A Hyde Park mystery!
‘A Review of the London Volunteer Cavalry and Flying Artillery in Hyde Park 1804,’ by unknown, (image at Wikipedia) is of great interest as it does not show a park that’s recognisable today.
The 1804 location is sited above the Titchbourne valley at what is now the Royal Parks HQ in central Hyde Park. The ‘Magazine,’ one of two buildings in the park for storing gun powder would have been nearby.
Hyde Park view showing the valley where the 1804 rally took place.
Trees in Hyde Park now preclude an exact view of the 1804 setting. The above picture shows the valley where the Titchbourne ran and this is clearly the location depicted in the painting. Bayswater Road is hidden among the trees in the distance.
The Titchbourne is a long forgotten waterway that worked its way down from the high ground near St John’s Wood to the Westbourne river (now of course the Serpentine.) It flowed southwest under Edgware Road, past what are now Cambridge and Oxford Squares and through St George’s Fields into Hyde Park. The only reminders left of this long vanished stream are Titchborne Row as well as St George’s Fields.
Sole reminder of stream’s former existence is Titchbourne Row in W2
St George’s Fields – site of the former St George’s burial grounds.
The 1804 prospect clearly looks northwards to Bayswater Road. In 1804 there were no houses along the Uxbridge Road as it was then, save for a small group in nearby St George’s Row, at where St George’s Fields is now.
Moggs 1806 shows unbuilt area/fields & canal north of Hyde Park
In 1804 Hampstead and the new Grand Junction Canal could be seen across the fields north of Hyde Park. These fields have been built upon since 1804 and of course it’s now impossible to see further than Bayswater Road!
The canal bridge at Paddington Green can be seen circled in this crop.
In 1801 the Grand Junction canal opened. The 1804 painting clearly shows the canal’s Harrow Road bridge. Below is shown the approximate sightline towards Hampstead seen in our painting. The canal bridge is marked by a circle
67 regiments, with well over 12,000 soldiers, were present at the 1790 review.
Depicted above is a plan for the 1790 Volunteer Review for George III. The Titchbourne’s course from St George’s to the Serpentine can be clearly seen.
Not all these reviews were successful. On the king’s birthday, June 5th 1799, a review of 65 corps was made. The weather was so bad many soldiers died from severe colds caught as a result of getting wet.
The King’s review of 1799 was marred by illness and death.
Numbers for these stupendous reviews in Hyde Park were huge. 27,000 soldiers in Oct 1803 plus half a million onlookers. 30,000 soldiers were present in Jan 1804. The latter could well be the review alluded to in our mystery painting.
The 1804 painting can be seen at Google Art Project
A Hyde Park mystery!