The Garden Guide

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

Stuart Hyde Park, Charles I

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The next scene which can be brought vividly before the mind's eye is very different from the last pageant. These are troublous times. The monarch and his courtiers are occupied in far other pursuits than hunting deer. Charles I. was fighting in the vain endeavour to keep his throne, and Londoners were preparing to defend the city. Hyde Park and Green Park became the theatre of warlike operations. Forts were raised and trenches were dug. Two small forts, one on Constitution Hill and one near the present Mount Street in Hyde Park, were made, but the more important were those on the present sites of the Marble Arch and of Hamilton Place. The energy displayed on the occasion is described by Butler in "Hudibras," and the part taken by women in the work. Like the "sans culottes" of the French Revolution, they helped with their own hands. "Women, who were our first apostles, Without whose aid w' had all been lost else; T' entrench the city for defence in; Rais'd rampires with their own soft hands, From ladies down to oyster-wenches Labour'd like pioneers in trenches, Fell to their pickaxes and tools, And helped the men to dig like moles." -BUTLER's "Hudibras." The picture of their sombre garments, neat-fitting caps, and severe faces, the close-cropped hair and stern looks of the men, working with business-like determination, stands out a striking contrast to the gay colours and cheerful looks of the company engaged in the chase. The darker trees and sheltered corners of Hyde Park afforded covert for the wary "Roundhead" to lie in ambush for the imprudent Loyalist carrying letters to the King. On more than one occasion the success was on his side, and the bearer of news to his royal master was waylaid, and the papers secured. The culminating scene of this period must have been when Fairfax and the Parliamentary army marched through Hyde Park in 1647, and were met by the solemn procession of the Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London.