7 Secrets Of Green Park

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 96 months ago

Last Updated 05 July 2016

7 Secrets Of Green Park
Photo: Simon Goldsworthy

1. What's in a name?

Many people will tell you that Green Park is so called because flowers don't grow there. Some more dubious types will even claim that the reason for the lack of flowers stems back to Charles II; his wife Catherine apparently caught him picking flowers for his mistress and ordered all flowers to be removed.

Try telling that to the 250,000 daffodils that pop up each spring, among the many other types of bloom that flourish. That aside, the park  doesn't have formal flower beds like the other Royal Parks do.

Realistically, it's likely that the name, and lack of flower beds, stems from the fact that Green Park began life as an extension of St James's Park (known as Upper St James's Park), an area of open meadow with few trees and no flowers. It officially took the name Green Park in 1746.

2. Dry land

It's the only Royal Park with no lake, pond or body of water. It also has no playground, or buildings. Fair enough, given that it's the smallest of the eight Royal Parks. St James's Park and Hyde Park are both right next door, if you find yourself in particular need of a body of water.

3. Tyburn

Underground, it's not so dry. The now-buried Tyburn stream, running from Hampstead to the Thames, runs under the park, coming in from Mayfair before heading off west underneath Buckingham Palace.  The Broadwalk through the park roughly follows its path.

4. Music to our ears

Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed specially for a firework display in Green Park in April 1749, although it was first played in public in full at a rehearsal in Vauxhall Park a few days before.

The firework display celebrated the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and the end of the War of the Austrian Succession.

Constitution Hill, the site of a royal assassination attempt. Photo: Future-Echoes

5. A royal assassination attempt

Constitution Hill borders Green Park to the south, separating it from Buckingham Palace. It got its name as it was where King Charles II used to take his afternoon walks, or Constitutional.

In June 1840, an assassination attempt was made on Queen Victoria as she and Prince Albert rode in a carriage along Constitution Hill. The would-be assassin Edward Oxford leant against a fence waiting for the royal couple, before drawing a pistol and firing off shots when they arrived. Luckily he missed, and the royal couple were whisked off before any harm could come of them. Oxford was acquitted of treason on the grounds of insanity and sent to the State Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Bethlem, Southwark.

6. Robbery

In the 18th century, Green Park was notorious for being a haunt of highwaymen and robbers. Many people were robbed there, including Horace Walpole. He was a victim of James MacLaine, a prolific criminal, who was eventually hanged at Tyburn for his crimes in 1750.

7. Rare trees

Most of the trees in Green Park are plane trees and lime trees, both fairly common, but the park is also home to black poplar trees, which are Britain's rarest native timber trees.

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