Hyde Park was established by Henry VIII in 1536 when he took land from Westminster Abbey to be used as a hunting ground.
It gets its name from the Manor of Hyde which sat on the land pre 16th century. When Henry VIII took over the land, he enclosed it to hunt deer.
It opened to the public 101 years later in 1637, with the Great Exhibition being held in the park in 1851. Since 1637, the park has been used for many demonstrations and music events. The Chartists, the Reform League and the Suffragettes have all held demonstrations in the park, whilst the rock groups Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Queen all performed in large scale free concerts to 150,000+ fans in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The Serpentine is the recreational lake that sits partly in Hyde Park and partly in Kensington Gardens (the boundary between them is marked by Serpentine Bridge). It was created in 1730 on the request of Queen Caroline. It takes its name from the snake like curving shape of the lake.
Since 1864, the Serpentine Swimming Club has organised an annual race which takes place on Christmas Day morning.