This magnificent recreation of a Roman triumphal arch faced in Italian white marble has given its name to the corner where Park Lane meets Oxford Street. The arch has only stood there since 1851. Designed by John Nash in the 1820s as the grand entrance to Buckingham Palace. It was built in 1827 in front of the palace facing the Hyde Park Screen. But the arch was caught in the furor over the palace’s great cost and left incomplete.
Later, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a new east wing added to Buckingham Palace, closing off the courtyard. When this was completed in 1847, the arch no longer made sense, standing much too close to the palace’s new front. It was dismantled and eventually re-erected in its current location.
When the Wellington Arch was rebuilt on its present site in 1885 as a victory arch, it also housed London’s smallest police station. In 1886, a telegraph line was laid to the station confirming its status.
When the Hyde Park Corner roundabout was created in 1959, an underpass was made to carry east-west traffic underneath the island, and the arch was cut off from Constitution Hill. Half of the arch became an emergency ventilation shaft for the underpass. The police station closed shortly before work began.
Know Before You Go
The site is open from 10 am- 4 pm on most days. The cost to enter and go to the top of the arch is £6.00 per adult although this can be combined with a ticket to Apsley House across the road which is outstanding and also worth a visit. The nearest tube is Hyde Park Corner.
There are several significant war memorials around the arch which are worth exploring.