Hyde Park in London may be my favorite city park in the world, especially the Kensington Gardens. Part of this may stem from my love of J.M. Barrie’s character Peter Pan. The first ever Peter Pan story shows an infant Peter hiding from his future adulthood in the gardens and befriending the magical creates who live there. While his story changes over time, the gardens are always the ‘birthplace’ of Peter Pan.
For this reason J.M. Barrie commissioned a statue that still resides in the gardens and is modeled after the real life inspiration for Peter, Peter Llewelyn Davies.
During my many early visits to Hyde Park I was unaware of the statue. My friend and I would normally walk the southern path, from Kensington Palace to St. James Park. The statue is in the northern area of the park so we were always bound to miss it.
Once its existence was known the hunt to find Peter Pan began. For whatever reason I decided not to use a map during this quest and aimlessly wandered Hyde Park, finding new areas and feeling very much like Peter Pan as he navigated through Kensington Gardens to find fairies.
Then, next to the Long Water of the Serpentine, where Peter sailed exploring the park, was the statue. In all honesty it is just a statue, very similar to the ones found in Central Park, but the area itself, handpicked by Barrie, is what makes the statue special. The location inspired Barrie to write about the boy who would not grow up. As I was sitting on the nearby bench overlooking the Long Water I wanted time to stop, to be young again and play in the fields surrounding the statue. It is truly the place where Peter Pan was born.
Now every time I visit Hyde Park I need to visit the statue, though I finally know the way. Sometimes my friend would joke and say we could only go if I clapped my hands to prove I believed in fairies.
So if you ever find yourself in Hyde Park, go on a little adventure and find the place where you don’t need to grow up.