Victorian pomp and dinosaurs

Crystal Palace is the name given to a park in Sydenham Hill, an area in South London, a short bus ride from the end of the Victoria line at Brixton. It was the location of Joseph Paxton's famous Crystal Palace, created for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Once the exhibition finished, the Palace was moved to the park here, where it remained until it was destroyed by fire in 1936.

The original Palace was a leisure and entertainment destination and during its relatively short life-span, it hosted the Festival of Empire, held for George V's coronation and became the first permanent home for the Imperial War Museum.

When the palace was destroyed by fire, the blaze was so impressive that trains were laid on for sightseers to watch the flames in relative safety. It's thought the palace's destruction was witnessed by over a million people, in the days long before TV!

However, the park built to house this architectural wonder remains, and is one of the quirkiest green spaces in London. Visitors today can not only see the ruined foundations of Paxton's masterpiece, but also an amazing selection of dinosaur statues, created in the Victorian era to captivate the imaginations of a population just discovering pre-history.

If you'd like to learn more about Crystal Palace's dinosaurs, visit our blog Where can you find dinosaurs in london.