Hyde Park: Rotten Row and Roses

Mary at Rotten Row in Hyde Park.

Mary at Rotten Row in Hyde Park.

Pick up any Regency romance set in London and the principal characters invariably take a drive or ride along Rotten Row in Hyde Park at the fashionable hour to see and be seen.

I, too, made my way to the venerable bridle path on a late afternoon at the end of June. One solitary horseman in a police uniform walked the path, at one time the King’s private road. Skate boarders and cyclists crowded a paved strip running parallel to it.

The 350-acre park’s famous path received the nickname Rotten Row in the 1780s, a corruption it’s said of Route du Roi. It became immensely popular for the genteel to not only show off their fine horses and carriages, but their clothing as they traveled at a pace dictated by strict speed limits.

Londoners today are in Spandex shorts and tank tops as they enjoy the splendors of the park. Meandering walking paths, a rose garden so fragrant you can smell it from a distance and the Serpentine Lake with its popular waterside café all offer a quiet haven in the midst of the huge city.

And at the fashionable hour, there are still those who want to show off. West Carriage Drive, a wide paved road that cuts from one side of the park to the other, is clogged with fancy cars –Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Mercedes and BMWs.



Roses at Hyde Park