diamond geezer

 Friday, January 29, 2010

The River Westbourne THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
The River Westbourne
7) The Serpentine


Of all London's lost rivers, one glorious stretch of the Westbourne must be the most well known. It's the Serpentine through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, and Londoners have two royal figures to thank for its creation.

It was Henry VIII who first sealed off Hyde Park in 1536 to create a royal hunting ground. Formerly under the ownership of the monks of Westminster Abbey, a fence prevented stocks of deer, wild boars and bulls from escaping the royal enclosure. Henry also ordered that the trickling Westbourne be dammed in a dozen or so places to create small ponds where deer might be lured to drink. Elsewhere grandstands were erected so that he could entertain nobles and visiting dignitaries with a day of not-exactly-challenging hunting, rounded off by a slap-up banquet in a temporary marquee. This was sporting corporate hospitality on a grand royal scale, and continued throughout the Tudor years.

Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had far grander plans. Under her guidance the entire Westbourne through the park was dammed to create an ornamental lake. Its sharp central curve was thought radical in 1730, with precise classical rectangles de rigeur, but fashionable estate owners across the country soon followed Caroline's less formal trend. The north end of her lake, below the pumping station and four Italianate fountains [photo], became the Long Water [photo]. Only the eastern half, beyond John Rennie's five-arched road bridge, is officially the Serpentine [photo] [photo]

100 years later, with the creation of residential estates in Bayswater and beyond, the Westbourne's waters eventually became more sewage than sparkling. The upstream link was cut and the river's flow diverted down a parallel pipe along the lakeside. Today's Lido swimmers and pedalboat rowers are therefore likely to bump into nothing more unpleasant than an angry swan.
Following the Westbourne: Marlborough Gate, Italian gardens, Edward Jenner memorial, The Long Water, Peter Pan statue, West Carriage Drive bridge, the Serpentine, Diana Princess of Wales memorial fountain [photo, full] [photo, empty], Serpentine Lido, site of the Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace (1851).


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream