Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hyde Park Corner and Wellington (Constitution) Arch

Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner, also called Constitution Arch

This photo of the view of Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Hyde Park Corner, like Marble Arch at the other end of Park Lane, is a very busy gyro system for traffic and a tube station. Sitting on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, it is formed by the convergence of Park Lane, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Grosvenor Place and Constitution Hill. The road from Knightsbridge joins to Piccadilly via an underpass running under Hyde Park Corner.

All these roads link very important places in London, Piccadilly runs, well, to Piccadilly Circus along the top of Green Park. In the other direction Kiightsbridge will pass the Brompton Oratory and head on to the Natural History, V&A and Science Museums. Head up Park Lane to get to Marble Arch and the shopping Mecca of Oxford Street. Wander along Constitution Hill to get to the front of Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial. And finally Grosvenor Place will take you to Grosvenor Gardens and Victoria Station.

Thankfully, there is also an extensive set of underpass tunnels for pedestrians linking the various pavements around Hyde Park Corner, which avoids the need to play some demented version of Frogger trying to get from Green Park to Hyde Park. As you cross over though you will have to notice the triumphal Arch in the middle of Hyde Park Corner.

This is Wellington Arch (also called Constitution Arch) was built between 1826 and 1830 to counterbalance Marble Arch at the top end of Hyde Park. It was designed by Demicus Burton and the exterior is fairly plain as the cost of refurbishing Buckingham Palace at the same time consumed too much money for extensive decoration of the Arch to be possible.

Originally Wellington Arch stood opposite Apsley House just a short distance away, but was moved to the current location in 1882 when the surrounding roads were widened and Hyde Park Corner became an island surrounded by roads. Wellington Arch was originally topped by a statue of Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, a soldier and Prime Minister. This was removed in 1912 and then replaced with the current bronze quadriga showing the Angel of Peace descending on the chariot of war. Unfortunately, the optimism of the early 1900s was not reflected by the conflicts of the subsequent years.

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The nearest tube station: Hyde Park Corner, though Green Park is also quite close.

The full panoramic image taken of the Hyde Park Corner can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr. You can also find a marker for Wellington Arch on Tagzania.

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