On the Road – London: A Run-Through (Literally) of Hyde Park Corner

Wellington Arch - Hyde Park Corner
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After visiting the WWII Royal Airforce Bomber Commander memorial, I crossed over to Hyde Park Corner and strolled around before heading to Hyde Park. Hyde Park Corner seems to be a home to memorials – lots of interesting sculptures to be admired. I’d definitely want to spend more time there if I am lucky enough to get back to London some day. I know I missed a lot of finer details in the sculptures during my own mini-marathon through Hyde Park Corner on my way to Hyde Park. I also rushed while taking pictures, so I likely missed some better angles. What can I say? Sunlight was dwindling, and I wanted to see as much as possible before heading into conference rooms for the next few days – haha.

The Southern Stand – New Zealand War Memorial – I didn’t venture close to these statues, however, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had. Each of the 16 cross-shaped bronze standards contains text, images and mini-sculptures to reflect the bond between New Zealand and the United Kingdom and images that reflect the relationship between the two nations. A New Zealand Defence Force newsletter commemorating the dedication of the statue beautifully explains its construction:

“Ten of the Memorial’s standards form an angled grid with a ‘leader’, which contains the dedication text and is the site for laying wreaths. Each standard is formed from two intersecting plates of bronze and, when seen from above and afar, the sculptures appear like a series of crosses hanging in the air. The other six standards are positioned to form the shape of the Southern Cross. At night their tops will be illuminated so that the crosses look like the southern cross indicating the compass direction south – pointing the way home for wandering Kiwis.”

Pretty cool.

Australian War Memorial – dedicated to to over 100,000 Australian service people who died in World War I and World War II. I found this memorial particularly beautiful and thoughtful – curved and semicircular, it wrapped around the far edge of the park like a hug. From afar, it simply looks like names of battles in which the Australians were involved, but as you approach, the true specialness of the design shows through: the names of the battles are created from the names of over 23,000 towns in which the soldiers were born. It was awesome.

Wellington Arch – built in the latter half of the 1820s, it was originally a gateway to the Palace Gardens as an acknowledgement of the Duke of Wellington’s victories over Napoleon. I was particularly interested in this arch and the accompanying Duke of Wellington statue – the street I grew up on in Philadelphia was Wellington Street. Such a strong bond / connection ;). Seriously though, when I saw the name, it immediately transported me to my childhood home and accompanying fond memories.

I also particularly liked the statue adorning the top of Wellington Arch: Peace Descending on the Chariot of War.

It was really stunning in person.

 

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