The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 2 Hyde Park

Elizabethan Hyde Park, Elizabeth I

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What a gay scene must Hyde Park have often witnessed in Elizabeth's reign. The Queen, when not actually joining in the chase, watched the proceedings from the hunting pavilion, or "princelye standes therein," and feasted the guests in the banqueting-house. There were brilliantly caparisoned horses, men and women in costly velvets and brocades, stiff frills, plumed hats and embroidered gloves. Picture the cortege entering by the old lodge, where now is Hyde Park Corner, the honoured guest, for whom the day's sport was inaugurated-such as John Casimir, son of the Elector Palatine, who showed his skill by killing a particular deer out of a herd of 300 -surrounded by some of his foreign attendants, and escorted by all the court gallants of the day. The Park must then have been as wild as the New or Sherwood Forests of to-day. The tall trees, with their sturdy stems, were then untouched by smoky air, the sylvan glades and pasture lands had no distant vistas of houses and chimneys to spoil their rural aspect, while far off the pile of the buildings of Westminster Abbey-without the conspicuous towers, which were not finished till 1714-might be seen rising beyond the swamps and fens of St. James's Park. Hyde Park on a May evening even now is still beautiful, if looked at from the eastern side across a golden mist, against which the dark trees stand up mysteriously, when a glow of sunset light seems to transform even ragged little Cockney children into fairies. It wants but little imagination to see that same golden haze peopled with hunstmen, and to hear the sound of the horn instead of the roar of carriages.