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  • Writer's picturemafling

HIDDEN LONDON [16]: Rotten Row, London's first Kings Road

During our new lockdown, here is a place you can visit safely, not only does it have history, it is open air and you will be following in the footsteps of the great and good, who have visited for hundreds of years.

Rotten row, was originally build for King James III who having moved to Kensington Palace at the end of the C17th wanted to create a safe route through Hyde Park back to St James's ,as the way was known for attacks by thieves and highway men. He decided the route would be lit with oil lamps, and created the first artificially lit highway in Britain. It became known as the Kings' Road or “Route de Roi “ and thus in common vernacular eventually became "Rotten Row". Though as there are other places in Britain bearing this name, some historians have argued the name may have derived from Rotteran, which was a place to muster troops, or Ratten Row a place to turn round and about.

In the 18th century, Rotten Row became a popular meeting place for upper class Londoners. Particularly at midday on weekends or early summer evenings, as people dressed up in their finest clothes to ride along the Row to see and be seen.

Today the sand covered avenue of Rotten Row is maintained as a bridleway and forms part of Hyde Park’s South Ride. It was stabilised with a brick base in the late C19th, so the sandy track remains and is used by the elegant Household Cavalry based nearby to exercise their horses. It can be used by members of the public as well even if you don’t have a horse of your own, these can be hired from nearby stables such as Ross Nye, or you could take a ride in all your finery on the adjacent South Carriage Drive if you have a Landau or Barouche of your own at hand !

Ross Nye Stables

8 Bathurst Mews, Tyburnia, London W2 2RL

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