The Wellington Arch (aka Constitution Arch), built in 1825-7 as a northern gate to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, providing a grand entrance to London, is situated in the centre of the Hyde Park Corner traffic island, a hub for some of the busiest roads in Westminster –
6 streets converge at the junction: Constitution Hill (south east), Grosvenor Crescent ( south west), Grosvenor Place (south), Park Lane, Knightsbridge (west), Park Lane (north) and Piccadilly ( north east).
Designed by Decimus Burton as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, the arch was intended as a ‘victory arch’ proclaiming Wellington’s defeat of Napolean, originally topped with an equestrian statue of the Duke, sculpted by Matthew Cotes Wyatt but replaced in 1912 with a work entitled ‘The Angel of Peace’ descending on the Quadriga of Victory (ancient four-horse chariot) by sculptor Adrian Jones; the largest bronze sculpture in Europe.
The arch is hollow inside and housed a small police station until 1992. Contained within the Arch is the new Quadriga Gallery where you can see one of a series of exhibitions. When we visited we saw the: Carscapes: How the Motor Car Reshaped England
Besides the arch there are great number of other fascinating monuments on the island: Monument to the Cavalry of the Empire, Adrian Jones, Boy and Dolphin statue, Alexander Munro, The Wellington Monument – a smaller equestrian statue of Wellington (facing Apsley House – the home of the first Duke of Wellington), the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, the Royal Artillery Memorial, the Australian War Memorial, the New Zealand War Memorial, and a statue of Lord Byron (on an island opposite the Wellington Memorial).
The view; its amazing, you can see right along Constitution Avenue……
you can enjoy stunning panoramas of London’s parks and Houses of Parliament from the balconies of Wellington Arch and of course you can get a really close up view of the extraordinary sculpture at the top; ‘The Angel of Peace’ descending on the Quadriga of Victory.
If you’re lucky, the weather is good and time your visit right you can watch the Household Cavalry on their way to Changing the Guard at Horse Guards Parade.
The monuments are a fascinating snapshot of British and Commonwealth history.
Once you’ve enjoyed the view and seen all the monuments then head underground via the Hyde Corner Underpass….there are a number of delightful murals on the walls depicting Victorian London and other scenes…well worth the time.
Items of note:
“Hyde Park Corner” was used as a code to announce the death of King George VI to the government in 1952.
The 1935 film ‘ Hyde Park Corner’ takes it’s name from the area…where it is set.
One half of the arch functions as a ventilation shaft for the London Underground network.
Across the road is the well-known Hyde Park Corner Screen; Burton’s Screen which forms the Hyde Park Corner entrance to Hyde Park and on Park Lane is the Queen Elizabeth Gate.
Ownership of Wellington Arch was transferred to English Heritage in 1999, the arch contains three floors of exhibits detailing the history of the arch and is now open to the public (for a fee).
For more information about the arch:
Nearest Tube Station:
Hyde Park Corner – then cross the road.
Green Park and a short walk.
Victoria Station and quite a walk.
Hyde Park corner is also within walking distance of Piccadilly Circus along Piccadilly, a great walk that takes you past the famous Fortnum and Mason Store, the Royal Academy of Art, St James’s
Church Piccadilly and much more. Be sure to look out for the clock on the facade of Fortnum and Mason’s.
Many buses service the area on the way to and from Victoria Station. Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
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3 things to see in the area:
The Rose Garden and Rotten Row at Hyde Park
Green Park and Buckingham Palace