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Introduction

How many bandstands?   Four permanent and one temporary
Where are they?   Permanent bandstands at: Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, Kensington Gardens and The Regent's Park.
Temporary bandstand at St James's Park.
How are they used?   Bandstands host occasional events including jazz concerts, band concerts and readings. Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.

Detailed information

Hyde Park

History   Installed in 1886. The bandstand had previously been in Kensington Gardens from 1869-1886. One of the oldest bandstands in Britain. (The first was installed in 1861 in the Royal Horticultural Gardens in Kensington).
Background information   In the 1890s, band concerts were held at the bandstand three times a week. The Graphic newspaper of 31 August, 1895 wrote: "It is only necessary to see the faces of the large crowd which gathers round the bandstand to know how greatly the boon [in bandstands] is valued."
Location   North side of Serpentine Road.
Uses   Occasional concerts. Regular meeting point for sports and sponsored events. Used as Santa's grotto for the Winter Wonderland fair.
Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.
Interesting facts   Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers song "Isn't it a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain" from the 1935 film Top Hat was set on the Hyde Park bandstand but actually filmed on a soundstage at RKO's Hollywood studios.
The famous trumpeter, Harry Mortimer, described Hyde Park's bandstand as "uncomfortable, unsanitary, but much loved". He did a week's engagement on the bandstand during World War II in 1944 with the Fodens Motor Works Band. He wrote in his autobiography: "It is not easy to play or conduct beautiful music with one ear cocked for the sound of a doodle-bug engine, one hand searching for the strap of your gas mask."

Greenwich Park

History   Erected in 1891, the same year as the park's only surviving Victorian granite drinking fountain.
Background information   Grade II listed structure.
Location   South-east side of Great Cross Avenue. The field surrounding it is known as Bandstand Field.
Performances   Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.
Other uses   Traditional meeting point for leisure activities and sponsored events.
Interesting facts   The metal was cast by the Coalbrookdale Company, famous for its decorative ironwork. 40 years before, the company exhibited the Coalbrookdale Gates (now in Kensington Gardens) at the Great Exhibition. The iron bandstand in Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, was also cast at Coalbrookdale and erected in 1864 - making it the country's oldest surviving iron bandstand.

Kensington Gardens

History   The present bandstand was designed by J Markham of the Office of Works and installed in 1931. An earlier bandstand was installed in 1869 near Mount Gate, of West Carriage Drive, and later moved to Hyde Park in 1886 (see Hyde Park above).
Background information   The design is Regency style with eight delicate iron columns supporting an ogee (S-shaped curve) roof. The shape is said to have better acoustics than the conventional design.
Location   South of The Round Pond and east of The Broad Walk.
Performances   Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.
Interesting facts   Queen Victoria gave permission for music to be played in Kensington Gardens in 1855. But before a concert could take place, permission was rescinded because of protests from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said music in the gardens would be "unseemly", and the Keeper of the Privy Purse who thought working people could do without band concerts. The first bandstand was eventually erected in 1869.

The Regent's Park

History   Moved from Richmond Park to The Regent's Park in the 1970s.
Background information   An earlier bandstand stood near the south east corner of the boundary of London Zoo.
Location   Holme Green, between the boating lake and Inner Circle.
Performances   Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.
Interesting facts   The IRA bombed the bandstand on 20th July 1982, killing seven soldiers and injuring 24 others during a concert by the band of the Royal Green Jackets. The bandstand is sometimes called the "Memorial Bandstand" in memory of the dead soldiers.
Two years after the bombing, the composer George Lloyd wrote Royal Parks For Brass Band, the second movement of which, In Memoriam, is dedicated to the bandsmen who died. The piece still features in many band repertoires.

St James's Park

History   Temporary bandstand erected in summer only.
Background information   A gazebo stands on flag stones set in the grass.
Location   South east of Marlborough Gate and the Mall.
Performances   Please visit our What's On calendar to see if any performances are scheduled.
Interesting facts   Concerts were long held in St James's Park, particularly for great national celebrations, such as VE day. But there is no evidence of a permanent bandstand in the park.
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