Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Albert Memorial

LINKS to other pages in the 'Christmas in London' site and to the Travelling Days series:

1 : Introduction
2 : London Lights
3 : Albert Memorial and Kensington Palace
4 : Albert Hall
5 : St Paul's Covent Garden
6 : New Year Sales


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The following information has been edited from articles in Wikipedia:

The play, 'Peter Pan or the boy who wouldn't grow up' was written by the Scottish novelist and playwright, J. M. Barrie (1860–1937), and first presented on the stage at the Duke of York's Theatre on 27th December 1904.

In 1911, Barrie adapted the play into a book, 'Peter Pan and Wendy'. It is a story of a mischievous little boy who spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the island of Neverland as leader of the Lost Boys. The story features some fantastical elements, one of them being that Peter has the ability to fly, and his friends include a fairy named Tinker Bell.

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In both the play and the novel, Peter often visits the "real world" of Kensington, England to listen in on bedtime stories told by Mrs. Mary Darling to her children. One night, Peter is spotted and, while trying to escape, he loses his shadow.

On returning to claim his shadow, Peter wakes Mary's daughter, Wendy Darling.

When Wendy succeeds in re-attaching his shadow to him, Peter takes a fancy to her and invites her to Neverland to be a mother to his gang of Lost Boys, the children who are lost in Kensington Gardens. Wendy agrees, and her brothers John and Michael go along.

The dangerous and magical flight to Neverland is followed by many adventures. The children are blown out of the air by a cannon and Wendy is nearly killed by the Lost Boy Tootles.

Peter and the Lost Boys build a little house for Wendy to live in while she recuperates. Soon, John and Michael adopt the ways of the Lost Boys, while Wendy plays the role of mothering them, all the while provoking the jealousy of Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily, and the mermaids.

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Peter is often oblivious, concentrating on real and make-believe adventures and on taunting the pirate Captain Hook. Later follow adventures at the Mermaids' Lagoon, the near deaths of Tinker Bell and Peter, a violent pirate/Indian massacre, and a climactic confrontation with Peter's nemesis, the pirate Captain Hook of the pirate ship the Jolly Roger.

In the end, Wendy decides that her place is at home, much to the joy of her heartsick mother. Wendy then brings all the boys back to London. Peter remains in Neverland, promising to return and take Wendy back with him once a year to help him with his spring cleaning.

Peter Pan first appeared in print in a 1902 book called 'The Little White Bird', a fictionalised version of Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn Davies children, and was then used in a very successful stage play, 'Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up', which premiered in London on December 27, 1904.

In 1906, the portion of 'The Little White Bird' which featured Peter Pan was published as the book 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens', with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Barrie then adapted the play into the 1911 novel 'Peter and Wendy' (most often now published simply as 'Peter Pan').

There are seven statues of Peter Pan playing a set of pipes, cast from a mould by sculptor George Frampton, following an original commission by Barney. The statues are in Kensington Gardens in London'; Liverpool'; Brussels; Camden, New Jersey, United States; Perth, Western Australia, Australia; Toronto, Canada; and Bowring Park in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. A new statue of Peter Pan was commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital to celebrate J.M. Barrie's generous gift of the copyright and was unveiled by former Prime Minister, James Callaghan, in 2000

'Peter Pan' has been adapted for stage and screen many times. Of particular note are the popular TV version and the animated film version. The 1954 stage version was re-staged for television by NBC. The production was so well received that two additional live versions were broadcast. Mary Martin played TV's Peter Pan for the third time on December 8, 1960 and it is this version, also telecast by NBC, and recorded on colour videotape, that was repeated in 1963, 1966 and 1973.

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On February 5, 1953, Disney released its animated film version of Peter Pan with music by Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill, Sammy Fain, and Ted Sears. 15-year-old film actor Bobby Driscoll supplied the voice of Peter. In the film, a visual reference is made to Peter's ties to the Pan of Greek mythology by showing him absent-mindedly playing the Pan pipes which the nature spirit was famous for playing. This version contained little of the original dialogue from the play or its novelization.

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Kensington Palace is situated on the boundary of Hyde Park in Kensington Gardens. The original early 17th-century building was constructed in the then village of Kensington as Nottingham House for the Earl of Nottingham. It was acquired from his heir, who was Secretary of State to William III in 1689, because the King wanted a residence near London but away from the smoky air of the capital because he was asthmatic. A private road was laid from the Palace to Hyde Park Corner, broad enough for several carriages to travel abreast and part of this survives today as Rotten Row.

The palace was improved and extended by Sir Christopher Wren with pavilions attached to each corner of the central block. When Wren re-oriented the house to face west, he built north and south wings to flank the approach and an archway surmounted by a clock tower. Nevertheless, as a private domestic retreat, it was referred to as Kensington House, rather than 'Palace'. The walled kitchen gardens supplied fruits and vegetables for the Court of St. James's.

For seventy years Kensington Palace was the favored residence of British monarchs, although the official seat of the Court was, and remains, at St. James's which has not been the actual royal residence in London since the 17th century. In 1702 William suffered and was brought to Kensington Palace, where he shortly died. After William III's death following a fall from a horse at Hampton Court the palace became the residence of Queen Anne. Sir John Vanbrugh designed the Orangery for her in 1704 and a magnificent Baroque parterre 30 acre (121,000 m²) garden was laid out by Henry Wise, whose nursery was nearby at Brompton.

George I spent lavishly on new royal apartments from 1718 onwards. William Kent painted a staircase and some ceilings. In 1722 he designed the Cupola Room, the principal state room. .

The last reigning monarch to use Kensington Palace was George II. After George II's death there in 1760, the palace was used by minor royalty. In 1819 the Cupola Room was the site of the christening of Princess Victoria, who had been born at Kensington, in what is now the North Drawing Room The young daughter of the Duke of Kent was living in the palace with her widowed mother when in 1837 she was told of her accession to the throne as Queen.

Queen Mary (grandmother of the present Queen) was also born at Kensington Palace (in 1867).

Londonhp8a.jpg - 89303 BytesIn 1981 apartments 8 and 9 were combined to create the London residence of the newly married Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, and it remained the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales after her marriage and until the day of her death. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in nearby Notting Hill.

On the south side of Kensington Palace, just within the entry gatesgates is a bronze statue of William III given to Edward VII by his nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907 (above right).

To the east of the palace is a statue of Queen Victoria (left) erected by her daughter, Princess Louise, to celebrate fifty years of her mother's reign.

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The Albert Memorial (right and below) was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who died of typhoid in 1861. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style.

Opened in 1872, with the statue of Albert ceremonially later placed within it in 1875, the memorial consists of an ornate canopy or pavilion. This is surrounded by the elaborate sculptural Frieze of Parnassus, which depicts 169 individual composers, architects, poets, painters, and sculptors.

There are two allegorical sculpture programs i.e. four groups depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences (agriculture, commerce, engineering and manufacturing) and four other groups representing Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas at each of the four corners, each continent-group including several ethnographic figures and a large animal - a camel for Africa, a buffalo for the Americas, an elephant for Asia and a bull for Europe.

The sculptor Henry Hugh Armstead coordinated this massive effort together with several Royal Academy artists including Hamo Thornycroft.

By the late 1990s the Memorial had fallen into a state of some decay. A thorough restoration was carried out by Mowlem which included cleaning, repainting and re-gilding the entire monument as well as carrying out structural repairs.

In the process the cross on top of the monument, which had been put on sideways during an earlier restoration attempt, was returned to its correct position. Some of the restoration, including repairs to damaged friezes, were of limited success.

The centrepiece of the Memorial, a seated figure of Prince Albert is now resplendent with gold leaf. For eighty years previously the statue had been covered in black paint.

Various theories had existed that it was deliberately blackened during World War I to prevent it becoming a target for Zeppelin bombing raids or domestic anti-German sentiment. However, English Heritage's research prior to the restoration suggests that the black coating predates 1914 and may have been a response to atmospheric pollution that had destroyed the original gold leaf surface.

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A visit to the Royal Albert Hall, situated
directly across the road (Kensington Gore)
from the Albert Memorial, is
described on the following page.
Please click on the 'Next' button (below right)

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