Stepping Through Time in Crystal Palace Park

One thing I have always loved about going to the park is the ability for a little nature and sunshine to brighten any day.


When I stepped off of the train at Crystal Palace Park, I didn’t know what I would find. Without any plan, I walked across the greens towards the sound of shouting children. It looked like it was a field day of some sort for young students. Their voices cheering for their football (more commonly known as soccer for me) teammates made me remember when I was younger and played. It was a large part of growing up for me.

After I found my way past the sports structures, I hung a left and found myself approaching a long stretch of open fields surrounded by old stone arches and balconies. I had heard about the awe-inspiring Crystal Palace that used to be there before burning down in 1936. What is left of the grounds alone was enough to set my imagination alight.


The remnants of proud statues dot the balconies above the central stairs. It would have been amazing to walk among the women and men in 1851 when The Great Exhibition was opened. Over 100,000 objects of industry and manufacturing were displayed then and would have inspired wonder that I can only dream of.



There’s a lonely elegance to it. I can picture what the park would have been like when it was full of the life that the Crystal Palace drew to it.




The corner remnants of the Crystal Palace.



As the day progressed, I felt more and more like I was in a dream. I was a little kid playing in an imaginary world. On my way to The Maze I passed The Concert Bowl. A stage across a pond stands there, a little worse for the wear, but still it would be an excellent place to hold a concert or play.


Along the path I slipped off towards a tall tree surrounded by bushes. Secluded places like this are where I would enjoy afternoons reading a book when the weather is nice. The crunch of leaves from the fall still covered the ground and announced my every step.



At the maze, I began the task of finding my way to the exit. Usually when I go through mazes, I have been with a group of friends and we all would rush through to see who would get to the end fastest. As I was alone on this adventure, I took my time and found the task to be relaxing. I had nowhere to be and the flower petals from the center were floating gracefully to the earth around me. In the center the paving reveals the layout of the maze, as well as containing the inscription “pause here a while, listen to the echoes, past, present, future, follow in their footsteps.” Sitting in the center, I closed my eyes and listened to the wind and birds chirping for a little while.




Near the end of my afternoon I came to the Prehistoric Monster Trail where the dinosaur models created by Benjamin Waterhouse-Hawkins are.





It was funny to see all of the birds just swimming by or hanging out next to these dinosaur models. History is ever-present but seemingly unnoticed by them.

For more information on Crystal Palace Park, please visit

About this article

Kristen Gloss

About Kristen Gloss

Hello! My name is Kristen and I am from many different places in the U.S. that I call home. I am currently a Boston University journalism student and Dulwich OnView's intern for my semester abroad. I love all forms of art, particularly architecture and dance. I can't imagine a better place for me to be interning than here.
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  1. Margaret Floyd 20 Apr 2014

    I would like to know if it is possible to get a copy of the photo of St. Barnabas Church (the original), as my parents were married there in 1940 and both my sister and I were Christened there.

  2. I loved reading this article. It’s brought back lots of very happy memories of living near the park, training with clients in it and visiting it during one of the many events it hosted.
    It’s looking beautiful in the photos. I was wondering if any of the amazing plans (drafted a couple of years ago) for it’s evolution are going to materialise. If anyone knows, please share.
    I hope Crystal Palace Park continues to provide the fabulous green space it does now – a place for exercise, meditation and enjoyment.


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