This was one of the most peculiar and interesting sites I saw in London .
he Crystal Palace and Park were built by Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace Company between 1852 and 1854. The park was created to be the magnificent setting for the relocated and enlarged Crystal Palace, which Paxton had designed for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. The site was designed to impress, educate, entertain and inspire, eventually becoming an international attraction.
Crystal Palace’s large glass and iron structure was situated on Sydenham Ridge which provided views across London and the Palace could be seen from many locations across the city. The park was an ambitious project designed to display Victorian grandeur and innovation. It was financed by visitors who paid at a turnstile to enter the park. The Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire in 1936. This was followed by a period of dereliction and decay at the park. Although soon after there followed a number of plans for rebuilding the Palace and redeveloping the park, none were fully implemented.
This is the way it looked in the past :
And after the fire :
The only thing left are these ornaments …
In the last picture there is a little white metal structure, which is exact replica of the construction of the Crystal Palace .
The park has other sites to see and you can start you tour from the Palace . Opposite of the terraces is the National Sports Center , in front of which is the memorial of Sir Joseph Paxton, the creator of the Crystal Palace.
On the left is the Maze – one of the largest in the country, spanning an incredible diameter of 160 feet. It has been bewildering visitors since the 1870s. Featuring towering hedgerows and a confounding network of pathways, the maze is free and open to all.
After the Sports Center, on the left, you can find the Memorial Bell . During the Great War, the Crystal Palace was designated “HMS Victory VI” and was used to train men in the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve . After the Great War the memorial was placed on the “quarterdeck” of HMS Victory VI and later moved here.
On the right is the most famous attraction in the park – Crystal Palace Park’s Dinosaurs . The ‘Dinosaur Court’ has been a symbol of British influence in science since it opened in 1854 to huge acclaim from the public and with encouragement and visits from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Although the sculptures are not considered accurate by today’s understanding of dinosaur biology, they tell the story of how science is built on the best evidence available at the time, and how it improves as more evidence becomes available.
They are the birthplace of ‘Dinomania’ and are famous worldwide. They are also a hugely engaging mixture of being rather scary and a bit hilarious at the same time, making them the key attraction of Crystal Palace Park.
The last place to visit is the Museum – The history of the Crystal Palace is kept alive here at the museum and tells the story of both the Hyde Park and Sydenham Crystal Palaces. Housed in the only surviving building constructed by the Crystal Palace Company built around 1880 as a lecture room for the Crystal Palace Company’s School of Practical Engineering. The Museum is open on Sundays 11am – 4pm. On the first Sunday of each month at 12 noon (April to October), the museum gives guided tours of the historic Crystal Palace site. The museum is free to visit but donations are welcome.
In the end I’ll show you the children playground, made to impress and spark desire to learn more about the dinosaurs in our little ones. Besides the swings and the skeletons scattered around the playground, there are dinosaur fossils burried in the sand for the kids to dig . You can imagine what fun it was 🙂
Although the park is far from the city center I recommend the visit, here you can spent at least half a day. Here’s the location :