Open Country - Tales From the Serpentine

Matt Baker starts the day with a splash when he joins the early morning swimmers at the Serpentine Lake in London's Hyde Park. For almost 300 years, the Serpentine has played a role in the history of London and formed a central part in the lives of the people and wildlife who use it on a daily basis. Matt takes a walk around the lake, chatting to the people involved with the lake today and with the wildlife that live in and around it and finds out more about a recent project to improve water quality. Created in 1730 when Queen Caroline ordered the damming of the River Westbourne, the 40-acre body of water has been the playground of poets and queens, a meeting place for the fashionable and the not so fashionable, and a favoured spot for swimmers. These range from the 10,000 people in the mid-19th century who were described as a 'mass of human flesh in motion' to the early morning bathers of today, described by AA Gill as 'shelled turtles'. Matt also takes a trip on the solar-powered shuttle boat that silently and effortlessly glides from one side of the lake to the other, ferrying visitors from the boat house on the north shore to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain on the south. The day ends with a chat with 'Captain Hook', aka actor Jonathan Hyde, before he takes to the stage in the current production of Peter Pan, running in the specially-commissioned state-of-the-art Kensington Gardens Theatre Pavilion.


  • 2009-09-05 06:07:00 - 2009-09-05 06:30:00 on Radio 4 FM, Radio 4 LW,
  • 2009-09-10 15:00:00 - 2009-09-10 15:27:00 on Radio 4 FM, Radio 4 LW,