A DAY OUT AT CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
If you grew up a kid in South London, it's pretty inevitable that you would have spent your small years at Crystal Palace park, spotting life size dinosaurs amongst the ducks.
I haven't been back since I was a teen, but now I have a one year old daughter I thought it would be lovely to take her and my family out for the day, especially as the weather was so nice this past weekend. As we meandered around the old palace grounds, I wondered how many of the area's new trendy residents knew the rich history behind its name? I went home and did some research A) because I'm a total geek and B) I want to share with you guys in the hope that you'll visit one day.
Crystal Palace park is the former ground of the original Crystal Palace that the area later became known for. Originally erected in Hyde Park in 1851 to house the Great Exhibition, the Crystal Palace was purely made of cast iron and plate glass and had an extremely unique look. The Great Exhibition, originally formed by Prince Albert and and Henry Cole was the first in a series of large exhibitions to showcase works of culture and industry and establish Great Britain as an industrial leader.
The palace was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and was one of the first to be made with large panels of sheet glass, not needing internal lights as so much natural lighting streamed through, leading it to be named the 'Crystal Palace' by visitors. After the exhibition on Hyde Park, the building was rebuilt on Penge Common. Moving to Penge Common cost more than the original building itself, leaving the palace in a debt that it never repaid. By the late 19th century the site was in decline as a visitor attraction and in need of repair.
In the 1920's the Palace gained a board of trustees who started to bring the attraction back up to a high standard, but sadly after less than 20 years the building was destroyed in a huge blaze in 1936 which nearly 100 fire engines couldn't stop. Apparently around 100,000 people came to watch the palace burn down, among them Winston Churchill!
There are rumours of the palace being redeveloped within the next few years which I think would be soooooo fabulous dahling!
One of my favourite parts of the grounds which surrounded the old building are the lifesize dinosaur sculptures, sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins in 1853 when dinosaurs had just been discovered! I thought these were something added in like, the 80s... How wrong was I?! It's pretty amazing that they are still attracting families till this very day.