Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Crystal Palace Park is one of South London’s biggest and most popular parks, located in the borough of Bromley and easily accessible from the centre. A popular attraction and sideshow to a day out at the legendary Crystal Park itself, visiting the Victorians’ answer to Jurassic Park - the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs - is free and can be done any day of the week. Also known as the ‘Dinosaur Court’, this series of sculptures of extinct creatures (not limited to dinosaurs) on a lake island within the Park were the first ever constructed. They pre-date even Charles Darwin’s famed ‘On the Origin of Species’ and subsequently constituted the world’s first Dino theme park. Fossil expert Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and founder of the Natural History Museum Richard Owen (and original coiner of the word ‘dinosaur’!) was commissioned in 1852 to create the sculptures following the extensive renovation of the grounds surrounding Crystal Palace. Unveiled in 1854, the sculptures were Grade II listed in 1973 and upgraded to Grade I listed in 2007.

Although the models themselves are now considered to be out of date and somewhat inaccurate to varying degrees, they do still act as a rough timeline and fun history lesson regardless of age or expertise. A basic walking tour for the park as a whole is provided by the Cadillac Club of Great Britain, plus there is an audio tour of the dinosaurs is available which you can use your smartphone to enjoy. It should be noted that visitors are not allowed to climb the structures, which can instead be done in the adjacent maze, children’s farm, playground or giant green space that circumnavigates the rest of the park! The maze, for example, is a glorious piece of faded grandeur, and London’s largest maze, and The Crystal Palace itself serves as fitting pay-off for all the exploring and clambering: spectacular terraces give way to a superb vista of leafy London suburbia stretching for miles.