On Saturday, October 12, I joined with 12 others on a walk, Animal Pasts in Hyde Park, led by historian Hilda Kean in London. This is the second walk I’ve taken led by Hilda. Here is my account of the first ‘Animal Pasts in London’s Landscape Today‘. Among Hilda’s books is Animal Rights. Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800, which I highly recommend.
‘Hyde Park is not just a site of human demonstrations and concerts,’ explained Hilda. ‘It is a space in which animals have also lived, died and been remembered and not only at the Animals in War memorial in Park Lane.’
Britain’s first pet cemetery is in Hyde Park. Although we were unable to gain access, the headstones were visible through the wrought iron fence. Hilda writes about the Hyde Park Dog Cemetery on her website:
It was originally called (it also admitted the corpses of three small monkeys, and two cats) was established in 1880 in the part of the huge park that lies adjacent to Kensington Gardens (and opposite Lancaster Gate). Although accounts vary as to the origins of the cemetery – either initiated by the Duke of Connaught or through a favour of the gatekeeper to friends who lived nearby – it is evident that the cemetery was not run for profit but as a philanthropic gesture towards grieving animal owners.
The walking tour also included two cattle troughs, the memorial for a defunct bird sanctuary which featured Epstein’s figure of ‘Rima,’ the bird-girl heroine of W. H. Hudson’s novel, ‘Green Mansions.’ The tour ended at the Animals in War Memorial on Park Lane immediately adjacent and to the east of Hyde Park.
This video is raw footage I shot with my iPad. The Animals in War Memorial is situated in the middle of a very busy road, Park Lane, with each side having at least two lanes of traffic, including many buses and coaches. So, the audio quality is not great but does improve. In any event, it is possible to hear Hilda Kean speak about the memorial and see it and how it is situated.