On Saturday the girls and I took a trip to Crystal Palace Park in South London with my brother. I hadn’t been to the park since I was a little girl so it was lovely to walk around and explore it with my girls.
The park is the former location of The Crystal Palace, a vast glass and steel structure built in 1851 which was the home of the great exhibition in Hyde Park, before being moved and rebuilt in South East London in 1854. The exhibition was the idea of Prince Albert and housed displays of achievement relating to the Industrial Revolution. Money from the exhibition went towards the building of the museums at Kennsington.
The structure remained on the site until 1936 when it was razed to the ground after catching fire. Many South Londoners of my grandparents generation remember seeing the flames burning through the night as the blaze raged on.
The Crystal Palace at it’s new home in Sydenham in 1854.
All that remains of the building is the terraces which lead up to it, these are now in a state of disrepair, but do give a wonderful sense of what was once there and we loved walking around the vast space.
This is what the area looks like today. The tower in the background is the BBC transmitter.
The Crystal Palace ablaze November 1936.
An ariel view of the building completely destroyed after the fire.
These spynxes and other statues are relics of the parks former glory.
As well as these survivors of the crystal palaces heyday, the park has a lot more to offer, we found a lovely little garden area with some pretty cast iron benches and had a little rest before exploring the rest of the park.
A statue of Joseph Paxton who designed The Crystal Palace stands in the park’s car park.
We then had lots of splashing about in muddy puddles and a play in the park’s excellent playground before having a spot of lunch in the onsite cafe. It was then time for the main attraction… Dinosaurs!
The display of model dinosaurs at the opposite end of the park to the palace site, date from the same era. They were the very first dinosaur sculptures in the world, and were based on contemporary theories of how dinosaurs would have appeared. There are also models of other extinct prehistoric creatures and a geological landscape, on the edges of the boating lake.
The girls looking at the model Megaloceros or Irish Elk models.
The dinosaur models under construction in 1853.
Out of everything we’ve done this half term, I think Crystal Palace Park was probably my favourite and I can’t wait to go back. if you find yourself in the area it’s well worth a visit. It’s also worth checking out the rest of the area as well as there are some fantastic vintage shops just down the road.
Want to know more?
To find out more about plans to rebuild The Crystal Palace, check out this article.
Here’s a fantastic video of the fire itself…
And a video of the dinosaurs being restored in 1959…