good grace. “I go,” she wrote to him, “to Hyde Park to see the Militia drawn out there next Monday; you may believe I go against my will.” It was necessary to keep well-drilled regiments in readiness for action in those troublous times, and this great open space formed an excellent manœuvring ground. James, on the French side of the Channel, was always a source of danger, while Jacobite risings might occur at any time, and William’s wars in the Netherlands were no light matter. In 1692 it was deemed wise to be ready for a French invasion, and trained bands in the Cities of London and Westminster were assembled to the number of ten thousand.

In the closing days of the year 1694, Queen Mary lay dying at Kensington Palace. News then spread but slowly. A man was seen lurking among the bushes and swampy thickets in Hyde Park and round Kensington Gardens. As darkness gathered he became somewhat bolder, and kept in sufficient communication with passers-by to find out how events were going. This vigil was kept in order that he might at once convey the news to James II. at St. Germains. Mary died in the early hours of the morning on 28th December, and long before daylight the Jesuit was making his way towards130 the coast to cross the Channel with the news for King James. It is related that the exile was in great grief, not only at his daughter’s death, but because there had been no reconciliation, nor was there even a message for him from the deathbed.

After William and Mary came Queen Anne. She was not the person to become a leader of society and raise its tone. She seldom did anything smart. A good, homely soul, wrapped up in her domestic surroundings, she tried hard to be an example to those about her, and help forward anything beneficial to her kingdom. But political personages rather than Society gathered round her. She took little interest in sport or games, and her drives in the Park were more for the benefit of her health than to attend social functions or big shows.

Poor Anne! The mother of nineteen children, all of whom died in infancy or early youth, those rows of little coffins in Westminster Abbey tell in heartbreaking accents the tragedy of her life. She was afflicted with gout, and, having lost her husband, to whom she was devoted, no wonder she found it easier to let Society take care of itself, and Sarah Jennings and Mrs. Masham rule over her.

Society did go on, but went too far and too fast.

There is an old Satire containing many quaint descriptions of the modes of the day in Hyde Park. It is too wordy to be reprinted in full, but the part here given will suffice for the purpose:









RING in Hide-Park.

Sunt quos Curriculo Pulverem Olympicum.
Colegisse juvat.Horat. Od. I.


Printed: and Sold by the Booksellers of
London and Westminster. 1709.

Price One Penny.


British Olympicks, &c.

From vulgar Eyes, on Plains exalted high,
Where noble Dust does in Confusion fly,
Whither the Wealthy and the Great repair,
To draw Contagion from polluted Air.
In gilded Chariots some delight to ride,
And with their Folly, gratify their Pride,
While the vile ends they court from this Address,
Gives them false Notions of true Happiness.
A thousand diff’rent whims possess the Mind,
To-day they love, to-Morrow are Inclin’d
Fantastically to vary like the Wind,
Flora her-self, tho’ much more nice and gay,
Changes her Liv’ry not so oft as they.
But Heavens, is’t possible for to believe
Mankind should study Mankind to deceive,
To see such glorious Shows of outside shine
And find no kind of furniture within,
Ensigns of Grandeur painted at the Door,
But all within diminutively poor?
The gawdy Slaves may show their Master’s vain,
And cheat the unwary with a num’rous Train;
That spite of all the tawdry Coat and Lace,
Th’ unthinking Thing will peep out of the Glass,
And shew the Multitude his Monkey-Face.
Sometimes alone th’ insipid Ideot rowls
The Admiration of fond gazing Fools,
Whose slender Opticks can no further go,
Than to the Splendor of the gilded Show.
Sometimes to prove their Conversation bright,
They bring with them a Gamester, Rake, or Wit;
Then decently deride the beauteous Ring,
And bawdy Jests around the Circle fling.
With bouncing Bell a lusheous Chat they hold,
Squabble with Mall, or Orange Betty scold,
Then laugh immoderately, vain and loud,
To raise the wonder of th’ attentive Crowd;
At last to finish here their Puppy-Show
The Bawd’s dispatched to serve a Billet doux.
Here, in this view, a thousand diff’rent ways
There are, to raise Men’s wonder, and to please:
Some satisfy with gaudy Cloaths their Pride,
And some in Stuffs so in a Coach will ride;
Such diff’rent things our Inclination guide,
No Hunger pinches, when prepared with Pride.
Six Days the Niggard shall his Carcass pine,
That on the seventh he may nobly dine.
Th’ ambitious Fair aspiring to be Great,
Shall for these Ends, refuse to drink or eat,
So that on Sunday they be sure to bring
A handsome Equipage to make the Ring.
Others there are, rather than not appear,
Will hire a Chariot fifty times a year;
Good natur’d Madam strip her Petticoat
To make her Coachman fine in a Surtoot;
Tho’ in a Garret laid, and homely Bed,
The Coach and Horses still run in her Head.
Those quell the Vapours, and those stagnant Fumes,
Which, as ’tis said, for want of Motion comes;
For Hippo will in some so strongly fix
It can’t be cur’d without a Coach and six;
Whose swift career whirls with such force about,
It drives gymnastickly the Vapour out;
Seldom to Park the good-natured Ninny drives,
But pleads, thus must we do to please our Wives.
Here Heads ’gainst Heads are drawn up in Array,
When careless Negligence shall win the Day;
Hoods against Hoods, and Ribbons singly prove
The Colour which conduces most to love;
Ev’n Handkerchiefs are Ensigns now of War,
At once attract our Eyes, and guard the Fair,
Thus glitt’ring Ornaments most deeply wound,
And dart us thro’, as hurry’d swiftly round.
Just like the heated Wheels, the Heart grows warm,
And struggling Nature sucks in ev’ry Charm;
Lab’ring for Breath, instead of cooling Air,
We draw in Poyson, cast out by the Fair.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, herself a constant visitor to the Park, writing to her future husband a couple of years later, refers to the same scene: “... all the fine equipages that shine in the Ring, never gave me another thought than either pity or contempt for the owners, that could place happiness in attracting the eye of strangers.”

From the days of her early childhood, Lady Mary had been before the eyes of London Society, as well as an admired member. The daughter of the Duke of Kingston, she shone not merely for her ready wit, and in the Courts of George I. and135 George II., but she introduced inoculation for smallpox in England. Not only did Mary II. in England and Louis XV. of France die of smallpox; but William III. and Caroline Wilhelmina, wife of George II., were fearfully disfigured by its ravages. Even kings were not immune. One has only to read the Correspondence of those days, and the frequent mention of beautiful women and comely men marked with that frightful disease, to realise the strides science has made in conquering this malady. One wonders what would be Lady Mary’s piquant remark could she now see the enormous development of inoculation for other diseases made by science to-day.

As a child she became the toast of the Kit-cat Club, one of the first of these institutions ever formed. The exigencies of the times necessitated gentlemen having some place where those of like politics and tastes could meet; and several Whig noblemen and esquires held their assemblies at a public-house “with the sign of the Cat and Fiddle,” in Shire Lane, which was kept by Christopher Kat. Amongst its members were the most distinguished men of the day, and when politics assumed a less pronounced tone, men of literary and other merits were accepted as members. This club finally moved to Barn Elms, and is known as Ranelagh to-day.

Among the habitués of the Park was Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who took a prominent place in the Society of this reign, while another impressive figure was the Duchess of Buckingham. The Duke of Buckingham bought the house that136 Lord Arlington had built in the Mulberry Gardens, and changed its name to Buckingham House, the year after Anne’s accession. His lady was the illegitimate daughter of James II. and the Countess of Dorchester, and never was a real Royal Princess more exacting as to regal precedence and etiquette. On the anniversary of the execution of her grandfather, Charles I., she used to sit in Buckingham House in state, attired in deep mourning; and from both Anne and George I. she claimed the right of driving through the Royal private enclosures near St. James’s Palace. When her only son died, she demanded from the Duchess of Marlborough the loan of the wonderful coach that had borne the body of the Duke from Marlborough House to St. Paul’s, and, on receiving a curt refusal, ordered one to exceed it in grandeur to be built. Thereupon she made all preparations for her own obsequies, and wrote epitaphs for her son and herself, insisting that their remains should be buried in Westminster Abbey.

The Drinking Well in Hyde Park.

It is well to imagine the setting in which these leaders of Society showed themselves in their daily drives. Wild and beautiful, no doubt, was the Hyde Park of Queen Anne, but it was not the luxurious garden that we now know. Let us obliterate for a moment from our mind’s eye the well-kept grounds of our favourite resort, with the waters of the Serpentine sparkling in the sun, and replace them by thickets and brushwood growing on marshy ground, here and there stagnant pools, with the pungent smell that ever pervades any tract of swampy forest-land; while instead of the137 light iron railing that encloses Hyde Park of to-day, there stood the solid wall which had taken the place of Henry VIII.’s wooden paling.

In 1712, Anne issued further orders “for the better keeping of Hyde Park.” Gatekeepers were always to be on duty, and not to sell intoxicating liquors. No one was to leap or ride over ditches and fences, or to break the latter, and this also applied to the banks of ponds. No person was to ride over the grass on the south side of the gravelled coach road except Henry Wise, who was permitted to cross the part of the Park leading to the door in the Park wall next his plantation. Nobody should cut or lop trees, and the law forbidding hackney coaches was extended to stage coaches, chaises with one horse, carts, waggons, and funerals.

Gardens were becoming the fashion at this time, and Evelyn twice mentions visiting the wonderful nursery gardens belonging to Mr. Wise at Brompton, the site of famous nurseries until quite a recent date.

A great sensation was caused a few years later, in the reign of George I., when some men of good birth one day hired a hackney coach, drawn by six horses in the most terrible state of decay. Scavengers were mounted on the box as footmen; chimney-sweepers acted as postillions and shoeblacks ran behind.

The originators of the “joke” themselves entered the coach, and, making a dash through the gates of Hyde Park, drove their dying steeds furiously to the Ring and took their turn round it before they could be prevented.


Although Queen Anne did not herself encourage people to waste their time in the Parks, her reign saw Society considerably broadened, somewhat to the disgust of the older families. The City merchants on the Sabbath sallied forth with their fine ladies to join the habitual frequenters, and the Church parade of gallants and dames became an important function.

Society spent most of its Sundays there in the season, meeting and chatting just as Society does to-day, and so began the custom of sitting out on sunny Sunday afternoons, as is still the fashion. Church-going was merely an opportunity for show, of bowing to acquaintances who were present at the prayer-meeting, and probably making arrangements for further gossip at a later hour of the day, especially at St. Paul’s. The fashionable service was in the afternoon, after which people again repaired to the Park.

Colley Cibber, in his Apology for my Life, writes:

“Kynaston (the celebrated actor) at that time was so beautiful a youth that the Ladies of Quality prided themselves in taking him with them in their Coaches to Hyde Park, in his Theatrical Habit, after the Play, which in those days they might have sufficient time to do, because Plays then were us’d to begin at four a-clock, the Hour that People of the same Rank are now going to Dinner.”

What would poor old Colley Cibber, who was so surprised at a four o’clock dinner, say to the fashionable hour in London of eight or half past? Everything is later. We get up later, breakfast later, lunch later; have instituted “tea” since139 those days, and have our dinner when those good folk had their suppers. And what would the theatrical world say to a performance beginning at four o’clock in London, although in many German towns it still starts at six; but then in the little German towns people dine at one o’clock, as they used to do in England formerly. Only in Berlin does Society wear dress clothes, and take the meal after seven o’clock in full feckle.

Knowing the attractions of Hyde Park for a certain section of great folk in the reign of Edward VII., it is amusing to read the Tattler of two hundred years ago speaking of the strange infatuation of walking in the Park in spring. The gossiping writer says that

“No frost, snow, nor east wind can hinder a large set of people from going to the park in February, no dust nor heat in June. And this is come to such an intrepid regularity, that those agreeable creatures that would shriek at an hind-wheel in a deep gutter, are not afraid in their proper sphere of the disorder and danger of seven crowded rings.”

Later, Addison, remarking on this same custom, points out the mischief-making done by the servants when waiting for their masters and mistresses at the entrance to the Park: “The next place of resort,” he says, “wherein the servile world are let loose, is at the entrance of Hyde Park, while the gentry are at the Ring. Hither people bring their lacqueys out of state, and here it is that all they say at their tables, and act in their houses, is communicated to the whole town.”

Whether these comments put an end to servants140 wasting their time, wagging their tongues, and their general want of law and order while waiting at the Park, is unrecorded, but the rule forbidding them access to Kensington Gardens was still in existence, as quoted in the Introduction: “Working people, servants in livery, and dogs were not allowed in Kensington Gardens. On the occasion of a storm the rule was relaxed, and footmen, for once, were allowed to bring in the umbrellas.”




Society from the time of the Revolution had gradually drifted into an independent existence, and was no longer dominated by the influence of the Court. The hatred entertained by Queen Mary, the Consort of William III., towards the supporters of her father was probably responsible for this in a great measure. The Jacobites in their turn entered into intrigue. As Queen Anne’s reign drew to a close, often beneath those old trees in Hyde Park, meetings were arranged under the very eyes of the Whigs. Signs and tokens communicated place and time, surrounding the conspirators still with that touch of romance which always clung to the fortunes of the Stuarts.

Meanwhile another vast social change had been creeping over London and London life.

The Great Fire had proved a dominating factor in the growth and development of Society in the capital. The poor, starving, homeless wretches at Islington and Moorfields, in 1666, could see nothing in the disaster but calamity and despair. The wealthy merchant bemoaned his losses. Those who had lost nothing and suffered nothing regarded the flames as a disinfectant from the Plague, an142 unrivalled opportunity for improving streets and houses. Despondency soon gave place to the excitement and interests of rebuilding the town. Many of the wealthy merchants and aristocratic residents of the City, finding themselves homeless, erected houses in Holborn and thereabouts, a neighbourhood which before that time had been occupied by mansions of great noblemen, the laws of Elizabeth and James I. against building between Temple Bar and Whitehall having kept the district fairly clear.

This exodus from the City had the same effect in those days that the modern red brick villa has on the present generation. The aristocracy fled before it and moved westwards. Lord Burlington went to Sir John Denham’s house, enlarged it, and named it Burlington House; Lord Berkeley built Berkeley House, which was burnt down later, on the site where Devonshire House now stands. Many others of the nobility followed suit. Added to this, the introduction of the coach brought country gentry so much more frequently to town that they also needed houses of their own, and joined the westward “trek.”

Entrance to Hyde Park on a Sunday.
From a Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

The student of social development finds a yet deeper change in the migration. Class distinction became strongly marked. It was no longer considered dignified to belong to the City of London, and trade devolved on the middle class, who henceforth held positions that had been filled by the younger branches of the nobility. Thus the Society of the City of Westminster looked down on the Society of the City of London, and nowhere was this143 more emphasised than in Hyde Park, which the aristocracy regarded as their own. It was only on Sundays that the City of London hied thither, and on these occasions My Lady turned up her nose and My Lord sniffed high in the air, while the Londoners stared and remarked on the fine inhabitants of the western city.

Under the Georges this feeling did not abate; in fact, during the week the high-born aristocracy regarded Hyde Park as so exclusively their happy playground, that in the early Georgian days ladies and gentlemen spoke without introductions. Everybody knew who everybody else was. The chief course of study the Society lady pursued was that of heraldry and pedigree. It must be borne in mind that the aristocracy were not so numerous as in these times. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the whole population of London was but half a million.

Livery servants were allowed to enter Hyde Park, although still excluded from St. James’s and Kensington Gardens, and when ladies walked in the Park they were attended by a flunkey carrying a long staff as his rod of office, and often by a little black slave-boy.

Manners and morals were sadly missing in this fashionable centre. The licentiousness established under Charles II. had spread and thrived throughout the realm, and George I. and his son publicly encouraged it. In fact, when the former attended the theatre he was carried in his sedan-chair with a guard before and behind, and his two mistresses—popularly known as the “Elephant” and the144 “Maypole,” from their respective breadth and length,—brought up the rear, borne by men in the Royal livery.

It is hard for the Londoner of 1908 to realise that two hundred years ago neither children, nor the “man in the street,” nor the loafer, nor the orator, were permitted to enter Hyde Park. In fact, the only part the poor labouring folk ever knew of it was its high brick wall.

When the Jacobite risings were fermenting, a military camp was formed in Hyde Park. The newspapers contain grand accounts of the rejoicings among the troops, and the feast given to the men by the Duke of Montague, who was in command, in honour of the Prince of Wales’s birthday.

Joseph Addison, writing to a friend in June 1715, says:

Sir,—Yesterday the King reviewed the Horse Guards in Hyde Park. His Majesty made so good a figure on horseback, was followed by such prodigious numbers of people who pressed about him to kiss his stirrups, and huzza’d with such acclamations of joy and good-will, that it is hoped by his friends that His Majesty will take more frequent opportunities of being seen by the meaner sort of his people. One of the mob called out ‘High Church’ near the King at his going out of the Parke, for which he was immediately knocked and used very scurvily by the rest.”

PLAN OF HYDE PARK as it was in 1725.
From a Plan of the Parish of Sᵗ. George Hanover Square, in the Vestry Room of that Parish.

From Rocque’s Map.

An incident that happened during their stay well shows the temper of the times. May 29th came round, and two soldiers picked a sprig of oak from the old trees and stuck it in their caps,—a mere145 boyish fancy, no doubt, but one that savoured strongly of Jacobitism, for it called to mind Charles I., as well as the birthday and return of Charles II. So these unfortunate youths were drummed out of the army, and flogged almost to death.

May Fair, which had been abolished in 1708, was revived for the amusement of the soldiers. This fair first originated in the May-Day games that were held in Brookfields, on the banks of the Tyburn before it crossed Piccadilly. The whole thing had become so disorderly, however, that it was stopped by Queen Anne, probably in consideration for the owners of new houses near the fair ground. After its revival the fair was held annually until 1760. While the camp thus had brought disorder to Mayfair, it was a safeguard to Kensington, for it temporarily dispersed the bands of highwaymen who infested that part.

There are many records extant describing the immediate surroundings of Hyde Park at this time, those in the Muniment Room at Westminster Abbey being of special interest. Among them is a plan of the area of Knightsbridge abutting on Hyde Park Corner in 1719. The West-bourne flowed out where the Albert Gate now stands. On, or close to, the site of the French Embassy was the Lazar Hospital and some stocks, and nearer Hyde Park Corner, the Knightsbridge Chapel. On the opposite side of the road stood the “Roase Inn,” to which belonged a tract of land stretching east, and containing both a smithy and sheep-pens belonging to the inn. All this sounds strange, and yet there are several old farmhouses standing146 right in the heart of London to-day. The “Roase” was in existence until 1860, and was then known as “The Rose and Crown.” What a different scene was this ordinary drinking house from that on the other side of the brick wall.

The 18th century were the days of the beaux, who appeared in Hyde Park in their chairs to lounge, chaff the orange-girls and flower-sellers, and exchange comments with the fair occupants of the coaches and calèches.

In the Ring these chariots now acquired a splendour which represented great wealth. A curious incident had happened in the desire of Beau Fielding to figure as a descendant of the House of Hapsburg, from which he claimed descent. Appearing in a chariot of unparalleled gorgeousness, with the Hapsburg arms upon it, he excited the ire of Lord Denbigh, who had the undisputed right to the arms. This nobleman engaged a house-painter to await Fielding’s arrival in the Ring, and at the first opportunity this individual, taking the brush from a huge can of yellow paint which he carried, proceeded to cover the splendid coach of the aspirant with daubs, entirely obliterating the offending arms. Beau Fielding was left with the choice of retiring amidst the laughter the event created, or of reviving the joke each time he drove round the favoured circle.

We talk of our gay throng in Hyde Park to-day, as one of the most brilliant gatherings of beauty and fashion in the world. But what must the gorgeousness have been of those scenes a century and a half ago, when men as well as women wore147 bright colours and rich materials, and added airs and graces to their frills and laces?

Retiring to bed in the early hours of the morning, the dandy of the early Georges lay till noon, and then donned a shirt much befrilled, belaced, and embroidered, for the benefit of any chance visitor who might call. His periwig lay in full display somewhere in the room, curled, powdered, and scented according to the latest fashion. About midday he rose and performed his toilet, donning his gorgeous silken hose and coloured shoes glorified with silver buckles, his velvet breeches, embroidered waistcoat, and silken coat, then his periwig; and, posing before his mirror, he arranged his gay cravat, stuck on his patches, painted his face if necessary, scented his lace handkerchief—the fashionable lace was Valenciennes—attached his dangling sword, and took his meal. After this, his mirror was again resorted to for adjusting his hat in exactly the proper manner, his snuff-box was the finishing touch, and his chairmen then bore to the Park, or some other pleasure resort, this gentleman of fortune whose personal attire alone must have represented hundreds of pounds.

Any one who had been in the army always wore his scarlet uniform, while the private individual bedecked himself with coats of silks and brocades, velvets and satins, embroidered with gold. These garments the habitués of Hyde Park carried with such graceful bearing that a City of London man could be discerned at once from the gaucheries he performed. Few of the merchants wore silken coats, for so late as this the sumptuary laws of148 Elizabeth could be traced in the various grades and trades of the people. Even in 1908 have we not the blue smock of the butcher and our ’Varsity gowns surviving voluntarily as a relic of these old laws?

The daily appearance in the Park meant much more to the early eighteenth-century ladies than it does to Society dames of the present day. They saw little of their husbands, and were—so far as their home life went—often alone. They read practically nothing; in fact, their intellects were starved. Dress was their one and only idea, and engrossed much of the day, until they went to the Park in their grand equipages drawn by four horses, running footmen preceding, others following.

The ignorance of the age was deplorable. The gatherings of the wits and literary men, so famous under Anne, had been dispersed by the strong political force of Sir Robert Walpole. Addison, Swift, and Pope alone remained in prominence.

The Duchesses of Marlborough and Buckingham still vied with each other as to who should be the most important factor in Society. The Duchess of Shrewsbury; Miss Lepell, who afterwards married Lord Hervey; Mary Bellenden, the lady who refused the attentions of the Prince of Wales and married Colonel Campbell; Miss Howe, Lord Hervey, Sir Robert Walpole, and Lord Chesterfield, were all familiar figures in the haunts of Hyde Park. Added to these was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose sprightly conversation was in great request in those days.

MOLLY LEPELL, afterwards Lady Hervey.

Her tongue and pen had a somewhat sharp149 edge. She waged war on the ignorance of the day, and her Letters have come down to us full of the culture and cleverness for which she was distinguished. Writing to the Countess of Mar in 1723, she said:

“Your old friend Mrs. Lowther is still fair and young, and in pale pink every night in the Park; but after being highly in favour, poor I am in utter disgrace, without my being able to guess wherefore, except she fancied me the author or abettor of two vile ballads written on her ‘dying adventure,’ which I am so innocent of that I never saw.”

The explanation of the “dying adventure” is too good to pass over.

Mrs. Lowther was a sister of Lord Lonsdale, unmarried, and of high repute. All middle-aged unmarried women were addressed as “Mrs.” in those days, just as wives of our own time look upon that title as their prerogative. She happened to be sitting at breakfast with a friend when a new footman—an awkward country lad—announced “there was one as begged to see her.”

“What is his name?” she inquired.

“Don’t know,” was the reply.

“What sort of a person is he—a gentleman?”

“Can’t say rightly.”

“Go and ask him his business.”

The footman disappeared and returned with a broad grin on his face:

“Why, Madam, he says as how—he says he is——”

“Well, what does he say, fool?”

“He says he is one as dies for your Ladyship150.”

“Dies for me!” exclaimed the lady, annoyed beyond measure at the smile on the faces of her friend and the footman. “Was there ever such a piece of insolence? Turn him out of my house this minute. And, hark ye, shut the door in his face!”

The yokel obeyed, but setting about the matter with more force than the visitor would put up with, there was a scuffle, the neighbourhood was roused, the constable or watchman arrived, and the affair became serious. Finally, when matters were arranged by the arm of the law, and the caller could calmly explain himself, he proved to be one of Mrs. Lowther’s tradesmen, a dyer whom she often employed to freshen up her gowns.

One can quite imagine the glee with which the ladies related the story to their friends when they saw the pink gown appearing in the distance every evening.

Lady Mary seems to have bestowed much criticism on her contemporaries, both male and female. Pope—who, by the way, spent many of his young days near Hyde Park—was to her the “little wasp of Twickenham,” and in another letter of hers we find the following, in which runs a rich vein of sarcasm:

“Lady Hervey makes the top figure in town, and is so good a show twice a week at the Drawing-room, and twice more at the Opera, for the entertainment of the public.... Lady Hervey is more delightful than ever, and such a politician that if people were not blind to merit, she would govern the nation.”


These two instances are, perhaps, typical of the chatter that was rife in those daily drives and walks in Hyde Park when George II. came to the throne. Men enjoyed the gossip, as they do now. Would that we had a bioscope that would reproduce those picturesque groups lounging under the trees: Lord Hervey with his debonair appearance, the worldly Lord Chesterfield, and the numerous others who figure in the witty correspondences which became an art in the eighteenth century. Hyde Park supplied the subjects for many a long letter from Horace Walpole, George Selwyn, and their friends, written in such racy style that one can almost hear the chuckle with which a bit of “talk about town” was indited, or the approving laugh of the recipient as he read.

Under George II. change was busy. The spirit of gardening was abroad. People were tired of clipped hedges, trimmed shrubs, and the formality of the Dutch style. Queen Caroline beautified Kensington Gardens, and in doing so robbed Hyde Park of three hundred acres to give her greater scope. “Natural” gardening was the vogue, and this addition leant itself to her scheme.

The greatest change of all, for which habitués of the Park remain indebted to Queen Caroline, Consort of George II., was the Serpentine. It is still the finest sheet of water in any of the London parks, and has entirely altered the aspect from the large area over which it is visible.

Why “Serpentine”?

Perhaps five persons out of six, if asked to give the reason why this particular name was152 applied to the newly fashioned lake, would not be able to guess correctly. It was so called because of its shape. In fact, the bend is very small, barely noticeable, yet in its day it marked a revolt from the existing order of things. Hitherto no one in laying out ornamental water in a landscape garden had dared to depart from the perfectly straight line or square form which had been brought over from Holland, and was considered the acme of good taste. Queen Caroline was wise enough to break away from these absurd limitations, and the example she was among the first to set has since been followed with the happiest results. But so established was the idea of a square or oblong lake from which she departed, that map-makers (as will be seen in the accompanying map) represented the stretch of water in a quadrilateral form for some years.

Some ten or a dozen separate pools and ponds existed in Hyde Park before the work was undertaken. They were fed by the West-bourne, which trickled from one to another, and, leaving the grounds at their southern boundary, finally found a way into the river Thames. In the forest days these were the haunt of the heron, which is especially mentioned by Henry VIII. among the game to be strictly preserved. About these pools and marshes, as we know, bluff King Hal and his daughter Elizabeth flew their hawks. Later the brook itself became greatly fouled, and the ponds, which were almost stagnant, an offence rather than an addition to the amenities of the Park.

HYDE PARK in 1746.

From Rocque’s map of London.

Queen Caroline had the advice and assistance153 of Charles Withers, then Surveyor-General of Woods and Forests, in constructing the Serpentine. George II., believing that all the cost was being borne out of the Queen’s privy purse, generously abstained from interference in her schemes. It was not until after her death that he discovered that £20,000 of his own money had been expended in this and other improvements in the Park and gardens. The West-bourne was first drained by an embankment being thrown across it. The soil excavated for the foundation of the single great lake was then dumped down to raise the level of the ground at the south end of Kensington Gardens. On the summit of the little hill so formed was placed a small temple, which has since disappeared.

A couple of hundred men were employed on the work, which was begun in 1730. The “Old Lodge” was destroyed in order to form the new ornamental water, and the Ring, which had been the vogue for upwards of a century, went with it. The latter had ceased to be a gay and fashionable resort when the camp afforded a counter-attraction, and never recovered its popularity. Moreover, Newmarket had become the great racing centre, and the Ring thus passed out of existence ingloriously. The cost of the Serpentine is said to have been only £6000. Some years before, the Chelsea Waterworks had been granted the rights of supplying the new western suburbs with water from Hyde Park and St. James’s Park; but they now accepted compensation of £2500, and handed over their rights in Hyde Park for the new design. The Serpentine continued to derive its waters from the154 West-bourne until the stream became too polluted by the increase of population on its banks, when it was turned underground.

Major Hussey, of His Majesty’s Board of Works, kindly tells me that the present arrangements are as follows:

“Water is pumped into the Serpentine from shallow wells in St. James’s Park and also from a deep well at the head of the Serpentine; in the latter case, however, it is usually first pumped to the Round Pond, whence it returns by gravity to the Serpentine.

“Water can also, if necessary, be let into the Serpentine from the Water Board mains. No water now enters from the Westbourne Stream, which was originally the only supply.

“The Round Pond, the Serpentine, Buckingham Palace Lake, and St. James’s Park Lake, are all connected in the order named, and water can flow through the series.

“The fountains at the head of the Serpentine play by pressure from the Round Pond. If necessary they can be worked from the engines direct. The water pumped to the Serpentine from St. James’s Park flows through an iron pipe until it reaches the east end of the Serpentine; thence it passes along an old brick culvert and enters the Serpentine near its head in Kensington Gardens.

“The opening up of this culvert a short time ago for the purposes of cleaning, may have given rise to the report that an old culvert had recently been discovered.”

That Queen Caroline made such extensive improvements in the Park “for the good of Londoners generally,” was much doubted at the time. Indeed, there was some talk of a Royal Palace being erected155 there, and of further encroachments. Nevertheless, Queen Caroline’s work has proved a lasting benefit to the chief pleasure ground of the Metropolis.

The King was busy meanwhile with a new road through the Park to Kensington. The Princess Amelia was devoted to horses and riding, and frequently appeared in Hyde Park. George II.’s Road appears to have been assigned for carriages simply passing through the Park, while the older way of William III., known as “The King’s Old Road,” was allotted to the dallying of pleasure-seekers, and the term “Rotten Row” came to be applied to it by the succeeding generation. This is said to be a corruption of “Route du Roi,” but other writers derive it from “rotteran,” to muster. The new road was the cause of many disasters, coaches frequently sticking in the mud and overturning. The King’s daughters were driving into London on pleasure bent one evening, when a chaise capsized and the horse attached fell under the feet of the leaders in the royal coach-and-four. The young princesses were not hurt, but were so frightened that they returned home, and were bled, according to the custom of that time.

Riding became a passion. Favourite steeds were shown off in Hyde Park, wagers were made, and just as we proclaim that our Charron, our Panhard, our Mercedes, or our Daimler did such and such a distance in so many hours without a check, so in the early half of the eighteenth century the long journey accomplished at top speed by some favourite horse was the talk of the day. It is said that the Duchess of Bedford appeared in156 the Row in a particularly smart riding-habit of dark blue cloth with white facings, which George II. admired so much that he took the idea for his new naval uniforms in 1748, and abolished the scarlet dress hitherto worn by ships’ officers.

Hyde Park was more than ever the playground of the higher classes. Cricket matches, first introduced in the reign of William III., were the fashion; teams were formed from the ranks of the nobility, and graced by royalty, who batted merrily across the sward on summer days. Though cricket is no longer permitted in Hyde Park, it is still played in its much more beautiful rival, Regent’s Park. Skating on the Serpentine, too, was established on the first occasion that Jack Frost cast his silent grip over the new ornamental water.

Queen Caroline instituted a Drawing-Room every Sunday at Kensington Palace, and thither beauty and birth flocked in costly array, and then to the Park. She was a clever diplomat, possessing great tact and a far better idea of ruling than her husband. Under her sway literature was encouraged, though Society remained as licentious as ever.

Meantime Hyde Park was still the goal of that western migration. Grosvenor Gate had been erected in the reign of George I. at the expense of the inhabitants of the new mansions. Viscount Lanesborough had treked as far as Hyde Park Corner, and built what his friends called “his country house.” In fact, he himself had the following words inscribed on its front:

“It is my delight to be
Both in town and country.”

St. George’s Hospital and the Original “Tattersall’s” at Hyde Park Corner.
From Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

157 When, in 1733, a “difference of doctors” arose at Westminster Hospital, the dissenting physicians purchased Lanesborough House, and founded St. George’s Hospital.

Lord Chesterfield, writing to Mr. Dayrolles in 1748, evidently thought little of the new quarter. “As my new house is situated among a parcel of thieves and murderers, I shall have occasion for a house-dog,” is the best he can say. Chesterfield House was within a stone’s-throw of Hill Street, where the famous Mrs. Montagu resided for a time. It was not the spick-and-span locality of the present day, but was unpaved and ill-kept, the road being in a fearful condition, and Mrs. Montagu, the originator of the “blue stocking” assemblies, gives a wonderful description of it in her Lady of the Last Century.

“The ‘thieves and murderers’ were among the butchers of Mayfair and Sheppard’s Market—not then cleared out for such streets as have since been erected on the site. Park Lane was then Tyburn Lane, and what with the Fair of six weeks’ duration (with blackguardism and incidents of horror that will not bear repeating) and the monthly hangings at Tyburn, from which half the drunken and yelling spectators poured through Mayfair, Hill Street, and adjacent outlets on their way to home and fresh scenes of riot. Between the fair, the gallows, and the neighbouring rascalry, the district was not to be entered after dark without risk of the wayfarer being stripped by robbers. Footpads were as common between Hay Hill and Park Lane as highwaymen between Hounslow and Bagshot.”


The leaders of Society living near by found it easier to come frequently into Hyde Park; it was so much a matter of routine that even those voluminous letters of the period speak as if that part of the day’s amusement was as necessary as their dinner. Instead of driving some distance to the Park, they were now quite close; while their shopping was a much more serious affair, for until the end of the century the best shops were still in Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, and St. Paul’s Churchyard. This may account for the fashionable ladies visiting Newgate so often, for they passed it on their shopping expeditions, and probably in the absence of organised charity they felt that they were doing a kindness in taking gifts to the condemned criminals.

Four years later, the Duke of Rutland moved to a country residence he had built on the site of the present Rutland Gate, known in those days as “Well-fields,” and for which he paid a rental of thirty pounds per annum—the area being seven acres. To him was granted the privilege of a private gate into Hyde Park, and this was the origin of the small gate still in existence on that spot.

Near at hand stood Kingston House, erected by the beautiful Miss Chudleigh and the Duke of Kingston, and there it was that the lady gave those wonderful masquerades and fêtes described by Horace Walpole, to celebrate the royal birthdays, at which the fireworks were so extensive that stands were put up in Hyde Park for onlookers anxious to witness the display.


The fact of seven hundred and thirty coaches passing Hyde Park Corner in three days is chronicled by Horace Walpole as a most wonderful thing. It is interesting to note in the Report of the recent Royal Commission on London traffic, that during a certain day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., 29,320 vehicles passed the Marble Arch.

Traffic which passed Marble Arch from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on 6th July 1904.

Omnibuses 4,745
Trade Vehicles 7,314
Cabs and Carriages 13,135
Barrows 310
Cycles 3,816
Total 29,320

Traffic which passed Hyde Park Corner from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on 26th July 1904.

Omnibuses 6,635
Trade Vehicles, Selected Carriers 714
    „          „        Others 7,249
Cabs, Two-wheel 7,096
    „    Four-wheel 2,654
Carriages 2,414
Barrows 384
Cycles 2,140
Total 29,286


These numbers are much greater now—and the motors run into several thousands. Over 3000 vehicles pass the Marble Arch during a busy hour. More traffic passes the scene of old Tyburne in twenty-four hours than any other spot in London, and yet the police organisation is so perfect there is rarely a mishap.

Of the most famous highwaymen of former times succeeding chapters will tell. The great rendezvous of the footpads who preyed on the passers-by was at the “Halfway House” in Knightsbridge, and numerous attacks on people in Hyde Park were recorded.

“Lady Betty Waldegrave,” says her uncle, “was robbed t’other night in Hyde Park, under the very noses of the lamps and the Patrole.”

Horace Walpole and his relations seem to have been favourite prey for the highwaymen. Elsewhere a story of a tragic encounter is given, but there is a comic incident as well.

One night, about thirty years later than the period of which I am writing, he was driving with a lady to Twickenham, to some evening entertainment, when the coach was held up by a highwayman. With the greatest calmness and promptitude the lady at once handed the errant of the road her purse, bulging with money. The man seized it and rode off, well pleased with the spoil. But the lady was more happy still, for she had come provided for emergencies. The purse only contained counterfeit coin!

Towards the end of George II.’s reign two figures appeared in Hyde Park that startled Society—two161 fortuneless Irish girls, the daughters of an Irish squire, and nieces of Lord Mayo. Horace Walpole describes them as “the two handsomest women alive.” “Those goddesses the Gunnings” was Mrs. Montagu’s term for them.

Such was their poverty, that when they were presented at Dublin Castle, Mrs. Peg Woffington, the actress, lent them dresses in which to appear. They made their début at the English Court in 1751, and from that time crowds used to come daily to the Park to have a sight of them. They were mobbed wherever they went; in fact, at the Drawing-Room when the younger one, Elizabeth, was presented on her marriage with the Duke of Hamilton, the ladies clambered on to chairs and tables to see her. Walpole writes:

“As you talk of our beauties, I shall tell you a new story of the Gunnings, who make more noise than any of their predecessors since the days of Helen, though neither of them, nor anything about them, has yet been teterrima belli causa. They went the other day to see Hampton Court; as they were going into the Beauty-room, another company arrived; the housekeeper said, ‘This way, ladies, here are the beauties.’ The Gunnings flew into a passion, and asked her what she meant; they came to see the palace, not to be shown as a sight themselves.”

They were fêted and feasted by everybody, and their own heads evidently became turned as well as other people’s. It was at Chesterfield House that the younger sister met the Duke of Hamilton, who fell in love at first sight, but the162 story of their romantic marriage with the curtain ring is well known. The elder one married Lord Coventry about a fortnight later. Both romances were a godsend to the gossiping habitués of Hyde Park, who, however, were plenteously supplied with dainty morsels such as they loved, in the form of secret marriages. It was the heyday of the Keith marriages at Mayfair Chapel, and at the Fleet. Tit-bits from the gaming-tables were told and passed from one another, until Mrs. Montagu, disgusted with the scandal in these meetings and the gambling that went on at parties, made a new departure in Society.

She was resolved to institute réunions where conversion and literature should entertain, and cards and gambling should never be seen. The result was that quite a new intellectual element appeared in Society. She brought such minds into contact as Mrs. Vesey, Mrs. Thrale, Mrs. Barbauld, Hannah More, Lucy Aikin, Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, Johnson, Pulteney, Earl of Bath, the first Lord Lyttelton, Horace Walpole, Dr. Burney, Garrick, and Reynolds, and the force of such gatherings was bound to influence both men and women.


In Jane Austen and Her Times (G. E. Mitton), a delightful volume recently published, there is an interesting picture of the habits of the day:

“The epoch was one of change and enlargement in other than geographical directions. In the thirty years before Jane Austen’s birth an163 immense improvement had taken place in the position of women. Mrs. Montagu, in 1750, had made bold strokes for the freedom and recognition of her sex. The epithet ‘blue stocking,’ which has survived with such extraordinary tenacity, was at first given, not to the clever women who attended Mrs. Montagu’s informal receptions, but to her men friends, who were allowed to come in the grey or blue worsted stockings of daily life, instead of the black silk considered de rigueur for parties. Up to this time, personal appearance and cards had been the sole resources for a leisured dame of the upper classes, and the language of gallantry was the only one considered fitting for her to hear. By Mrs. Montagu’s efforts it was gradually recognised that a woman might not only have sense herself, but might prefer it should be spoken to her; and that because the minds of women had long been uncultivated they were not on that account unworthy of cultivation. Hannah More describes Mrs. Montagu as ‘not only the finest genius, but the finest lady I ever saw ... her form (for she has no body) is delicate even to fragility; her countenance the most animated in the world; the sprightly vivacity of fifteen, with the judgment and experience of a Nestor.’”

It is amusing to find that the struggles of a century and a half ago are still unsolved to-day, half the pleasure of visiting being knocked on the head by the uncertainty of the rightful proportion of the tips to follow. Jane Austen herself alludes to her difficulties:

“I am in great distress whether I shall give164 Richis half a guinea or only five shillings when I go away.”

In a letter to the Times in 1795, the vexed subject of tips is discussed:

“If a man who has a horse puts up at an Inn, besides the usual bill he must at least give 1s. to the waiter, 6d. to chambermaid, 6d. to ostler, and 6d. to jack-boot. At breakfast you must give at least 6d. to waiter and hostler. If the traveller only puts up for refreshment, besides paying for his horses, he must give 3d. to hostler; at dinner, 6d. to waiter and 3d to hostler; at tea, 6d. between them, etc.”

Jane Austen herself came late enough for the old days of rigid severity towards children to be past. She says: “No longer were mere babies taken to see executions and whipped on their return to enforce the example they had beheld.”

Londoners still flocked to the west on Sundays in their best attire, and on one occasion, in 1759, Lady Coventry was mobbed in Hyde Park. The King, hearing of it, ordered that a guard of twelve sergeants should disperse in the Park on the following Sunday, and that a reinforcement of a sergeant and twelve men should be ready in case of need. This Lady Coventry knew, of course, and she went to the Park the following Sunday, immediately pretended to be frightened, summoned the guard, and walked about for some time with the twelve sergeants in front of her, her husband and Lord Pembroke beside her, and the sergeant and twelve men behind her.

“It is at present the talk of the whole165 town,” says the Hon. J. West in a letter to a friend.

It was this same Lady Coventry who, when conversing with George II., one day remarked: “The only sight I am eager to see is a coronation.”

The old King laughed heartily, and repeated it as a good story. She did not realise her wish, because she died a few days before His Majesty.

That gay stream of fashion on the south side was a wondrous sight, and yet Hyde Park had a vast extent of quiet bosky acres, where old ladies took their favourite lap-dogs for a run, as Mrs. Thrale speaks of doing when she lived in Hanover Square. At Hyde Park Corner, where a woman named Allen had sold apples and other refreshments from a small portable stall, was erected an ugly little building by special permission of the King, who recognised in the woman’s husband a soldier who had fought under him at Dettingen—the last battle in which a King of England ever took part. This land was afterwards sold by Allen’s descendants to Apsley, Lord Bathurst, who built Apsley House, afterwards the home of the famous Duke of Wellington. George II. also rewarded a pilot who had saved his life on one of his journeys to Hanover by allowing him to “vend victuals” in Hyde Park—kindly deeds which soften many ugly lights in his character.

It was just after the death of this monarch that the Park played its part in the romance of his grandson, George III. The story of the love and admiration of the young King for the beautiful166 Lady Sarah Lennox (daughter of the Duke of Richmond) is well known. Lady Sarah loved Lord Newbattle, and he was probably the cause of her coolness to George III. When she was staying with her aunt at Holland House a meeting was arranged in Hyde Park between the lovers by Lord Newbattle’s sister, Lady George Lennox, and it was there decided that he should at once ask his father’s consent to the marriage. Lord Ancrum, however, would not give permission, and there the matter ended.

But when Cupid walks in high places, Intrigue is busy dogging his footsteps. And in this case Lord Bute in some way heard of the projected meeting in the Park, and not only informed the Royal suitor, but contrived for him to be a witness of it, and thus reconciled him to his marriage with Charlotte of Mecklenburg.


After his union with that lady, George III. bought Buckingham House from the Duke of Buckingham, and called it “The Queen’s House.” The mansion was a red brick building, and was pulled down in George IV.’s reign, when the present palace was erected. Queen Charlotte cleared the Court of immorality, but the Royal couple led too secluded a life to influence a wide circle. Society voted Court life insufferably dull and prosaic. When in London, it was the King’s habit to ride or drive daily in Hyde Park. He used a chariot and four when driving, but his favourite amusement was to trot off for an early morning ride free of ceremony.

Homely as the King appeared on these occasions,167 there was a still more homely figure to be seen in Hyde Park, and yet on all sides people tendered him homage more spontaneously and more whole-heartedly than to their monarch. This was William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, ambling along on his little Welsh pony. He loved the Park, and went there day by day, and he it was who first pleaded for the “open spaces” of London.

In the year of George III.’s accession, Society was entranced and horrified by the tragedy which brought Earl Ferrers to the scaffold. As this was largely a social event it may not be out of place to describe it here, apart from the story of those of meaner birth who ended their days at Tyburn. Earl Ferrers was a man of such violent and uncontrollable temper that his wife and children had left him, and the Courts had appointed a receiver for his property. The choice had fallen on an old servant of the family named Johnson, the land-steward, on the recommendation of Lord Ferrers himself, who doubtless expected to find in him a pliable tool.

The murder took place on a Sunday afternoon. Earl Ferrers sent for Johnson, who was an old man, to come to his room, and meantime had despatched the servants of the household on various duties so that none should be within earshot. After some minutes of quiet conversation he produced a paper, and demanded of Johnson that he should sign it. The steward refused.

Earl Ferrers walked to the door, which he locked, and going to a table took up a loaded pistol. He then ordered Johnson to kneel. The old man168 dropped on one knee. The earl insisted that he should fall on both knees. As soon as he had adopted this posture Earl Ferrers shot him through the body. He then loaded the pistol again, as if to fire a second shot, but suddenly turned from his purpose, and, unlocking the door, called a servant.

When assistance arrived Earl Ferrers was quite calm and collected. He had lifted his victim, who had fallen on the floor mortally wounded, into a chair, and was doing his utmost to stay the flow of blood. The earl directed that a surgeon should be hastily summoned, and meantime himself remained tending the dying man. He seems, in fact, to have done everything that was possible. Johnson survived for nine hours, and told the story.

Ferrers was brought up to London, “dressed as a jockey” driving in his own coach and six. Horace Walpole wrote: “Lord Ferrers is in the Tower; so you see the good-natured people of England will not want their favourite amusement, executions.” (See Illustration, page 1).

“Their favourite amusement, executions,” means much from a man like Horace Walpole. He was no newspaper-sensation writer, yet he deliberately noted the fact that the favourite amusement of London was to assist at a public execution. Thank Heaven we are less depraved to-day.

Lord Ferrers pleaded lunacy in his trial before the House of Lords, but was condemned, and then craved permission for his sentence to be carried out in the Tower. This was not granted; the only concession made being that he should be hanged169 by a silken rope. He dated his troubles from his marriage, and therefore dressed himself in his wedding clothes, “a white suit, richly embroidered in silver”—“as good an occasion,” he observed, “as that for which they were made.” He refused to go to Tyburn in the cart.

Walpole’s description, written two days after the execution, reveals the hold these scenes had on London Society.

“He set out from the Tower at nine, amidst crowds, thousands. First went a string of constables; then one of the sheriffs in his chariot and six, the horses dressed with ribbons; next Lord Ferrers in his own landau and six, his coachman crying all the way; guards on each side; the other sheriff’s chariot followed empty, with a mourning coach and six, a hearse, and the Horse Guards. Observe that the empty chariot was that of the other Sheriff, who was in the coach with the prisoner, and who was Vaillant, the French bookseller in the Strand.... How will you decipher all these strange circumstances to Florentines? A bookseller in robes and in mourning, sitting as a magistrate by the side of an earl, and in the evening everybody going to Vaillant’s shop to hear the particulars....

… The sheriffs fell to eating and drinking on the scaffold, and helped up one of their friends to drink with them, as he was still hanging, which he did for above an hour, and then was conveyed back with the same pomp to Surgeon’s Hall to be dissected. The executioners fought for the rope—a silken one—and the man who lost it cried. The170 mob tore off the black cloth as relics; but the universal crowd behaved with great decency and admiration, as well they might; for sure no exit was ever made with more sensible resolution and with less ostentation.”

That journey, which lasted two hours, on account of the mob, must have been a trying ordeal. This was the first execution in which the falling trap was used, and Ferrers is himself supposed to have been its originator.

Early in George III.’s reign some severe winters occurred, and a tremendous frost prevailed for weeks. Sleighs glided merrily in Hyde Park, and contests and wagers were carried out on the Serpentine. In fact, the Park was about this time at its gayest, for in the following autumn the King of Denmark and two Princes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha visited England, when one of the items in the programme of amusement was the shooting of a certain buck in the Park enclosures. The sport would have made those old kingly patrons of the chase thrill with horror, for it took the whole evening and many shots ere that stately stag was brought down.

The princes added much to the gaiety of the daily gatherings in Hyde Park, where Society was assuming a more important phase than ever.

By this time the beaux of a quarter of a century before were superseded by the Bucks and Macaronis. The Macaronis were the Society men, or fops of the day. It was the thing for Society to make much of them, as we see to-day Society ladies making a fuss and dressing up toy dogs and171 poodles. The long curled wigs of the Macaronis, tied with streaming ribbons, eye-glasses, patches, paint, velvets, costly canes with gold and silver tassels, made great show without, but little sense was revealed under the paint, the powder, and the patches.

In these days of suffragettes women imitate and strive for equal privileges with men. In 1773 the position was apparently reversed, for the Westminster Gazette of that date says: “The men imitate the women in almost everything, perfumes, paint, and effeminate baubles engross most of their time, and learning is now looked on as an unworthy attainment.”




Of all the fashionable folk who roll by in their carriages from the West-end to Hyde Park, and enter by the gates at Marble Arch to join the gay throng, so full of life and animation; of all the hurrying populace who pass in omnibuses or on foot towards Bayswater, or turn the sharp corner where the traffic flows in an unceasing stream up the Edgware Road,—how many, I wonder, ever pause at the three cross roads to give a moment’s thought to the fact that this was Tyburn?

How many among them are even aware of the fact?

This is the blackest spot in all the wide extent of the Metropolis,—the most tragic, if not the most historical, spot in all England. Memories of the illustrious dead,—sacrificed to the ambitions, jealousies, and vindictive hatred of monarchs in a ruder age, hallow that quiet space on Tower Hill where the heads of so many statesmen and warriors, nobles and bishops, rolled in the sawdust. That is marked off by a little square of bricks surrounded by railed-in gardens—a pleasant patch of green amid the tall warehouses which crowd upon it on all sides, save where the gaunt grey walls of the fortress rise.

The Marble Arch (formerly Tyburn) at three o’clock in the morning.


The execution ground within the Tower, beneath the shadow of the little church of St. Peter-in-Chains, calls to mind only some of the most sympathetic names in history; gentle Anne Boleyn, the heroic Countess of Salisbury, and the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey.

Tyburn has other associations. Martyrs have perished here, bigots have suffered, Society has found its victims, and punishment has been dealt out for villainy and crime in its most unattractive forms. Such sensational fame as the place may claim rests upon the exploits and end of Jack Sheppard, Jonathan Wild, “Sixteen-Stringed Jack,” and the ghastly indignities heaped by Charles II. upon the bodies of Cromwell and the regicides.

Few will recognise the old “Tyburn Road” in modern Oxford Street, with its huge drapery and furniture emporiums, and the attractions which bring so large a part of the populace to shop there. A century and a half ago this was a country road, along which the two-wheeled, springless carts passed from Newgate with their escorts of sheriffs, officers, and marshalmen conveying condemned men to execution.

What can be farther from the sordid associations of “Tyburn Lane” than Park Lane of to-day, in all its wealth and luxury? Along here the crowds surged in thousands going to witness the turning off at Tyburn’s “Triple Tree” of many a handsome, dashing gentleman of the road, a darling of the populace.

One will find these old names marked in maps of a century ago, but may search a London Directory174 of to-day in vain for the name of any street, passage, or alley of which Tyburn formed a part.

The town has grown over the place, and Tyburnia, as the district used to be called, has been altered out of recognition. Possibly a few of the old elms along the course of the West-bourne may still rock in the winds which blow across Hyde Park. The ditch in one part has been transformed into the Serpentine, elsewhere it has been filled and the ground levelled. The Ty-bourne, if it flows at all, flows underground through the sewers. Tyburn turnpike, where tolls were taken on entering London, disappeared in the early part of the nineteenth century, and its site is marked by the zero milestone of London.

The famous hanging-place has nothing left by which it can be recognised.

It is a common idea that hanging as a means of punishment is comparatively modern. People have even placed its origin within our own historic times. Instead, it is very old indeed, dating back certainly to the Mosaic Law, which was thus delivered by Moses to the Israelites (Deut. xxi. 22):

“And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

The earliest record of the punishment being actually carried out is found in the Book of Numbers (xxv.), on the occasion of the Israelites having175 sacrificed to the gods of the Moabites at Baal-peor, when Moses received and put into effect the Divine command to hang the leaders in the acts of idolatry.

Later, when a famine was raging in the land of Israel, David handed over to the Gibeonites seven of the sons of Saul, whom they hanged.

Another instance of punishment by hanging is found in the Book of Esther (ix.), when King Ahasuerus condemned the ambitious and unprincipled Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had prepared for the Jew Mordecai; and at the request of Queen Esther the same punishment was meted out to his ten sons.

Hanging was regulated by law by Henry I., but the earliest recorded use of the rope in England can be traced to the days of Henry II. This questionable distinction belongs to the town of Malden, which, in the year 1167, “was amerced three marks for having hanged a robber without such view,” that is to say, the approval of the King’s Sergeant.

Eight years later, Andrew Bucquinte, a thief, who had carried out numerous robberies in the City of London, was sentenced to be hanged, “which was done, and the Citie became more quiet”; while the later chroniclers give full details, which had been passed on to them, of the death in 1196 of William FitzOsbert, or “Longbeard.” Matthew Paris, Stow, and Hollinshed all name “the Elms” as the place of hanging. Roger de Wendover records that Longbeard was drawn to the gallows “near Tyburn,” and there hanged with nine of his followers.

This would seem to be the first authentic account176 of an execution by hanging at Tyburn, though, in fact, it is very doubtful—Roger de Wendover notwithstanding—if Longbeard met his fate at Tyburn. “The Elms” was the name given to the hanging-place at Smithfield long before the law’s last penalty was demanded at Tyburn, and at the “Elms, at Smithfield,” a century after Longbeard’s death, William Wallace was hanged and quartered in 1305.

The name seems to have been carried to Tyburn when hangings were transferred there, and for a time the two execution-grounds flourished simultaneously.

Longbeard was the first of a line of romantic impostors who attracted admirers by hundreds, and ended their days under the gallows. He represented to Richard I. that the wealthy citizens of London were oppressing the poor; he preached to the masses, proclaiming that he was their saviour, and that to him they must look for deliverance. Richard listened to his story. This so encouraged him that he “had gotten two and fiftie thousand persons readie to have taken his part,” and all rich people went in fear of their lives. Summoned to appear before the Archbishop of Canterbury for inciting to rebellion, Longbeard was accompanied by so many followers that the Prelate dared not deliver sentence. He then retired, with his paramour, to the Tower of St. Mary-le-Bow, which he had previously provisioned and fortified. Ignoring all the Archbishop’s commands to appear, it was only when the church had been assaulted and set on fire that, driven out by smoke and flames, he177 surrendered. He was dragged to the Tower, and thence to the final scene.

Longbeard was a man of evil life, but the poor looked upon him as a martyr, and, Stow says, “pared away the earth that was be-bled (sprinkled) with his blood, and kept the same as holy reliques to heale sicknesse.” It would therefore appear that he was not only hanged, but drawn and quartered as well.

This custom of carrying away trophies from the gibbet was a superstition, and Brand, in his edition of Bourne’s Antiquitates Vulgares, writes:

“Chips of gallows and Places of Execution are used for Amulets against Agues. I saw lately some Saw-dust, on which Blood was absorbed, taken for some such purpose from off the Scaffold on the beheading of one of the rebel lords, 1746.”

Possibly the added information that the crowd stole “the gibbet” is a misconception by the chronicler to whom the tradition is handed down. The passage is not without difficulty. So early in our history “Tyburn” meant merely the Ty-bourne, or brook, where it flowed from Hampstead towards the Thames, not necessarily the common place of execution which afterwards took to itself the distinctive name of Tyburn. What the “Elms” represented has never, so far as can be gathered, been satisfactorily cleared up. It is reasonably supposed that rows of trees stood on the banks of the burn where it passed through the forest and marshes, and probably their branches afforded convenient means for hanging prisoners.


With so much growing timber about, it would have been useless expense and labour to bring carpenters to construct a gallows, and to people of the thirteenth century a quite unnecessary refinement. “The Elms” near Tyburn was the scene of many executions after that of Longbeard. If, in fact, the hanging-place at “the Elms” was on trees growing beside the bourne, then, owing to its course, the execution-ground must have been some few hundred yards farther eastward than the Tyburn of later days.

King John not only hanged some Welsh rebels at Nottingham in 1212, but nine years later Constantine Fitz-Arnulph and two confederates were hanged for raising a tumult at Westminster, so by this time hanging as a method of capital punishment had become an accepted institution. The records tell of twelve pirates hanged in Hampshire in Henry III.’s reign, and of eighteen Lincoln Jews suffering the same fate a few years later. In London also great strife between the goldsmiths and tailors led to the imprisonment of many rioters, thirteen of whom were hanged for the trouble they had caused in the City.

As if London had not enough horrors of its own, the custom was established in the reign of Edward I. of bringing offenders from the provinces to the capital for execution, and taking wrongdoers of London to certain towns in the country for the same purpose. Jews at Northampton being accused of having crucified a Christian boy on Good Friday, many “Jewes at London after Easter were drawne at horse tailes and hanged”; and179 such wholesale punishments of that persecuted tribe were of frequent occurrence.

Although “the Elms” is not actually mentioned, the accounts related of Rice ap Meredith, a rebel, and of Gilbert Middleton, in 1316, lead to the conclusion that they ended their days at “the Elms”; they were drawn “through the streets of the citie to the gallowes.” Middleton, a fourteenth-century “Dick Turpin,” was brought from the north to London, and hanged in the presence of two cardinals whom he had robbed. These Church dignitaries had come to England with the view of making a double peace, namely, between Edward II. and Thomas, Duke of Lancaster, and between England and Scotland. But after Middleton had attacked and robbed them in the north, they were so disgusted they never visited Scotland at all. These were the early days of the self-assertion of the populace—about which we now hear so much under the banner of Socialism.

Richard Davey, in his Pageant of London, writing of this time, says:

“The evolution of slavery into serfdom, and of serfdom into vassalage—one of the greatest efforts towards true progress effected in this age—very rapidly brought about the creation of what we might describe as a lower class, whose voice was soon to be heard clamouring for its share in direct or indirect administration. Hence the increasing influence of universities, guilds, and corporations.”

It must not be supposed from this, however, that education took any important turn, for the middle-class man and woman could neither write180 nor read until the money derived from the destruction of the monasteries was utilised for founding Grammar Schools. That is why it is so difficult to glean far-away facts when information and chronicling were in the hands of so few.

By the time Wat Tyler’s rebellion had been put down, and ruthlessly punished, London appears to have possessed a permanent gallows. Victims numbered by hundreds, who had participated in the rising, dangled on trees and gibbets all over the counties of Middlesex, Essex, and Kent, and the excessive use of the hangman’s rope no doubt made some such structure a necessity. “The Elms” drops out of notice. Baker, relating in his Chronicle the arraignment of Roger Mortimer half a century earlier for encompassing the death of Edward II., and his subsequent execution, speaks of him as being “hanged on the common gallows at the Elms, now called Tyburn, where his body remained two days as an opprobrious spectacle for all beholders.”

This is but a small detail, but it is in such strokes of the pen that we learn much of the general state of things in past ages, and that word “Common” depicts a gallows in frequent use. It was after this that the place of execution seems to have been moved to Tyburn Road, and perhaps it was the erection of the permanent gallows at this time, that led Fuller to speak of the gibbet having been placed there as “an instrument of torture and punishment for the Lollards” (the followers of John Wyclif), and to quaintly write:

“Tieburne some will so have it called, from Tie181 and Burne, because the poor Lollards, for whom this instrument (of cruelty to them, though of Justice to Malefactors) was first set up, had their necks tied to the Beame, and their lower parts burnt in the fire.”

The worthy Fuller refers to the Act “De Heretico Comburendo,” for, not content with mere death, it had been thought necessary to invent another mode of punishment for persecuting the Lollards, and this Act authorised the burning of heretics in a high public place.

As for the derivation here attempted, it seems rather a quaint conceit by Fuller than a serious explanation of the origin of a word which for so many centuries bore a notorious meaning. The Bourne flowed along its course from time immemorial; as we know, it was called Tiburne, or Tyburn, in the earliest references extant, and it is much more likely that the execution-ground took its name from the Bourne, than that the brook itself owes its distinctive title to a particular form of death practised so late as the time of the Lollards.

The executions of Nicholas Brembre and Judge Tresillian in 1388 are supposed to have been the first recorded deaths at this new Tyburn. These men had been impeached for high treason. Brembre had been four times Lord Mayor of London. The charge against him was that he had “intended to slay some thousands of the citizens, to alter the name of London to that of ‘New Troy,’ and to have himself created Duke thereof.” So the gentleman was not without ambitions.

Roger Bolingbroke, who met his death for182 alleged necromancy, was another of the early victims of Tyburn. The whole charge arose out of the bitter jealousy existing between Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, son of Henry IV., and Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, the son of John of Gaunt and Catharine Swynford. On the death of Henry V. each vied with the other for the guardianship of the young King (who was but nine months old when his father died) and the leadership of public affairs. Beaufort’s huge wealth secured him the support of the Church, into whose coffers he poured large gifts, and finally Humphrey was arrested and thrown into prison. Meantime Beaufort had devised that charges of witchcraft should be brought against Gloucester’s chaplain, Roger Bolingbroke and his wife Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, representing that she was exercising necromancy to encompass the death of Henry VI. and place her husband on the throne.

Stow tells us the story:

“Roger Bolinbrooke a great Astronomer, with Thomas Southwell, a Chanon of Saynt Stephen’s Chapell at Westminster, were taken as Conspiratours of the King’s death, for it was said, that the same Roger shoulde labour to consume the King’s person by way of Necromancie, and the said Thomas should say Masses in the Lodge of Hornesey park beside London, vpon certain instruments, with the which the said Roger should use the craft of necromancies, against the faith, and was assenting to the said Roger in all his works. And the 5 and twentieth day of July being Sunday, Roger Bolinbrooke, with all his instruments of necromancie, that is to183 say a chayre paynted herein he was wont to sit, vppon the 4 corners of which chayre stood foure swords, and vppon every sword an image of copper hanging with many other instruments. Hee stoode on a high scaffolde in Paules Churchyard, before yᵉ crosse, holding a sword in his right hand and a scepter in his left, arrayed in a marvellous attire, and after the Sermon was ended by Maister Low Byshop of Rochester, he abjureth all articles belonging to the crafte of necromancie of missowning to the faith, in presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinall of Winchester, the byshop of London, Salisbury and many other.”

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, was brought before Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and others, in St. Stephen’s Chapel at Westminster. Bolingbroke was produced as a witness against her, and accused her of inciting him to practise necromancy. Finally a Commission was appointed to inquire into the various witchcrafts and treasons against the King’s person, and Bolingbroke and Southwell as principals, and Eleanor Cobham as an accessory, were indicted for treason. Bolingbroke was condemned to death and was taken to Tyburn, where he was hanged, drawn, and quartered, denying the crime of treason, but crying for God’s mercy for having presumed too far in his cunning.

Nor did Beaufort’s vengeance end here. Humphrey of Gloucester was thrown into prison, where he languished and died in 1446—murdered, some writers allege, by Beaufort. In the following year184 five of his most noted sympathisers were arrested and put in the Tower, from whence they were “drawn to Tiborne, hanged, let down quick, stripped, marked with a knife to be quartered.” At that juncture the Duke of Suffolk arrived with a pardon, which did not, however, deprive the hangman of his perquisites. Says Stow: “Yᵉ yeomen of yᵉ gallows had their livelode, and the hangmen their clothes and wearing apparel.” He adds that the pardon was secured by the prayers of “Master Gilbert Worthington, the parson of St. Andrewes in Holborn.”

A quiet hanging was little to the taste of either the dispensers of justice or of vengeance, or of the crowds that gathered at executions in those rude days, or, indeed, in the days of the Tudors, or even of Charles II. Common malefactors were swung upon a gibbet and left there, no more trouble was bestowed upon them; but for the plotter against the State, the process of death was more elaborate. References to the victims being “hanged, drawne, and quartered” abound.

It is impossible within the limits of decency to describe in detail the revolting tortures and mutilations practised upon the poor wretches whom ill-fortune brought to Tyburn. What the sentence implied can be found in the State Trial of the Duke of Buckingham, where it was delivered in all its unabashed nakedness by the Earl of Norfolk, though Henry VIII. substituted decapitation. What it meant in actual practice may be judged from the records of the punishment of those concerned in the Babington Plot against Queen Elizabeth.185 Fifteen men were condemned to die, and after a day and a half had been spent on the ghastly work, leaving it still incomplete, the Queen, disgusted with the sickening business, bade the executioners “despatch with haste” the remaining victims, remitting the last abominations.

It was the earliest custom to tie the wretched victim by the heels, attach him by a rope to a horse’s tail, and thus drag him from gaol to the place of execution. Arrived at his destination, jeered and howled at all the way, and sorely bruised as he jolted over the rough roads to his death, he was placed on the gibbet. The rope, after much fumbling, was adjusted mid the yells of the spectators, and then the prisoner was hoisted on high by the executioner and his assistant, until slow suffocation ended his misery.

Later, for humanity’s sake, a rough hurdle was utilised, to which the condemned man was bound, and on this he was dragged to the gallows. Not until Stuart times was the malefactor’s springless cart introduced.

In only too many cases, however, the dread sentence of “hanged, drawn, and quartered” was carried out with all its attendant horrors. The condemned wretch, after he had been dangled from the gallows on a short rope for a considerable time, and undergone all the horrors of death by suffocation without its merciful release, was cut down still alive. Then he was stripped, his clothes being the executioner’s perquisite, and with his knife that functionary marked off the lines he would follow in carrying out the quartering. The victim186 was then disembowelled, the entrails being thrown on a fire and burnt before his dying eyes. The head was decapitated. Finally, the mutilated corpse was divided into four pieces, which were sometimes salted or par-boiled, and, with the head, made five ghastly evidences of the consequences that would befall those who offended the higher powers. These “bits” were sent for exhibition in five different localities where it was supposed that such warning would be most beneficial.

Anything more horrible cannot be imagined. And yet a crowd always assembled to witness the scene. Men, women, and children scrambled for a front view, and the grand ladies and smart gentlemen of comparatively refined times did not appear to consider it degrading to watch a person hanged by the neck until he was dead. In fact, the morbid love of such horrors pursued us till a much later date, for murderers were publicly hanged outside Newgate, on a busy thoroughfare of the City of London, as recently as 1866.

Perkin Warbeck—“that little cockatrice of a king,” as Bacon calls him—was one of the mediæval victims who met his end at Tyburn in 1499. With him went to their death the servants who were found conniving at his escape from the Tower. No character in the arena of history at that period has more glamour of romance about it than that of Warbeck. Even the most unbiassed writers seem to waver as to whether he was really the Duke of York or an impostor, so readily did he tell the tale of how he, as the little prince, had escaped from the Tower, and now as a grown man came to claim187 his heritage. In his imprisonment he had twice made bids for freedom, been captured, and made to read a confession—on the second occasion a public avowal, standing in Cheapside—after which he was again confined in the Tower.

It has been alleged by some historians that this was a mere scheme of Henry VII. to place him in contact with the Earl of Warwick, the son of George, Duke of Clarence, and heir of the House of York, who had been kept a prisoner in the Tower until he was practically bordering on imbecility. The presence of this man would be a greater temptation to Warbeck to make another attempt to gain his freedom, and probably it would give the King an opportunity to rid himself of both these claimants of Royal descent. The Earl of Warwick was beheaded on Tower Hill, and Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn. For his end we can again refer to Stow:

“Perken Warbeke—being in holde, by great promises corrupted his keepers, named Strangwais, Blewet, Astwood, and long Roger, servants to sir I. Digby, lieutenant of the Tower (as was affirmed) intended to have slaine their Master, to have set Perken and the Earle of Warwick at large; which Earle of Warwick had been kept in prison within the Tower (as yee have heard) from the first yeere of this king to this 15 yeere out of all companie of men and sight of beasts, and therefore could not of himselfe seeke his owne destruction, but by other he was brought to his death, for being made privie of this enterprise devised by Perken and his complices, he assented thereunto: but this devise being revealed Perken and I. a Waters, sometime Maior188 of Corke in Ireland, were arraigned and condemned at Westminster and on the 23 of November drawn to Tiborne, where Perken read his former confession as before he had done in Cheape, taking on his death the same to bee true, and so hee & Iohn a Water asked the King forgivenesse, and tooke their deaths patiently. And shortly after Walter Blewt and Thomas Astwood were hanged at Tyborne.”

When Henry VIII. was King, Tyburn was yet more busy. The lesser victims of that monarch’s policy and ambition, for whom the axe and block were considered too good, were sent out of the Tower to the loathsome prisons of the day, to meet an ignominious end under the gallows. A long, sad procession they made, many priests among them, martyrs for the Catholic faith.

Some of the most pathetic figures were the prior and monks from the Charter House, whose execution is thus described in the Contemporary Spanish Chronicle of Henry VIII., edited by Martin Hume.

“The monks of the Charter House refused to take the oath to Henry as head of the Church (June 1535).

“When the King heard of it he ordered that justice should be executed upon them, so they were taken two by two on hurdles and dragged to the gallows (at Tyburn), which is three miles from London.

“The Prior went alone on a hurdle, and the holy friars confessed to each other as they went along, the Prior embracing the crucifix and saying189 many prayers. When they were arrived at the gallows they took one of the first and cast a rope about his neck, and the hangman asked his pardon. Then all the others placed themselves so that they should see the first die, the Prior exhorting in Latin and comforting him as he was led up. The friar turned to the hangman and said, ‘Brother, do thy duty.’ The rope being placed on the gallows, the hangman whipped the horse, and the friar remained hanging. Directly, before he was half-dead, they cut the rope and stripped him: then they ripped up his belly, plucked out his bowels and his heart, and cast them into the fire that was burning there, and afterwards they cut off his head and quartered the body. The holy friars looked on at all this, praying the whole time, and when the first execution was finished the Sheriff said to the other fathers: ‘Ye see what has become of your companion: you had better repent and you will be forgiven.’ Altogether in one voice, which was as if the Holy Ghost himself was speaking, they cried, ‘Sheriff, we are only impatient to join our brother.’ Each one offered himself as first for martyrdom, and they all died like the first.”

The English Chronicles record the Carthusian martyrdoms in this year 1535 (20th April, five men; and 19th June, three men) at Tyburn, and this note appears to refer to the second execution. The quarters were seared with pitch and set up at the gates on London Bridge and before the Charter House. The Spaniard says that the quarters remained incorrupt.

In all the number there are few brighter names190 than those of the Earl of Kildare and his four kinsmen, whose capture, imprisonment, and death (1537) furnished a deplorable tale of Tudor treachery and vengeance. The earl, who had been involved in one of the numerous rebellions in Ireland, which were the chronic state of that unhappy country, had been promised pardon if he repaired to England. The story, so full of pathos, and of the fear of death, brightened by the heroism of the younger brother, cannot be better told than in Hollinshed’s quaint phrases:

“And before his imprisonment was bruted, letters were posted into Ireland streiatly commanding the deputie upon sight of them, to apprehend Thomas Fitzgirald his uncles, and to see them with all speed conuenient shipt into England. Which the lord deputie did not slacke. For having feasted three of the gentlemen at Kilmainan immediatelie after their banket (as it is now and then seene that sweet meate will have sowre sawce) he caused them to be manacled, and led as prisoners to the Castell of Dublin; and the other two were so roundlie snatcht up in villages hard by, as they no sooner felt their owne captivitie than they had notice of their brethren’s calamitie. The next wind that served into England, these five brethren were imbarked, to wit James Fitzgirald, Walter Fitzgirald, Oliver Fitzgirald, John Fitzgirald, and Richard Fitzgirald. Three of these gentlemen, James, Walter, and Richard, were knowne to have crossed their nephue Thomas to their power in his rebellion and therefore were not occasioned to misdoubt anie danger. But such as in thos days were191 enimies to the house, incensed the King so sore against it, persuading him that he should never conquer Ireland, as long as anie Giraldine breathed in the countrie: as for making the pathwaie smooth, he was resolved to lop off as well the good and sound grapes, as the wild and fruitlesse berries. Whereby appeareth how dangerous it is to be a rub, when a King is disposed to sweepe an alleie.

“Thus were the five brethren sailing into England, among whom Richard Fitzgerald being more bookish than the rest of his brethren, and one that was much given to the studies of antiquitie, wailing his inward griefe, with outward mirth comforted them with cheerefulnesse of countenance, as well as persuading them that offended to repose affiance in God, and the King his mercie, and such as were not of that conspiracie to relie to their innocencie, which they should hold for a more safe and strong barbican than any rampire of Castell of brasse. Thus solacing the sillie mourners sometime with smiling, sometime with singing, sometime with grave and pittie apophthegmes, he craved of the owner the name of the barke; who having answered, that it was called the Cow, the gentleman sore appalled thereat, said: ‘Now, good brethren, I am in utter despaire of our returne to Ireland, for I beare in mind an old prophecie, that five earles, brethren, should be carried in a Cowes bellie to England, and from thense never to returne’.

“Whereat the rest began afresh to howle and lament, which doubtlesse was pitifull, to behold five valiant gentlemen, that durst meet in the field192 five as sturdie champions as could be picked out in a realme, to be so suddenlie terrified with the bare name of a woodden cow, or to fear like lions a sillie cocke his combe, being moved (as commonlie the whole countrie is) with a vaine and fabulous old wives’ dreame. But what blind prophesie soever he read, or heard of anie superstitious beldame touching a cow his bellie, that which he foretold them was found true. For Thomas Fitzgirald the third of Februarie, and these five brethren his uncles were drawne, hanged, and quartered at Tiburne, which was incontinentlie bruted as well in England and Ireland, as in foren soyles.”

In the midst of his arrangements for divorce the vengeance of Henry VIII. fell upon a witless girl who was known as “The Holy Maid of Kent.” She had become imbecile from frequent epileptic fits. Masters, the vicar of Addington, and Dr. Bocking, a Canon of Canterbury, tutored her to predict, as it suited their own ends, that Henry VIII. would lose his kingdom and die a violent death if he cast aside Catherine of Arragon, and married Anne Boleyn. The final scene of this diabolical influence of strength over weakness was that the girl and her abettors were hanged and beheaded at Tyburn, her head being set on London Bridge, and those of the men on the City gates.

LONDON BRIDGE (Showing heads displayed).
From a Print in Magdalene College, Cambridge.

We have little idea of the tremendous religious antagonism of those days, an antagonism which brought so many poor sufferers to the gibbet at Tyburn. Indeed, so determined were those in power to extirpate all remains of Roman Catholicism, that a search was actually instituted from house193 to house, and all rosaries and other objects savouring of Romanism were destroyed.

That a man was priest, open or disavowed, during that fierce struggle between Henry VIII. and the Church which he had overthrown and despoiled, was sufficient to condemn him to suffer under Tyburn’s fatal tree:

“The 8 of October last before passed I. Low, I. Adams, and Richard Dibdale, being before condemned for treason, for being made Priests by authority of the Bishop of Rome, were drawne to Tyborne, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered.

“The 18 of Februarie, Harrington, a seminary priest, was drawne from Newgate to Tyborne, and there hanged, cut downe alive, struggled with the hangman, but was bowelled and quartered.”

Elizabeth, too, found the terrors, which the very name of Tyburn instilled into the minds of her subjects, useful in maintaining public order and punishing plotters against her personal welfare. The gibbet, indeed, became a corrector of manners.

In the middle of the sixteenth century, after the closing of the monasteries, the peasantry found it difficult to find work on the countryside, and thus it was that they flocked to London in hundreds seeking employment, in exactly the same way that thousands of the poor do to-day. The results, however, are different. In our times we house them in workhouses, feed them in soup-kitchens, and allow them to sing in our roads, until they make life hideous. We encourage them in every way until the street loafer is a curse to194 London, and the want of labourers in the country an unceasing cry.

This is our modern way of creating mendicity. Formerly they were not so foolish, though perhaps too severe. Any one caught begging, or aimlessly wandering about, was seized, ordered to be whipped, and sold as a chattel.

Thus it was that hundreds of these poor creatures were shipped off to the West Indies and the early American colonies. Travelling in those days was not so luxurious as it is now, and many of them died on the way. Those who remained behind were even worse treated. They were often ruthlessly beaten and continually starved; they were, in fact, brought to such dire distress that they were bought and sold as mere slaves.

How surprised the loafers, who bury their noses in mother earth and sleep by the hour on the green grass of Hyde Park, would be if such drastic measures were applied to them; but surely some happy medium between the hanging of the sixteenth century and the encouragement of loafing of the twentieth might be found.

Punishments were altogether more severe in those days, and even as late as the end of the eighteenth century batches of men, women, and children were hanged at Tyburn for deeds which would hardly be punished nowadays, and, any way, would not be reproved by more than a day or two in prison. In fact, when the last century dawned, there were no less than two hundred and twenty-three capital offences.

Even soldiers and sailors, who are still noted for195 their jollities on landing from distant climes, were marched to the scaffold in the “good old times.”

“Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake, being returned, as ye have heard many of their Saylers, and souldiers, shortly after their landing fell sick, and died of a stanch bred amongst them on shippe board, other some of them so rudely behaved themselves about the countrey, about the Court, and elsewhere, that many men misliked of their doings, and divers of them being apprehended, on the twenty 7 of August one was hanged on the end of a signe at an Inne doore in the Towne of Kingstone-uppon-Thames, for a terror to the rest. The twenty nine of August, two more were hanged in Smithfield, two at the Tower Hill, two besides at Westminster, and one at Tiburn” (Stow).

An Irishman who had shown marked disrespect to the Virgin Queen received equally short shrift. Bren O’Royrke was arraigned at Westminster on the 28th October 1591, and found guilty of high treason on ten different charges. Stow (Annals) records what was doubtless the most grave of them:

“That the said O’Royrke, a Dremaher aforesaide, caused the picture of a woman to bee made, setting to her her Majestie’s, and caused it to be tyed to an horse tayle, and to bee drawne through the mire in derision of her Majestie. And after caused his Calliglasses to hew the same in pieces with their axes, uttering divers traiterous and rebellious words against her Majestie.”

When before his judges, he refused to plead unless he was remanded for a week to allow a lawyer to come from Ireland, and to receive the counsels196 of his friends. But he was told that if he maintained his contemptuous attitude judgment must be given, and he was guilty of his own death; and the interpreter, one John Ly, expounded his sentence in all its gruesome detail. We learn that “Uppon Wednesday, being the third of November, Bren O’Royrke was drawne to Tyborne and there hanged”—leaving out the disgusting after-business. But before this was done, John Ly and the Archbishop of Cashel exhorted him to crave God and the Queen’s forgiveness. “O’Royrke turned upon him and sayde, hee had more neede to looke to him selfe, and that he was neither here nor there.” After his death “his heart was holden up by the hangmanne, naming it to be the arch traytor’s heart, and then did he cast the same into the fire.”

The execution of Dr. Lopez and his confederates for plotting with the Spaniards to poison Queen Elizabeth is graphically depicted in Treason and Plot, by Martin Hume. The execution took place early in June 1594:

“All England was in a ferment of indignation owing to the revelations made by Ferreira and Tinoco, and the heat introduced into the accusations against Philip and his ministers by the Essex party: and at length, early in June, 1594, the three poor wretches, bound to hurdles, were dragged up Holborn to Tyburn, and the penalty of treason was paid by all of them, with sickening barbarity, exceeding even the usual awful rites. It is related that one of the three, probably Tinoco who was the youngest, recovered his feet after the hanging, and, mad with pain and desperation, attacked the197 executioner. The crowd applauding his pluck, broke through the guard and formed a ring to witness the unequal fight. Two burly ruffians came to the hangman’s help, but one was immediately felled by a blow from the prisoner, who kept the other at bay for some time. The half-strangled creature was at length stunned by a blow upon the head, and the disembowelling then proceeded. Dr. Lopez in vain tried to speak to the vast scoffing crowd. Almost incoherent with agitation he solemnly protested his innocence: mocking laughter and ribald interruption alone greeted his despairing cry. He was unfortunately inspired to say that he loved his mistress better than his Saviour Jesus Christ: and this coming from a Jew so incensed the multitude that the tumult silenced all else, and Ruy Lopez went to his death leaving his final secret to be guessed by others.”

Major Hume was apparently convinced that Lopez was really innocent of an intention to kill Elizabeth. He was guilty of an intention to poison Don Antonio, the Portuguese pretender; and he had also pretended a plot against the Queen in order to get money out of the Spaniards; so in any case he was rightly punished.

The dreadful tale of horrors might be continued almost interminably. One willingly passes over in silence many other sufferers, to include just one more notable scene at Tyburn, when, under remarkable circumstances, the gallows took a curious part in reforming fashion in the reign of James I.

Plots grew thick and fast under the first of the Stuarts, as under his predecessors. The murder198 of Sir Thomas Overbury differed from most, inasmuch as it was designed to satisfy private vengeance rather than an intrigue against the State. Overbury had done all in his power to prevent the Earl of Somerset from marrying the Countess of Essex, and had thus won her hatred. She poisoned the mind of the Earl against his friend, and he, in turn, influenced the King. So when Sir Thomas refused to be sent as ambassador to Brussels, James I. was easily persuaded to imprison him in the Tower. There Overbury languished and died.

The Earl and Countess of Somerset were brought to trial, with their four accomplices, for encompassing his death. The principals escaped, but their accessories were condemned, and one Weston and Mrs. Turner were hanged at Tyburn in 1615.

This murder was committed, if the evidence is to be believed, with the utmost perseverance. Witchcraft, which was believed in firmly at that time, was attributed to Mrs. Turner. It was alleged in the trial that seven forms of poison were given by her to Sir Thomas Overbury. Arsenic was mixed with his salt; when he asked to have some “pig” for dinner, she put into it lapis cortilus, and cantharides was added to the sauce instead of pepper.

The execution of Mrs. Turner excited immense interest. She had made herself famous in the fashionable world as the inventor of a yellow starch. In allusion to this circumstance, Lord Chief-Justice Coke—who had already addressed her in sufficiently contumelious terms, telling her categorically that she had been guilty of the seven deadly sins—declared199 that as she was the inventor of yellow starched ruffs and cuffs, he hoped that she would be the last by whom they would be worn. Accordingly, he gave strict orders that she should be hanged in the very uncomfortable attire she had made so fashionable.

This amusing addition to the sentence was strictly carried out. The fair demon Mrs. Turner, on the day of her execution, came to the scaffold arrayed as if for some festive occasion, with her face mightily rouged, and a wide ruff, stiffened with yellow starch, around her neck. Numerous persons of quality, ladies as well as gentlemen, went in their coaches to Tyburn to see the last of her. The yellow ruff was never worn from that day.

Yellow starch had rendered Society stiff and uncomfortable, and Society was only too pleased to discard its use when the originator of the fashion came to this ignominious end.




Exactly the date at which the dreaded instrument at Tyburn assumed the form of the “Triple Tree” cannot be told. As has already been said, there is reason to believe that a permanent structure—“the common gallows” of the time—was set up in the district known as Tyburn in the closing years of the fourteenth century; and that the site was a little more eastward, beyond the present area of the Park, than the later place of execution.

What particular plan the earlier structure took can only be surmised. One is inclined to think that the gallows, like other and better inventions of civilisation, underwent stages of development; that from the branch of the growing elm the old gibbet, with its single beam and angle bar, was first devised, and that the two upright posts with the crossbeam followed. In all probability the gallows was then built high, so that the victim who paid the last penalty of the law swung clear above the heads of the crowd gathered to witness the execution.

No doubt this gruesome spectacle was intended to strike awe into the hearts of the beholders. But human nature, being a thing perverse, is not201 always understood. Its most disastrous result on the manners of the time was rather to glorify crime and criminal. A fitting end at Tyburn gave distinction to many a poor rogue who otherwise would have left the world unhonoured and forgotten. Four centuries of Tyburn’s rough justice did less for the suppression of crime than more enlightened and humane efforts have done in the course of comparatively few years.

The triangular plan had already been adopted in Shakespeare’s time, and probably long before, as references to it imply a common knowledge. In Love’s Labour Lost, one of his earlier plays, he has Biron saying:

“Thou makest the triumviry the corner cap of Society,
  The shape of Love’s Tyburn that hangs up simplicity.”

In an old quarto of 1589 occurs the passage:2

“Then let me be put on Tyburn, that hath but three quarters.”

Only thirteen years earlier, Gascoigne, strangely enough, speaks of “Tyborne Cross.”

The gallows where so many highwaymen of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were, in the phrase of the day, “turned off,” is shown in the drawings of Hogarth and a host of others, as well as in maps of contemporary date. At each of the three corners of a triangle a stout upright post was set in the ground. In some cases two cross beams are seen fastened to the tops of these 202posts, in others three, forming a sort of triangular enclosure. It was quite low, rising not more than twelve feet from the ground, and giving just enough room for the malefactor’s cart to pass beneath.

So thorough have been the measures taken to sweep Tyburn and all its associations out of the Metropolis, since the fashionable area of the town extended westward, that the particular spot on which stood the “Triple Tree” is also left uncertain. It can, however, be pretty closely approximated. It was never actually within the Royal Park, but was just beyond its northern boundary, standing back from the high road to Uxbridge, about a hundred yards west of the Marble Arch. A house near the corner of Connaught Square is believed to be built on the actual site of Tyburn gallows, which originally stood on the rise, where the ground was open to the Park. The “Triple Tree” was, however, moved to the triangular space now forming the entrance to the Edgware Road, early in the eighteenth century.

I do not know if ghosts are ever seen about Connaught Square. I can find no trace of spectral visitors disturbing the well-to-do people who pass their lives agreeably in this now fashionable quarter. But if there be any truth in psychical phenomena,—if, indeed, it be a fact that the unsubstantial shades of men love in the stillness of the night to revisit the scenes where they met a violent end,—surely they should marshal here, not singly nor in groups, but in whole battalions, creeping between the motor broughams which noiselessly come and go,203 or the busier traffic which runs along by Park Lane and Oxford Street.

When King Charles II. came back “to his own” in 1660, the triangular gallows at Tyburn was evidently a structure of respectable antiquity. Already it was known to all the populace by its nickname of the “Triple Tree,” which it kept for more than a century. Death was a common state at Tyburn; it was, however, reserved for this strange, easy-going, good-natured voluptuary to hang men who were already dead there.

Amid all the horrible scenes enacted at Tyburn, none are more ghastly than the stupid, purposeless indignities wreaked by Charles and his licentious Parliament, a year after his restoration, on the bodies of the regicides, whom death had withdrawn from his active vengeance. The story is briefly told in the little weekly sheet which served the purpose of a newspaper in those days:3

“This day, Jan. 30, (we need say no more but name the day of the Moneth) was doubly observed, not onely by a Solemn Fast, Sermons and Prayers at every Parish Church, for the precious of our late pious Sovereign King Charles the First of ever glorious Memory; but also by publick dragging those odious carcasses of Oliver Cromwel, Henry Ireton, and John Bradshaw, to Tyburne. On Monday night, Cromwel and Ireton were drawn to Holborn from Westminster, where they were digged up on Saturday last, and the next morning Bradshaw. To-day they were drawn upon Sledges to 204Tyburne; all the way (as before from Westminster) the universal out-cry and curses of the people went along with them. When these three carcasses were at Tyburn, they were pull’d out of their Coffins, and hang’d at the several angles of that Triple Tree, where they hung till the Sun was set; after which, they were taken down, their heads cut off, and their loathsome trunks thrown into a deep hole under the gallows.”

So the mutilated corpses of Cromwell, of Ireton, his statesmanlike general and brother-in-law, and Bradshaw, the president at the trial of Charles I., drawn in their shrouds from their tombs in the quiet of Henry the Seventh’s Chapel at the Abbey, gibbeted until sundown as objects for the ridicule and derision of a demoralised mob, and then decapitated, were flung “into a deep hole under the gallows.” And there they may remain until this day. Who knows? The cemetery for the unnamed dead, which extended from the fatal tree towards the Marble Arch, was dug up when hangings ceased on this spot, and it is probable that the unrecognised bones of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were in that process swept into oblivion. The heads had been spiked on poles in front of Westminster Hall.

The grave has gone; the remains have perished. No vestige of the honoured dead survives; in spite of Cromwell’s gorgeous funeral, his remains are not even located.

That is just where history awakens us from musings to the unexpected reality of things. Of all the vanities of life, assuredly the love of funeral pomp and show is the most vain; and that205 strange vanity Cromwell—hard, narrow, cold though he might be—seems to have shared to an extravagant degree. He had arranged for himself a gorgeous funeral, and one glances with amazement at the documents of the year 1658, when the burial of the Protector had to be put off from 9th November to 23rd November (he died on 3rd September) as the elaborate arrangements for the event could not be completed by the earlier date. During the short Protectorate of Richard Cromwell, sums were voted to the amount of £18,600 for expenses and mourning, and so many claims were brought forward for settlement, that nearly a year later, on 4th July 1659, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the money still owing. They reported that £19,303, 0s. 11d. was the properly audited account, and this merely for baize, cloth, velvet, and fringes. This sum represents about £80,000 of our present money; so that an estimate of £150,000 can hardly be too large for the expenses of Oliver Cromwell’s funeral.

Apart from these outrages on the dead, Tyburn witnessed the final scenes in the lives of two military officers, Hacker and Axtele, who had guarded Charles I., and of at least three of the judges, Okey, Barkstead, and Corbet, who had pronounced sentence upon him. Others of the regicides were done to death at Charing Cross, with all the barbarous additions of drawing, decapitating, and quartering. It seems singular that these revolting scenes, relics of an earlier and, one would have thought, a more brutal age, occasioned no condemnation from the finer spirits of the day. Old206 Pepys, amiable and gossipy on whatever subject passed under his notice, was only led by the executions to a pious and somewhat inapposite reflection, “Wonderful are the ways of Providence!” And the courtly Evelyn, who had the grace to secretly disapprove of them, contents himself with writing in his Diary:

“I saw not the executions, but met their quarters, mangled, cut, and reeking, as they were brought from the gallows on a hurdle.”

In 1908 one of the former victims of Tyburn was canonised, a fact that brings the past and to-day into close proximity. The history of Oliver Plunket—a name well known in Ireland—is both romantic and sad.

Celebrated as a high-minded and high-living Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunket ended his days at Tyburn in 1681, a victim of the “Popish Plot.” After spending more than two and a half years in dungeons, first in Dublin and then in Newgate, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered. His body was buried in St. Giles’s-in-the-Fields by Father Corker, who had been his companion in Newgate. His head was sent to Rome to Cardinal Howard, and brought back to Ireland in 1722, and is preserved in the Convent of Drogheda, which was founded by his great-niece. In fact, all honour was paid to his remains as relics. When Father Corker buried the body he cut off the arms, one of which was long preserved in Herefordshire, and one in the Franciscan Convent at Taunton. This priest afterwards sent the body to Germany, but when the English monks were expelled from207 that country in 1803, Plunket’s body was brought back to England, and buried at St. Gregory’s Monastery, Downside, Bath.

Truly a tragic history, and one fraught with so much valour and strength of character, that the Irish must feel proud of the dignity of canonisation now bestowed on their hero.

The Rye House Plot against the lives of Charles II. and his brother, then James, Duke of York, was the means of another distinguished man, Sir Thomas Armstrong, suffering an ignominious end on Tyburn’s fatal tree. Later, a further victim was claimed in Elizabeth Gaunt, who had sheltered one of the conspirators. After the failure of the plot Armstrong fled to Holland, but was seized at Leyden in 1684, and conveyed to England, swearing his innocence. He was taken before Judge Jefferies, and when again he insisted on his innocence, protested against the perjured evidence, and asked for nothing but the free course of the law, Jefferies said “he should have it to the full”; and so ordered his execution within six days. Like a common malefactor, the knight was dragged through the streets to Tyburn on a hurdle, and was there hanged and quartered. Bishop Burnett says that one of the quarters was sent to Stafford, which place Armstrong represented in Parliament.

The execution of Elizabeth Gaunt was a still more shameless affair, and bears witness to the degeneracy and brutal inhumanity of the times. She was then an old woman, well known for her good works in helping the afflicted and visiting the prisoners. Among those who took part in the208 Rye House Plot was one James Burton, for whose apprehension a reward was offered. Chance led him in the way of Elizabeth Gaunt, who assisted him to the utmost of her power, and sent him in a boat to Gravesend, whence he escaped to Amsterdam. He was supplied with a large sum of money by his benefactress. On Monmouth’s landing in England to raise the standard of rebellion in 1685, Burton came among his following, fought in the hopeless fight at Sedgemoor, and after the rout fled to London, where he took refuge in the house of John Fernley, a barber in Whitechapel.

Fernley was poor, and his creditors were troubling him. Yet, though he knew the Government were offering £100 for Burton, he would not betray him. The wretch, whom he was thus sheltering, had no such scruples. Finding that James II. was dealing out punishment more severely to those who sheltered rebels, than to the rebels themselves, he gave himself up to the Government, and tendered information against both Fernley and Elizabeth Gaunt.

They were brought to trial, and Burton was the chief witness against them. Of Burton’s fate we learn nothing. Fernley was hanged, and for Elizabeth Gaunt was reserved the more dreadful end of death by fire. William Penn, the famous Quaker, who lies buried at Jordans, near Beaconsfield, and who during his life travelled far afield and founded Pennsylvania, went to Tyburn to witness the execution. He afterwards related that, when this poor woman had calmly disposed the straw about her in such a manner as to hasten the209 blaze and so shorten her sufferings, all the bystanders burst into tears.

Elizabeth Gaunt was the last woman who suffered death in England for a political offence.

Tyburn, however, enjoys such reputation—if that is the word—as still clings to the name, less from its nobler victims than from those darlings of the populace, the highwaymen of a later day, whose exploits were deservedly cut short by the hangman’s noose; and we must hurry on. One more State plot in the reign of William III. (Mary had been dead a year) had its sequel under the Triple Tree, and the affair is worth mention, because it throws a weird light on public manners so late as two centuries ago. This was the Assassination Plot, for alleged participation in which, Sir William Parkyns and Sir John Friend, a non-juror, were condemned to die.

Sir John Friend, whom Lord Macaulay describes as “a man who had made a very large fortune by brewing, and who spent it freely in sedition,” thought the whole thing so rash that he refused to join it from the first. Sir William Parkyns, old and gouty as he was, amassed arms at his country house sufficient for a troop of cavalry.

It was first suggested to assassinate William III. just as the royal coach was passing from Hyde Park, where Apsley House now stands, into the Green Park, but afterwards it was agreed to murder him when he was going to hunt at Richmond. The secret leaked out; the chase was given up at the last moment, and the chiefs of the conspiracy were sought for. Parkyns was found concealed in210 a garret in the Temple, and Friend at the house of a Quaker, where he had taken refuge. Lord Macaulay describes the final scene, which had some dramatic moments.

“The execution of the two knights was eagerly expected by the population of London. The States General were informed by their correspondent that of all the sights, that in which the English most delighted was a hanging, and that of all hangings within the memory of the oldest man, that of Friend and Parkyns had excited the greatest interest. The multitude had been incensed against Friend by reports touching the exceeding badness of the beer he had brewed. It was even rumoured that he had, in his zeal for the Jacobite cause, poisoned all the casks which he had furnished to the Navy. An innumerable crowd accordingly assembled at Tyburn.”

Scaffolding had been put up for the hanging, and an amphitheatre was formed around the gallows. It was known that a fashionable throng would assemble, and therefore everything was done to make them happy and comfortable, and to give them an opportunity of thoroughly enjoying the show. On these benches the wealthier spectators stood, row above row. When expectation was at its height, it was announced that the hanging was deferred. Rough words passed, and rougher actions followed. The mob broke up in bad humour, and not without many fights and broken noses between those who had given money for their places, and those who refused to return it.


“The cause of this severe disappointment was a resolution passed in the Commons ... that a Committee should be sent to the Tower to examine the prisoners, holding out the hope that if they gave full and frank confession the House would intercede for them.

“Friend and Parkyns were again interrogated, but to no purpose. They had, after sentence had been passed on them, shown instances of weakness, and Parkyns’ daughter exhorted him not to give way.

“In a few hours the crowd again assembled at Tyburn; and this time the sightseers were not defrauded of their amusement. They saw, indeed, one sight which they had not expected, and which produced a greater sensation than the execution itself. Jeremy Collier and two other non-juring divines of less celebrity, named Cook and Snatt, had attended the prisoners in Newgate, and were with them in the cart under the gallows. When the prayers were said, and just before the hangman did his office, the three schismatical priests stood up and laid their hands on the heads of the dying men, who continued to kneel. Collier pronounced a form of absolution taken from the Service for the Visitation of the Sick, and his brethren exclaimed “Amen!” Collier was outlawed for this action, and his two colleagues suffered imprisonment.”

So in the closing years of the seventeenth century the love of witnessing a gruesome spectacle was more rife than ever, and a public hanging still formed quite a fashionable entertainment; in fact, it became more and more so, until in Horace Walpole’s time it was the smart thing to visit the212 prisoners in Newgate and to be present at executions.

Newgate, which ultimately replaced Tyburn, and within whose walls the last hanging in the actual City of London took place, was only demolished in 1904. I well remember, not long before that, going over this gruesome and historical old pile. Many of the cells were just as they had been for centuries, but the most terrible of all were the dungeons. Our modern coal cellars are far preferable, for at least their walls are whitewashed and they are drained to frustrate the damp. These terrible dungeons at Newgate, with slanting floors, slanting walls, and slanting roofs, and almost without light and ventilation, had contained dozens of human beings, who were literally herded together, to live or die as chance might ordain. Plague and pestilence swept through those loathsome dens, and after seeing them on the eve of their destruction, one realised how easy it was to start the great plague of London from them alone.

The prisoners in Newgate in the eighteenth century were allowed to spend the money given them as they liked; and they often rigged themselves out in the height of fashion, in which practice their distinguished visitors encouraged them.

On the Sunday before their execution, the victims were permitted to receive visits from all their friends, who brought special gifts for the journey to Tyburn: a white cap with black ribbons, a prayer-book, a nosegay; and always an orange to hold in the hand as they sat on their own coffin, trundling along in the cart to the scaffold.


These same friends often lingered at the foot of the Triple Tree, when, the three-mile journey over, the sentence was carried out, in order to be at hand to hang on to the legs of the condemned and thus put a speedy end to his sufferings. Not so friendly was the purpose of the respectably-dressed women in deep mourning, who, professing to be the nearest of kin to the deceased, mingled in the crowd in the hope of securing the body for some anatomist.

In the beginning of the eighteenth century people began to travel farther afield. They were richer, more numerous, and more enterprising; they made journeys by coach to Bath and Cheltenham to drink the waters, or went out for the evening to Vauxhall Gardens to dine and gamble, dance and make merry. Fine clothes, costly jewels, and gambling gains were spoils easily disposed of, and highwaymen and footpads quickly followed in their wake. Naturally, places near the Metropolis were the most lucrative. If nothing of value was secured from the coach belonging to Lord A——, another coach owned by the Marquis of B—— soon passed by, and loot might be forthcoming; if not, the highwaymen waited for Mr. C——.

Outlying districts of London became unsafe at night, and Highgate, Hampstead, Richmond, Hounslow, and Shooter’s Hill were all hot-beds of robbery by these “gentlemen of the road.” Hyde Park and Knightsbridge came in for a share of petty larcenies and assaults by the meaner footpads and outlaws who lurked at many a dark corner, and few persons thought of going home by night214 except under escort, and with torches to light the gloom of the streets. It was a short life, if a desperate and at times a merry one. Of all the famous highwaymen who dangled on Tyburn gibbet, one finds few who lived to see the age of thirty.

Jack Sheppard, though not the romantic figure of the moonlit heath, but a meaner thief, must, I suppose, take pride of place. Never was there a more dare-devil character hanged at Hyde Park. Fielding and Harrison Ainsworth have glorified his career, and some of the facts of his life are told in a pamphlet published by Daniel Defoe at the request of Sheppard himself, containing a Narrative of all the Robberies, Escapes, etc., of John Sheppard. This, he declares, was “written by himselfe during his confinement in the Middle Stone Room” at Newgate. Says Jack:

“I was born in Stepney Parish, the Year Queen Anne came to the Crown; my Father a Carpenter by Trade, and an honest industrious character, and my Mother bore and deserved the same. She being left a Widow in the early Part of my Life, continued the Business, and kept myselfe, together with another unfortunate son, and a daughter at Mr. Garrett’s School near Great St. Hellen’s in Bishopsgate Parish, till Mr. Kneebone, a Woollen draper in the Strand, an Acquaintance ... being desirous to settle me to a Trade, ... agreed with Mr. Owen Wood a Carpenter of Drury-Lane to take me an Apprentice for Seven Years.”

From an Old Print.

Sheppard describes Mr. and Mrs. Wood as “strict observers of the Sabbath,” which he thought fit to spend in his own manner, and he215 fell into evil ways. For this he blamed Joseph Hind, who kept the “Black Lyon Alehouse in Drury-Lane.” Here he met Bess Lyon, who was his ruin, and for whose benefit most of his robberies were committed.

He asserts that his first crime was stealing two silver spoons from the Rummer Tavern in Charing Cross. In 1723 he describes being sent to the house of a Mr. Bains to do some carpentering, where he stole a roll of fustian (24 yards) from amongst others, and offered it for sale at 12d. per yard, but having no offers, he concealed it in his master’s house. In the following August he was making some shutters for Mr. Bains, and in the night entered by the cellar window, taking £14 worth of goods, and £7 in money. When he went next day he found the shop shut, and the Bains family in much trouble, in which he greatly sympathised. A fellow apprentice saw the fustian and told Mr. Wood, so Sheppard broke into Wood’s house in the night and took it away again, but the Bains family followed him up, and in spite of his own and his brother’s assertions of innocence, he was compelled to restore what remained.

From that time such a number of thefts and burglaries were committed that Jack Sheppard soon made a reputation. The Tyburn Chronicle, writing of this part of his life, says:

“Jack was now so eminent, that there was not a blackguard in St. Giles’s but thought it an honour, as well as an advantage, to be admitted to his company.”

Later he made his headquarters in the Hampstead216 district, and committed a robbery in the Hampstead Road.

His clever escapes, when in prison for his many offences, stimulated the interest and admiration of the people. Confined in St. Giles’s Round House, he made a hole in the roof, from which he flung a cartload of stones on the people in the street below. Later, Bess Lyon was committed to the St. Anne’s Round House. Sheppard went to see her, and was promptly shut up there as an accomplice. He wrenched the bars from the window, and tying the blanket and sheet together, first let her down, and then followed himself.

Joseph Blake, alias Blueskin, and his brother Tom Sheppard decided to hire a stable at the Horse Ferry at Westminster, and there store their stolen goods until they could dispose of them. They took a man named Field, who had been indicted for felony and burglary (and found receiving a safer business), to see these goods, hoping he would buy them, but he only betrayed them to Jonathan Wild. Jack Sheppard, in his Narrative, says that Field broke into the stable, and stole some cloth he had himself stolen from Mr. Kneebone. Sheppard and Blueskin were arrested, and condemned to death. Sheppard managed to again escape, by breaking off a spike at the hatch where the prisoners came to speak with their friends. In the evening two acquaintances came to see him, and as he thrust his head and shoulders through the opening they managed to pull him out.

After this he went to Northampton to some relations, who did not give him a warm welcome.217 Committing more robberies, he then retired to Finchley. There he was again found, and brought to Newgate. He was put in the “Castle,” the strongest part; but his last escape had made such a commotion that crowds came to see him in gaol. However, the prison-breaker was so closely watched that they could not bring him an implement of any kind, but there were few who went away without giving him money.

On the 15th October 1724, immediately after his keeper had brought him dinner, Sheppard began to prepare for his flight. This he effected by making a hole in the chimney, and having wrenched the chain between his fetters, he was able with the broken links to pull an iron bar away. Making another hole in the chimney, he gained access by its means to the Red Room over the “Castle,” which had not been opened for seven years. Sheppard, however, pulled off the lock, and entered the Chapel. There fresh difficulties beset him. The doors resisted his efforts, and St. Sepulchre’s bells struck eight before he reached the leads. Looking round for means of descent, he found the house adjoining Newgate was the most suitable, but the leap was too dangerous, so he returned to the “Castle” and fetched a blanket, fixed it to the wall, and sliding down dropped to the leads as the clock struck nine. The garret door was open, but people were moving in the house until midnight, when he went downstairs and so into the street.

Two days after, he personally left at the house of Mr. Applebee, in Blackfriars (a printer), a letter218 saying that as he had cheated him out of the account of his execution, which would be a loss to his journal, Applebee might make what use he liked of the letter Jack Sheppard was then leaving.

He continued committing burglaries in London, one of which was in the house of Mr. Rawlins, a pawnbroker in Drury Lane. Mr. Rawlins realised there was somebody in the house. Sheppard, hearing him move, made a great noise and scuffling, and shouted, “Fire at the first man that comes!” All the time his accomplices were imaginary, as he was alone. By this ruse he got away. Soon after he appeared in his old haunts and amongst his old comrades, dressed in the height of fashion. On 31st October he dined with two friends, one of them Bess Lyon, and sent for his mother, who begged him to be cautious. This was his last piece of bravado. He had been drinking heavily, and, continuing his visits to ale-houses, was given up by a bar-keeper and removed to Newgate.

Famous beyond all his contemporaries, his visitors were even more numerous than before. Many people of high degree crowded to see him in his fetters. Sheppard entertained them with stories of his exploits. Even to the end he had hoped that his friends would rescue him. When he left the prison for Tyburn on the 16th November 1724, an open penknife was concealed in his pocket. Apparently, he intended to cut the rope that bound his hands, on his way to the gallows, and then throw himself over into the crowd and escape. But the penknife was discovered as he was leaving Newgate. He was too closely guarded for a rescue219 to be possible. He died “with much difficulty, and with uncommon pity from all spectators.”

The British Journal of 21st November 1724 records that a bailiff in Long Acre having procured Sheppard’s body for the purpose of dissection, the friends of the young desperado caused a great riot in Long Acre, and Justices of the Peace being summoned, they sent to the Savoy (then a Royal Palace) with a request that a party of Footguards might be despatched. The chief promoters were seized, and the body handed to a gentleman who asked that he might be permitted to see to its proper burial. The mob had fought over the corpse at Tyburn, where a man was waiting with a hearse to take it decently to a grave already prepared in St. Sepulchre’s. But the bailiff above mentioned had reported that he was employed by surgeons, and pretended to rescue the body from them.

Thus ended the famous Jack Sheppard.

Of a different stamp to Jack Sheppard, and a much greater ruffian, was his little less notorious contemporary Jonathan Wild. This man was a product of the age and of the extraordinary remissness of the law, which made his operations both possible and profitable. The smallest thefts, if only of the value of one shilling, were punishable then, and long afterwards, by death. Nothing shows more strikingly, how remote we of this twentieth century are from the cruelty and harshness of only a century ago, than the short extracts which it is the custom of some of the older London newspapers, The Times and The Observer among them, to reprint from their issues of a hundred years back. Time220 after time you read, packed away in a few lines, as though of little concern, the proceedings at the Old Bailey Sessions, thus: “Joseph Bailey, convicted of the theft of spoons. Death.” Again, “Henry Trudwick, convicted of the theft of an embroidered waistcoat. Death.” Even the abstraction of a pocket-handkerchief has sufficed to bring a lad to the gallows.

Every Sunday morning in sessions, the box for the condemned in Newgate prison chapel was crowded with wretches, who were to die on the morrow. Looking over the galleries and shouting down encouragement to them, with many oaths and much blasphemy, was another group, equally large. These were awaiting trial and sentence, and were soon to fill the empty places. Executions were so common that the few newspapers of the eighteenth century took no trouble to record them, save when the harvest of death was unusually large, or some picturesque villain by his dashing exploits filled the public eye, and a far-spreading crowd gathered to see his exit from the stage.

The rigour with which capital punishment was applied to almost every crime sent troops of victims to Tyburn’s “triple tree.” Also it became responsible for many ill-favoured ruffians escaping penalty of any kind. But while the criminal code was remorseless in its treatment of the meaner offender, it took no account of the man who was responsible for inciting and abetting him, the “fence,” or receiver of stolen goods. It made no attempt to reach him. That finer subtlety of the law, the “compounding of a felony,” was a much later221 abstraction; and a feature of the newspapers of the day was the list of advertisements from people whose property had been stolen, and who were quite willing to pay handsomely for its return. Some of them are quaint reading, as this from The Postman (from Tuesday, 25th June, to Thursday, 27th June 1706):

“Stoln, June 17th instant, from Crum-House, on Black Heath, near Greenwich, 6 Knives, 5 Spoons, 5 Forks, 2 Salts, 1 Soop spoon or Ladle, 1 Snuff Pan and 1 pair of Snuffers, in all about 100 oz. of Plate, having for Arms 3 Stags upon a Bend, Crest the Eagle and Child or an Earl’s Coronet. 1 Indian Chinks Quilt of many colours, the border a yellowish colour with red, green and flesh colour in the figures, the other side a dark grownd with yellow flowers, bordered with a light colour, 1 other Indian Chinks quilt, the grownd bluish with large flowers. If any of the above-mentioned goods are offer’d to be sold or pawn’d, all persons are desired to stop the same, and give speedy notice to Mr. Peter Haraches, Goldsmith, in Suffolk-street, who is to give £10 Reward for the whole or proportionable for any part.”

Another in the Daily Courant, 10th September 1706, runs thus:

“Whereas between Monday Night (the 2nd Instant) and Tuesday Morning, there was taken from the House of Mr. Tovey at Blacklands near Chelsea, the Goods following: viz. 1 Silver Skillet mark’d with a short Ringhandle, a Crest of a Faunes Head graved in an Emboss’d Escuchion, the Motto Fuimus, 5 large Silver Spoons mark’d C.T., and a Crest of a Griffin sedant; 6 little old Sweetmeat222 Spoons with Forks at the Ends, mark’d C.T. on the Bowles: 1 little Cup crack’d in the Brim near the Handle; an ovil Silver Tobacco Box without a Mark; a Common Prayer Book garded with Silver engrav’d, but 1 Clasp on, mark’d on the inside W, a small Child’s Spoon mark’d A.K., an old Beavor Hat, a pair of Coffee colour Gloves stitch’d with White Silk, and a fine Muslin neckcloth. If these or any of these are profer’d to be sold or pawn’d, it is desir’d the Party may be stop’d; or if already sold or pawn’d that Notice may be giv’n to the said Mr. Tovey at the Golden Horse Shooe in the Strand near old Round Court, as speedy as may be. For which trouble shall be a handsome reward.”

An advertisement from The Postman of the date before given strikes at higher game:

“Whereas a Highway Man on a bright Grey Horse in a blue close Bodied Coat with black Buttons, and a loose dark colour’d Coat over it, took from some Passengers in the Oxford Coach going to the Bath on Saturday the 20th of this instant July, between Cirencester and Detmarton an Amathist Ring, the Stone of a fine purple colour, and well set in gold: together with a middle siz’d Pendulum Watch made by Jarret of London, in a Terroise-shell Case studded with Silver, a Squirrel eating Nuts, and several Butterflies being represented in it. If the said Ring or Watch be offer’d to be pawn’d or sold the Person to whom they are so offer’d are desir’d to stop ’em and give notice to Mr. Tonson, Bookseller, under Grey’s Inn Gate in Grey’s Inn Lane, or Mr. Scot at the Dolphin Tavern in Tower street, London, and they shall be well223 rewarded, and if they are already pawn’d or sold they shall receive their money again with content.”

There is suppressed agony in this plaint of a tradesman in the Mercurius Politicus (Thursday, 21st October, to Thursday, 28th October 1658):

“Daniel Neech, alias Carlton (supposed to be about the City) of tall stature, long-visag’d, a down look, black hollow-eyed, sad brown hair, somewhat short and curled, a little stooping at shoulders, about 26 year old, of a pale complexion, in a new grey Sute and Coat with black ribbon, a ruff black Hat, who is run from his Master with several sums of Money. Make stay of him, and give notice to Mr. Richard Lightfoot, next to the Miter Tavern in Wood street, and you shall be well paid for your pains.”

Jonathan Wild did a flourishing business as a receiver and restorer—for reward—of stolen goods to their proper owner. A system that existed of giving certain rewards for information concerning various offences provided him with a lucrative profession. For instance:

Information of Highway robbery was rewarded by £40, the horse, arms, furniture, and money belonging to the robber; and a Tyburn Ticket, which he could transfer for the sum of £25 or £30.

Particulars of a burglary gained the informant £40 and a Tyburn Ticket.

Information of horse-stealing was rewarded by a Tyburn Ticket.

Of cattle-stealing, £10.

Wild’s transactions, in fact, became so great a menace to the public safety that they were the cause of the first Act directed against thieves224’ “fences” being placed on the Statute Book. In his case, the temptation of doing a little thieving on his own account proved too strong, and it was this, after a nefarious career only too protracted, that brought him eventually to the gallows at Tyburn.

One story told of him is that a lady went in her sedan-chair to pay a visit in Piccadilly. The chairmen left the beautiful verni martin painted coach at the door, and waited for her return at a neighbouring alehouse. While they were drinking, the chair, with the velvet seat and furniture, was carried off. The chairmen immediately applied to Wild, and after taking his usual fee of a crown, he told them he would consider the matter, and desired them to call in a day or two. They went at the time appointed, when Wild insisted upon a considerable reward, which they paid him. Then he bade them be sure to attend the prayers of Lincoln’s Inn Chapel the next morning. They went there accordingly, and were equally surprised and pleased to find their lady’s chair under the piazzas of the Chapel, with the seats and furniture in the same condition as when it was stolen.

Jonathan Wild pelted by the mob on his way to Tyburn.
From Print in the “Tyburn Chronicle.”

Even after sentence Wild hoped that he would be freed. As a circumstance in his favour he mentioned that he had himself handed over forty criminals to justice. This did him no good, but incensed the populace against him. While awaiting execution he took laudanum in his cell with the hope of suicide, and was still under its influence on arriving at Tyburn. The hangman told him to prepare himself, and left him sitting in the cart. But the mob became so unmanageable at the delay,225 that the hangman was obliged hurriedly to carry out his office. Jonathan Wild was executed 25th May 1725, and was buried at two o’clock the next morning at St. Pancras Churchyard, but his body was afterwards removed for dissection.

The London Journal, Saturday, 29th May 1725, says:

“Never was there a greater crowd assembled on any occasion, than to see this unhappy Person; and so outrageous were the Mob in their Joy to behold him on the Road to the Gallows, who had been the cause of sending so many thither, that they huzza’d him along to the Triple Tree, and show’d a Temper very uncommon on such a melancholy Occasion, for they threw Stones at him; with some of which his head was broke, and the two malefactors, Sperry and Sandford, between whom he sate in the Cart, were hurt: Nay, even in his last moments they did not cease their insults.”

Other adventurers who paid the penalty to outraged justice at Tyburn were Henry Simms, who declared he had swallowed the rings he had stolen “wrapped in the skin of a duck’s leg, well buttered”; “Sixteen String Jack,” or more correctly, John Rann; Jack Hall, the chimney-sweeper; John Smith, who, waiting about at Paddington hoping to steal something, felt his heart fail him when he saw the gallows at Tyburn, but his accomplice kept him to his purpose; and Kingsmill, Perin, and Fairall, the smugglers. Perin was ordered only to be hanged and afterwards buried, and Kingsmill and Fairall to be hung in chains,—a gruesome adjunct to that sentence being226 that the bodies first received a coating of black pitch. Perin was saying to his companions that he lamented their cases, when Fairall smilingly replied:

“We shall be hanging in the sweet air, when you are rotting in your grave.”

These gangs of highwaymen, footpads, burglars, and common thieves had a curious dialect of their own, a few words of which and their equivalents may be taken from the vocabulary given in the Tyburn Chronicle:

The Rumbo or Whit Newgate.
The Spinning Ken Bridewell.
The Dancers Stairs.
The Mount London Bridge.
The Glaze The Window.
A Ken House.
A Bridle-Call A Highwayman.
A Cruiser Beggar.
The Cull gigs The man looks.
Pops Pistols.
A Glim Candle.
Darbies Fetters.
To be Topped or Scragged  Hanged.
Feeders A Bit or Truff.
A Peter Purse.
A Jacob Ladder.
A Rum Fam Ring.
A Tumbler Cart.
A Rattler Coach.
Ridge Gold.
Wedge Silver.
The Tatler is up The moon shines.
A Twang A Bully.


The highwayman struck at big game, and persons of the highest “quality”—to adopt the phrase of the day—did not consider it in any way derogatory to display the keenest interest in him. The darling of the lower orders needed only a dashing exploit or two to his credit, and a hair’s-breadth escape from the armed men sent to track him down, to make him equally the darling of the drawing-room. Fine ladies went to see him in chains at Newgate, often to condole with him, and give him money. Horace Walpole grows quite enthusiastic over MᶜLean, a former grocer of Welbeck Street, who took to the road, and in the course of his depredations relieved Walpole of his watch and sword. The circumstances of the robbery are told in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1749:

“The Hon. Horatio Walpole, brother to the Earl of Orford, who was robbed by two men on the 7th (of Nov.) in Hyde Park, when a pistol going off shot through the coach, and scorched his face, received a letter from the robbers, intimating their concern for the accident, and their apprehension of the consequences at that time; and that, if he would send, to a place named, a person would be there to deliver his watch, sword, and coachman’s watch, if he would, on his honour, send 40 guineas in less than an hour to the same place, with threats of destruction if he did not. But he did not comply, though he afterwards offered 20, the sum they fell to in a second letter.”

Horace Walpole writes in 1750 to Horace Mann:

“I have been in town for a day or two, and228 heard no conversation but about MᶜLean, a fashionable highwayman, who is just taken, and who robbed me among others; as Lord Eglinton, Sir Thomas Robinson of Vienna, Mrs. Talbot, etc. He took an odd booty from the Scotch Earl, a blunderbuss, which lies very formidably upon the justice’s table. He was taken by selling a laced waistcoat to a pawnbroker, who happened to carry it to the very man who had just sold the lace. His history is very particular, for he confesses every thing, and is so little of a hero, that he cries and begs, and I believe, if Lord Eglinton had been in any luck, might have been robbed of his own blunderbuss. His father was an Irish Dean; his brother is a Calvinist minister in great esteem at the Hague. He himself was a grocer, but, losing a wife that he loved extremely about two years ago ... he quitted his business with two hundred pounds in his pocket, which he soon spent, and then took to the road with only one companion, Plunket, a journeyman apothecary, whom he has impeached but [who] has not been taken.

“MᶜLean had a lodging in St. James’s Street, over against White’s, and another at Chelsea.... There was a wardrobe of clothes, three and twenty purses, and the celebrated blunderbuss found at his lodgings....

“As I conclude he will suffer, and wish him no ill, I don’t care to have his idea, and am almost single in not having been to see him. Lord Mountford at the head of half White’s, went the first day: his Aunt was crying over him; as soon as they were withdrawn, she said to him, knowing they229 were of White’s, ‘My dear, what did the lords say to you? have you ever been concerned with any of them?’ Was it not admirable? What a favourable idea people must have of White’s! and what if White’s should not deserve a much better! But the chief personages who have been to comfort and weep over this fallen hero are Lady Caroline Petersham and Miss Ashe.”

Walpole a few days later writes to the same correspondent:

“My friend MᶜLean is still the fashion; have not I reason to call him friend? He says, if the pistol had shot me, he had another for himself. Can I do less than say I will be hanged if he is? They have made a print, a very dull one, of what I think I said to Lady Caroline Petersham about him.

“Thus I stand like the Turk with his doxies round.

“MᶜLean is condemned, and will hang. I am honourably mentioned in a Grub ballad for not having contributed to his sentence. There are as many prints and pamphlets about him as about the earthquake. His profession grows no joke; I was sitting in my own dining-room on Sunday night, the clock had not struck eleven, when I heard a loud cry of ‘Stop thief!’ A highwayman had attacked a post-chaise in Piccadilly, within fifty yards of this house: the fellow was pursued, rode over the watchman, almost killed him, and escaped.

“Robbing is the only thing that goes on with any vivacity, though my friend Mr. MᶜLean is230 hanged. The first Sunday after his condemnation, three thousand people went to see him; he fainted away twice with the heat of his cell. You can’t conceive the ridiculous rage there is of going to Newgate.”

Even children were not exempt. A girl of fourteen, convicted for white-washing farthings to make them appear like sixpences, was condemned to be burnt, and was only reprieved when she was actually at the stake.

Never was more stir created about the fate of a malefactor at Tyburn than in the celebrated case of Dr. Dodd. A preacher of remarkable eloquence, who attracted crowds to listen to him, a man who moved in the highest Society and was known to everybody, he lived, like so many others of his day, far above his means, and was constantly in pecuniary embarrassment. The episode which brought him to the gallows was the forgery of the name of the Earl of Chesterfield—the godson and successor of the old beau—to a bond for about £4000.

Dodd needed the money badly, and had, as subsequent events showed, every expectation of receiving it before the bill became due. He flattered himself in the belief that the transaction would be safely closed, and the bond returned and destroyed before the forged signature could come to the knowledge of the Earl. It was only the Earl’s credit, which was better than his own, that he was borrowing. However, some evil mischance—perhaps the largeness of the amount—led the discounter to pursue inquiries, in the course of which he called on Lord Chesterfield. The signature231 was immediately disavowed, and Dr. Dodd clapt into Newgate.

He promised restitution; and, in fact, all but a few insignificant hundreds were paid. Society was in arms. Chesterfield was blamed for prosecuting. Horace Walpole speaks of Dr. Dodd’s eloquence, and pities his fate. Dr. Johnson wrote in his favour. No subject was ever more enthusiastically discussed by the fashionable throng in Hyde Park. The populace were in his favour, for it was felt that the money in repayment was extorted by false pretences. Hanging after restitution was considered too much for the crime.

Letters appeared in the newspapers. A special petition from the inhabitants of the City of Westminster was drawn up for presentation to the King, which measured thirty-six yards, and contained 23,000 signatures, seeking the pardon of the unfortunate man. None of the great contemporary correspondences omits a discussion of the trial and sentence.

But all these efforts were of no avail. George III. obstinately refused a pardon. If the heavens should fall, Dr. Dodd should still hang; and, deaf to all appeals, he sent him to his doom. The execution was carried out on the morning of 27th June 1777. Dr. Dodd’s friends procured a mourning-coach, in which the condemned man was allowed to drive to Tyburn in place of the usual cart. The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser says of the last scene:

“The populace seemed universally affected at his fate, and even Jack Ketch himself was in tears.... The concourse of people who attended the232 execution of the two malefactors yesterday at Tyburn was incredible; it is conjectured that no less than 500,000 people were assembled on the occasion, between Newgate and the place of execution.”

Horace Walpole mentions the fact that two thousand soldiers were kept at drill in Hyde Park during the execution, in case of an attempt at rescue. It is related that Dr. Dodd prayed fervently, that twice he changed his cap when standing beneath the beam, and that the long delay, before he was sent into eternity, incensed the baser part of the ghouls, gathered round to take their delight in seeing a man hang.

What cheerful times those were!

Another class of criminal of earlier date was Mrs. Catherine Hayes, who in 1726 murdered her husband in circumstances of the grossest brutality. His head was hacked off, the body cut up, and efforts made to hide all traces of the crime by burying the mangled remains in a pond at Marylebone. They were discovered, and the woman’s two accomplices were hanged. A more dreadful fate was reserved for herself. She was conveyed to Tyburn, and was there burnt alive at the stake.

Execution of Catherine Hayes at Tyburn.
From a Print in the “Tyburn Chronicle.”

According to the law of the period, those committed for murder and “petty treason” were to be hanged and afterwards burnt at the gallows. The hangman did his work, but the mob of ruffians which surged around got out of all control, and so timoured the officer of the law that the wretched woman was cut down while still alive and conscious, and taken to the stake. The people yelled and shrieked, and tried to force their way towards the233 blazing pile, and generally behaved in such an uproarious manner that the horrors of death were rendered a hundredfold more hideous by their frantic conduct.

The most astounding thing about this revolting scene is, that the burning alive of a woman at the stake took place in the presumedly civilised days of George the First, and in the last year of his reign.

Society at the commencement of the eighteenth century still read little, and ignorance fed and thrived on the thrilling details of the careers of daring highwaymen. Persons of decent reputation vied with one another to have the latest chat with the manacled prisoners. “His Last Dying Speech and Confession” was shouted about the streets, and the broadside sold in thousands. People still flocked to an execution as to an entertaining show.

It is just as well not to have lived in those gross times. How different has public sympathy and sentiment grown in the comparatively short space of a century. Thackeray was right when he wrote of Tyburn:

“Were a man brought to die there now, the windows would be closed, and the inhabitants would keep their houses in sickening horror. A hundred years ago people crowded there to see the last act of a highwayman’s life, and made jokes of it. Swift laughed at him, cruelly advised him to provide a holland shirt and a white cap, crowned with a crimson or black ribbon, for his exit, to mount the cart cheerfully, shaking hands with the hangman, and so farewell; or Gay wrote his most delightful ballads, and then made merry over his hero.”


The last man hanged at Tyburn was John Austin on 7th November 1783, for robbery and unlawful wounding, and on the following 9th December, the first public execution outside Newgate took place. The Morning Chronicle of that day, in relating the event, added the remark:

“The saving to the State and to individuals from the new method of executing criminals is immense. Many indigent families will feel the good effects of preventing the loss of a day. No longer will thoughtless youth neglect their employment to attend Tyburn executions, where too many have become converts to bad practices.”

Indeed, the rascality attending these scenes almost passes belief. A Tyburn execution, especially if a “fashionable” one, at which the better—or at least wealthier—class gathered, was an occasion for the assembling of all the pickpockets, watch-snatchers, and bad characters of the town, who plied their skill busily while attention was directed upon the expiring struggles and groans of the poor wretch swinging from the tree. One Francis Grey, as he stood on the scaffold, actually exhorted the crowd around him to give up their evil ways, for he saw many bad men there, and bad deeds had never brought him happiness.

In closing the ghastly story of Tyburn Tree, it is interesting to note that The Times of 9th May 1860 printed a letter from Mr. A. J. B. Beresford-Hope, relating that outside the garden of Arklow House, at the extreme angle of Edgware Road, a pipe was being repaired, and many human bones were dug up, doubtless relics of the bodies buried near the Tyburn235 gallows. Earlier in the nineteenth century, when digging foundations for houses in Connaught Place, workmen had come on human remains, a whole cartload having been removed. Lady Battersea tells me no trace, whatever, of a burial place was found under their house opposite the Marble Arch when digging the drains about 1880.

In the later executions, the scaffold, the site of which had been changed, was a movable erection, consisting of two uprights and a cross beam. It was only put up on the morning of execution across the roadway, opposite the house at the corner of Upper Bryanston Street and the Edgware Road, wherein the gibbet was kept when not in use.

It is said that the timber of the famous gallows, beneath which so many hundreds—one might almost say thousands—of malefactors made a painful exit from this world, was sold to a carpenter, and used by him in making stands for beer-butts for the cellars of an alehouse hard by.




Meanwhile Hyde Park was the centre of a far wider evolution than that which has been already noticed in eighteenth-century London. A new era had dawned for Britain.

The power of colonisation—which to-day has attained the strength of Imperialism—had, after long infancy, developed into lusty youth clamouring for equal rights, for freedom, for independence.

Clive had fought and conquered at Plassey, Wolfe had won and died at Quebec. Wider issues were at stake, greater demands were made on English politicians, who were confronted by problems such as had never arisen in the world’s history.

In England itself the revival of literature continued, in spite of the thrust of the Westminster Gazette at the Macaronis. Brilliant orators, wily statesmen, long-headed, far-sighted diplomatists sprang to the front to devote their talents and their lives to these far-reaching questions.

In this awakened national life, Hyde Park, too, had its place. It was not merely a central point for the gathering of the fashionable and the frivolous. Many statesmen strolled thither, met one another and exchanged views, sometimes after lively debates237 in the House, seeking in the charm of its greenery and shade the solution of many a knotty problem. There, again, they found opportunities for obtaining influence in carrying through momentous measures.

We have seen Pitt on his little Welsh pony. In contrast to his simple figure, John Wilkes lolled in his gaudy equipage, ogling fair ladies, and posing as a hero of the people. Such appearances multiplied as the years went on.

There, Burke was often to be seen strolling alone, or chatting with a friend after a brilliant speech on a leading topic of the day. There, Windham took an early morning ride and watched the Guards at drill, or joined the fashionable throng later in the day.

There, the first Lord Holland was wont to alight from his carriage, and let it follow him as he wended his way from Whitehall to Holland House, talking as he went, to his friends. There, also, William Wilberforce held conversation when he lived at Gore House, and those who were privileged to be at his famous gatherings would take a turn through the Park, discussing that wonderful personality and his aims. There, Charles James Fox, Sheridan, the younger Pitt, and many others were to be seen day by day, but it was by no means with men alone that political issues of the time rested.

Fair ladies attached great importance to their daily visit to the Park. It was their battlefield, where they must—for their own peace of mind—mentally slay some rival, lay siege to some masculine stronghold, and render resistance useless. And be sure the gossips of the Georges had much to say238 about such actresses as Mrs. Oldfield, Mrs. Pritchard, Peg Woffington, Mrs. Clive, Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Jordan, or such beauties as Lady Sarah Lennox, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, and Lady Elizabeth Foster, all of whom were familiar figures in the Park.

In that daily rendezvous in Hyde Park astute statesmen were coerced, ruled, and graciously governed by the feminine mind, and more power was acquired by Society ladies in those casual meetings than probably in any other way. Nowadays, women’s wise influence is chiefly brought to bear on public and political matters over the teacups—a pleasant social function which at that time had scarcely been established.

To what extent this feminine influence existed, and could be called upon on a moment’s notice, is shown in the following note, found in Vere Foster’s Two Duchesses of Devonshire. It was written by Charles James Fox from the House of Commons to the beautiful Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire in 1805, about a year before the death of both writer and recipient:

“Pray speak to everybody you can to come down or we shall be lost on the Slave Trade. Morpeth, Ossulton, Ld. A. H., Ld. H. Petty all away. Pray, pray send anybody you see.

C. J. F.”

“1/2 past seven. H. of C.”

Camp in Hyde Park during the Gordon Riots, 1780.
From a Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

War with America gave zest to military affairs. Hyde Park was the nursery for new regiments. Ladies, including the Duchess of Devonshire, the239 Duchess of Beaufort, and Lady Sutton, appeared in a feminised edition of the military garb of their respective husbands’ commands. Near the site of Cumberland Gate targets were set up for ball practice, and it is not many years since the last of the stones used were removed.

Tyburn was already doomed, not because hanging had ceased to be a fashionable entertainment, but because all sorts and conditions of men attending the executions invaded the “Arcadia” of the beau monde, and rendered it hideous to them.

In 1783 the gallows were swept away.

During those final scenes around the “triple tree” a romantic figure had passed across the horizon of Hyde Park, who, but for an attack of fever in Newgate, to which he succumbed, might also have ended his days at the gallows. The peculiar personality of Lord George Gordon had been played out, and the Gordon Riots, which Dickens so graphically describes in Barnaby Rudge, had landed their instigator in gaol. Lord George had been a familiar frequenter of the Park, where he drove his own coach, though his income only reached the modest sum of £600 a year. The desire to be possessed of a coach was as strong, apparently, in England in those days as it is in Italy or Spain to-day, where folk will live on beans and olives, and save their money to drive behind a pair of horses.

When the riots broke out a camp was again formed in Hyde Park. It was much needed, for, after the burning of Lord Mansfield’s house in Bloomsbury Square, the nobility in Mayfair would240 not remain in their homes at night; and Wraxall tells us that the Duchess of Devonshire for many nights left her mansion in Piccadilly, and slept on a sofa at the house of Lord Clermont in Berkeley Square.

But these riots were quickly subdued, and Hyde Park again became the scene of gaiety, festivity, and frivolity, bordered on the east and south by its stately mansions, where magnificent entertainments were given, and the owners held small courts of their own. One of these—on the site of Dorchester House, the present American Embassy—belonged to Lord Milton, who was afterwards made Earl of Dorchester. He was famous for his regal hospitality, but so exclusive was the circle of friends admitted to its stately halls, that the house was known among the excluded ones as “Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Its owner, who was a man of great intellect, but reserved and haughty, was one of the most familiar figures in the Park.

It is passing strange that an American, in the charming person of Mr. Whitelaw Reid, should dispense royal hospitality on the very edge of Old Tyburn Lane.

Another remarkable personage, contemporary with Lord Milton, was Lord Deerhurst, the son of Lady Coventry (Miss Gunning). Although quite blind through a shooting accident, he would ride full gallop in Rotten Row. Once he cannoned into another horseman, but after a few days’ rest he again appeared in the saddle as reckless as ever.

Yet another strange personage to be seen was the Duke of Queensberry, known as “old Q241,” whose worldliness and licentiousness in an era by no means strict in morals have given his name a sinister notoriety. He survived to the venerable age of eighty-six, sitting out to the last on his balcony in Piccadilly watching the gay world passing into the Park, a spectacle which caused Leigh Hunt to “wonder at the longevity of his dissipation and the prosperity of his worthlessness.” In his drawing-room in Piccadilly he enacted his famous reproduction of the scene on Mount Ida, with three of the most beautiful women in London to represent the goddesses—“in the same dress, so to speak,” as Mr. Street so tactfully puts it4—and himself as Paris to award the apple.

The Prince of Wales had already broken out into all sorts of extravagance, and his appearances in the Park were occasions for his greatest displays. His mock marriage with Mrs. Fitzherbert at Carlton House, and their legal marriage in her own home in Park Street, Park Lane, near Hereford Gardens, were the talk of the day, and they were, before and after, constantly to be seen together in the Park. In the winter before this marriage there was again skating on the Serpentine, and the gay Prince appeared in a fur coat which cost £800, and a large black muff. In fact, one might devote a whole volume to the extravagance indulged in by this young man, in order that he might figure loudly in his favourite London resort.

Reviews and prize-fights were great attractions in the Parks. Gay ladies rode in Rotten Row, among whom a well-known personality was the242 wonderful Marchioness of Salisbury, who was seen there daily for so many years, and was also famous for her support of Pitt in his elections, while her rival, the Duchess of Devonshire, canvassed for Fox.

It was a critical time for England: wars without, the dark shadow of insanity resting on the Sovereign, men striving for first place in the realm; and the nation hailed with true rejoicing the news of King George III.’s recovery in 1789. London was one great blaze of illuminations from end to end. The monarch was at Kew, but the Queen and Princesses drove up to town to see the displays, making Apsley House their headquarters, and returning home very late at night. Hyde Park took no small share in these festivities.

Soon after the marriage of Caroline of Brunswick with the Prince of Wales, she appeared in the Park and was the object of great admiration, which, in spite of all her faults, was accorded to her by the English public until the end of her life. So far as a selfish man can love, the object of the Prince’s affection was Mrs. Fitzherbert, and he only submitted to the marriage with his cousin in order to pay his debts, for the Princess brought with her a dowry of a million sterling.

In spite of all his efforts, the Prince was about this time eclipsed in Hyde Park, for a man, who largely owed his position to Royal favour, outstripped him in the elegance and costliness of his dress. This was Beau Brummel, the son of one of the Whitehall Secretaries. His aunt, Mrs. Searle, lived as gate-keeper of the Green Park, inhabiting a little cottage in a small enclosure243 in which she kept cows. This good body often received visits from the Princes and Princesses, and it was here that the Prince Regent met the youthful Brummel, and was so attracted by him that he secured for him a commission in the army. Hyde Park saw much of this dandy in his finery, with his mincing ways and absurd conceits. He scored heavily for a time, but was destined to end his days in poverty.

In 1800, George III. was reviewing the Grenadier Guards in the Park, when a musket-ball entered the leg of a gentleman standing a few yards from him, piercing his thigh. It was subsequently found that the ball had gone through the coat of a Frenchman, and also struck a boy on the way. His Majesty remained where he was, and laughed the matter off. It was, however, thought to be an attempt on his life—a true surmise evidently, for a pistol was fired at him in the theatre the same evening.

After the overdressing of earlier days, with a superabundance of stuffs and ruffs, fashion had reduced the feminine attire to a sparseness that was indecent, and brought indignant denunciation from both the Pope and the Protestant clergy. The last year of the eighteenth century was a distinguished one in Hyde Park, on account of the number of beautiful women to be seen driving there. Many of them handled the ribbons in fine form, chief in this art being the Marchioness of Donegall and the Countess of Mansfield. A figure, long to adorn the Park with his presence, was Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was a faithful lover of the Row and those more secluded roads to the244 west and north, where he generally rode a beautiful Arab horse, and these graceful animals became the vogue. Humble heroes as well were brought to mind, for the King granted a little cottage near the Royal Humane Society’s House—not the present one, which was opened later by Sir Arthur Wellesley when Duke of Wellington—to Mrs. Sims, an unfortunate woman who had lost all her six sons in battle.

Strutt, writing in his Sports and Pastimes in 1801, says:

“I have seen, some years back, when the Serpentine River in Hyde Park was frozen over, four gentlemen there dance, if I may be allowed the expression, a double minuet in skates with as much ease, and I think more elegance, than in a ballroom; others again, by turning and winding with much adroitness, have already in succession described upon the ice the form of all the letters of the alphabet.”

Moreover, that cosmopolitan touch, in which all Britons rejoice so long as it does not encroach, began to show itself, and in 1803, the exiled Bourbon Princes were often to be seem among the throngs in the Park, and they were present at a review held by the King, to which the Queen and Princesses also came, as well as six of the Princes. It was a most brilliant affair, and attracted crowds.

Winter Amusements. From a Print in Crace Collection, British Museum.

Those early nineteenth-century days were full of amusing eccentricities. The springs in Hyde Park were much sought after by people for bathing, others for drinking, and on Sundays a strange245 scientist and doctor, who resided in Mount Street, Martin van Butchell by name, used to attend, to distribute water from one of them. He was a well-known character, who rode daily among the throng on a white pony with a long, flowing tail, and this poor beast used at times to be painted whatever colour his master fancied. The advertisements of this self-advertising quack in the contemporary newspapers are most amusing.

Malcolm, in his Review of Society in 1807, says:

“Other amusements of the great consist in riding through Hyde Park: the ladies in their coaches, and the gentlemen on horseback in an adjoining road. He that would judge of the population of London should attend in the Park on any Sunday at three o’clock, from February till May; he must be astonished at the sight. The coaches, the horses, the populace of every rank who toil against the bleak East winds, are wonderfully numerous. Nor should he omit a visit to Kensington Gardens in May, to view the beautiful pedestrians that form our fashionable world: or a winter excursion to the Serpentine River and the Canal in St. James’s Park, where numbers skait, or attempt to skait.”

In 1808 it was suggested in Parliament that houses should be built in Hyde Park itself, but the proposal was quickly vetoed, for year by year it became more and more popular as a public rendezvous. The Prince of Wales came dashing down the Row in his tilbury, with his groom by his side, displaying a lack of dignity that shocked many people. The aged and infirm enjoyed a pleasant246 drive in the Park. Dr. Burney describes his daily outing after he was paralysed, as “an old lady’s drive about Hyde Park,” while it was the scene of a pathetic incident in the life of Princess Caroline and her daughter.

Forbidden to hold intercourse with her only child—the Princess Charlotte—and refused admittance at Windsor, Princess Caroline was one day driving, when she saw her daughter’s carriage going in another direction. She bade her coachman follow, and finally, in Hyde Park, overtook Princess Charlotte near the Serpentine. The carriages drew up side by side, the Royal occupants leaned over, kissed each other, and exchanged some cherished words of conversation. A crowd gathered, but no matter—it was a sympathetic English crowd, parents and children themselves, who would have defended the mother and daughter had need arisen.

Just about this period a Mrs. Browne came to London, lovely and to be pitied. She attracted the attention of the remarkable Lord Petersham. Henceforth this nobleman appeared in Hyde Park indicating to the world the trend his affections had taken by his brown hat and clothes, brown coach, brown horses, brown liveries, even to the servants’ hats.

Lord Petersham’s rival in eccentricity was a wonderful, wealthy magnate from Antigua. Society named him Diamond Coates, or Romeo Coates; the latter name arose from his passion for acting, and especially his performance as Romeo. His turn-out in the Park was most remarkable. Drawn by247 perfect horse-flesh, he posed in a luxurious carriage shaped like a shell,—altogether a most imposing and artistic affair,—but he spoilt the effect, and displayed the nouveau riche, by sticking his ridiculous crest all over his belongings. Nevertheless, he was the pet of fashion for some time.

Eccentricity was the rage. Each tried to outvie his neighbour in attracting attention. Another remarkable sight was the Persian Ambassador, who, mounted on a mule, was to be seen riding daily in the Row. A peculiarity of his attire was the extreme width of his trousers, which the wind used to inflate as he galloped along, rendering him a ludicrous spectacle, more fit for a circus than the dull skies of London.

The fall of Napoleon and his exile to Elba played an important part in Hyde Park’s doings, and the year 1814 was unequalled in Georgian days for the pageantry displayed in its precincts. The spring was marked by the procession of the exiled Bourbon, Louis XVIII., returning in full state to take possession of the throne of France. The Prince Regent had gone out from London to meet him on his way from Hartwell House, in Buckinghamshire, where he had spent his exiled days, and with all ceremonial possible conducted him to the metropolis, whence he set out for France.

The summer was filled with peace festivities. The Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia, and some of the Prussian Generals—Blucher among them—visited England, and were in the Park on many occasions. The Sunday crowd went mad at seeing them; in fact, many casualties were248 caused in the excitement when they were on their way to Kensington. The following Sunday a great review was held—the most brilliant ever witnessed—but the culmination of the festivities was the Great Fair.

Commencing on 31st July, 1814, no amusement was lacking, the chief show being a miniature naval engagement on the Serpentine. Extravagance, however, seems to have reigned supreme. During the week the fair lasted it cost the country £40,000.

The “Reminiscences” of Captain Gronow give many details of this time. A group of dandies was always to be found in the gay society of the Prince Regent, his chief friends being Beau Brummel, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Worcester, Lord Alvanley, Lord Foley, and others.

The most beautiful ladies were the Duchess of Rutland, the Duchess of Gordon, the Duchess of Bedford, and the Duchess of Argyll; Lady Cowper,—afterwards Lady Palmerston,—and the lovely daughters of the Marquis of Anglesea. Lady Cowper inherited her mother’s talent as a leader of Society—especially political Society,—while other brilliant hostesses were Lady Castlereagh, the Countess of Jersey, Lady Sefton, Princess Esterhazy, and the Countess Lieven.

Jubilee Fair in Hyde Park in 1814. After the fall of Napoleon.
From a Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

It was a distinguished gathering still that was seen in Hyde Park at five o’clock in the afternoons, the ladies driving in their vis-à-vis, with their gorgeously embroidered hammer-cloths, be-wigged coachmen and resplendent footmen, while the dandies rode their smart horses and bedecked themselves with blue coats, leather breeches, top-boots,249 and wonderful stiff white cravats. To these men Beau Brummel was the motive power, the beginning and the end of their existence, and Brummel’s tailor was only second to the beau himself.

Truly Hyde Park has an unparalleled record. For four hundred years the makers of history, politicians, beauty, nobility, bravery—and knavery, alas!—have all tendered homage to the charm of its acres, its noble trees, its grassy sward. Generation after generation has proclaimed love for it; and now, indeed, what would the babies and the beauties do without the famous stretch from Marble Arch to Piccadilly?

But it is the fate of humanity that in the gayest scenes of life dark Tragedy will thrust her hand, and in the midst of this wonderful assembly in 1816 spread the news that Harriet Westbrook, the wife of the poet Shelley, had committed suicide in the Serpentine.

Fifty years later—to make a wide digression—Mrs. Jane Welsh Carlyle went for a drive in Hyde Park, entering at Queen’s Gate, where she alighted and took her little dog for a run. After returning to the carriage, she drove to a quiet place on the Tyburnia side of the Park, and the dog was put out again, but opposite Stanhope Place it was knocked over by a passing brougham. Mrs. Carlyle and the occupant of the other brougham alighted, and Mrs. Carlyle returned to her carriage with the dog, after which the coachman heard nothing but a slight whimper from the animal. After driving round the Park again, he was surprised at receiving250 no orders, and seeing his mistress in exactly the same posture as he had observed her some distance back, he asked a lady to look in, who found that Mrs. Carlyle had passed away.

Whether the tragedy of Shelley’s wife, and others of like kind, gave Society a distaste for the vicinity of the Serpentine, history does not say, but the drive from Apsley House to Cumberland Gate became the fashionable quarter. The four-rowed belt of walnut-trees had been removed some time before, and thus the road was considerably widened, but it was commonly crowded to excess. There were already evidences of the Man in the Street asserting his claim to this former Royal preserve, not so much on week days as on Sundays, and Greville tells us of the Duchess of Cambridge being mobbed to her very door, and so terrified that she almost fainted. Moreover, on such occasions as the Fair in 1814, the Coronation of George IV., and also the severe winters of 1820 and 1821, the populace reigned supreme, and Society was not by any means a mighty factor in Hyde Park.

It was during this migration to the east side of the Park and Park Lane in 1820 that two dozen chairs were first set out at Stanhope Gate, the forerunners of those 35,000 which are now to be found scattered about on the grass and by the gravel-walks.

Following closely on all the follies and shows in honour of George IV.’s Coronation came a most disgraceful scene. Caroline of Brunswick died a few days after she received the refusal of the King to allow her to enjoy the rights of a Queen. According251 to her desire she was to be buried in Brunswick, and the body was to be embarked at Harwich. The most direct route to that place would have been through the City, but, lest the citizens should wish to pay a last honour to the poor lady who had passed such an unhappy life in their country, the order was given that the body should be taken to Harwich by a circuitous route. The procession was denuded of all dignity, and directions were given that it should turn up Church Street, Kensington, into the Bayswater Road. But this the crowd, which numbered some thousands, would not permit. A company of Life Guards were sent for, but on their arrival they had to give way before the dense mob.

It was finally decided to take the direct route to London. Orders were again sent that the procession must go round, and not through the City. The crowd, however, prevented it from turning into Hyde Park or up Park Lane. But by a rapid manœuvre, part of the troops with the hearse forced their way into the Park, the gate was closed on the mob, and the body was taken at full gallop from Hyde Park Corner to the Cumberland Gate. There the crowd forestalled them, and made all progress impossible. Volleys were fired, and caused a temporary giving way, which enabled the procession to move towards Edgware Road, which was also rendered impassable. All this went on in a terrible storm of wind and rain. After again firing on the populace, with the result that only a little headway was made, and struggling for seven hours to obey orders, those in command of the252 procession were forced to turn back and pass by Tyburn, Oxford Street, Holborn, and Drury Lane into the Strand, to the City. For thus giving way the officer in command lost his commission.

It is impossible to contemplate such an outrageous scene without a glance at that calm February morning, almost a century later, grey, still and chilly, when from early dawn the population of London—even to the loafer and the noisy hooligan of the street—went with subdued demeanour towards Hyde Park, there to stand, or sit in the trees for hours, until the funeral cortége of Queen Victoria should pass through London. Even Nature herself seemed to hold her breath as the stately procession wound its way across the Park, on that very road taken by the galloping horses eighty years before. Where a raging crowd had run yelling with fury and indignation in Park Lane, a mass of the people silently stood with bared heads—rows upon rows of them—as that simple gun-carriage, with its regal burden, slowly filed by and vanished through the Marble Arch. Where the clattering hoofs of the soldiers’ steeds at the funeral of Caroline of Brunswick had mixed with the fury of the storm, sovereigns, princes, ambassadors, statesmen, soldiers, and sailors, paced by with saddened mien, to the muffled strains of military bands—a pageant as imposing as it was solemn.

But returning to those days of George IV., one notable figure at least must not escape mention—the beautiful Lady Blessington. How beautiful she was subsequent generations have learnt from the picture by Sir Thomas Lawrence, now among253 the treasures of the Wallace Collection—a portrait which probably has been more often engraved than the work of any other British portrait-painter.

She is represented about eighteen years of age, when she had recently come from Ireland, and in the first flush of her maidenhood; though, in fact, she had been forced into marriage when only fourteen with a worthless Captain Farmer, whom she left after three months.

When a widow of twenty-nine she married the Earl of Blessington. From comparative penury, she was raised at one step into the most luxurious and fashionable life of the time. Her equipage was considered one of the most elegant in the Park, where she drove regularly until she went abroad with her husband.

Lord Blessington was a man of great wealth; but even his resources were taxed to meet the excessive extravagance of his wife. After his death in 1829 her reign in the social life of London really began.

Possessed at that time of a large fortune, she filled the house in Seamore Place with valuable furniture and objets d’art, and to her brilliant salon flocked all the wit and genius of the day. The Duke of Wellington, Bulwer Lytton, the two Disraelis, Lord Brougham, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Moore, Sir E. Landseer, Landor, Maclise, Ainsworth, Thackeray, and Lord John Russell were often to be found there. A contemporary has left a graceful pen picture of her.

“In a long library, lined alternately with splendidly bound books and mirrors, and with a254 deep window of the breadth of the room, opening upon Hyde Park, I found Lady Blessington alone. The picture to my eye as the door opened was a very lovely one; a woman of remarkable beauty half buried in a fauteuil of yellow satin, reading by a magnificent lamp suspended from the centre of the arched ceiling, ... and a delicate white hand relieved on the back of a book, to which the eye was attracted by the blaze of its diamond rings.”

Later Lady Blessington moved to Gore House, Kensington, where the great philanthropist, William Wilberforce, had preceded her. It stood on the site of the Albert Hall. Her entertainments were on a more lavish scale in this larger house, and troubles gathered round her.

Of Count D’Orsay’s relations with Lady Blessington much was said at the time. Married, by previous agreement with Lord Blessington, to his daughter—a mere child, and the stepdaughter of the Countess—he found his kindred spirit was really the child-wife’s stepmother.


No woman was more generous to those needing help, more modest over her beneficent works, nor has any woman’s weak point been more fostered by Fate than that of Lady Blessington. While the Earl lived, luxury and extravagance were showered upon her in every possible form. After his death she was under the influence of the Comte D’Orsay, a past master in the art of spending money. London went mad over the shape of a tie, if that shape was introduced by Comte D’Orsay. He was a man of genius, a talented255 painter and sculptor, a brilliant conversationalist, of the most prepossessing appearance. Generous to the many refugees of his country in London, extravagant in personal matters, he was in constant debt. He possessed faultless taste, and was the best horseman, fencer, and shot in Society. The two were undoubtedly the most often quoted and best-known figures of social life and the Park in the early nineteenth century. They lived at the rate of thousands a year, and seldom had a penny. Lady Blessington struggled to pay D’Orsay’s debts and her own, and to keep things going; but at length she could struggle no longer. Gore House was seized by the creditors, and its contents sold. In April 1849 the couple fled to Paris, where within two months Lady Blessington died in great poverty.

Lady Blessington was one of the first women to take up literature, and she was most handsomely paid for her work; so well, indeed, that at times she was in affluence, and at others plunged into the verge of bankruptcy. It was a strange coincidence that Lady Blessington’s first work described the ruin and selling up of a large establishment. Her whole life was one long romance, as pathetic and lonely at times as it was brilliant and splendid at others.

A great innovation during the Waterloo period was the Achilles Statue, of which much was written, the pen of Bernal Osborne and many others finding in it food for satire. It was the first nude statue erected in England, and shocked Society—none the less, to be sure, because it was the tribute of the ladies of England to the heroic Wellington.256 The subscribers protested that they were not consulted by Westmacott, the sculptor. An eccentric old Sheriff, who disported himself in Hyde Park, especially expressed himself on the subject. People turned their backs and fled to Rotten Row again.

The high brick wall that had been first placed round the Park in the reign of Charles II., when Hamilton restored the deer, and had been rebuilt in 1726, was now removed, and an iron railing was put up in its place. This was the greatest blow that had as yet been struck against the comparative monopoly of Hyde Park by the aristocracy. The old Curds and Whey House also disappeared. The parks—and in fact the whole of London—were still badly kept, and needed police supervision, and matters did not improve until the Police Act of 1829 was brought into force by the efforts of Sir Robert Peel. In its first year the new force numbered 3600 men; now the Metropolitan Police alone—not including the splendid body of City Constabulary—is over seventeen thousand strong.

When William IV. succeeded his brother George IV. on the throne, Hyde Park was the only scene of display, and there the rejoicings were limited to fireworks; but even these were mismanaged in some way, and several people were hurt by the falling rockets.

The King and Queen Adelaide used often to drive round the Serpentine. The latter was never really popular, but King William won the sympathy of the people by his simplicity. This very homeliness, however, kept his Ministers busy and anxious257 to know what fresh departure His Majesty was going to take. The Duke of Wellington must have often wished himself back at the head of his troops when negotiating for this irresponsible monarch.

One morning he informed the Duke that he would dine with him at Apsley House that evening.

At Apsley House all was bustle and scurry. Preparations for the dinner were at their busiest, the hour appointed had arrived, and the household was in a turmoil, when, to the horror of everybody concerned, a dusty, tired-out looking cavalcade came in sight, and proved to be the two Kings returning from Windsor. The people all crowded to Hyde Park Corner, and the Duke rushed hatless to do his Sovereign honour. But what could he have felt on finding that instead of the Kings being dressed in their best in honour of the feast, at least an hour must elapse before they could be even clean.

In 1831, during the agitation over the Reform Bill, the mob twice attacked Apsley House, and the second time broke all the windows. There was scarcely a whole sheet of glass left, and what made it more painful still, the Duke knew nothing of the anger of the populace, as he had for several days scarcely left the bedside of his wife, who, when the attack took place, was actually dying. It was not until two hundred police mustered that the rioters were dispersed. After this the Duke had iron shutters placed at all the windows, and would never have them removed, but they were taken down by his successor. Those now outside the windows facing the Park are made of wood.


The enclosure of land from Hyde Park, and his attitude to the Reform Bill and the Corn Laws, created a temporary unpopularity, but before long he was again received with acclamation everywhere. The Iron Duke never allowed himself to be carried away by a love of notoriety or popularity. One day, when he was returning to Apsley House by way of Constitution Hill, a large mob of admirers followed, cheering him. He rode calm and unmoved to the gate, where, wheeling round, he bowed sarcastically, and, silently pointing to his iron shutters, rode on to his door.

On the accession of Queen Victoria a great Coronation Fair was held in Hyde Park. The newspapers of the day give exhaustive accounts of it. On the wide area lying between the Serpentine and Park Lane were to be seen fat boys, living skeletons, giants, dwarfs, freaks of nature of all kinds. The acrobat, the conjurer, and wild beast shows were held forth as attractions. Boats were placed on the Serpentine. Aunt Sallies, roundabout swings, pony rides, fortune-tellers all helped to draw not only Londoners, but their country cousins as well, to Hyde Park. Innumerable stalls and booths were erected for the purpose of selling refreshments and mementoes of the event, and although the fair was only supposed to last two days it extended to four.

Festivities on the Ice, 1857.
From a Print in the “Illustrated London News,” after a Drawing by John Leech.

Probably up to that time no such crowd had ever assembled in Hyde Park, and it is recorded that it was orderly, jocular, fully determined to enjoy itself, evidently a typical London crowd, ever ready to abide by the laws. Before the259 fair closed the Queen drove through the Park to see it.

From time to time, after the formation of the Serpentine, this fine sheet of water has afforded good sport to Londoners in severe winters. Such a scene is handed down to us by the clever drawing of John Leech, which appeared in the Illustrated London News, together with an excellent description of the festivities.

“But it is in the Parks where Jack Frost is seen in all his glory—there his admirers assemble in thousands; and, casting aside all distinctions of society, the Lord Muskovers and the Bill Flue-scrapers jostle each other on the ice as though they were really ‘dearly beloved brethren,’ and not pomander and soot-balls. No bacchanalian revel more stirring and confused; and yet the only excitement is exercise. Stay! there are brandy-balls, so highly recommended by the vendors that, at a loss for further eulogium, they fall back upon inquiry, and ask (of course, without asking for a reply), ‘If one warms you for a week, what will two do?’ Peppermint lozenges are in great request: and ginger-rock and kian drops are ‘hot in the mouth’ too. Roasting chestnuts crackling over glowing charcoal are irresistible to boys with cold hands and a penny. A happy fellow is this son of winter, for see how the rogue has kissed those pretty lips and dainty cheeks until they are red as summer roses. What would not those guardsmen give for the same privilege, even though they should kiss through the wedding ring?”

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in later days260 used to take a daily drive in Hyde Park. In 1840 a man named John Oxford shot at the Queen on Constitution Hill. Her Majesty fortunately escaped unhurt, so the drive was continued to Hyde Park Corner, and a visit paid to the Duchess of Kent in Belgrave Square. The next day Her Majesty and the Prince appeared as usual in the Park, and were the subject of remarkable popular demonstrations.

Victorian Hyde Park we still have with us, and such changes as have been introduced, except in the early days of the reign, are within the memory of some. Chief of these structurally is the Marble Arch. It has stood on its present site since 1851. The public entrance—for only the King and Queen use the centre Arch—is still known as Cumberland Gate, so named after the Duke of Cumberland, whose ruthless massacres after Culloden won for him the soubriquet of “the Butcher.”

Cumberland Gate, of which an old drawing is here reproduced, was erected in 1744, largely at the expense of the residents of Cumberland Place, of whose artistic taste little is to be said. It consisted of an ugly brick arch, with wooden gates below. Military executions took place inside the Park just west of it. For long it was known as Tyburn Gate, from the gallows which stood near by, so that its associations have always been sanguinary. Old Cumberland Gate was taken down in 1822, and in truth its disappearance was no loss.

OLD CUMBERLAND GATE. To the left of which military executions took place inside the Park.
From a Print in the Crace Collection, British Museum.

The Marble Arch was originally placed in front of the chief entrance to Buckingham Palace by George IV. When the Palace was enlarged in261 1846 there was no place for the arch in the plans, and it was removed piecemeal in 1850, and re-erected at Tyburn corner, the Cumberland iron gates being taken down, and arranged to the right and left. The curious may note the royal monogram of George IV. on the ironwork of the handsome centre gates in the Arch. The Carrara marble even yet retains its whiteness, and has undergone little of the toning down to grey, which afflicts all our public buildings nearer the smoke centre.

The arch was adapted by Nash from the Arch of Constantine at Rome, and cost £80,000. It will no doubt be seen to better advantage when its isolation now in process is carried out. The idea originated with Mr. F. W. Speaight, to whom all honour is due, for wishing to relieve the most congested bit of traffic in all London.

Many people will remember when Decimus Burton’s beautiful triple arch at Hyde Park Corner was surmounted by Wyatt’s ridiculous equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. It was happily removed when the gateway was set back and the roads replanned in 1882-83, and London lost a perpetual subject of merriment to foreigners. It had been intended that the Marble Arch, at the other corner of the Park, should bear a statue of George IV. mounted on horseback, by Sir Francis Chantry, but this project was never carried out.

Only brief mention is here necessary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the vast glass building erected by Paxton for the purpose in Hyde Park, which now constitutes the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. Though but an enormous extension of Paxton262’s design for a conservatory, built by him at Chatsworth for the flowering of the Victoria Lily, it was, by reason of its size and the material employed, considered one of the world’s marvels. The Palace was nearly twice the breadth, and fully four times the length, of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It covered twenty acres of park between Prince’s Gate and the Serpentine, and contained eight miles of tables.

A couple of most interesting letters written at the time of the opening of the Great Exhibition are contained in the recently published volumes of Letters of Queen Victoria. The first, bearing the date 2nd May 1851, is from the Duchess of Gloucester, who wrote to Her Majesty:

My dearest Victoria,

“It is impossible to tell you how warmly I do participate in all you must have felt yesterday, as well as dear Albert, at everything having gone off so beautifully. After so much anxiety and the trouble he has had, the joy must be the greater.

“The sight from my window was the gayest and most gratifying to witness, and to me, who loves you so dearly as I do, made it the more delightful. The good humour of all around, the fineness of the day, the manner you were received in both going and coming from the Exhibition, were quite perfect. Therefore what must it have been inside the building?... It surpassed the Coronation in magnificence.”

Queen Victoria on the next day writes to the King of the Belgians:


My dearest Uncle,

“I wish you could have witnessed May 1st, 1851, the greatest day in our history, the most beautiful, and imposing, and touching spectacle ever seen, and the triumph of my beloved Albert. Truly it was astonishing, a fairy scene. Many cried, and all felt touched and impressed with devotional feeling. It was the happiest, proudest day of my life, and I can think of nothing else. Albert’s dearest name is immortalised with this great conception, his own, and my own dear country showed she was worthy of it. The triumph is immense.... You will be astounded at the great work when you see it.... I feel so proud and happy.”

The Queen’s closed carriage was lined with steel, and drove to the exhibition at a fast trot.

At the outset public opinion had been by no means unanimous in approving the scheme, and for a time the subscriptions hung fire, but the advocacy and enthusiasm of the Prince Consort carried it through. It was the first of the international shows which have since attained such colossal proportions. Although, in the hopes of its authors, the Great Exhibition was to have inaugurated an era of universal peace, it was soon followed by the Crimean War, and then the Indian Mutiny.

As soon as the glass building had been removed, it was proposed to erect a statue of Prince Albert on the spot; but, alas, before this was finished the talented Prince was dead, and the statue then took the form of the Albert Memorial, which was264 placed to the west of where stood the Great Exhibition. The Memorial took some twenty years to complete. There is much good work in the sculptured detail; but happily the idea of placing a gilded colossal figure in modern dress, under a canopy not only too small for it architecturally, but too small even to keep off the rain, has not been repeated.

In the summer of 1860 an event of great moment was a review of 20,000 volunteers by the Queen. Enthusiasm rose to a boundless height, and the feelings of loyalty shown both by the volunteers and the crowd was so overwhelming that the Queen was overcome.

In these days of ententes cordiales it is difficult to realise that until Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited France in the ’forties, no reigning English sovereign had been the guest of our neighbours across the Channel, since Henry VIII. held his wonderful pageant at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Further, until Louis XVIII., as already noticed, passed through London on his way to take possession of the throne of France in 1814, no King of France had been in England since the days when the Black Prince led King John captive through the City.

From that friendly visit of our young Queen dates the growing cordiality between the two countries. In 1855, amidst the spring beauties of foliage and blossom, Napoleon III. and the Empress Eugénie made a state procession through Hyde Park, driving round the Serpentine and out into Bayswater.




I have already referred to the custom of duelling—a phase of Society which became so prominent in the romance of Hyde Park, where many a tragic encounter and bitter quarrel were fought out, that it demands a short chapter to itself.

Duelling really came down to us as a relic of barbarism. It was among the northern tribes of Europe that it originated, and was introduced into England by the Normans under the “Trial by Combat.”

From the Trial by Combat, which Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott have described so graphically, emanated the duel of later centuries, when the bloody Wars of the Roses had swept away the last rays of chivalry. Henry VIII. had not long acquired the wide range of land known as the Manor of Hyde, when two noblemen sought its solitary glades to decide a quarrel. A desperate duel was then fought between His Grace the Duke of B—— and Lord B——.

The circumstances were these:—

A ball was in progress at a Minister’s house, when the Duke imagined that Lord B—— had266 offered him a severe insult. He therefore sent him a challenge worded as follows:

“Convince me, then, that you are more of a gentleman than I have reason to believe, by meeting me near the first tree behind the lodge in Hyde Park, precisely at half an hour after five to-morrow morning.” The Duke added that he sent two swords for Lord B—— to choose from, and concluded the note— “In the interim I wish your Lordship a good rest.”

Lord B—— accepted the challenge in a friendly strain. It is reported that, his answer duly sent off, he visited several friends, when it was remarked that as he was in such good spirits he had probably been smiled upon by the Countess of Essex, whose favour he was anxious to gain. He and his second, General de Lee, set out early for the appointed spot in Hyde Park. There they had to wait for the Duke, who, however, shortly afterwards arrived, the seconds pairing the swords, and each one loading his adversaries’ pistols.

Both men had dressed themselves with the greatest care. The Duke wore a scarlet coat, much betrimmed with gold lace; and his adversary a crimson one, lavishly beautified with silver trimming; these they doffed and handed to their seconds.

The two men fired, and Lord B—— wounded the ducal thumb, while on the second discharge the Duke also crippled his antagonist. They then drew swords, and charged each other with great determination. In the midst of the encounter Lord B—— tripped against a tuft of grass, but was267 up again before his adversary could take advantage of the opportunity afforded him. The seconds intervened, but nothing could appease the two angry men, and they fought at close quarters, and in parrying became locked. When at last they succeeded in freeing their swords, the wrench was so great that the weapons sprang out of their hands, and Lord B——’s is said to have risen six yards into the air. The weapons were recovered, and the struggle began with renewed vigour. It continued with even greater ferocity, both men receiving several wounds, until Lord B—— ran his sword right through the Duke’s breast. Thus deprived of his weapon, he had to guard himself with his left arm, although two of his fingers were cut off. Thereupon His Grace, himself pierced through the body, plunged his own sword into Lord B—— just below the heart, and in that position they stood, pinned, or rather double pinned, to one another without either being able to move. Lord B—— was the first to stagger and fall; but his rival quickly followed suit. Both expired before medical assistance could arrive.

Could a more horrible scene be imagined. Men caught together by blades of steel, deadly hate in their souls and fire in their eyes.

It must be remembered that with the commencement of the Tudor period new elements were to be seen at Court. Spain sent her Princess to wed in England, while Mary, the daughter of that same unhappy Catherine of Arragon, married her cousin Philip II. of Spain. Southern courtiers came in the royal trains. Spanish blood ran hot268 and quick in those rough and tumble days, rivalries deep and fierce raged in the hearts of the new English nobility. The rapier and dagger replaced the sword and buckler. Friends of one moment called each other out the next, and during Elizabeth’s reign the custom of duelling was much increased. Ben Jonson was imprisoned in 1593 for killing a brother-actor in a duel. He was tried for manslaughter, to which he pleaded guilty; he was then released, after being branded with what the London people called “the Tyburn T.”

Under James I. duelling was of constant occurrence. His courtiers, too, brought fresh trouble, for, though the Scots are generally regarded as a phlegmatic race, cool, long-headed, and well able to look after themselves, combats of this kind had long been a usual way of settling the fierce tribal feuds between the Highland clans.

The following incident shows one of the many little affairs of that sort with which James I. had to deal, while it also reveals the fact that, although we find no recorded duels in Hyde Park from the time of Bluff King Hal until 1693, that place was regarded as one of the habitual spots for such frays.

“Mary Middlemore, the favourite maid of Queen Anne of Denmark, was either reading or sewing in the Queen’s apartments at Greenwich Palace, when one of the King’s Scotch Gentlemen of the Bedchamber surprised her, and carried off a top-knot from her hair, despite all her remonstrances, and henceforth wore it twisted in his hat-band. Lord Herbert, who was panting for an opportunity of showing his knight-errantry, hearing the bitter269 complaints of the aggrieved damsel, demanded the return of the top-knot from the Scotch lover, who contumaciously refused to surrender it, on which Lord Herbert seized him by the throat and almost strangled him. These antagonists were dragged asunder by their friends, lest they should incur the penalty of losing their hands by striking in the Royal Palace. They exchanged a cartel to fight unto death in Hyde Park, but the King and the Council tamed their pugnacity with the wholesome infliction of a month’s confinement in the Tower.”

During the Great Rebellion duelling became quite a rare occurrence, still existing sufficiently, however, for Cromwell to pass an Act forbidding it. But under Charles II. it again became prevalent, and in spite of legislation against the custom, in 1712 it remained the fashion all through the Georgian period.

Naturally, when ladies were so often the cause of these encounters, duels formed one of the topics of interesting gossip in the correspondence of the day. We find in 1693 a duel which had taken place in Hyde Park, described in a letter to the Countess of Rutland (Rutland MSS.) in these words: “... A quarrel happening between two Yorkshire gentlemen, Sir William Reresby and Mr. Moyser, they have decided it in Hyde Park, being both wounded, but neither of them dangerously.”

Among the Harley papers at Welbeck Abbey, too, Sir Edward Harley, writing to Lady Harley in the reign of Charles II., informs her that “upon a quarrel begun at a masquerade a duel was fought between Sir Winston Churchill’s son and Mr. Fenwick. Churchill is sore hurt270.”

No record exists whether this was fought in Hyde Park, but a space near the Ring was apparently a favourite spot, and Fielding in his novel Amelia lays the duel scene there. The seclusion of the place, the early hour, the non-existence of our well regulated modern police, the very difficulty of locomotion, and the dangerous character of the neighbourhood in the dusk and early dawn, all tended to make it easy for the parties to keep their meeting a secret.

Indeed, if one allows one’s imagination to run riot, there are even now spots in Hyde Park which lend themselves for the “setting” of such meetings. Strolling on a November afternoon near the site of the Ring, my thoughts wandering back through the centuries, I came to a grassy slope facing a group of silver birch trees. Their beautiful forms stood in bold relief against a background of dark shrubs. The setting sun—a red ball of fire—gave the haze, that adds so much to the picturesqueness of London, a hue that might have been the glow of a ruddy sunrise. Raindrops of yesterday glittered on the grass like dew. The sound of a distant carriage, and the little scene became peopled with creatures of the imagination,—two figures, chatting lightly and strolling to and fro among the trees; two others, pacing out a length, talking gravely meanwhile, and then examining some small objects in their hands. And soon all was ready. Their companions were summoned, and took their stand, exchanging coats for pistols. I felt like the heroine in an old novel who has surprised une affaire d’honneur, and—expecting each second to hear the shot—was271 ready to turn and flee with a thrill of horror, when the homely voices of the wild fowl on the Serpentine brought me back to reality and the twentieth century.

The fields behind Montague House (the present British Museum) especially that known as “The Field of the Forty Footsteps,” Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Covent Garden, Pall Mall, Bayswater Fields, Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath, Battersea Fields, have all had the reputation of duelling grounds, and as late as 1783 the open space behind the Foundling Hospital was chosen for an affray.

But it was a common thing for disputants merely to turn out into the street, draw their swords, and settle the matter there and then. In fact, in the reigns of George I. and George II. a small difference in a tavern assembly, a sudden flash of jealousy, were not even taken to the street, but were quickly fought out in the house. Such was the case later between Lord Byron and Mr. Chaworth, who fought with swords at the “Star and Garter” in Pall Mall; while Brinsley Sheridan and Captain Matthews planned to fight in Hyde Park, but found too many people about, so they retired to the Castle Tavern in Covent Garden.

In such combats people expended their sudden fits of passion, their long pent-up hatred, or their bitter jealousy, and often a pet malice. Contempt of death had a capable nurse in the ghastly Tyburn exhibitions.

Nor was it with one class of Society, nor with full-grown, responsible men alone that this mania (for it can be called nothing less) existed. It spread272 to mere boys, who called each other out for the slightest cause, in imitation of their elders—a danger which the twentieth-century mother happily has not to fear for her sons. Laurence Sterne’s father was shot in a duel arising from a dispute over a goose.

The challenge or cartel took different forms; and it was supposed to be good style to keep all arrangements within the strictest etiquette and politeness imaginable. This particular challenge in the highest Society stated:

1. The cause of offence.

2. The reason why the cause should be noticed.

3. The name of a friend.

4. A request for an appointment of time and place.

The choice of seconds was an important matter, and any one who accepted the office had a position of great responsibility. His first duty was to try and prevent the meeting, then to choose the ground, to charge the pistols, to decide the distance the duellists should stand from each other, and when they called “All’s ready?” the second replied “All’s ready,” and at once dropped a handkerchief as token to begin.

Two surgeons generally attended; they were supposed to turn their backs in order not to see the actual duel, but to run forward as soon as they heard the shots, to render aid to the wounded.

When George III. came to the throne duels could no longer be entered into lightly, and became much more formal affairs, being arranged in detail beforehand, with various points of etiquette. In many cases the combatants tossed for first fire. Dr.273 Millingen states that there were one hundred and seventy-two encounters fought during this reign; sixty-nine individuals killed and ninety-six wounded—forty-eight desperately so, and forty-eight slightly.

One hundred and seventy-two known encounters,—but of course by far the greater number remained unrecorded.

The following instances, culled from records of the eighteenth century, and all connected with Hyde Park, give some idea of the variety of pleas and the personality of the combatants figuring in duels of the period.

So many writers of renown—including Defoe, Swift, Thackeray, Martin Hume, and others—have described the circumstances of the great and fatal duel between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun, which was fought early in the eighteenth century in Hyde Park, that we need merely allude to it.

A lawsuit had been raging between these two nobles, and it is alleged that this was used as a shield for a political scheme to get rid of the Duke of Hamilton, who had just been appointed Ambassador to the Court of Versailles, where the Old Pretender was a refugee.

The Duke most unwillingly took Mohun’s challenge, as he was well known to be a man of bad character; but the second, Macartney, arranged a meeting. Seconds as well as the principals fought at that period, and Macartney having wounded Colonel Hamilton, the Duke’s second, disarmed. The struggle between the Duke and Mohun, however, was prolonged, although both were wounded274 in several places. At last the Duke ran Mohun through the body, and while thus fixed the latter shortened his sword, and pierced Hamilton through the lungs. Mohun expired on the spot. The Duke was carried to the Cheesecake House, but died on the way. Macartney fled, and Colonel Hamilton accused him of having stabbed the Duke when he was trying to raise him. The trial came off the next year, and “Manslaughter” was the verdict; upon which Macartney then charged Colonel Hamilton with perjury.

Three years after the accession of George III. the noted Wilkes, who had already been one of the principals in a duel with Lord Talbot at Bagshot, was involved in another quarrel, both being on the subject of his writings in the Northern Briton. In this paper he had given some character sketches which evidently alluded to Mr. Samuel Martin, M.P. for Camelford, and late Secretary to the Treasury (he figured as the hero in Churchill’s Duellist). The passage which gave offence to Martin was:

“The Secretary of a certain Board, and a very apt tool of a Ministerial persecution, who, with a snout worthy of a Portuguese inquisitor, is hourly looking out for carrion in office, to feed the maw of the insatiable vulture, imo, etiam in senatum venit, notat et designat unumquemque nostrum,5 he marks us, and all our innocent families, for beggary and ruin. Neither the tenderness of age nor the sacredness of sex is spared by the cruel Scot.”

Martin denounced Wilkes in the House of275 Commons in an angry oration, which was as insulting as he could make it.

Wilkes retorted by a violent letter, saying he had written every word of the articles, to which Martin wrote an indignant reply, concluding his communication with the following words:

“I desire that you may meet me in Hyde Park immediately, with a brace of pistols each, to determine our difference. I shall go to the Ring in Hyde Park, with my pistols so concealed that nobody may see them; and I will wait in expectation of you for one hour. As I shall call in my way at your house, to deliver this letter, I propose to go from thence directly to the Ring in Hyde Park; from whence we may proceed, if it be necessary, to any more private place. And I mention that I shall wait an hour in order to give you the full time to meet me. I am, Sir, etc.,

Samuel Martin.”

Arrived at Hyde Park, they were obliged to dally a while, in order to get rid of people who were loitering there. Martin missed Wilkes in his first shot, and Wilkes’s pistol only flashed. They thereupon proceeded to take their second pistols. Wilkes missed, but was shot in the stomach by Martin’s ball. Martin, seeing him fall, rushed to help his antagonist, but Wilkes, congratulating him on being a man of honour, insisted on his going off at once, in order that nobody should know who had wrought the deed, for he had lost much blood, and thought himself dying. Wilkes was carried home in a chair, and two doctors attending him extracted276 the ball, but he still feared that his life was ebbing, and therefore sent the letter of challenge that he had received from Martin back to the writer, so that in case of his death there would be no trace left of the slayer.

Wilkes wrote to the House of Commons explaining his state of health, and a month after the duel, Parliament made an order that in addition to his own physicians two others should attend him; but these Wilkes refused to see.

Martin fled to Paris, where Wilkes shortly afterwards followed, and they met on good terms, although, when it became publicly known that Martin had been his antagonist and had so nearly brought his life to a close, public opinion was much aroused against him.

In contrast to this political row, attention is attracted to another affaire d’honneur that was decided in Kensington Gravel Pits. Its very domesticity leads one to digress a little. Hot-blooded, impetuous, lovable romance was aroused in an Irish family of renown, by the marriage of the daughter of the house to an officer without the consent and knowledge of the family. One of her brothers sided against her, and another brother challenged him on account of his cruel behaviour towards their sister. The fight was eager and real, and a dangerous wound was given, but history does not relate whether it was family pride or chivalric defence of the sister that received the blow.

Too often the absurd and ridiculous was the culmination of an exhibition of boastfulness and277 bombast in these encounters. For instance, the courage of the lady in the Garrick duel rendered the positions of the men somewhat comical. It will be remembered that George Garrick was the brother of the famous actor, David Garrick. He had for some time been talked of as being very attentive to Mrs. Baddeley, the wife of a mummer at Drury Lane. Baddeley’s jealousy was fanned by an intriguing Jewish friend, who made much trouble between the three, and Baddeley demanded satisfaction in Hyde Park. Garrick put up his pistol and fired into the air, and Baddeley—whose arm is said to have shaken like an aspen leaf—fired, but did no damage.

At this point of the proceedings a hackney coach drove towards them at a furious pace, and on its arrival at the scene of conflict Mrs. Baddeley rushed out, throwing herself between the combatants, shrieking:

“Spare him!—Spare him!”

So ended a truly dramatic scene worthy of the stage itself.

Indeed, in this matter-of-fact twentieth century it seems childish, if not idiotic, to fight over an affront, the truth of which the opponents had never taken the trouble to ascertain. Yet, in 1773, Mr. Whateley, brother of the previous Secretary of the Treasury, and Mr. John Temple, Lieut.-Governor of New Hampshire, fought in Hyde Park, the former being badly wounded. They had quarrelled over the publication of some confidential State papers, and after they had fought and bled for their opinions, Benjamin Franklin278 wrote to say that neither of them could possibly have known anything about the letters in question.

Imagine such a state of affairs in present-day politics and diplomacy, when Mr. Speaker’s “Withdraw” commands sufficient satisfaction to the feelings of injured politicians, and quells any hot-blooded exhibition of un-English spirit in the House.

The army was ever to the fore in the fray. As with many others of these bitter feuds, the case given below ended in firing into the air, and exaggerated compliments, which again gave a touch of absurdity to the proceedings.

On 22nd March 1780, the Earl of Shelburne (the first Marquis of Lansdowne), with Lord Frederick Cavendish as his second, and Colonel Fullarton, Member for Plympton, whose second was Lord Balcarras, fought at 5.30 one morning in Hyde Park. Lord Shelburne had said that Colonel Fullarton and his regiment “were as ready to act against the liberties of England as against her enemies.” The officer repudiated the charge in the House of Commons, and the duel was the outcome. Lord Shelburne and Colonel Fullarton walked across the Park together, while Lord Balcarras and Lord Frederick Cavendish made the necessary arrangements, and decided that the weapons should be pistols. The combatants were placed twelve paces apart, and the most formal etiquette was observed. Lord Shelburne’s pistols had been already loaded, but finding that Fullarton and Lord Balcarras had come prepared to load on the spot, the Earl and Lord Frederick Cavendish wished to draw the charges. This, however, their279 opponents would not allow, and Lord Balcarras loaded his principal’s weapons.

Colonel Fullarton, who was thus avenging the insult placed upon him by Lord Shelburne, asked his antagonist to fire, but the Earl declined. The seconds gave the word for the officer to fire, which he did, but with no result. Lord Shelburne then took aim but missed. The second pistol, however, took effect, and the soldier wounded his antagonist in the right groin. There was the usual rush towards the fallen man. Lord Frederick Cavendish put out his hand to take Lord Shelburne’s pistol from him, but he would not give it up, exclaiming that he had not fired yet. Colonel Fullarton had run forward with the others to help his foe, but on hearing this he again took up his position. The Earl, perceiving what he had done, remarked:

“Sure, sir, you do not think I would fire my pistol at you.” And thereupon he let it off in the air.

The seconds proceeded to inquire into the feelings of their principals, and if they thought satisfaction had been given.

“Although I am wounded,” said the Earl, “I am able to go on if you feel any resentment.”

“I hope I am incapable of harbouring such a sentiment,” returned the soldier. “As your Lordship is wounded, and has fired into the air, it is impossible for me to go on.”

And so the little group dispersed, the seconds having declared that “the parties had ended the affair by behaving as men of the strictest honour.”

Could anything be nearer mummery and fiasco280 than this? Approaching the spot outwardly on friendly terms, while inwardly chafing and showering maledictions each on his opponent—a shot into space. And then—

Smiles, bows, compliments, and an end to the life and death question of a few minutes before.

The Church and the Law were not less addicted to this swaggering or appearance on the duelling grounds of Hyde Park, for that same year a duel was fought between the Rev. Mr. Bates and a Mr. R——, a student of the law. Both of these men were on the staff of The Morning Post. The first fire fell to the lot of the clergyman, who wounded Mr. R—— in the fleshy part of his arm. He was not incapacitated, however, for he was able to return the fire, but missed, whereupon the seconds declared the matter settled.

Two years later, Mr. Dulany, a gentleman who owned a great deal of property in Maryland, and who lived in Park Street, Grosvenor Square, quarrelled with the Rev. —— Allen, who was also engaged on The Morning Post. In the issue of that paper on 29th June 1779 an article had appeared, headed “Characters of Principal Men in Rebellion.” Allen had owned the authorship of this, in a letter written to Dulany in insulting and threatening terms. Dulany sent a verbal message in reply; other communications followed, and the men who carried them—Morris for Allen, and Delancey for Dulany—came forward as their seconds.

Camp Kitchen in Hyde Park. From an Old Print.

On the evening of 26th June, Dulany and Delancey were to be seen walking across the Park from Grosvenor Square about half-past nine. There281 at an appointed place they met Allen and Morris. Pistols were fired at eight yards distance. Dulany fell, dangerously wounded. He died at his house in Park Street six days after. Allen and Morris were advertised for, with a reward of ten guineas to the finder. They surrendered, and were tried for “Wilful Murder.” But finally Allen was fined one shilling, and sentenced to six months imprisonment, and Morris was acquitted.

It would be rather amusing if newspaper quarrels were settled to-day in this fashion, and whole battalions of writers were seen wending their way in the early hours of the morning to Hyde Park, to enjoy the pleasures of dramatic encounters which seldom had a serious ending.

But there were occasions when the Park was the scene of bloody conflict. Fierce fighting raged there, ghastly sights rivalling Tyburn were enacted under those old trees, which, could they but record their experiences, would hand to the world an unequalled series of “Reminiscences.”

For some unknown cause, on a September morning in the waning eighteenth century, such a conflict disturbed the fresh quietude of the glade. Colonel the Hon. Cosmo Gordon and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas met at the Ring to fight a duel. It was agreed by their seconds that, after receiving their pistols, they should advance and fire when they pleased. When about eight yards from each other the triggers fell almost simultaneously, but only Colonel Cosmo Gordon’s weapon went off. His adversary then fired, and Colonel Cosmo Gordon was seriously wounded in the thigh.


The second pistols had no result, but after they were reloaded, the duellists again advanced and fired at about the same distance as before, when Colonel Thomas was badly wounded in the body. He fell, and though the ball was immediately removed by the surgeon whom he had brought with him, death followed.

An action like this was no little Society function of the day, no mere working up to the rôle for the sake of appearances. It meant real feeling on the part of the actors, and the cause was deep-seated.

Some pages back, mention was made that youths fought in sheer imitation of their elders and superiors in rank and position. A record survives as a ghastly illustration of the habit. One Thursday night four law students were spending the evening together at the Cecil Coffee House, where one of them, an Irishman named Frizell, lodged. They caroused till one o’clock in the morning, when Frizell declared he could drink no more. This annoyed another Irishman among the little party, whose name was Clark. He taunted Frizell with inhospitality. Frizell replied that he had meant nothing, but that if he had given offence he was also ready to give satisfaction. He then went off to bed.

Clark declared to the other two companions that Frizell had challenged him, and though they repeatedly assured him there was no challenge in the words addressed to him he still remained unappeased, mounted to his friend’s bedroom, and would hear of no arrangement but that they should have a duel in five minutes.


Frizell immediately put on his clothes and joined the others, saying that if his friends (Evans and Montgomery) considered that he had given offence he was perfectly willing to apologise. Clark, however, would take no apology, and insisted that they should fight it out in an hour’s time, at three o’clock in the morning, in Hyde Park.

There the party of four proceeded, after their seconds had managed to secure a brace of pistols between them. They stood at ten yards; Clark, still throbbing with the emotion of imagined wrong, won first fire, and wounded Frizell, whose pistol went off as he fell. Montgomery ran for a coach to take him to a surgeon’s, but on his return found the young man dead. The two others were standing by the corpse, surrounded by soldiers from Knightsbridge. They were detained some minutes, when the Sergeant said they might go. They climbed into the coach into which Frizell’s corpse had been lifted, but when they reached Piccadilly, Clark and his second alighted, and were never heard of again.

A sad ending, indeed, to a little debauch in a tavern that began mirthfully enough, but one only too frequent a hundred years ago.

Romance also figured as the cause of many a duel. About this time a celebrated contest was fought in Hyde Park, ending there tamely enough indeed, though it culminated in tragedy elsewhere.

Miss King, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Lord Kingsborough, eloped from Windsor with her second cousin, Colonel Fitzgerald, who was already married to a very beautiful lady. Her mother284 advertised, offering one hundred pounds reward for her recovery. Lord Kingsborough was in Ireland, but as soon as he heard of the affair he and his son, Colonel King, came to England, and with some difficulty found Colonel Fitzgerald and challenged him. So great was Fitzgerald’s disrepute that he could find no one willing to be his second; but Major Wood, who was King’s second, insisted on his asking his surgeon to fill the office for him. The doctor refused, but promised that he would keep in sight, and a fellow-surgeon having been secured, Major Wood prevailed upon him to be a witness that all was fair. Six shots were fired without effect. A parley then took place, but the duel was continued till Colonel Fitzgerald’s bullets were expended, and the combatants arranged a further meeting the next day. This, however, never came off, as both officers were arrested.

The lady in question had been taken to Ireland, and was living at the house of her father (then the Earl of Kingstown). On his release, Colonel Fitzgerald, with whom Miss King, through the intermediacy of a servant, had been carrying on communication, followed her. News of his presence reached Colonel King, who had succeeded his father in the courtesy title of Lord Kingsborough. He went to a lodging occupied by Fitzgerald, and was refused admittance, whereupon he burst the door open and entered the room, carrying with him a brace of pistols. He told Fitzgerald to take one of these, and at that moment the men grappled and a struggle ensued. The Earl of Kingstown meantime had been informed where his son285 had gone, and, having followed him, arrived in the midst of the fray. Thinking Lord Kingsborough was in danger of his life, he fired, and his son’s adversary fell dead on the spot.

This chapter, though dealing but in cursory fashion with the subject, must not be closed without reference to two strange incidents which ended in duels. In the first the encounter itself was fought in Hyde Park; in the second the circumstance which led to the duel was enacted there.

On 9th June, 1792, the Earl of Lonsdale and Captain Cuthbert, of the Guards, found cause of quarrel. The latter was on duty in the neighbourhood, when confusion in the traffic occurred in Mount Street; he therefore forbade any carriages to come there. Lord Lonsdale, driving by in his equipage, was almost the first to be stopped, at which his Lordship was much incensed.

“You rascal, do you know I am a peer of the realm?” he cried.

“I don’t know that you are a peer,” was the officer’s quick retort, “but I know you are a scoundrel for applying such a term to an officer on duty, and I will make you answer for it.”

A meeting was, of necessity, the consequence, but a pair of pistols on each side wrought no injury to either party. Captain Cuthbert, however, had a narrow escape, for the ball from Lord Lonsdale’s second pistol struck the button of his coat, which prevented it from entering his body.

The second incident occurred in Hyde Park in 1803. Lieut.-Colonel Montgomery and Captain286 Macnamara were riding there, each followed by a Newfoundland. The dogs fought. Colonel Montgomery, who did not see that his fellow-officer was near, separated the animals, and exclaimed:

“Whose dog is that?—I will knock him down.”

To which Macnamara replied:

“Have you the impudence to say that you will knock my dog down? You must first knock me down.”

A dispute followed, and cards were exchanged. A meeting was arranged at Primrose Hill, in which Colonel Montgomery was mortally wounded, and died almost immediately.

All this seems very trifling to modern ideas, and the grave consequences out of all proportion to the insult offered, yet it represents the spirit of the age.

Many well-known persons, besides those mentioned, figured as duellists in that time—Talbot, Townshend, Byron, Pitt, Fox, Canning, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Castlereagh, the Duke of York (1789), all had their “affairs of honour,” which were settled in the customary way. Nor must the Duke of Wellington be omitted. It was far into the nineteenth century before duelling ceased to be the fashion, and it is interesting to notice that as Hyde Park fell more and more into the hand of gardeners, and—with Tyburn removed—assumed a more respectable and safe reputation, so the duels fought became fewer.

Wimbledon Common was a popular spot for the purpose in the early nineteenth century. The287 last known duel fought between Englishmen in this country apparently took place in 1845, at Gosport, between Lieut. Hawkey, of the Royal Marines, and Mr. Seton, of the 11th Hussars, the latter being killed.

Duelling in Hyde Park is no more, and suicide of rare occurence, although there are often riding accidents to-day.




The London Parks strike different people in different ways, and certainly a bailiff of the late well-known Yorkshire squire, Sir Tatton Sykes, looked upon them with different eyes from the ordinary mortal.

Sir Tatton sent him to London to see the sights, and on his return asked him what he thought of London.

“Lots o’ houses,” he said, “and I found some pretty good pasture, only it was a bit scattered.”

This was the way he summed up the beautiful squares and parks of London.

It is extraordinary how this class of people look upon things generally. I well remember an old gardener of my grandfather’s who, after fifty years’ service in the family, was given a treat to London. When he got back to Lancashire he also was asked what he thought of London.

“I was just in a haze,” he said, “and they took me to bed in a hoist,”—this being his description of going up to bed in a lift at the London hotel.

Like every other big town, London has its areas strictly mapped out, only in this great community the lines of cleavage are more marked than in others. Live but a few streets too far citywards, and you lose289 the privilege of belonging to the West End, and are merged in the great middle class.

The middle class, too, has its line of divergence, to travel beyond which is to lose middle-class status, and sink into the maelstrom of the East End. All this, no doubt, is snobbish; but then every class has its snobs just as it has its bores, no matter into which particular class one may be born, or risen, or descended.

Hyde Park, however, is the common heritage of all, the meeting-ground of King and coster. It is the most truly democratic spot in all London. It is surprising what tolerance there is, what good feeling pervades the throng made up of such extraordinary mixtures and contradictions.

A well-dressed woman, who goes into a mean street of slum-land, is made the subject of audible remarks, mostly ribald, too often coarse. Her fashionable costume seems to excite hatred. The would-be finery of the Park no doubt envies the real finery. The workman in his heart is contemptuous of the frock-coated “swell,” but they meet there on a quiet and friendly footing. Passions of class distinction are subdued within the fairy ring of Hyde Park. A lady walking or driving in its precincts need never fear being assailed by anything likely to offend her ear.

Manners, too, have changed. My father would have thought it an awful thing to have smoked in the Row. Nobody would have dreamt of doing such a thing in the sixties or seventies, or even eighties. Nowadays cigars and cigarettes are quite common, while a pipe is sometimes to be seen in the290 morning or evening, between the lips of some business or professional man going or coming from his office or chambers.

Of the Park habitués, Royalty must necessarily come first. Between nine and ten o’clock almost any morning of the week, when he is in town, the Prince of Wales, faultlessly mounted, and generally attended by Sir Arthur Bigge, may be seen entering the Park at Hyde Park Corner. To the most of the world he goes unnoticed. He rides as quietly as any other gentleman in the Row, and so as not to disturb his pleasure no one bows unless personally acquainted with his Royal Highness. Like his father, he has a happy knack of seeing people and beckoning to them, or, if necessary, sending Sir Arthur Bigge, or the groom who follows, to say he wishes to speak to them. The Prince is noted for his chaffing, merry way.

The Duke of Connaught, not even attended by a gentleman-in-waiting, the Duke of Fife, the Duke of Teck, and Prince Francis of Teck, and a host of others, ride at the same hour, and often join forces with the future King of England.

One of the best-known figures in the Row, and yet at the same time not a rider, is Lord Alverstone, the Lord Chief Justice, who walks through the Park on his way to the Law Courts. It is quite extraordinary the number of well-known people who may be seen riding every day. One may frequently espy the clear-cut face of Mr. Justice Grantham, sometimes chatting with his fellow-judge, Sir Charles Darling, who seems to have found the secret of perpetual youth; and also Mr. Justice Lawrence.291 In his time the late Lord Brampton, whose title of nobility can never obscure the sarcasm of Mr. Justice Hawkins, took his daily constitutional under the trees.

Among Members of both Houses of Parliament, riding or walking, are the Marquis of Lansdowne, beautifully mounted, Mr. Winston Churchill talking to himself, and Sir John Dickson-Poynder.

Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, the Arctic explorer, and till lately Norwegian Minister in London, often rode in the Park; and also Count Paul Wolff-Metternich. Count Albert Mensdorf, Herr Pouilly-Dietrichstein, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, walk, and so do the Earl of Rosebery and Mr. Leopold de Rothschild. The Duke and Duchess of Somerset, the Duchess of Sutherland, the Countess of Warwick, Muriel Viscountess Helmsley, Mary Lady Inverclyde, Sir Alfred Turner, and hosts of others familiar in London society, ride among the throng, in which are frequently to be seen West End doctors—Sir Felix Semon, Mr. Butlin, Mr. Clinton Dent, Dr. Dakin, Dr. Cautly, Mr. Arbuthnot Lane, Dr. Kingston Fowler, Mr. Collins; and artists—Mr. Solomon J. Solomon, R.A., Mr. Shannon, A.R.A., and Mr. Linley Sambourne of Punch.

Actors are there too. Mr. Cyril Maud, Mr. George Alexander, Mr. Allan Ainsworth, Mr. Beerbohm Tree, Mr. Boucicault; to say nothing of Gibson girls, those mysterious folk who only earn a pound a week, and yet ride thoroughbreds and drive motor cars.

The only people who have the right to drive in a carriage down Rotten Row are His Majesty King292 Edward, who, unlike his mother, has never exercised that privilege, and the Duke of St. Albans, as Hereditary Grand Falconer.

An enormously wealthy and well-known financier used to ride every day in Hyde Park. He was never much of a horseman, and as he grew older the little nerve he had possessed gradually went. Nevertheless, he was determined not to give up the habit of years, and if, after all, his ride did not give him much pleasure, it employed a vast number of people, and so lessened the ranks of the unemployed. First of all, a groom had to exercise his horse for a couple of hours, that is to say, take all the pluck out of it, so that a handsome but jaded steed was left for a little gentle exercise.

Before, and beside him, two other grooms were in attendance, the idea being that while one was at his service, the other had a second horse in case he required it. More than that, an empty carriage, with a pair of horses and a couple of men-servants, wandered round the Park as long as he was riding, and as close within earshot as possible. They were to take the good gentleman home if he was tired. One would imagine that this was sufficient for one solitary man’s ride for an hour, but not at all. Two or three men in plain clothes, really grooms from this gentleman’s stables, were stationed at intervals down the Row, so that if anything went wrong they might rush to his service at once. I have often wondered if that good man’s morning ride did not cost him more pain than pleasure.

Beside the riders who are there for amusement, mounted police are the only people who293 gallop up and down Rotten Row, but there was an exception to this rule a few years back.

In 1890, a year memorable for the number of processions to the Park, and demonstrations held therein, discontent was aroused in the minds of some of the younger policemen at the extra work entailed. These Sunday processions became a weekly occurrence, and of course extra police were required to look after them. Naturally, when this went on for some time the men in blue felt aggrieved. They wanted their Sundays like everyone else. The “agitators,” not being particularly anxious to have their services, at once suggested that they should go out on strike.

One hot July day these members of the force struck or committed some such acts of insubordination, and confusion reigned at Bow Street. The unswerving loyalty of the main body of the Metropolitan Police, however, saved the situation, but for a couple of days troopers from Knightsbridge barracks were to be seen patrolling Rotten Row, in place of our usual dignified guardians of the peace.

One of the uses of the Park—too often a misuse—is that of a meeting ground for all kinds of demonstrations. When any body of people—men or women—wish to attract, they call out the crowd to “demonstrate,” and march to Hyde Park. The place is big enough to contain them without much disturbance to the other habitués, and as a “safety valve” it is safer than Trafalgar Square, with so many shop-windows within reach.

Nothing about these demonstrations is more294 wonderful than the way they are handled by the police. As soon as one is planned, information has to be forwarded to Scotland Yard by the promoters, and arrangements are immediately made. The processions often start from many different quarters, but wherever they come, or wherever they go, they are shepherded the whole time by the “bobbies” in blue, or in mufti.

In 1886 a detachment of one of these demonstrations got out of hand and struck terror to the West End, where they wrecked a number of shops in Piccadilly and Audley Street,—named by some wit “Disorderly Street,”—and Oxford Street. This caused a scare, and as broken windows and broken heads are not things to be encouraged, preparations have been more carefully made ever since, though most wisely concealed.

Rumour has it that, by telephone with Scotland Yard, a thousand extra men can be brought into Hyde Park at a few moments’ notice, and that a number are kept very much nearer the scene of action during the whole time of a demonstration in case of need. There are police barracks near the Royal Humane Society’s station, where a large force could be kept ready. Nowhere in the world is such a well-organised and well-worked system to be found. London is the model on which all the police regulations of other capitals are formed.

The Metropolitan Police have seven hundred square miles under their jurisdiction. They are some twenty thousand strong, and whether we see a single mounted policeman clearing the way for the Queen to pass up the Lady’s Mile in Hyde295 Park, or hundreds of them manipulating a demonstration of fifty thousand people in Hyde Park, we look on and marvel.

About £8000 a year is spent on police work for this park alone. It seems a large sum, but is nothing compared with the amount of useful work they do. Only a century or so back the park was not safe at night; but now, although still badly lighted, thanks to the police force, any one who passes through may feel secure.

Of the many demonstrations that have taken place of recent years, the most epoch-making was probably the march of the suffragettes in 1907.

While ladies had actually been elected, and seven of them were calmly taking their seats in the Parliament of Finland—the most advanced corner of the world as regards women’s rights—our English sisters were marching to Hyde Park. They had tried quiet means and loud; addressed meetings, waved flags, and shouted from behind the grill in the House of Commons, had fought policemen in open combat in the streets; and then they bethought themselves of a gigantic open-air muster.

Smart ladies in thousand-guinea motors, costers who were forced to leave their carts outside, factory women with babies in their arms, titled dames and girls from the slums, all marched or rode or drove in that great procession. The suffragettes behaved most moderately in Hyde Park. The noisy scenes were all reserved for Westminster, where a Member of Parliament laughingly remarked to me:


“I love women, but I don’t like them when they are carried away by their feelings, and then by the policeman.”

After a suffragist riot outside the House of Commons, a constable was asked by a Member if they had had many people in the row.

“Never saw such a sight here in my life, sir.”

“Really?—Were they very unruly?”

“Awful, just kicking and scratching, and going on anyhow.”

“And you didn’t get hurt?”

“No, thank you, sir. You see, I am a married man, so I know how to handle women.”

For forty years women worked quietly for their rights and got nothing, and so they are determined to proclaim their wrongs from the housetops until they are heard.

In the centre of the Park, one Sunday on the grass, stood a red flag on a waggonette, from which the horse has been unhitched. In the vehicle sat four women; a large crowd surrounded them. It was a suffragette meeting. An elderly woman was speaking, her audience was mainly composed of men of every class and grade,—from the Society man in immaculate silk hat and frock-coat to the tramp with his grubby bundle under his arm. Here and there a woman’s dress relieved the sombre-looking crowd with a bit of colour, and nurses wheeling perambulators, occupied by aristocratic babies, formed a fringed border to the gathering. Shouts of laughter rose every few seconds; even the burly policemen, scattered here and there through the crowd, joined in the merriment with297 more than a good-humoured chuckle. The old lady was bringing her speech to a close.

“And what have you men done with the world, the lot of ye?” she asked.

“And what are ye afraid we women shall do with the world when we’ve our vote?

“Afraid! that’s what ye are!”

Each remark produced a roar of laughter, which rose higher and higher each time.

“You don’t want churches,” she continued. “Ruskin said you don’t want churches——”

“Who did?” asked one of the crowd.

“Why, Ruskin,” she replied. “I read it not long ago.... We don’t want churches either.”

“What do you want, then,—public-houses?” asked a facetious interrupter.

“No,” was the quick reply; “we are going to put down public-houses and build nice homes.”

After some more remarks of a like kind the old lady sat down, and one of the suffragettes, who had lately taken a change and rest at the expense of the Government, rose and edified the company by a series of remarks, which she apparently thought smart and clever, but which were only calculated to do harm to her cause. Promiscuous men and women speakers in the Park are generally cranks, who do no good to the cause they advocate. The women, however, who organised that gigantic meeting in 1907 marked an epoch not only in the position of the women of Great Britain, but of the whole world.

A great demonstration, with its twenty or fifty298 thousand people, is an occasional event. When agitators are busy there may be two or three such in a year. But never a week passes without the free air of Hyde Park being disturbed by the strident cries of somebody or other, airing the grievances of himself or his class, while there is a set of publicists—well-known figures—to whom the opportunities to hear their own voices, afforded by the Park, seem to be their meat and drink and vegetables. Assuredly they would die in oblivion were the gates closed against them.

You will find them at the same spots year in year out, proclaiming theology or agnosticism, socialism, and a dozen other “isms,” beating the air with their fists, exhausting their physical powers by gesticulating, and not infrequently shouting repartees at one another. They are loud but unobtrusive, and in these broad acres really disturb nobody.

I recall a recent Sunday, just an ordinary day, no special gatherings of any kind, and a chill, grey afternoon towards the end of September, the leaves fluttering down from the trees, and the few people who had donned summer garments looking cold and blue, while occasionally a drizzling rain fell. At the Marble Arch end of Hyde Park groups of people had gathered at the railings of the semicircular gravel sweep.

The first group encircled a short, stout old man, who was holding forth, Bible in hand. One of his hearers interrupted, and interrupted again. I could hear neither preacher nor questioner, but as I approached, the old man broke off his discourse:


“Shut up! I say, shut up!” he shouted in a tone of command.

The disturbing one in the audience persisted.

“Shut up! again I say shut up! or I’ll silence you, as I did those men on the other side just now.”

Then he continued his address in a wailing tone, while his troublesome listener still had his say.

The next group were clustered round a little man in a somewhat clerical dress, holding up a written paper, perhaps eight inches square, with the word “£2000” in large figures at the top, and smaller writing underneath; but he was quite inaudible.

Then came a typical specimen of the tub-thumper, hat on head. Had he been having a course of Sandow, I wondered, so fast did he move his arms and hands. In the space of a few minutes the groups had swelled so much that the outer circle of one touched that of the next. Unitarians, Catholic Defence League, Christian Evidence Society, an Evangelist, Wesleyans (who had erected a kind of pulpit, with harvest decorations), and Mr. Carlile’s much respected and ever-practical Church Army, all found room and listeners in that corner of the Park. Besides these there were two or three other speakers who were holding forth, and who had no banners, but from a word or two that reached me I gathered that each was evidently representing some special sect.

Apart from these I saw a unique case of unrequited perseverance under difficulties. A workman who had evidently tidied up his working clothes for Sunday, and highly waxed his dark300 moustache, was standing alone, speaking rapidly, and apparently with earnest purpose. But alas! his audience consisted of a very old woman, a toddling little boy, a baby in a perambulator, and a small girl who had to reach up to push it along. But still he talked, looking straight in front of him, his hands at his sides; and half an hour later when I passed the spot again he was in the same position, still talking with the same energy, still looking straight before him, but this time there was no audience at all. I was not able to distinguish the words, and so remain ignorant of the theme of so much eloquence.

A lady sang a solo in the Wesleyan group, from a rival gathering rose the strain of the “Old Hundredth,” and close at hand voices were raised to a third tune; but everybody seemed to like the musical combination.

There was yet another group about a hundred yards farther on. A long sort of cart, with its horse taken out, formed a platform for five men. Four sat behind the speaker, looking grave as the proverbial judge, while a lively promoter of the meeting hammered the atmosphere, and poured forth oratory in the following strain:

“So it was done, gentlemen! there was the platform with chairs on it, and I making my way straight to it ...” (claps from the four gentlemen behind, who looked graver still).

“Gentlemen, that was the way the thing was done, that was the way the officials treated me” (greater agitation of the atmosphere at each word). “That—was—the—way—it—was—done, at Exeter301 Hall, gentlemen ...” (pause with reference to notes). Then a violent attack on the management and speakers at a recent meeting at Exeter Hall, and on the officials who prevented this open-air orator from reaching the platform, which he declared was packed.

Only last year the Park was put to better uses. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that 80 to 90 per cent. of the congregation of an ordinary London church is composed of women. Realising that as the people (or at least the men) did not come into the churches, the Church must go out to the people, the Bishop of London bethought himself to utilise Hyde Park. Thus it was that in the spring of 1907 open-air meetings were organised in Hyde Park, under the auspices of his Evangelistical Council. These services took place on Monday nights. About seven o’clock the bulk of the aristocracy have left the Park and are wending their way homewards to dinner. But at that time another class of people is free, the most of the shops are closed. Young men and young women before going home to their supper take a stroll through the Park to enjoy the fresh air.

This is the propitious moment.

These young people have nothing to do. It does not matter to them whether they are home an hour earlier or an hour later. All they want is a little fresh air and exercise, with a little amusement thrown in. Some stop and listen to the band, which plays every evening and is always well attended. Others lounge about and watch the smart vehicles bearing their gaily dressed occupants homewards. Others, with no particular object in302 view, stroll across the grass. Of course, a crowd always attracts attention, and the moment it is noticed that any small throng of people has assembled at one particular spot, others go to see and hear what it is all about.

With a devotional meeting at the Church Army Chapel in Upper Berkeley Street, the Bishop of London’s Evangelistical Mission began its Monday evening services. Having collected a few followers, this little party marched to Hyde Park, naturally picking up others on the way who had been attracted by the crowd. Arrived at Hyde Park, the clergyman conducting the meeting for the evening, proceeded to the sward near the Marble Arch, and there, within a few hundred yards of Tyburn, the very spot where Christian martyrs were hanged and sacrificed—unmolested and undisturbed and absolutely free to express whatever thought came to him—he held forth on the subject of the Gospel.

Could anything be more marvellous than the change that has come over the spirit of the people since those terrible persecutions that took place in the sixteenth century?

Until comparatively lately the speakers in Hyde Park were all of a rough and tumble order, and so they mostly are still; but under the leadership of the Bishop of London quite a new element has been introduced, and excellent speakers, including not only ’Varsity men in Holy Orders, but also men following other walks in life, now hold forth in Hyde Park. To mention but a few, one finds the following well-known names among the speakers in the summer of 1907:


The Rev. F. C. Webster, All Souls’, Langham Place.

The Rev. W. R. Mounsey, Secretary of the Bishop of London’s Council.

The Rev. Guy Rogers.

Mr. C. T. Studd, the noted cricketer, one of the famous “Cambridge Seven” who volunteered for mission work in China.

The Rev. Russell Wakefield, St. Mary’s, Bryanston Square.

The Rev. S. A. Selwyn, Hampstead.

Colonel MᶜGregor.

Mr. Beresford Pate, the architect.

The Rev. H. S. Woolcombe, Oxford House.

The music in the Park is excellent, as may be seen by the list for Sunday evenings in June 1907.

  Green Park.
(6 to 8 p.m.)
Hyde Park.
(7.30 to 9.30 p.m.)
June 9th    2nd Life Guards 1st Life Guards.
June 16th  Irish Guards Coldstream Guards.
June 23rd  Scots Guards 2nd Life Guards.
June 30th  1st Life Guards Scots Guards.

Passing reference was made to Apsley House, which faces the band-stand, in an earlier chapter. It is one of many magnificent mansions fringing the Park, but is unique in its historic interest. I am fortunate in enjoying the friendship of an able historian of our own day, who was a constant visitor at Apsley House in the days of the late Duke of Wellington, and he sends me the following notes concerning the building and its associations:

“The house is built partly upon a site where304 an apple-woman kept a stall. Her name was Allen. King George II. one day recognised her husband as having been present at the battle of Dettingen, and granted him the site, whereupon he built a small house. Along that side of Piccadilly there were several roadside public-houses, particularly beyond Park Lane (Tyburn Lane), where the rough holiday makers pic-nicked, especially during the celebration of May Fair at the back. Allen’s son about 1780 sold the ground where the fruit stall stood (the stall is shown in a print dated 1766) to Lord Chancellor Apsley (Lord Bathurst), who had a house built by the brothers Adam for himself.

“From a fund voted by Parliament for Wellington, Apsley House was bought in 1828, but it is the private property of the Duke, and is not held as a national trust settled upon the title, as Strathfieldsaye is,—in virtue of his tenure of which, the Duke of Wellington annually presents the Sovereign with a flag on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. The house was re-fronted and much altered in 1828 by Sir Geoffrey Wyatville, the picture gallery on the first floor (and the rooms under) having been added for the purpose of housing the splendid collection of heirloom pictures, captured from Joseph Bonaparte on the field of Vittoria, and subsequently given by Ferdinand VII. to the great Duke.

“The view of the Park and the Row from the balconies of this picture gallery is very beautiful; probably it is the best view of the Park available at any point. The room under305 the gallery facing the Park at the south-west corner is still guarded by wooden shutters, and with good reason, for there are contained the priceless treasures given to the great Duke by governments and Sovereigns,—presentation swords and caskets encrusted with gems, the great silver-gilt table service given by the Portuguese nation, the famous Sèvres dinner service presented by the French, the services given by the Spanish and Prussian nations, the Waterloo shield, the insignia in brilliants of a score of Orders, including the Golden Fleece, which is almost invariably returned, but in this case, as a special honour, was granted permanently. Probably no room in London except the Jewel House in the Tower contains so rare a collection of priceless historic objects as this; and certainly no private gallery in London can boast of such a collection of historic pictures as the long gallery facing the Park, and the other rooms of the mansion.

“The great Duke slept in a very small humble-looking room on the ground-floor at the back, and overlooking the garden and the Park. In the garden, which has some pretty shady trees, he used to take exercise by working a garden watering-pump in the summer; and every morning regularly, until within a few weeks of his death, he would ride out, dressed in white or buff trousers strapped under the boots, a blue coat buttoned up to the chin, brass buttons and a white stock. He always left a little before nine, followed by a groom, and rode up Constitution Hill and round to the Horse Guards.


“When the mob during the Reform Bill agitation stoned the house, the windows of the gallery on the first floor fronting the Park were broken, and some of those facing Piccadilly. The Duke thereupon caused outside shutter blinds of steel to be fixed to the windows (similar blinds still protect the picture gallery windows, but I think these are now wood). Those in front were certainly removed by the second Duke. When the first Duke was asked to remove them he is reported to have said: ‘No! They shall remain where they are as long as I live, as a sign of the gullibility of the mob, and the worthlessness of the popularity for which they who give it can assign no reason.’

“There is a fine portrait of Napoleon as First Consul by Dabos in the small yellow drawing-room of Apsley House, to which rather a curious story is attached. In May 1824 the Duke wrote an invitation to dinner to a Mr. Fleming. The messenger, by mistake, delivered it at the house of another gentleman of the same name. Finding his error, the man went again and asked for the return of the invitation. Mr. Fleming replied that the invitation signed by the Duke had been delivered to him, and he meant to avail himself of it, as he should never have such an honour again—mistake or no mistake, he should come to dinner to Apsley House. The Duke was told, and, after inviting him, could hardly refuse him admittance, so made the best of it, though Mr. Fleming found a very frigid reception. The next day he sent this fine picture to His Grace by way of amends.

“At the foot of the great staircase is a gigantic307 nude statue of Napoleon by Canova, a splendid work eleven feet high.

“In the long gallery overlooking the Row and the Park, surely one of the most stately rooms in London, was held every recurring 18th of June, to the end of the great Duke’s life, the Waterloo banquet, where the dwindling band of companions in arms of the Chief met in the glittering panoply of the brave days gone by, to celebrate the crowning victory that brought peace to Europe. The well-known print by Moon represents one of the last of these historic banquets, where, under the splendid canvasses of Velasquez, Murillo, and Titian, the Duke of Wellington is represented standing at the long, crowded dinner-table, surrounded by his old comrades, to propose his annual toast. In the large yellow drawing-room the portraits of many of the old generals hang: Lord Anglesea, Picton, Hill, Somerset, Beresford, Alava, and the rest of them, their strong faces glowing still with the bright brushes of Lawrence and Pienemann, and their splendid uniforms shaming the utilitarian khaki of to-day. Some of these great old soldiers, like Lord Combermere—padded and dyed phantoms they seemed, as one recollects them—were spared to ride in the Park almost daily within the memory of those not yet effete, but not many of them outlived their great leader.”

A recent addition to the few pieces of statuary that enrich Hyde Park is Watts’ colossal “Physical Energy,” which in 1907 was placed on a site in Kensington Gardens, near the Serpentine. It is the most majestic work of its kind that the nation308 possesses, and even now, perhaps, we do not realise how splendid was the gift. The horse and rider are early recollections of mine. When I was a girl some time in the eighties, I remember being taken to Melbury Road by Dr. Bond, at that time surgeon to Westminster Hospital, and also to the Metropolitan Police, to see the great painter, G. F. Watts. At this period I was painting a good deal myself, and exhibiting little pictures with the Lady Artists, etc., and Dr. Bond, who was very fond of art and wished to encourage me to take it up seriously, suggested this expedition to Watts’ studio. I was a little alarmed as I drove up with the doctor in his brougham, and the alarm was not decreased after walking up a flight of stairs to see a little old gentlemen in a black velvet skull cap step forth to greet us.

This was the great Watts himself. He seemed to be very old, although he could not have been seventy, for he did not die for about twenty years after that, during which time he re-married.

The things that impressed me most were the age of the artist, his apparent feebleness, his great geniality and charm, and, beyond all else, the enormous statue, “Physical Energy,” on which he was at that time at work. He touched it and fondled it, stroked it, and spoke of it with the warmest enthusiasm and love. His life’s interest seemed on that occasion to be centred in his statue. He continued to work at it for many years, after which it was exhibited.

Perhaps the most delightful modern innovation in Hyde Park, or rather Kensington Gardens, is the arrangement for tea in the summer. The ground309 is spread with little tables, sheltered beneath pretty shady umbrellas, and shaded still further by the glorious elms and oaks and limes. Here tea at a shilling a head, or at another part of the ground for half that price, is served on warm days. It is quite a fashionable place for little tea-parties, and bachelor-girls or old-maid men, who live lives of solitude in “diggings” or clubs, come forth like the butterflies and entertain their friends in this inexpensive yet charming way, by giving a tea-fight within sight of where our good Queen Victoria was born.

This is advance at the western end of the Park, but farther east, that is to say in Piccadilly, still further advance is found. For within a stone’s throw of Hyde Park Corner, and near where the Duke of Cambridge lived so long, is a Ladies’ Club and also an Automobile Club. Ladies’ Clubs are not so new, although it is within the memory of many women of fifty when the first women’s club was started by an Englishwoman, Mrs. Croley, in New York. But even five years ago motors were of such recent introduction that a club for enthusiasts would have been a meagre affair, while now it is filled to overflowing. So quickly moves the world.

What, one wonders, will be the next innovation in or near Hyde Park?

From the gaiety and riches of automobiles we turn to a sad and pathetic spectacle,—from youth, health, and strength we pass to decay. Such is the panorama of life’s history.

As we saw, the first review took place in Hyde Park in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; the last310 thing of the kind was in December 1907, on the occasion of the Dinner given by the Daily Telegraph to the Indian Mutiny veterans, when one of the most pathetic incidents of modern times occurred within its gates. Lord Roberts reviewed his old comrades of fifty years before, men long past their prime, old, some decrepid, doubled with age, yet full of honour. As a result of this inspection, the renowned Field-Marshal pleaded for the relief of the straitened circumstances of these men, many of whom were in the workhouse; and such is the charity of England, that in two days—His Majesty, as is his custom, being in the forefront in any good cause—over £5000 was subscribed in response, quickly followed by other large sums, to create a fund for the benefit of these aged soldiers.

So the scene in Hyde Park constantly changes, ever holding the mirror up to history and romance.




Not long ago I came across, in the Vienna Neue Freie Presse, some passages in which an Austrian gentleman described the fascinations of Hyde Park as it appears to a foreigner. He sees it in an aspect that is perhaps rarely revealed to ourselves, as the “most original park in Europe.”

“Hyde Park,” he says, “is flat and poor—an English heath with only something approaching to a garden it its gates. Its charm is its vastness, its irregularity, the rest which it affords the eye with its seemingly endless stretches of turf with grazing sheep. One forgets that one is in the heart of the capital of the world. Is it the Lüneburger Heide? Is it the land of Tristan, dark Cornwall? And will not the melancholy song of the shepherd be suddenly heard?

“Hyde Park, in a way, symbolises the English character. Just as it is not the Englishman’s way of charming at first sight, or to confide in a stranger, Hyde Park does not appeal to the foreigner when he visits it for the first time. But as one grows to love the English after a longer acquaintance, so does one grow to love Hyde Park, so different from anything else.


“It is also interesting to watch the different aspects it presents at different times of the day. How fascinating, is it not, to see the strong, youthful figures of young England plunging into the cool water, racing, boxing, and playing games, and to see the men, of the same steel-like, well-proportioned race as the magnificent English horses galloping up and down.

“After four o’clock Hyde Park displays a spectacle of wealth, beauty, and elegance such as can only be found in cities of a very ancient culture; perhaps only in the Vienna ‘Prater’ or in the ‘Buen-Retiro’ of Madrid. But while in Vienna the light ‘fiacre’ predominates, and in Madrid the heavy state-coaches drawn by majestic Andalusians, London shows every conceivable kind of vehicle, from the stately turn-out with footmen with powdered hair to the modern electric-car.”

An Airing in Hyde Park, 1793.
From a Print in Crace Collection, British Museum.

The keynote of this fully appreciative criticism lies in a single sentence—“so different from anything else.” Let us take credit to ourselves that we have been content to let Nature work its own will to a great extent. In return Nature has given us much of her best. To those familiar with the cultivated glories of Versailles and others of the huge continental gardens, where rows and rows of well-laid flower-beds and lawns of velvet testify to the loving care of an army of custodians, there may seem something disparaging in the comparison to “an English heath.” But what, after all, is more glorious than an English heath in the first tints of autumn, what more health-giving and welcome in the heart of London than broad acres, over which313 one may roam undisturbed, owing their beauty to the whole panorama of lawn and tree and shrub, rather than to the attention to smaller details which gives delight to a well-ordered garden?

For really beautiful gardening, in the true sense, one must go to the Regent’s Park, or to Ranelagh Club. Let no one suppose, however, that Nature is the only gardener on the Park staff. Because the hand of man is unobtrusive, it does not follow that there is a lack of attention in assisting Nature in her beautiful work. An immense amount of planting and bedding is constantly going on, results of which are seen in the always fresh appearance of the Park, and the glories of the flowering plants as they follow one another in season. If “landscape gardening”—a much-abused term—be looked for, it may be admitted there is little of it.

Indeed, almost the sole attempt has been the construction of the waterfall trickling between the boulders, and the pool, covered in summer with green growth, below the Serpentine’s steep bank. It is pretty enough, and quite a paradise for the birds and rabbits, to whom the railed-in enclosure is sacred, and yet it appears oddly out of keeping with the surroundings. It seems to have been an experiment at artificial decoration which has not been repeated. The flatness of the ground generally has no doubt set limitations on the work of the landscape gardener; and where the space is so large, the natural is better than the artificial landscape.

One need not be a botanist to admire the endless variety of the trees alone—their grotesque trunks314 and tapering stems; their leaves, so divergent in form and structure; the blooms that in season conceal the wealth of the green by a mass of bright colour, and when the chestnut spikes break out, Hyde Park can almost rival for a week or two the famous avenue in Bushey Park.

Earlier in the year, when the trees are throwing out their fresh green leaves, the almond blossom glows, the grass looks fresh, and the daffodils and narcissi give hope of coming achievement. Possibly Hyde Park possesses no trees so ancestral as the old elm which stands on the edge of the lake in the neighbourhood of St. James’s Park, beneath which the monks at Westminster are said to have fished for a Friday’s meal. It still bears leaves, and though its roots are plastered up, seems likely to thrive for many years. But there is at least one patriarch, an old oak stump covered with ivy, on the right side of the water near the superintendent’s house, to which an interesting story attaches. It is said that the tree was raised from an acorn gathered from the celebrated Boscobel oak, in which Charles II. concealed himself after the battle of Worcester in 1651. Held up by props, with its trunk devoid of bark, and cracked in all directions, it survives as a relic of bygone days.

Every kind of tree is here,—the elm, the lime, the beech, the common ash, the plane, and many besides. No tree flourishes so well in London as the plane, which will grow in little soil, and seems to possess a marvellous capacity for withstanding drought. It attains a great height, has a wide-spreading head, a massive trunk, and sheds315 the bark, which falls off in large irregular patches every year, giving a striking character to the tree. Not only hardy, the plane is one of the most attractive of all trees.

There are also some fine copper beeches. A young German who was in London was much impressed by all he saw, and one day at his boarding-house he waxed warm on the beautiful vegetation in Hyde Park, which he rightly designated as “the best in the world.”

“The ladies are lovely,” he said. “I do not know which are the most lovely, the ladies or the bloody beeches.”

Naturally everybody looked surprised, until it was explained that copper beeches in German are called blutbuche, which the German had literally translated into bloody beeches.

Shrubs have been planted in endless variety, and—when the tree trunks stand out bare and bleak in winter, and the branches are leafless—give to the walks a pleasant bordering of green. The particular glory of the Park shrubs is to be found in the rhododendrons, which in the weeks when they are in full bloom are alone worth coming to London to see. Rotten Row spreads out a narrow line of tan, bordered with a perfect blaze of colour. One need travel far to find another such gorgeous setting as this. Our Austrian critic hardly does full justice to the Park when writing of it as possessing “only something approaching a garden at its gates.” True, most of the ground retains the character of an English heath; but surely that is a big garden which stretches along Park Lane from Hyde Park316 Corner to the Marble Arch, and again from the Marble Arch to the Serpentine. Some of the beds are very fine. Fashions change even in gardening, and it is true that we see little nowadays of the elaborate designs in “carpet bedding” which was once so much the vogue. Its stiff formality has gone, and more natural combinations are seen, which give equally pleasant and less gaudy effects. Harmony in form and colour, both in foliage and flowers, is the object sought, and as green is the predominating colour in nature, restful to the eye, refreshing and enlivening, it is chosen as the groundwork to the design.

A typical bed laid out in 1906 in varying shades of green and violet was very effective. As these are matters in which amateurs easily misunderstand, I quote expert descriptions.

This particular bed was composed of verbena venosa, violet-coloured; kochia scoparia, light green foliage plant; gymnothrix latifolia, a broad-leaved grass; salvia argentea, silver white; panicum capillaire, a feathery grass, and carpeted with Harrison’s musk. Another dainty combination consisted of dark heliotrope, nicotiania affinis, a white-flowered tobacco very fragrant in the evening; tall, trained plants of canary creeper, which looked very pretty when in bloom; and an edging of the yellow sanvitalia procumbens. A circular bed in white and gold was made up of the white lilium longiflorum, the golden Helenium pumilum, and a yellow-stemmed fern. A bed of cannas was edged with flower-garden beet, which should have been more bronzy in colour; a round bed in white,317 scarlet, and gold was composed of hydrangea, scarlet geraniums, and yellow privet. These were but a few of the dainties set out for the admiration of the passing throng, and for the closer study of the enthusiast, who may always find in the parks, ideas to carry away with him for development in the smaller space of his own gardens. I asked Major Hussey, of His Majesty’s Office of Works, what shrubs and plants there were in Hyde Park, and to his courtesy am indebted for the complete list to be found in an Appendix to this volume, the extent of which will no doubt come as a surprise to most people. Who imagined there were anything like the number of varieties?

Fancy poaching game in Hyde Park! But so common was the affair in London four centuries ago, that Henry VIII. made a proclamation, in 1546, “to have the games of Hare, Partridge, Pheasants, and Heron preserved from Westminster Palace to St. Giles’s in the Fields.”

Pigeon shooting was a great sport, and about that time it was estimated that some two thousand pigeon poachers were at work in the metropolis,—Sunday was the great day for setting traps. From two shillings to five shillings was received for each pigeon; so the game seems to have been lucrative.

Nature in Hyde Park, the subject of this chapter, would be but poorly covered without mention of the birds, which any one fond of an outdoor life finds a considerable addition to its delights. Here, again, the variety is likely to astound those who have given little thought to the subject.


The imported gulls, ducks and geese and moorhens, which number seven or eight hundred, never wander from the Serpentine, and are always ready to welcome pieces of bread or biscuit, have become the most domesticated, and therefore the most commonly known. The wildfowl live largely on fish, which accounts for these seldom reaching more than three ounces in weight in the Serpentine. There is no place in the length and breadth of England where birds are so certain of being unmolested as in London, in spite of its six or seven million inhabitants, and on the whole they thrive well. The health of the captive birds in the Zoological Gardens at Regent’s Park shows that the sootiness of the air is no hindrance to their prosperity.

Apart from the sparrows, which of course are everywhere, and in the parks seem to attain their highest development in self-complacency and impudence, the wild birds most frequently seen are the starlings. Darker than the sparrow, and two or three times their size, but smaller than the speckled thrush, they can readily be identified by their movements, as, generally in little droves, they run rapidly over the grass with heads down, pecking here and there. A good many thrushes are also about, but they are less frequently seen than in St. James’s Park, which for its acreage is perhaps the richest in bird-life of any of the open spaces of the Metropolis. This doubtless arises from the fact that all round the lake, save in one small area, a wide strip of the bank is railed in and sacred from intrusion by the wayfarer. The thrushes nest regularly and sing beautifully319 at times; but they are shy and unapproachable.

Other visitors are blackbirds. Less companionable than the starlings, they are never seen in droves, but apparently live a solitary life, and, in cold weather, fieldfares and red-wings arrive. The parks, however, are at no time rich in berries, and their visits are short. Ravens are also welcomed.

Mr. T. Digby Piggott, whose London Birds is one of the most delightful books on bird life, mentions that in April one year a pair of chaffinches were to be seen very busy collecting moss for a nest between Victoria Gate and the fountain. Two blue-tits were at the same time carefully investigating the trees close by, evidently with the same views. Cole-tits, too, occasionally show themselves in the gardens. House martins in plenty build about the ornamental waters; swallows, and more rarely swifts and the little brown sand-martins, which may be seen flying over the surface of the Serpentine, Mr. Piggott also includes among the residents or casual visitors to Hyde Park.

Indeed, many of the birds which formerly haunted the metropolis when it was smaller—I dissent altogether from the common mis-statement that old London was cleaner than it is now, chimneys notwithstanding—have of late years re-appeared in the parks. No doubt there would be more but for the shortage of small insect life.

At one time Kensington Gardens was the site of the most populous rookery in London. In the high trees extending from the Broad Walk near the Palace to the Serpentine, where it commences in320 the Gardens, they say there were close upon one hundred nests. When the leaves fell they could be seen on the topmost branches, swinging in the wind. The birds flying hither and thither were objects of interest to every passer-by.

Alas, they have now practically all disappeared.

Dr. Hamilton, in June 1878, when counting the nests found they had been reduced to thirty, mostly confined to a few of the upper trees skirting the Broad Walk near the North Gate.

Since that time nearly every tree in the garden that had a nest in it has been cut down. Rooks, though often attached for centuries to their old quarters, when once driven away are with difficulty persuaded to return. The only substantial rookery now left in the heart of the town is Gray’s Inn, which happily shows no signs of depletion. At times the birds may be absent for a week or two, but always re-appear, and there is quite a numerous colony of them. It is curious that none other of the Inns of Court has been able to maintain a rookery; though formerly these were quite common in the middle of London.

In the summer of 1907, quite an interesting correspondence on “Birds in the Parks” appeared in the Daily Telegraph. It grew out of a remark by a writer in a paper, “it is many a day since a magpie fluttered in black and white in the heart of London.” Correspondents poured in letters to testify they had themselves seen the bird, so apparently a magpie is not such a rarity in the Metropolis after all.

A couple of magpies had a nest in the Green321 Park in June 1906, and were often seen in that and the following month. One, at least, visited St. James’s Park in the previous year. Another couple of magpies are recorded in the “Field Club,” a journal edited by that ardent naturalist, the Rev. Theodore Wood, which he noticed in the same park in May 1903.

Mr. A. Withers Green writes that he has for years past seen a couple of magpies in St. James’s Park flying across from the island to the mainland. In 1907 they had a nest in a black poplar in the hollow of the Green Park, and young ones had been hatched. An old Field-Marshal is said to feed them daily with hard-boiled eggs.

Nor are the magpies the only ornithological visitors which delight the heart of the Metropolis, so famous for its bird life.

In an interesting article by Mr. A. Collett, that appeared in The Evening Standard, he describes the sparrows and owls in Hyde Park:

“It is seldom, of course, that a perfectly white sparrow makes its appearance, but it is not at all uncommon to see one in autumn which is so strongly splashed and spotted with white among the brown that it immediately attracts the attention across the whole width of a square garden, and looks more like a snow bunting than the familiar London bird.... When London contains the largest crop of plump young sparrows, at the end of the nesting-season back come the owls to pick a bone with them, in no metaphorical sense. There is a hollow elm in one of the London parks, where every year, from about the end of October onwards, the ground322 beneath the largest hole becomes littered with the skulls and other indigestible portions of sparrows, cast up (and then thrown down) by the owls which engage the tree for the winter. To the jauntiest of sparrow bachelors this skull surrounded elm must seem the very cave of Giant Despair. There is little safety for any sparrow which chooses to go to roost among the open boughs of the park trees; and they are only acting in accordance with their natural self-protective instincts when they flock in chattering multitudes at sunset to certain well-known points of thick shrubbery, such as the ever-greens at the side of the Mall, by Stafford House, and the island in the Serpentine near the Royal Humane Society’s house.”

Carrion crows have for some years haunted Kensington Gardens. An early morning stroller has described a tragedy which he witnessed a few years ago. A duck was taking its newly-hatched brood to the Serpentine near the fountain, when one of the crows tried to seize a young duckling. The mother immediately covered them and warded off each attack of the intruder. The crow, finding that it could not succeed, flew away, and shortly afterwards returned with its mate. One crow then engaged the mother’s attention in front, while the other attacked the young from the rear, and, although the onlooker to this dastardly proceeding did all he could to drive the crows away, four of the little ducks were killed in an incredibly short time.

The same observer adds: “I have constantly visited Kensington Gardens in the early morning, and four or five years since, in the late summer, I323 saw a cuckoo flying along the paths which run parallel with the Bayswater Road. Last winter, in a rather foggy morning, I saw a sparrow-hawk in the Gardens, evidently by its manner a stranger; and two years ago, in November, I saw a perfectly pure albino cock blackbird flying into the island near the boat-house. I was within three or four yards of him. It was busy on the ground, but as it flew, it uttered the unmistakable cry which a cock blackbird gives on being disturbed.”

There was a curious legend that long prevailed in country districts, that the cuckoo of summer turned into a sparrow-hawk in winter, and back again into a cuckoo in the spring. On 21st August 1895, there was the rare appearance of “a cuckoo flying up and down a London street, bewildered, sheltering in its limes.”

It is excellent news that a kingfisher was recently watched flying over the Serpentine, though it is too much to hope that the bird of brilliant plumage will ever leave its favourite solitudes for the streams of the town.

Bats haunt the parks in the dusk of night.

“There is at least one tree in Kensington Gardens,” says Mr. Digby Pigott, “an old hollow oak between the refreshment-room and the gardener’s cottage,—which is the home of a considerable colony of bats. A note was made of the exact hour at which the long silent procession left the hole one evening in August. The next day, within four minutes of the same time—the time was carefully taken—seventeen bats crawled up, and with the same regular intervals took headers into324 the dusk, to appear again as if they had started from another quarter altogether, careering about over the tops of the trees, doing the best they could to prevent too great an increase of humbler London night fliers.”

It seems that we have not yet realised the full uses to which the parks might be put. Many people have their own ideas, and the authorities are constantly being bombarded with applications from one person or another, who desires to have a portion of the Park given over to his—or more frequently her—particular purposes.

One good lady, representing a Woman’s Temperance Society, wished to have a bandstand handed over to her when not occupied by the musicians, for meetings “for the public good.”

Requests have been made by charitable agencies, that the parks might be utilised to provide special sleeping accommodation for the unemployed.

A novelty in horrors was suggested by an application to hold a “Gramophone Gospel Service.”

A gentleman wanted a pond filled in because his wife had been stung by an insect, and he was afraid of malaria; while a lady wished to use one of the ornamental waters to exercise her ducklings.

A finer imagination still was displayed by a noble lord, who directed his secretary to write asking for the use of the York Water Gate, now half buried in Embankment Gardens, as a smoking-room.




Such a reformation in vehicular traffic has taken place in Hyde Park in the first years of the twentieth century, that it seems worth tracing roughly the means of progression from the Roman car of two thousand years ago to the electric landaulette of to-day, and from the pack-horse to the snorting motor cycles.

Practically, every surviving method of locomotion has heralded its earliest votaries within the precincts of the Park, where the foot-propelled “hobby-horse” proved the forerunner of the bicycle. The first two-cylinder motors were tried—little cars which have since developed into the huge travelling cars almost like railway carriages themselves.

It is amusing to watch the disappearance from the roads of our dear old wooden box on wheels,—politely called an omnibus—besmirched by advertisements until its destination is difficult to decipher. The horse omnibus has been largely superseded by the motor bus,—still in its infancy, judging by its breakdowns, its noises, and its smells,—and the lumbering carts of former years are giving place to whole trains of rattling vans headed326 by a puffing engine, which parade our streets to the misery of those on foot, and the positive terror of the aged and the young.

Under the rule of the Anglo-Saxons, horsemanship was a skilled art. The youthful noble was bold in war and fleet in chase.

Horses were used for travel by the upper classes, while the lower orders journeyed on foot. A representation of two Saxon travellers, which occurs in the Cotton MSS., shows the lady sitting sideways in a kind of chair with her feet resting on a board, very similar to the arrangement adapted in later years for the lady riding pillion fashion, and still in use in Iceland and Ireland. It was a position which prevented the poor woman acquiring any power over her steed, or even feeling secure in her seat, yet it is repeatedly seen in illuminated manuscripts of the period.

The Saxons also had chariots for travelling, but they were only used by the wealthy, and together with agricultural carts were termed “wœgn” or “wœn” (from which words our “waggon” is derived) and “crat” or “cræt,” hence our word “cart.” These chariots which are represented as a square box, the shape of our ordinary farm cart, without any front, were hung low on two wheels, and drawn by a couple of horses. There is another drawing of one with four wheels, but neither vehicle was used except by grand ladies or invalids, and horses were not even acquired by Church dignitaries in those early days.

How quaint it would be to see one of these curious old waggons being led through Hyde Park327 to-day, and how amazing for those people of the past to see a carriage moving without a horse.

Towards the end of the Saxon period, the influence of Normandy permeated the English Court, and a great love of display spread among the nobles, who, from the time of Edmund Ironsides, gradually adopted Continental customs, entirely unknown in the Courts of the early Saxons.

With the Normans came the age of chivalry. Costly apparel and huge retinues did much to increase the state of the noble. In time of war the tenants-in-capite and the tenants paravail had each to produce a certain number of armed men, according to his rank, and thus the great lord had the means at his hand not only to summon a troop in case of need, but also a courtly retinue in time of pleasure or grand ceremonial.

The custom of travelling with an army of retainers had other justification than that of mere display. In the days of the early Plantagenets the King’s highway was infested with robbers; not the wild highwaymen of later days, but oft-times a princely youth, who, from the fastness of his castle-home, dashed out to scour the country round, seeking what he might confiscate, and woe to the hapless traveller pursuing his lonely journey. Two other classes of robbers were comprised of outlaws driven to despair by the cruel forest laws, and the bands of men returned from the Crusades, who had originally sold their belongings in order to join the holy war, and had come back penniless.

The horse-litter was also in use. In fact, it seems to have come down from untold ages, for it328 is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, and was evidently introduced from the south, probably brought to England by some of the Crusaders. It consisted of a kind of coach slung between two horses, and was chiefly employed for carrying the sick and aged, and on State journeys or at funerals. Professor Markland, writing in 1821, says: “In Sicily there is no way of travelling through mountain passes but in a ‘legia.’” However, that must have died out, for in 1904, when travelling all over Sicily, I never saw a single one of these palanquins, and we just used horses when we could not drive.

Ladies generally rode on mules. They accompanied their lords on many of their hunting expeditions, and joined in their pursuits in the Norman and Plantagenet periods. The greyhound was a favourite dog amongst them. It is evident, too, that women went out hunting on their own account, and on these occasions they adopted the custom of riding astride; as the chair arrangement rigged up on one side was anything but safe. Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes, gives a reproduction of an illumination from an early fourteenth-century MS., where a lady is represented riding crossways, winding the horn and pursuing game, while another is shooting with a bow and arrow. Women are reported to have been more versed in falconry than their lords, although they generally followed this sport on foot, and chiefly sought waterfowl.

As is well known, side saddles were only introduced into England by Anne of Bohemia. Now we are reverting to the cross saddle for women used by our forbears.


An outcome of the Crusades was the introduction of Arab steeds. Normandy itself was also famous for a splendid breed of horses. The greatest mark of appreciation known was to present a Normandy horse, and the most tempting form of bribe was the gift of a prancing Arab palfrey or noble charger. King John accepted horses in exchange for grants of land, and in payment of feudal rights. At that time, and in the reign of Edward I., the price of horses ranged from one to ten pounds. The animals were richly caparisoned, and wore bells—sometimes numbering several hundreds—on their harness, and particularly on the bridle. In fact, the trappings were often worth more than the steed, just as is the case on the ranches of Mexico to-day, where the value of the Mexican saddle is probably ten times that of the horse.

Whips were used by ladies and the lower orders, but the nobles relied entirely upon the spur.

During the fourteenth century horseback was still the favourite means of getting about, although there were vehicles on wheels known under the names of “chares,” “cars,” “chariots,” “caroches,” and “whirlicotes.” The roads until Elizabeth’s time were of almost inconceivable badness.

The mother of Richard II. is recorded as using a “chare” and a “whirlicote,” when in the disturbances of 1381 she had to travel from place to place, and on account of her age she was thus accommodated; but Stow remarks that the introduction of the side-saddle by Anne of Bohemia was displacing the whirlicote except on State and330 ceremonial occasions. Anne granted forty shillings a year to her “pourvoioir de noz chariettes.” But such “chariettes” were merely cumbersome waggons to which strong horses were attached. Priests rode at the head of troops and at pageants, and were some of the greatest equestrians of the age; the monks from Westminster enjoyed many a gallop in Hyde Park.

It was a bad time for wayfarers, this of the Middle Ages. Accommodation was lacking, provisions were scarce, and often they were overtaken by nightfall with no hostelry of any kind at hand. Travelling itself was dangerous in the turbulent state of the country, and, in fact, the highways were considered so unsafe that in 1285 a law was passed, enacting that all shrubs and trees were to be cut down for two hundred feet from the roadside between market towns, to allow no cover for robbers. People journeying along the same road had a custom of joining together in order to form a party of sufficient strength to defy attack, as Chaucer describes in the Canterbury Tales. To those who could not afford a horse the danger was tenfold. If encumbered with baggage or their family, the men often took a mule to carry their packages or give their wives and children a rest.

Little bands of travellers were made up in the City of London, and started in company through the wilds of Tyburn to reach Oxford, or some of the northern towns. Such caravans continually passed along the Bayswater Road or Knightsbridge.

It is difficult to realise what these journeys meant, when every necessary or comfort the wayfarer required had to be carried on his shoulders,331 or borne in his pack. The modern match was represented by flint and steel; money was often in specie or in kind. The wretched traveller must take food for several days, or go provided with bow and arrow, spear and cooking utensils, to kill and cook his food, or else eat it raw. Materials for a bed had to be carried if he would have one, and a tent if he objected to sleeping in the open. But these evils were often mitigated by the kindly hospitality in the age of chivalry, and which extended into the fifteenth century.

Rough waggons came more into use, but the pack-horse long remained the chief mode of conveyance. Illustrations of the time show a cart resembling our present miller’s van in shape, drawn by two horses tandem-fashion, but led, not driven. Large trains of attendants were more than ever in request, for robbery became worse than before.

In the Earl of Northumberland’s Household Book an account is given of his moving his possessions from place to place; for in the olden days habitations, if a man possessed more than one, were not furnished, and not only personal effects had to be transferred, but beds and tables as well.

Even kings when going from one place to another took their furniture. The most wonderful thing is how dexterously these removals were accomplished, especially at the French Court, which, at the time of Catharine de Medici and subsequently, was ever on the move, travelling between Paris and the many castles on the Loire. The coach (really332 a room on wheels) was for the use of the King and Queen, and other conveyances, numbering a hundred or more, followed in the wake.

Many records survive from the Tudor period of State ceremonials in which the old horse-litter played a conspicuous part. Catharine of Arragon entered London in one of these, when she came to England to wed Prince Arthur, the elder brother of Henry VIII., who died soon after the marriage. There are so many people in England who remember the magnificent, and withal comfortable, processions for the marriage festivities of King Edward and Queen Alexandra, the Jubilee processions of Queen Victoria, and the Coronation of our reigning Monarch and his Consort, that the following entries of arrangements for the reception of Princess Catharine four hundred years ago, made in the Duke of Northumberland’s Household Book, may be of interest as a contrast:

Item, That a rich litter be ready to receive and convey the said Princess to the door of the Church of St. Paul’s.

Item, That three horsemen in side-saddle and harness all of one suit, be arrayed by the Master of the Queen’s Horse to follow next to the said Princesses litter.

Item, That a fair palfrey with a pillion richly arrayed and led in hand for the said Princess, do follow next unto the said horsemen.

Item, That five charres diversely apparelled for the ladies and gentlemen, be ready at the same time at the same Tower, whereof one of the chief must be richly apparelled and garnished for the333 said Princess, and the other four to serve such ladies as be appointed by the Queen’s Chamberlain.”

At Catharine’s Coronation with Henry VIII., “chariots covered, with ladies therein,” followed her litter; and when Anne Boleyn came to London she made a State entry in a most wonderful litter ornamented with the richest materials.

When Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII., went to Scotland, whose King James IV. she married, she was conveyed “on varey rich litere, borne by two fair coursers vary nobly drest, in the wich litere the sayd queene was borne in the intryng of townes, or otherways to her good playsure.”

Can one imagine anything more horrible than being swung about in a litter for weeks as that poor woman was on her journey from London to Scotland? The bumps and shakes, the discomfort of the cramped position, seem terrible to think of in these days of Pulman cars, restaurants, and quick trains.

By the middle of the sixteenth century riding pillion fashion was again much in vogue, the lady sitting behind the gentleman, in a kind of chair similar to that used by the Anglo-Saxon dames. They called the board for their feet a “planchette.”

Queen Mary Tudor went from the Tower to Westminster at her Coronation “sitting in a chariot of cloth of tissue drawn with six horses,” followed by another chariot “with cloth of silver” and six horses, in which sat Anne of Cleves and the Princess Elizabeth. Great Queen Bess, when it came to her turn to be crowned, also used a chariot for her State procession to the Abbey.

The coach is said to have been introduced in334 1564 by Boonen, a Dutch coachman employed by Queen Elizabeth, who enjoyed her first drives and the pleasures of her new possession in London’s spacious parks. These equipages were almost too gorgeous for description. The Queen seems to have employed them at times in her different progresses and for her State entries, but her chief mode of locomotion was riding on horseback. This was undoubtedly on account of the dreadful state of the roads, which rendered impossible the common use of the coach in the country for some years. In fact, in London itself, the streets were so narrow, so ill-kept, and so uneven, that it was a very jolting business to drive at all.

Elizabeth’s coach was generally drawn by two white horses, was gaudily decorated, and had a canopy, but was open at the sides. The driver sat on a kind of narrow chair close behind the horses, and rather low down. The Queen liked to be the only lady in the land to ride in such a vehicle, and her jealousy was so aroused when the ladies of London thought to follow suit, that she became irate, and actually passed a law “to restrain the excessive use of coaches.” In spite of this legislation and the bad state of the roads, so many people ordered these equipages that there was soon an actual dearth of leather to cover them, just as there is scarcity of rubber for tyres of motors to-day.

D’Avenant, writing of the gay Metropolis at this time, says: “Surely your ancestors contrived your narrow streets in the days of the wheelbarrow, before the greater engines, carts, were invented335.” Mary Queen of Scots, unlike Elizabeth, seems to have ridden on all her journeys.

The first public vehicles were, according to Stow, started in 1564, and were called “caravans.” Forty years later, one of these was running between London and Canterbury, and a patent was granted to a man to run a stage-coach on the little trip between Edinburgh and Leith.

The reign of James I. also saw the pioneer hackney coach in London. A few years afterwards the first “rank” was established, when a Captain Baily acquired four hackney coaches and made them stand at the Maypole (near St. Mary’s in the Strand) for hire. Skeats derives the word “hackney” from two Dutch words, meaning a “jolting nag”—the old way of spelling it was “hacquenée.” The coachman rode his horse, postillion fashion, and used whip and spurs. There was constant rivalry between the chairmen of the sedans and coachmen of that age, and good-humoured chaff and jeers were bandied from one to another as freely as between the omnibus drivers and chauffeurs of motor cars to-day.

Many transformations have taken place since the first hackney carriage plied for hire in 1615 and the advent of the first public motor cab at Hyde Park Corner in 1906. It was several months before the first handful of these were augmented by an addition of five hundred, with the pleasing joys of the taximeter.

The next novelty for getting about was the sedan-chair.

On the return of Prince Charles (aferwards336 Charles I.) from the Court of Spain, he brought four back with him, and gave one to the Duke of Buckingham, “his dear Steenie,” who was hooted when he appeared in it in the streets. The chairs were very unpopular, as the people objected to see men employed as beasts of burden. However, when it was understood that letting them on hire might prove profitable, they were at once adopted.

Oddly enough, the streets of the old Moorish town of Tangier to-day resemble London of the sixteenth century. That is to say, they are so narrow, so badly paved, so weird, that no vehicle can drive through them. Therefore anyone, who can afford a beast of any kind, rides. Only the very poorest are on foot, and there the sedan-chair still survives.

Going out to dinner in evening-dress on horseback is somewhat disarranging to a woman; therefore one is carried in this fashion. Well do I remember, in 1898, four terrible-looking Jews arriving in the hall of the hotel, and bidding me enter a chair. I did, and shaking and wobbling from side to side was borne out to a dinner-party. No Mohammedan would lower himself to carry a Christian, and Jews therefore perform the office—nice, cut-throat-looking villains they appear, too. The office of chairman is looked upon as infra dig., just as it was in London in the seventeenth century. There are only three or four sedan-chairs in Tangier, and consequently, on party-nights they are in much demand, and some of the guests arrive too early and some too late, for all the women have to be borne to their destination by such means.


A patent was granted to Sir Sanders Duncombe in 1634, extending over fourteen years, for letting sedan chairs out on hire, and the preamble states that it was for the purpose of lessening the danger of the streets which were so “encumbered and pestered” with the coaches of the day. Before the end of the century these chairs were looked upon as an absolute necessity. Ladies shopped in them, called on their friends, went to parties, to theatres—in fact, they were quite the fashion, and held their own for many years to come.

In the reign of James I. the nobility alone were allowed to drive four horses, so the Duke of Buckingham, ever ready to outdo everyone else in the matter of fashion and up-to-dateness, started a coach-and-six, but such was the extravagant rivalry of the age that the Duke of Northumberland shortly afterwards drove a coach-and-eight. It is said that in the neighbourhood of London in 1638 six thousand coaches were kept.

As coaches denoted exalted rank, everyone naturally wanted to drive one. But, alas! the twentieth century has sounded their knell. Those delightful meets held in the summer months at the Magazine in Hyde Park, when the Four-in-Hand and Coaching Club muster twenty or thirty coaches each time, drive round the Park, then off to Hurlingham or Ranelagh to lunch, are coming to an end. Motors are hustling coaches off the road, and already the two famous Polo Clubs outside London are instituting automobile races and shows, because the entries for the coaches have dwindled so terribly, while for the338 former they have gone up by bounds in a few years. Horses are already threatened.

From the time of their introduction, private coaches were richly caparisoned. Among the State papers there is a queer old record against May Day, 1637, of three accounts:

One is of £1326, 1s. 8d. for gold and silk laces and fringes delivered for the King’s service in the stables in 1633; another for £374, 12s. 11d. for gold and silver fringe for making a “caroch” for the Queen “against May Day, 1636”; and a third account of £168, 7s. 8d. for suits and cloaks for the footmen, coachmen, and postillions of the Queen “against May Day.”

As the coaches gained favour the horse-litter gradually died out. When Queen Henrietta Maria’s mother came from France to visit her in 1638, she entered London in a litter embroidered with gold and borne by two mules, but her journey from Harwich had been accomplished by coach. Evelyn also says that he used one in 1640, when he took his aged father from Bath to Wootton. There is one more mention of the litter in Charles II.’s reign, but with so many wheeled vehicles coming into daily use, no wonder this means of locomotion ceased.

However, the coaches did not altogether bring joy to the traveller. Evelyn, in his Character of England, published in 1659, is full of indignation at the reception the coach riders endured at the hands of the populace.

“Arrived at the metropolis of Civility, London, we put ourselves in coach with some persons of339 quality, who came to conduct us to our lodging, but neither was this passage without honour done to us: the kennel-dirt, squibs, roots, and ram-horns, being favours which were frequently cast at us by the children and apprentices, without reproof. Civilities that, in Paris, a gentleman as seldom meets withal, as with the contests of carmen, who in this town domineer in the streets, o’erthrow the hell-carts (for so they name the coaches), cursing and reviling at the nobles. You would imagine yourselves amongst a legion of devils and in the suburbs of hell.

“I have greatly marvelled at the remissness of the magistrates and the temper of the gentlemen; and that the citizens, who submit only upon them, should permit so great a disorder; rather joining in the affronts, than at all chastising the inhumanity.”

By the middle of the seventeenth century a regular system of stage-coaches seems to have been installed. In 1661 the journey between London and Oxford occupied two whole days.

A coach called “The Flying Dutchman” was also put upon the road, which accomplished the journey in thirteen hours, but for some reason or other, we find that in 1692 the distance again occupied two days. In 1682 the trip between London and Nottingham required four days in winter.

These coaches were probably uncovered, and had projections at the sides known as the boot, in which the passengers sat with their backs to the carriage. A coach with four horses carried340 six travellers; the caravan with four or five horses took twenty-five. The coachman sometimes drove and sometimes rode as postillion. The fare from London to Exeter, Chester, or York was 40s. in summer, 45s. in winter, and the journey took eight days in summer and twelve in winter. Therefore stage-coaches were beyond the reach of the poor.

Coaches still run between London and Oxford, and in the summer people clamour for places for this lovely drive of fifty-two miles, now accomplished in a few hours, through some quaint old villages and pretty lanes.

There is nothing more pleasing to the artistic eye, or more interesting to the historian, than a driving tour through rural England. Our villages are unique. We welcome motors as a means of getting about, but are glad an enterprising young American is going to try and revive London coaching in our midst. It is, of course, still popular in Devon, Cornwall, the Lakes, and Scotland; in the country districts, in fact, for summer tourists.

I have included here a reproduction of the card of one of the public coaches running out of London in 1906, for it promises soon to have an antiquarian interest. Every summer morning for years past these coaches have left Piccadilly, and lately, Northumberland Avenue, for Brighton, Dorking, Windsor, and elsewhere. Now the motor is killing all that, and in a year or two, probably, the last surviving opportunity of coaching into the country will be gone. These old cards seem therefore worth preserving.



Dorking Coach


Leaves HOTEL METROPOLE, Northumberland Avenue,
At 10.30 a.m.



At 3.15 p.m.

EVERY DAY (Sundays excepted).

  s. d.   A.M.
  “Hotel Metropole” 10.30
  2  6 * Roehampton 11.30
  “King’s Head”  
  4  6 Kingston 12. 5
  5  0 Surbiton 12.15
  5  6 * Hook 12.25
  “North Star”  
  6  6 * Epsom 1.0
  7  6 Leatherhead 1.28
  “Swan Hotel”  
  8  6 Mickleham 1.40
  9  0 Boxhill 1.50
  “Burford Bdg. Hotel”  
10  0 Arr. at Dorking 2.0
  “White Horse Hotel”  
  s. d.   P.M.
  Dorking 3.15
  “White Horse Hotel”  
  1  0 Boxhill 3.25
  “Burford Bdg. Hotel”  
  1  6 Mickleham 3.35
  2  6 Leatherhead 3.47
  “Swan Hotel”  
  3  6 * Epsom 4.15
  4  6 * Hook                  ar. 4.45
  “North Star”  
  dep. 4.55
  5  0 Surbiton 5.5
  5  6 Kingston 5.15
  7  6 * Roehampton 5.45
  “King’s Head”  
10  0 Ar. “Hotel Metropole” 6.45

* Change Horses.

Return Fare, 15s. Single, 10s. Box Seat, 2s. 6d. extra each way.

The whole of the Coach to Boxhill or Dorking and back, £8, 8s.

Places can be secured at the Coach Office,

Cigar Department, Hotel Metropole, Northumberland Avenue, Charing Cross.

Original Image.





at 10.45 a.m. calling at the Grand Hotel,

Viâ Putney, Wimbledom Common, Kingston, Hampton Court, Sunbury, and Staines, returning from


AT 3.50 P.M.

EVERY DAY (Sundays included).

  Hotel Metropole   10.45
*Putney Heath,    
“Green Man”   11.30
*Hampton,   12.25
“The Bell”  
  Sunbury,   12.40
“Prince Albert”  
*Staines, “Angel”   1.10
The “White Hart”   1.55
Intermediate Fares charged.
The “White Hart”   3.50
*Staines, “Angel”   4.30
  Sunbury,   5.5
“Prince Albert”  
*Hampton,   5.20
“The Bell”  
*Putney Heath,    
“Green Man”   6.10
  Hotel Metropole   7.0

* Change Horses here.

Windsor and back, 17/6. Single Fare, 12/6. Box Seat, 2/6 extra each way.

Seats can be booked in advance at the Wine and Cigar Department, Hotel Metropole, or at the “White Hart Hotel,” Windsor.


For further particulars apply to Wine and Cigar Department, Hotel Metropole.

The whole of Coach to Windsor and back, £10, 10s.

Original image.






At 11.30 a.m., and 12 on SUNDAYS,


Viâ Hammersmith, East Sheen, Richmond, Twickenham and Teddington, and returns from the


at 4.30 p.m.

EVERY DAY (Sundays included).

  Hotel Metropole   11.30
*East Sheen, “The Bull”   12.30
  Richmond,   12.45
“The Greyhound”  
  Hampton Court,   1.20
“Thames Hotel”  
Intermediate Fares charged.
  Hampton Court,   4.30
“Thames Hotel”  
  Richmond,   5.5
“The Greyhound”  
*East Sheen, “The Bull”   5.15
  Hotel Metropole   6.15

* Change Horses here.

Seats can be booked at the Wine and Cigar Department, Hotel Metropole, and Thames Hotel, Hampton Court.

Hampton Court and back, 10/6. Box Seat, 2/6 extra each way.

For further particulars apply to Wine and Cigar Department, Hotel Metropole.

This Coach attends all Suburban Race Meetings, leaving the Hotel Metropole Two Hours and a Half before the First Race.

Original Image.


Route of the Excursion To Hampton Court.

“From Ludgate Circus we drive along the whole length of the beautiful Victoria Embankment to Westminster. Crossing Parliament Square we enter St. James’s Park, and, following Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace, turn from it into Belgravia and Eaton Square. At Sloane Square we enter Chelsea, the “Village of Palaces,” one of the most interesting districts of London, and, passing in front of the Duke of York’s School, Chelsea Hospital, and the old “Physic Garden,” we see in Cheyne Walk some fine Georgian houses that have been the homes of a host of celebrities, including “George Eliot,” Rossetti, Maclise, etc. Old Chelsea Church, of world-wide fame, is passed, and a little later we enter Fulham. By the King’s Road and Parson’s Green we cross this interesting district, leaving it by the handsome Putney Bridge, that takes us across the river. Through Putney and Barnes Common we come to a more rural district, and at the end of a charming country lane, enter the old Royal hunting-ground of Richmond Park. Our road through this magnificent stretch of wood and common is nearly four miles in length, and it will be found one of the most pleasant features of the day’s drive. Emerging into Norbiton, we soon reach the old town of Kingston-on-Thames, that over a thousand years ago was the principal city of Saxon England. Again crossing the River Thames, we pass through Hampton Wick and along a fine tree-arched road to The Palace of Hampton Court.


“Here, after lunch, the splendid pile of buildings with its magnificent courtyards is explored, and a tour made of the Picture Galleries and principal State Apartments. It would be difficult to exaggerate the interest and beauty of the whole place. The Palace where Wolsey entertained with such princely hospitality as to arouse the jealousy of his master, Henry VIII., later witnessed the festivities and receptions by successive Kings and Queens, each extending or beautifying the buildings, until William of Orange practically completed the whole by the huge additions that he made. It is these successive growths upon the original structure that form so unique a feature of the edifice, and the stay here will provide a wealth of pleasant memories. The Gardens, famous for their old-fashioned charm and wealth of flowers, will also be visited.

“The return drive, although made by an entirely different route, is as charming for the natural beauty of the districts passed, and as interesting for the sites and buildings seen, as the outward journey. Entering Bushey Park, we pass down the whole length of the glorious Chestnut Avenue, that in length and uniformity is without a rival. In the pretty town of Teddington we see its old ivy-covered church, and from Strawberry Vale obtain a view of Strawberry Hill, the fantastic residence of the famous wit, Horace Walpole. Along Cross Deep we pass many old mansions of the eighteenth century, and the garden and site of Pope’s Villa. Emerging into Twickenham, we continue through its quaint Church Street past the church where many celebrities are buried, and by the Richmond346 Road come to the old stone bridge, by which we cross the Thames into the celebrated riverside town of Richmond. When clear of its narrow streets we enter the Kew Road, along which extend the Old Deer Park and the world-famous Botanic Gardens, whose beauty and charm have long been unrivalled. After a short visit we continue across old-fashioned Kew Green, to the handsome Edward VII. bridge, and crossing the river for the fourth and last time soon pass through the pleasant district of Gunnersbury. At Turnham Green we pass from the main road into Duke’s Avenue leading to Chiswick House, and by which we reach Hogarth Lane, where stands the artist’s residence.

“Continuing into old Chiswick, we come within sight of his tomb in the churchyard. The Mall along the river bank, and the narrow street we have taken to reach it, form one of the most picturesque parts of Old London, a “Sleepy Hollow” that has altered little in the last two hundred years. We return to the main road at Hammersmith, and through its broad avenues come to Kensington, then Hyde Park, and so along Piccadilly, Leicester Square, and the Strand, to our starting-point, which is reached about 5.30 p.m.

A competent guide will accompany the party, pay the necessary admission fees, and point out the various buildings and sites of interest passed en route.

Luncheon is included, consisting of Soup, Fish, Joint or Poultry, Vegetables, Sweets, and Cheese.

Book early. In order that the necessary conveyances 347can be arranged, passengers are requested to take tickets not later than 6 p.m. the previous day. The conveyances are provided with coverings in case of wet weather. Should fewer than four passengers be booked, or should the weather or other circumstances be unfavourable, the right is reserved to alter the date of the excursion.”

Count de Grammont gave Charles II. a calash as a present, which cost him two thousand guineas; it put every other vehicle in the shade by its elegance. The Queen and the Duchess of York first drove in it in the Park. Then began a terrible rivalry between Lady Castlemaine and Miss Stewart as to which of them should take precedence in the use of the new toy. The beautiful equipage became a source of squabble and contention at Court, and finally Miss Stewart was given the honour. She may have enjoyed the drive, but did she enjoy the jealousy it awoke?

We hear much of “dust” in these motoring days, and many experiments have been tried to lay it. Motorists need never despair, though the problem is at least two and a half centuries old. Lying in the Public Record Office is a warrant issued in 1664 to James Hamilton, the Chief Ranger of Hyde Park, “to water the passage from the gate to where the coaches resort in the Park, to avoid the annoyance of dust, much complained of, the expense to be borne by the charge of 6d. on each coach; and to prevent all horses coming into the Park except such as have gentlemen or livery servants on them, as they cause much dust348.”

Pepys apparently suffered with the others, and all through the eighteenth century the favourite sneer of the Press at Hyde Park was that people went to “take the dust” there, not the air. For many years a barrel of water used to be placed in a cart, and when it arrived at the right place, the tap was turned, allowing a single stream to descend to the ground. Even our water-carts, that leave the streets covered with puddles, to the detriment of all light and dainty skirts on a lovely summer’s day, are an improvement on this, and Hyde Park has its own carts, stationed in the Store Yard at the back of the Royal Humane Society’s Lodge.

In a quaint paper in the Harleian Miscellany (vol. viii. page 561), written by one who signed himself “A Lover of His Country” (1673), there is a long protest against the annoyances of the streets:

“These coaches [public] and caravans are one of the greatest mischiefs that hath happened of late years to the kingdom, mischievous to the public, destructive to trade, and prejudicial to lands.... For formerly, every man that had occasion to travel many journeys yearly, or to ride up and down, kept horses for himself and servants, and seldom rid without one or two men: but now, since every man can have a passage into every place he is to travel to, or to some place within a few miles of that part he designs to go to, they have left keeping of horses, and travel without servants; and York, Chester, and Exeter stage-coaches, each of them, with forty horses apiece,349 carry eighteen passengers a week from London to either of these places, and in like manner, as many in return from these places to London, which come in the whole to eighteen hundred seventy-two in the year.

“... Trade is a great mystery, and one trade depends upon another. Were it not too tedious, I could show you how many trades there are that go to the making of every one of the things aforementioned.... For passage to London being so easy, gentlemen come to London oftener than they need, and their ladies either with them, or, having the convenience of these coaches, quickly follow them. And when they are there, they must be in the mode, have all the new fashions, buy all their clothes there, and go to plays, balls, and treats, where they get such a habit of jollity, and a love of gaiety and pleasure, that nothing afterwards in the country will serve them, if ever they should fix their minds to live there again, but they must have all from London whatever it costs.”

During the reign of William III. and Queen Mary, the funny sort of chair in which the driver sat was discarded, and the box was introduced on the coach. This was always occupied by the coachman, but it had another use besides providing a seat for him. After the Great Fire, the main London streets were certainly made wider, but they remained in a dreadful state, and the country roads were even worse. Therefore in the box were secreted various tools and implements for repairs should disaster happen to the coach, amongst them a hammer. As all this was very unsightly,350 it was hidden by a cloth, afterwards known as the “hammer-cloth”—a name which is retained to this day, though a hammer has long ceased to be part of the furniture of a smart turn-out: hammers and endless other instruments are now relegated to the motor car.

These wonderful old coaches are seldom seen nowadays except at Coronations, or such-like affairs, but when they are brought out they are splendid. The coachman with wig, three-cornered hat, gold embroideries, silk stockings, and smart livery, sits on his splendidly embroidered hammer-cloths, while behind the body of the vehicle stand a couple of footmen, almost as gorgeous in attire, holding on for dear life to the straps placed for the purpose. The Duke of Devonshire has a splendid turn-out of this type, and so have the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Duke of Marlborough, and the Duke of Buccleuch.

Sir Gilbert Heathcote was the last Lord Mayor who rode in the Annual Show on horseback. This was in 1711, but an old custom still exists of presenting the Aldermen with a mounting-block at their election. The Lord Mayor’s coach is a grand relic of the past, with its leather straps for springs, and all its gorgeousness; and one cannot but regret that, with innovations springing up all round, there is a vision in the future of the old coach being relegated to a quiet corner of one of the Museums.

Distinguished and wealthy people would not at first join the company on the public stage-coach, and either used a hired post-chaise or their own carriage. In the latter case, either four or six horses351 were employed, with a post-boy for every two; footmen sat behind, and a couple of runners dressed in white ran before, each carrying a staff with a lemon or orange on the end to quench their thirst.

Some of the nobility assumed great state when moving from place to place. When “the proud Duke of Somerset” of the later Stuart régime used to travel, he caused the roads to be cleared that he might pass without any delays or exhibitions of rude curiosity. On one occasion the servants riding in front of his coach overtook a countryman driving a pig, and in an imperative manner commanded him to be gone. The man asked the reason.

“Because my lord Duke of Somerset is coming, and he does not like to be looked upon,” was the reply, expecting the rough clown to disappear.

But, to the surprise and horror of the Duke’s men, the man stopped altogether, seized his pig by the ears, and before they could prevent him, advanced to the coach, held the animal up to the coach window, and shouted:

“I will see him, and, what is more, my pig shall see him too.”

The effect of this piece of early socialism is not recorded.

So late as 1831 the Earl of Malmesbury writes in his Memoirs that Lord Tankerville (his father-in-law) took him and the Countess of Malmesbury to Chillingham in a post-chaise drawn by four horses. The distance from London was three hundred and thirty miles, and they accomplished the journey in four days. The roads were terrible, and they352 had a somewhat lively time at the hands of the rioters, in the Reform Bill agitation.

The hired post-chaise had two post-boys, the servant sat in the dickey, and the luggage was strapped to the roof. These vehicles travelled at about nine miles an hour, and the horses were changed at every stage.

Stage-coaches themselves were conspicuous by their dull black leather, studded with nails. The starting-place and destination of the coach were marked on the outside, and the wheels were heavy and cumbersome. Three horses were generally attached, a postillion being on the first one, and the coachman and guard sat together on the box, the latter with his carbine on his knee. In addition to these stage-coaches, carriers were despatched on certain days to all the principal places in the country.

But the condition of the roads remained deplorable. In bad weather it often took a carriage two hours to get from Kensington to St. James’s Palace, allowing for the time it was stuck in the mud—roughly, a mile’s progress an hour. In the year 1765 the leather springs of the Bath coach were replaced by steel ones, and so small improvements in the general construction of carriages have continued.

À propos of coaches, the Royal Coach, which was built about 1761, and is always used for the opening of Parliament, Royal weddings, Coronations, etc., weighs about four tons. It is a wondrous production, with golden Tritons on the corners. The coach was designed by Sir William353 Chambers, and cost the sum of eight thousand pounds. The panels were by Cipriani. Those were troublous times, therefore the coach was built with steel blinds, that could easily be raised, so as to divide the occupants from danger, and this probably gave rise to Mr. Frederic Harrison’s remark that the coach in which the late Queen drove to open the Great Exhibition was lined with steel.

The passion for gorgeous coaches was if anything increasing. Lady Sarah Lennox, writing to Lady Susan O’Brien (the sister of Charles James Fox), describes a chaise she has just sent the latter, over which she is in great grief. It appears that the most fashionable colour for Park coaches at this time was grey, mounted with silver. Lady Sarah ordered one accordingly for her friend, but on seeing it she discovered the colour was only seen to advantage on large carriages and not on a chaise.

About fourteen years later the rage came in for four-in-hands. Ladies as well as men became marvellous charioteers. In fact, they used to drive much faster than gentlemen, although we should not now think their speed very great, for people in the eighteenth century did not put their best horses into harness. Sir John Lade (the nephew of Mrs. Thrale), Lord Rodney, and the Hon. Charles Finch were among the first to sport them. It was out of this fashion the modern Four-in-Hand Club arose, in the early days of the nineteenth century.

Mail coaches from London to the large provincial towns began to run in 1784. Their speed averaged354 about six miles an hour. By the end of the eighteenth century the journey to Bath—ninety miles, now completed by train in a couple of hours at a cost of nine shillings—was accomplished in seventeen hours, the fare with meals being £4, 9s. 6d. Nineteen mail-coaches left every night at seven or half-past seven, passengers paying fourpence a mile. One of the largest hostelries of the Metropolis, the “George and Blue Boar,” in Holborn, sent out as many as eighty and ninety coaches a day. As each one approached, or set out, from a stage, the guard blew a blast on his horn, and by the different calls, the stable-boys knew what coach was coming, and which horses would be wanted.

The Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.) encouraged dreadful extravagance in carriages. His favourite vehicle was in rose colour. Another appearing in Hyde Park at that time was lined with looking-glass, the horses were decorated with ribbons to match the colour of the carriage, and everything was made as gorgeous as possible. During the season, which then lasted from December to the end of May, the Park was full of gay equipages, painted every colour of the rainbow, and their panels bore representations of allegories and mythological subjects. Every person of importance was attended by numerous flunkeys, the coachman was a very grand display, with a periwig, a three-cornered hat laced with gold, and a capacious coat with flounces and fur-trimmings to the cape, a costume which added to that domestic’s vanity and assurance in no small degree, as he whipped up his four or six horses.


The phaeton with four horses superseded the curricle, and was considered the smart thing by Society.

A remnant of these painted vehicles may be seen to-day in Sicily, and on sledges in Norway, otherwise decorations on the panels of carriages have quite gone out of fashion. The Sicilian cart is still a marvel, and often depicts such scenes as hell, with Satan burning in a cauldron, or a martyr flayed alive at the stake; Greek soldiers before Troy; a king on his throne with Templars standing near him; Æneas landing in Sicily; the Virgin and Child; or scenes from the life of King Roger.

As for the roads in England, their condition was still execrable. Before macadam was introduced, nothing more was done towards repairing the surface than setting down enormous stones to be crushed by passing wheels, but as they were not set close, the wheels went bumping into the mud between, while the force of the jolt pushed the stones out of position, and matters became worse and worse. The streets of London were in such an ill-kept condition that people wanted their boots cleaned several times a day, and thus shoeblacks became an important factor in London life.

Before the making of turnpike roads, waggons had been the usual means of conveyance, and “flying coaches,” as they were at first called, were considered a great improvement. However, fares were high, and even after the introduction of public coaches many people who were not able to afford them still travelled by the slow-going waggon.


Here is an account of such a journey from London to Greenwich:

“We were twenty-four inside and nine without. It was my lot to sit in the middle with a lusty woman on one side and thin man on the other. ‘Open the windows,’ said the former, and she had a child on her lap whose hands were besmeared with gingerbread. ‘It can’t be opened,’ said a little prim coxcomb, ‘or I shall catch cold.’ ‘But I say it shall, sir,’ said a butcher who sat opposite, and the butcher opened it, but as he stood or rather bent forward to do this, the caravan came into a rut, and the butcher’s head, by the suddenness of the jolt, came into contact with that of the woman who sat next to me, and made her nose bleed. He begged her pardon, and she gave him a slap in the face that sounded through the whole caravan. Two sailors that were seated near the helm of the machine, ordered the driver to cast anchor at the next public-house. He did so, and the woman next me called for a pint of ale, which she offered to me, after she had emptied about a half of it, observing, ‘that as how she loved ale mightily.’ I could not drink, at which she took offence.... A violent dispute arose between the two stout-looking men, the one a recruiting sergeant, the other a gentleman’s coachman, about the Rights of Man. Another dispute afterwards was about politics, which was carried on with such warmth as to draw the attention of the company to the head of the caravan, where the combatants sat wedged together like two pounds of Epping butter, whilst a child constantly roared on the357 other side, and the mother abused the two politicians for frightening her babe. The heat was now so great that all the windows were opened, and with the fresh air entered clouds of dust, for the body of the machine is but a few inches from the surface of the road.”

If one can imagine this kind of thing continuing hour after hour, while one’s bones ached with the cramp, and one was stupefied with the noise and smell, one gains some idea of the delights of waggon travelling.

The increase in driving led to great improvement in the roads. Even the “bagmen” of the country, whom we call commercial travellers, renounced their bags and adopted the gig, which was soon introduced into Hyde Park in a glorified form.

Toll-gates were instituted on every main road between towns to tax passers-by for the upkeep of the roads, and these increased tremendously in the early nineteenth century. So much so, that they led in 1843 to that strange series of riots, known as the “Rebecca Riots,” because the rioters took the scriptural words, “And they blessed Rebekah and said, ... let thy seed possess the gate of them which hate them,” as their motto. Men, dressed as women, attacked the gates.

These barriers were originally formed with a cross of two bars, armed at the end with pikes, turning on a pin, and fixed to prevent the passage of horses, hence their name. On many of the old highways throughout England a projecting house still shows where a turnpike gate stood, and over358 the door are the marks of the board on which the scale of charges was written. The twenty-seven London toll-bars were abolished in 1864, but it was not until 1889 that they disappeared in the country districts of England. What a blessing to motorists that they are gone.

Little more than half a century ago railroads drove the coaches off the highways. Only within the last decade or so the conditions of London street traffic have been entirely revolutionised. But what we take to be new is in a large measure old. The steam omnibus, which is quite the latest thing of to-day (1908), is really a direct descendant of the steam coaches introduced in the time of George IV. Many efforts were made to utilise steam motors between the years 1821 and 1833. The “Enterprise,” which ran from Paddington to the City in the latter year, was remarkably like the last type just placed on the streets. Most of these were private ventures, but in spite of a Select Committee being appointed, and their verdict being, on the whole, favourable, it has practically taken the entire nineteenth century to educate people up to this mode of transit.

Ten years after the Commission sat, other public steam carriages were attempted. One of them made the journey to Windsor, and was inspected by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were highly pleased with it. The motor had attained a speed of eighteen to twenty miles an hour. But it was still before its day.

The horse-drawn omnibus is older than most people think. Soon it will have reached the359 eightieth anniversary of its advent. The first real London omnibus was run from the “Yorkshire Stingo” (near the present Great Central Hotel), Paddington, to the Bank in 1829, and was found so convenient that in two years ninety vehicles of the kind were in public service. At first the driver used to collect fares; but as competition increased, the drivers raced on their routes (as they do at the present day), and the conductors—or “cads,” as they were then called—practically fought to secure passengers, especially if the passenger was an unprotected female of the Early Victorian days. The “knife board” of the eighties, and the narrow, horizontal footrests which made the top of the ’bus an impossible altitude for women to attain, has become as extinct as the dodo, since garden seats and staircases to the top have popularised the vehicle for both sexes.

If I may be allowed a digression, may I say that, in 1900 and 1904, when I was in up-to-date New York, omnibuses of the oldest possible type, with seats behind the driver almost as difficult to climb as a chimney-stack from the street, were still running from Maddison Square up Fifth Avenue past Central Park. I well remember admiring the Dewey Arch at the top of Broadway, erected after the Admiral’s victories in the Philippines, and then being persuaded to see the charms of Central Park from the top of a ’bus—“if you have the pluck to climb up,” said my friend.

Pluck! Fancy anyone using such a word to an Englishwoman. Why, of course I had.

We waited. The ’bus came. There, at one of360 the busiest points of that busy city’s streets, the vehicle drew up. There was no stairway, no ladder even as to a coach. I simply had to clamber from axle to wheel, from wheel to small step below the driver, and—dragged and hauled by that kindly person—land somehow into a seat beside him,—then to step over that into a row of seats placed still higher behind the driver’s back. I had split my sleeve and made a pair of white kid gloves filthy in the process, but I was there! No wonder American women do not aspire to the tops of omnibuses, and no wonder that the bustling crowd stopped to look at a mad Englishwoman in her best frock attempting athletic feats. Even the fat Irish policeman, white bâton in hand, looked on and marvelled. Up-to-date as the Americans boast to be, it was curious to find such an obsolete old vehicle still doing duty in the heart of their metropolis. Many of the roads in important towns in America are to-day little better than those of London a century and a half ago.

Another great change in locomotion in London came with the trams, which are more recent than ’buses; but the horse-drawn tram has already disappeared and given place to electricity, while the tubes are accustoming us to take our short journeys underground.

Nothing is so typical of the London streets as the light, swift-moving hansom cab. Its extraordinary abundance everywhere is one of the first things that impresses the intelligent foreigner within this capital of ours. Joseph Hansom took out his patent so long ago as 1834. His was not, it is true,361 the present-day vehicle, which has been evolved out of all recognition from its original conception, though it still immortalises his name. The cab itself was the outcome of the gig.

Cabriolets, or gigs with hoods, were introduced into London in 1762, but it was not until 1805 that they were established as public vehicles. Then eight received licences. They were two-wheeled, something like a modern hansom. The fare sat by the side of the driver; but under the hood. Only twelve were at first allowed to ply for hire, and these stood in Portland Street. They attained great popularity, and displaced the hackney coach, which by this time had grown into a heavy two-horsed vehicle.

That advent of the hansom is being repeated to-day in the placing of taximeter motor cabs on the streets. No one is so conservative as the London cabby, and the “new-fangled” vehicles, which were at the outset the object of so much chaff—not too good-humoured—had to live down opposition, but from the first little group placed at Hyde Park Corner at Easter, 1906, they grew so rapidly in popularity that in a short time thousands were plying our streets for hire. The smart-liveried young chauffeur of the “taxi” is a strong contrast to the picturesque but decidedly gruff and untidy old driver, who for so long has figured conspicuously among the motley types of London.

A larger cab than the hansom, built like a brougham, came into use in 1836, and from that the familiar four-wheeled “growler” has developed,*362 *—backwards to a more remote ancestor, as some curious student of evolution might surmise.

Bicycles rapidly evolved from the old “bone-shaker,” with wooden wheels and iron rims, through the high-wheeled “ordinary,” with solid rubber tyres, to the present “safety” type. The “bone-shaker” was itself an offspring of the earlier “hobby-horse” on wheels, awkwardly propelled by the rider’s feet touching the ground. This was almost a peculiarity of Hyde Park, where the young beaux of the middle-nineteenth century disported themselves on the bone-racking contrivance, for few ventured out into the streets or to the open country upon it.

Only the invention of the low-bent frame made cycling for women possible about 1892. I remember gazing one day out of an hotel window in Copenhagen, when to my surprise I saw a woman riding on a bicycle. It must be remembered that pneumatic tyres had only a short time before that been invented.

“Look!” I called to my husband. “Surely that is a woman cycling!”

“Why, so it is, and how nice she looks,” he replied, and as he spoke another woman similarly engaged came into view. We soon put on our hats, and wandered off to watch the ladies of Copenhagen indulging in such a novel pastime. I quickly decided that as soon as I returned to London I would try, too. I did, in the dusk round the Regent’s Park, stared at and jeered at by the little boys, who found great fun in a woman’s first futile endeavours to mount.


Paris quickly followed Denmark’s lead, and England came along slowly behind. Every man, woman, and child rides a bicycle nowadays. On their first appearance, and for many years afterwards, bicycles were not allowed in the parks, but gradually it was found impossible to keep them out, and in 1904 an order was issued allowing them to be ridden anywhere in Hyde Park except at the busiest hours. Even that restriction was shortly afterwards withdrawn, and one cycled among thousands of riders passing in a constant stream between the Achilles statue and along the banks of the Serpentine to the Magazine.

The cycle craze, however, as a means of town amusement for the fashionable world, has already died out. In Hyde Park it had but a short life. One year everyone flocked to Battersea Park, where in certain hours of the day the cycling throng mustered in battalions, and most of them were smart young Englishwomen. But nowadays the cyclists seen in the Park are not those who come out to while away an hour or two, but mostly riders taking a short cut to distant parts of London or to the country.

The evolution of the twentieth-century girl began with the “bike” at the end of the previous decade, and is taking root in the suffragette.

The motor seems to be the last word in locomotion, and until the flying machine is more firmly established to enable us poor groundlings to course through the air, it is difficult to foresee what is going to displace it. The first efforts of motoring were not altogether happy. So terrible had the364 smell and the noise of the petrol cars become, that in 1906 an order was issued that none but electrically driven vehicles were to pass through the Park between the hours of four and seven. Then those delightfully silent electric landaulettes plied in and out of the horsed traffic, almost unperceived, and the objectionable fumes disappeared.

Frequently the King’s car is to be seen in Hyde Park. One day, a year or two ago, his Majesty’s motor came to a sudden stop in Richmond Park, and a crowd which promptly assembled enjoyed the agreeable spectacle of the King instructing his chauffeur how to deal with a breakdown, and showing in a number of ways his intimate knowledge of motor-car mechanism.

His Majesty’s immunity from accident is owing as much to his own discretion in driving as to the abilities of his chauffeurs. His car seldom exceeds the twenty miles an hour limit, although he is subject to no speed regulations. His explicit instructions are that a moderate pace must be observed in passing towns or villages.

In these pages we have seen that the history and romance of Hyde Park dates from the time of the Roman encampment near the rude settlement of the Trinobantes, which the invaders called Londinium.

That Tyburn, probably the most tragic, if not the most historical, spot in all England, stood in the vicinity where the Marble Arch now stands. That the first hanging took place there in 1196, and executions continued until 1783. Every offence, from stealing a yard of ribbon to murder, heresy,365 and treason, paid its penalty at Tyburn, and the perpetrator was hanged, drawn, and quartered at the gallows.

Hyde Park has been a Royal Forest, the happy fishing ground of monks, from whose hands it passed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A closely preserved Royal Park, the scene of vile tragedies, a famous racecourse (the precursor of Newmarket), the training-ground of Cromwellian troops; and it was even sold by auction. The playground of Society, a refuge from the plague, the scene of public rejoicings, and the Great Exhibition of 1851. The safety-valve of individuals with grievances, the most remarkable, perhaps, of latter days being the revolution of the suffragettes in 1907.

And Hyde Park still remains the great social open-air centre of London, where the gay world desports itself as it has done through many centuries. That great green sward has been the high-ground of history and romance.


1 Mercurius Publius, 19-26th April 1660.

2 Pappe with a Hatchet.

3 The Kingdomes Intelligencer of the Affairs now in agitation in England. From Monday, 28th January, to Monday, 4th Feb. 1661.

4 Ghosts of Piccadilly.

5 “Yes, he even comes into the Senate, observes and singles out each of us.” Words of Cicero applied to Catiline.





H. means Hyde Park; K. means Kensington Gardens; H. K. means planted in both.

  Acer campestre.
H. K. dasycarpum.
  Negundo variegatum.
    K.     platanoides.
    K.     Reitenbachii.
    H.     Schwedleri.
H. K. pseudo-platanus.
    K.     foliis variegatis.
H. K. purpureum.
  saccharinum var. nigrum.
H. K. Æsculus Hippocastanum laciniata.
H. K. rubicunda.
H. K. Ailantus glandulosa.
  Alnus barbata.
H. K. glutinosa.
H. K. laciniata.
  var. quercifolia.
  var. incisa.
  Alnus incana.
  Amorpha fruticosa.
    H. Ampelopsis quinquefolia.
    K.   tricuspidata.
H. K. Amygdalus communis.
    K. Amelanchier canadensis.
H. K. Arbutus unedo. var. rubra.
  Aralia chinensis.
  Amorpha fruticosa.
  Aristolochia Sipho.
  Armeniaca sibirica (Prunus).
  Artemisia arborescens.
  Asimina triloba.
H. K. Aucuba japonica.
H. K. var. viridis.
  Azalea sinense (Rhododendron).
H. K. pontica.
H. K. Berberis aquifolium.
    H.   Darwinii.
  repens. 368
H. K. Berberis stenophylla.
  folius purpureis.
H. K. Betula alba.
    K.       pendula.
H. K. nigra.
H. K. Buxus balearica.
H. K. sempervirens, var. arborescens.
  sempervirens aureomarginata.
    K.   prostrata.
  Caragana arborescens.
    K.   spinosa.
H. K. Carpinus Betulus.
  Carya amara.
    H. Caryopteris Mastacanthus.
H. K. Castanea sativa.
H. K. Catalpa bignonioides.
H. K. aurea.
  Cedrus deodara.
    K.   libani.
  Cerasus Avium (see Prunus).
    H.   Laurocerasus.
H. K. Padus.
H. K. Cerasus vulgaris flore plena.
  japonica roseo-plena.
    K. Cercis Siliquastrum.
  Cistus florentinus.
    K.   vulgaris.
  Clematis Flammula.
    K.   Vitalba.
H. K. Jackmanni.
  Celtis Tournefortii.
  Clerodendron trichotomum.
H. K. Colutea arborescens.
  Cornus alba spæthii.
  aureo elegantissima.
    K.     variegata.
H. K. sanguinea.
  Coronilla Emerus.
  Corylus Avellana.
H. K. Maxima atropurpurea.
  Cotoneaster acuminata.
H. K. frigida.
H. K. horizontalis.
H. K. microphylla.
H. K. nummularia.
  Cratagus altaica.
H. K. coccinea.
  var. acerifolia.
  var. maxima.
  var. splendens.
H. K. var. pyracanthafolia.
H. K. nigra.
  Crus-galli ovalifolia.
H. K. Oxyacantha.
    K.     flexuosa.
    K. Cratagus Oxyacantha præcox.
  (flore pleno punicco) punicca fl. pl.
    K.     rosea.
    H.   (flore pleno rubra).
H. K. (flore pleno roseo) rosea plena.
H. K. (flore pleno coccineo) coccinea plena.
H. K. (flore pleno albo).
  stricta. 369
H. K. Cratagus punctata.
  brevi spina.
H. K. Pyracantha, Lalandi.
H. K. Cupressus Lawsoniana.
H. K. Cydonia japonica.
H. K. Maulei.
  vulgaris var. lusitanica.
H. K. Cytisus albus.
H. K. alpinus.
H. K. scoparius.
  Daphne Mezereum.
H. K. Dimorphanthus mandschuricus.
  Diospyros Lotus.
    K.   virginiana.
    H. Diplopappus chrysophyllus.
    H. Deutzia crenata.
    K.   gracilis.
   H.   crenata fl. pl.
H. K. Eleagnus angustifolia.
    H.   argentea.
H. K. Euonymus europoeus.
    K.   japonicus.
    H.     argenteus.
H. K. variegata.
H. K. Fagus sylvatica.
H. K. pendula.
H. K. purpurea.
H. K. Fatsia japonica.
H. K. Ficus Carica.
  Fontanesia phillyroeoides.
H. K. Forsythia suspensa.
H. K. viridissima.
  Fraxinus americana cinerea.
H. K. Fraxinus elliptica.
H. K. excelsior.
H. K. americana juglandifolia.
H. K. excelsior pendula.
  americana cinerea.
  Genista trispanica.
H. K. Cytisus proecox.
H. K. Gleditschia triacanthos.
  Gymnocladus canadensis.
  Halesia diptera.
  Halimodendron argenteum.
  Hamamelis virginica.
  Hedera Helix.
    K.     arborescens.
    H.     caendwoodiana.
    K.     chrysocarpa.
    H.     dentata.
  Hedera Helix digitata.
  calchica minima.
  Helix Maderensis variegata.
H. K. variegata.
H. K. Hibiscus syriacus, in variety.
H. K. Hippophæ rhamnoides.
H. K. Hydrangea hortensia.
H. K. paniculata grandiflora.
H. K. Hypericum calycinum.
    K. elatum.
    K. hircinum.
H. K. Ilex Agnifolium.
H. K. altaclerense.
    K. angustifolia.
    H. variegata.
  argentea variegata.
H. K. argentea marginata. 370
H. K. Ilex aurea-marginata.
  aurea regina.
  ferox aurea.
H. K. fructo-luteo.
H. K. Hodginsii.
    K.       recurna.
H. K. Watereriana.
H. K. Tortuosa.
  Jasminum fruticans.
H. K. nudiflorum.
H. K. officinale.
    K.   Juniperus climensis.
  Juniperus communis.
  Sabina tamariscifolia.
  Juglans cinerea.
H. K. regia.
    H.   Kerria japonica.
  Koelreuteria paniculata.
H. K. Laburnum alpinum.
H. K. Laburnum vulgare.
  v. quercifolium.
  v. Watereri.
H. K. Laurus nobilis.
  Leycesteria formosa.
  Ligustrum Ibota.
H. K. japonicum.
H. K. ovalifolium, foliis aureis.
H. K. variegatum Quikoui.
H. K. vulgare.
H. K. Liquidamber styraciflua.
H. K. Liriodendron tulipifera.
H. K. Lonicera Caprifolium.
    K. involucrata.
    K.   Aurea reticulata.
  Lycium, chinense.
  Magnolia acuminata.
H. K. Soulangeana.
H. K. stellata.
  Morus alba. pendula.
H. K. Osmanthus aquifolium ilicifolius.
    H. Olearia Haastii.
H. K. Pavia flava purpurascens.
H. K. flava.
  Pavia Lyoni.
  glabra arguta.
H. K. Paulownia imperialis.
H. K. Philadelphus coronarius.
  floribundus verrucosus.
H. K. grandiflorus floribundus.
    H. Lemoinei.
H. K. Phillyrea angustifolium.
    K. buxifolia.
    K. ligustifolia.
    H. latifolia.
H. K. vilmoriniana.
  Photinia serrulata.
  Pinus cembra.
    H.   Australis.
    K.   sylvestris.
  Planera aquatica.
  Platanus acerifolia.
H. K. Populus alba.
H. K. pyramidalis (bolleana).
  balsamifera. 371
H. K. Populus canescens.
H. K. Canadensis.
    H.     aurea.
H. K. nigra.
  migra, pyramidalis.
H. K. tremula.
H. K. Prunus Amygdalus.
  Persica camelliæflora.
H. K. flore roseo pleno.
  alba pleno.
  dianthiflora plena.
    K.   triloba.
    K.   communis.
  acida semper florens.
    K.   Avium.
    K.     pendula.
    K.     flore pleno.
H. K. japonica flore roseo pleno.
    H.   serrulata.
    H.   Watereri.
  Maheleb pendula.
H. K. Padus.
    K. Ptelia trifoliata.
H. K. Pterocarya caucasica.
    K. Pyrus Aria.
    H.     majestica.
H. K. Aucuparia.
    H.     fructu-luteo.
    H. Pyrus communis.
H. K. malus astracanica.
    H.   terminalis.
  Quercus Aegilops.
H. K. Cerris.
H. K. Coccinea.
H. K. Ilex.
    K.   pedunculata.
H. K. robur.
  Rhamnus Alaternus maculata.
H. K. Rhododendron ponticum.
    K.     præcox.
H. K. hybrids in variety.
  Rhus capallina.
    H.   Rhus typhina.
    H.   Cotinus.
H. K. Ribes alpinum.
  nigrum variegatum. 372
H. K. Ribes Sanguineum.
  Robinia hispida.
    H.     Pseudacacia.
    K.   Pseudacacia angustifolia.
H. K. bessoniana.
  Rosa arvensis.
  gallica centifolia.
H. K. rugosa.
  flore plens.
H. K. wichuraiana.
    K.   multiflora.
H. K. hybrids in variety.
  Rosmarinus officinalis.
H. K. Rubus fruticosus.
H. K. laciniatus.
H. K. Ruscus aculeatus.
H. K. Salisburia adiantifolia.
    K. Salix alba.
H. K. aurea.
H. K. babylonica.
H. K. Caprea.
    K.   daphnoides.
    K.   rosmarinifolia.
H. K. purpurea.
H. K. Sambucus nigra.
    H.     laciniata.
  foliis aureis.
    H.       aurea.
H. K. Spartium junceum.
  Smilax aspera.
H. K. Skimmia japonica.
  Sophora japonica.
  Spirea bullata.
    H.   arixfolia.
    H.   argata.
    H.   aurea.
H. K. Bumalda.
    K.   prunifolia flore pleno.
H. K. Lindleyana.
  Symphoricarpus orbiculatus.
    K.     racemosus.
    K. Syringa Emodi.
H. K. persica.
H. K. alba.
H. K. vulgaris.
H. K. many garden varieties.
    K. Tamarix gallica.
    K. Taxodium distichum.
    K. Taxus baccata adpressa.
H. K. baccata.
H. K. aurea.
  fructo luteo.
  Thuya dolobrata.
    K.   occidentalis.
  Tilia americana.
H. K. argentea.
    K.   dasystyla.
    K.   platyphyllosasplenifolia.
H. K. vulgaris.
    H. Ulex europæus.



    H. Ulex flore pleno.
    K. Ulmus americana.
H. K.     pendula.
H. K.   campestris.
  Louis van Houtte.
H. K.     Wheatleyi.
  Ulmus glabra.
H. K.     connubiensis.
H. K.     stricta.
H. K.   montana.
    H. fastigiata aurea.
H. K. pendula.
H. K. Camperdown weeping.
  Veronica cupressoides.
H. K. Viburnum dentatum.
    K.   Opulus.
    H. sterile.
H. K.   Tinus.
H. K.   plicatum.
  Weigela Diervilla florida.
H. K.     hybrida.
    K.     Looymansi aurea.
    K. Wistaria chinensis.
  Xanthorrhiza apiifolia.
  Yucca angustifolia.
    H.   gloriosa.
H. K.   recurvifolia.


Acanthus candelabrum.
mollis alba.
Achillea ptarmica.
millefolia rosa.
Aconitum autumnale.
Napellus bicolor.
Acorus gramineus var.
Actoea spicata fructo nigra.
Agapanthus umbellatus.
Agathoea coelestis.
Ajuga reptans purpurea.
metallica crispa.
Allium Moly.
Alisma Plantago.
Alyssum compactum.
Anemone Japonica.
Anchusa italica.
Antennaria tomentosa.
Antirrhinum in variety.
Aquilegia coerulea.
Arabis al bida (fl. pl.).
Arenaria in variety.
Armeria cephalotes rubra.
Asclepias curassivica.
Asparagus Sprengerii.
Asters in variety.
Asperula odorata.
Aubrietia Leichtlinii.
Auricula in variety.
Aubrietia grandiflora.
Bellis perennis in variety.
Bocconia cordata.
Bupthalmum salicifolium.
Camassia esculenta.
Campanula in variety.
Calla Oethiopica.
Carex Japonica, fol. var.
Chrysanthemum maximum.
Centaurea in variety.
Cineraria maritima.
Convallaria majalis.
Coreopsis grandiflora.
Crambe cordifolia.
Cynara scolymus.
Cyperus Congens.
Dactylis glomerata var.
Delphinium in variety.
Dictamnus fraxinella.
Digitalis in variety.
Doronicum austriacum.
plantagineum excelsum.
Epilobium angustifolium.
Eremurus robustus.
Erigeron speciosum.
Eryngium gigantea.
Ferula gigantea.
Francoa ramosa.
Funkia ovata.
alba marginata.
undulata var.
Fuchsia gracilis.
Gaillardia in variety.
Galega officinalis.
Gaura Lindheimeri.
Geum coccineum.
Geranium cinereum.
pratense alba.
Gunnera scabra.
Gynerium argenteum.
Gypsophila paniculata.
Gymnothrix Catifolia.
Helenium autumnale.
pumilum magnificum.
grandicephalum striatum.
Helianthus in variety.
Hemerocallis aurantiaca major.
Helleborus niger.
Heracleum giganteum.
Herniaria glabra.
Heuchera sanguinea.
Hollyhocks, hybrids.
Hesperis matronalis alba.
Iris in variety.
Lathyrus Catifolius.
Lilium in variety.
Ligularia macrophylla.
Ligularia Sibirica.
Linum narbonense.
Lupinus polyphyllus.
annual varieties.
Lychnis chalcedonica.
dioica rubra fl. pl.
Lysimachia Nummularia aurea.
Lythrum roseum superbum.
Matricaria inodora fl. pl.
Megasea cordifolia.
Monarda didyma.
Montbretia in variety.
Nymphoea in variety.
Œnothera eximea.
Papaver orientale.
Panicum plecatum.
Pentstemon in variety.
Peonies in variety.
Petasites Japonica.
Phalaris arundinacea var.
Phlox in variety.
Poa aquatica.
Polygonatum multiflorum.
Polygonum in variety.
Potentilla in variety.
Primula in variety.
Pyrethrum in variety.
Rheum officinale.
Rudbeckia Caciniata fl. pl.
Runex (giant water dock).
Salvia argentea.
Saxifrage in variety.
Scolopendrum vulgare.
Sedum in variety.
Sempervivum in variety.
Senecio Japonicus.
Solidago canadensis.
Virgaurea nana.
Spirœa in variety.
Spergula pilifera aurea.
Statice catifolia.
Symphytum officinale.
Thalictrum aquilegifolium.
Telekia speciosa.
Tradescantia virginica cœrulea.
Tritoma uvaria.
Trollius europœus.
Tpyha catifolia.
Veronica spicata.
Verbascum Olympicum.
Violas in variety.
Villarsia nymphœoides.
Vinca major.
minor alba.


Abutilon Thompsonii.
Acalypha musaica.
Acacia lophantha.
Agapanthus umbellatus.
Agathæa cœlestis.
Ageratum in variety.
Alternanthera in variety.
Alyssum compactum.
Amaranthus in variety.
Antennaria tomentosa.
Antirrhinum in variety.
Asters in variety.
Asclepias curassavica.
Asparagus Sprengerii.
Begonia in variety.
Bougainvillea glabra.
Bouvardia in variety.
Calceolaria in variety.
Caladium esculentum.
Campanula in variety.
Canna in variety.
Cannabis gigantea.
Candytuft in variety.
Cassia corymbosa.
Ceanothus Veitchii.
Celosia cristata.
Centaurea cyanus.
ragusina compacta.
Chamœrops excelsa.
Chlorophyton elatum.
linare var.
Chrysanthemum in variety.
Cineraria maritima.
Clarkia in variety.
Cobea scandeus.
Coleus verschaffeltii.
Coreopsis Drummondi.
Convolvulus major.
Carnation in variety.
Cuphea platycentra.
Dactylis glomerata.
Dahlia in variety.
Daisies, double.
Dianthus glutinosus.
Dracœna australis.
Echevaria in variety.
Erythrina Crista-galli.
Eschscholtzia Ruby King.
Eucalyptus globulus.
Francoa ramosa.
Fuchsia in variety.
Gazania splendens.
Gaura Lindheimeri.
Gladiolas Meadowvale var.
Godetia in variety.
Grevillea robusta.
Grasses, ornamental, in variety.
Heliotrope, President Garfield.
Hollyhocks in variety.
Holeus mollis var.
Humulus japonicus var.
Hyacinthus candicans.
Hydrangea hortensia.
paniculata grandiflora.
Impatiens balsamina.
Iresine brilliantissima.
Kentia Belmoreana.
Kochia scoparia.
Latania Corbonica.
Leucophyton Brownii.
Lilium in variety.
Lotus peliorhyncus.
Lupinus in variety.
Maurandya purpurea grandiflora.
Metrosideros floribunda.
Mesembryanthemum in variety.
Musa enseta.
Monstera delicosa.
Nerium Oleander gloriosum.
Nemesia strumosa.
Nicotiana affinis.
Nigella Miss Jekyll.
Nierembergia gracilis.
Œnothera (evening primrose).
Œnothera speciosa.
Ophiopogon jaburam var.
Oreocoma candollei.
Pansies in variety.
Pelargoniums in variety.
Pentstemon in variety.
Phlox in variety.
Phoenix dactylifera.
Phormium tenax.
Phyllanthus atropurpureus.
Plumbago capensis.
Poppy, French.
Ricinus Gibsoni.
communis major.
Salvia in variety.
Schizanthus Wisetonensis.
Sempervirens in variety.
Spergula pilfera aurea.
Streptosolon Jamesonii.
Strobilanthes Dyerianus.
Stocks, East Lothian.
Ten week.
Sweet Peas in variety.
Verbena in variety.
Veronica Andersonii.
Viola in variety.
Zea Japonica var.
Zinnia elegans.



Printed by
Morrison & Gibb Limited,




Transcriber’s Note:

The spelling, hyphenation, punctuation and accentuation are as the original, except for apparent typographical errors which have been corrected.

One paragraph contains an unpaired round bracket which could not be corrected with confidence.