Sunday 13 December 2009

Rotten Row, London

Rotten Row is shown here in an early postcard by Valentine's which has never been sent through the post.  As a result the only way to date is is by the fact that it has an undivided back.  The UK was early in allowing divided backed cards, 1902, so that indicates this one is from around the earliest part of the 20th century.  There is a card shown on Wikipedia which is dated 1894.  Apart from the numbers of people and carriages, it is virtually identical in the angle of the road and the shape and size of the trees.

Rotten Row is a sandy track in Hyde Park, central London.  It was established by William III in the 17th century so that he could easily travel between Kensington Palace and St James' Palace.  It was lit by 300 oil lamps.  In Victorian times it was THE place to be seen out riding.  It is still available for horse riding to this day, but no so often used.

There are various theories about where the name Rotten Row came from, the most popular being that it's a corruption of the French Route de Roi (King's Road), but the name is not uncommon in the UK and it could also come from ratton meaning rat-infested.  The French is probably prettier.
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  1. Definitely, I prefer the French! Interesting.

  2. What a fascinating post! Thank you for sharing the history of Rotten row. How VERY interesting!

  3. I have an early 20th century UK postcard with 2 views - Westminster Bridge on top & Rotten Row on bottom. The Rotten Row view is very similar, but not quite the same as this one. All the modes of transportation are horse drawn, except for one very, very early automobile. Thanks for the info about divided back card in the UK - in the USA divided backs didn't start until 1907. Very interesting!


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