Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Everyone loves dinosaurs, and the famous statues in Crystal Palace Park (Sydenham) are no exception. Created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for the 1854 opening of the Park, his “Crystal Palace Dinosaurs” are life-sized sculptures of prehistoric ‘monsters’ included dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles, and other antediluvian beasts. They can still be seen in Crystal Palace Park, where they were built 160 years ago.

Original Guide to Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Richard Owen served as a consultant to Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. His 1854 guide gave visitors technical descriptions of the underlying biology and geology for the displays. The goal was to move beyond mere sensational exhibition to create accurate and sophisticated ‘visual education’ for visitors to the park.

Euston Grove Press makes this rare guide to the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs available in facsimile edition:

Owen, Richard. 1854. Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World  (London: Euston Grove Press), 48 pages. 2013 facsimile edition. (more information about this Euston Grove Press edition)

Owen didn’t write about all the statues, and there’s more to the geological displays in the park than the statues. Additional material is presented in the general guide to the park:

Phillips, Samuel. 1856. Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park (London: Euston Grove Press), 205 pages. 2008. Facsimile of 1856 edition. (more information about this Euston Grove Press edition) 

For a complete understanding of the dinosaur statues, the other statues, and the related landscaping of the park, both guides are necessary. 

Euston Grove Press offers a directory to the complete list of handbooks created by the Crystal Palace Company for visitors to its displays and exhibitions in Crystal Palace Park.