The Garden Guide

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

Hyde Park during the Great Plague

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The gay sights and sounds in Hyde Park were silenced during those terrible weeks, when the Great Plague spread death and destruction through London. As the summer advanced, and the havoc became more and more appalling, many of the soldiers quartered in the city, were marched out to encamp in Hyde Park. At first it seemed as if they would escape the deadly scourge, but the men were not accustomed to the rough quarters, and soon succumbed. "Our men (ere long) began to droop and quail, Fell sick, and dy'd, and made us 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 we t'ane, But few went down that e'er came up again." Thus all through the autumn of that terrible year the Park was one of the fields of battle against the relentless foe. The contemporary poet, whose lines have been quoted, describes the return of the few saddened survivors to the "doleful" city. They had lingered through the cold and wet until December, and surely the Park has no passage in its history more piteous and depressing than the advent of those frightened men who came with "heavy hearts," "fearing the Almighty's arrows," only to be overtaken by the terror in their plague-stricken camp.