- Richmond Park
caption=Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park
size=955 hectare (2,360 acre)
The Royal Parks
status=Open all year
Richmond Park is a 955 hectare (2,360 acre) urban park near central London, UK. Almost three times larger than New York City's
Central Park[ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo020207/text/20207w18.htm Written answer to the House of Commons] from the Head of the Royal Parks Service, 7 February 2002] , it is Britain's largest urban walled park, as well as the largest of the Royal Parks in London. It is close to Richmond, Ham, Kingston upon Thames, Wimbledon, Roehamptonand East Sheen.
[ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo020207/text/20207w18.htm Written answer to the House of Commons] from the Head of the Royal Parks Service,
7 February 2002] . The park is also famous for its Red and Fallow Deer.
The Isabella Plantation is an important and attractive woodland garden.
There is a
protected viewof St Paul's Cathedralfrom King Henry VIII's Mound, and a view of the central London's London Eye, Natwest Towerand 'The Gherkin', appearing to be in close proximity to each other.
The Park contains notable buildings, ten of which, plus the whole wall of the park, are
Pembroke Lodgeand some associated houses stand in their own garden within the park. Pembroke Lodge was originally a home of 1st Earl Russell, and is now a restaurant.
Royal Ballet Schoolhas been based for many years at White Lodgewhere younger ballet students continue to be trained. It was originally a hunting lodge for George I.
* There are four other houses, apart from the gate-houses:
Thatched House Lodge, Holly Lodge (formerly Bog Lodge), White Ash Lodge and Oak Lodge. Holly Lodge contains a visitors’ centre (bookings only), the Park's administrative headquarters and a base for the Metropolitan Police's Royal Parks Operational Command Unit.
King Henry VIII's Mound
King Henry VIII's Mound is the highest point within the park and is located within the public gardens of Pembroke Lodge. It is named after
Henry VIII of England.
There is speculation that the mound has an older history, and may have originally been a barrow.
From the Mound there is a
protected viewof St Paul's Cathedralin the City of Londonover 10 miles (16 km) to the east which was established in 1710. (A telescope is installed on the mound, for a better viewing experience.) This vista is protected by a 'dome and half' width of sky on either side. The Mayor of London sought to overturn this protection in 2005, and reduce it to 'half a dome'. No final decision is yet public.To the west is a panoramaof the ThamesValley.
The park's open slopes and woods are based on lowland acid soils. The grassland is mostly managed by grazing. The park contains numerous woods and copses, some created with donations from members of the public.
One such area is the Isabella Plantation, a stunning woodland garden which was created after World War II from an existing woodland, and is organically run, resulting in a rich flora and fauna. It is a major visitor attraction in its own right.
Another is Queen Mother's Copse, a small triangular enclosure on the woodland hill halfway between Robin Hood Gate and Ham Gate, established in memory of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Another is Two Storms Wood, a short distance into the park from Sheen Gate. (Some extremely old trees can be seen inside this enclosure).
Another is Bone Copse which was named in 2005. It was started by the Bone family in 1988 by purchasing and planting a tree from the Park authorities in memory of Bessie Bone who died in that year. Trees have been added annually, and in 1994 her husband Frederick Bone also died. The annual planting has been continued by their children.
Richmond Park is a
Site of Special Scientific Interest, a National Nature Reserveand a Special Area of Conservationfor the Stag beetle.
Herds of red and
fallow deerroam freely within much of the park. A cull takes place each November to ensure numbers can be sustained.
Many of the deer in Richmond Park are infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which can be transmitted to humans through a tic bite causing Lyme disease. Borrelia burgdorferi belong to a group of bacteria known as spirochetes which cause a number of diseases worldwide, including syphilis, leptospirosis, relapsing fever and Lyme disease.
It is an important refuge for other wildlife, including woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits,
stag beetles, insects plus numerous ancient trees, and varieties of fungi.
Richmond Park supports a large population of what are believed to be Ring-necked (or Rose-ringed) Parakeets. These bred from birds that escaped or were freed from captivity.
During King Edward's (1272-1307) reign the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII's reign. In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned it into a park for red and fallow deer. His decision, in 1637, to enclose the land was not popular with the local residents, but he did allow pedestrians the right of way. To this day the walls remain, although they have been partially rebuilt and reinforced.
In 1847 Pembroke Lodge became the home of the then
Prime Minister, Lord John Russelland was later the childhood home of his grandson, Bertrand Russell. It is now a popular restaurant with glorious views across the Thames Valley.
All houses backing on to the park pay a feudal fee known euphemistically as “Richmond Park Freebord” ranging from about £2 to £200 per annum.
The park is enclosed by a high wall with several gates, but there are public roads. These are open only during daylight hours, and the speed limit is 20 mph. No commercial vehicles apart from taxis are allowed.
The gates open to motor traffic are: Sheen Gate, Richmond Gate, Ham Gate, Kingston Gate, and Roehampton Gate. Robin Hood Gate (close to the Robin Hood roundabout on the A3) was closed in 2003 as part of a traffic reduction trial — the government body responsible for the park is still evaluating the trial. Local councils are generally in favour of re-opening the gate, but it is not clear that represents public opinion. Residents are divided on the issue of banning motor traffic from the park.
The park has designated bridleways and
cycle paths. These are shown on maps and noticeboards displayed near the main entrances, along with other regulations that govern use of the park.
The bridleways are special in that they are for horses (and their riders) only and not open to other users like normal bridleways. This is rarely a problem as the sandy surface discourages anyone not on horseback. Most riding is done through organized stables which, in general, obey the rules about where they can ride.
The 1997 regulations limit cycling to: (a) main roads; (b) the hard yellow cycle path that runs around the park (Tamsin Trail); and (c) other hard surfaces.
Until 2005 the park was policed by the separate
Royal Parks Constabularybut that has now been subsumed into the Metropolitan Police. In recent years the mounted policemen have been replaced by a patrol team in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Most users respect the rules, but there are occasional abuses. The most frequent offenders are motorists who fail to observe the 20 mph limit. At busy times motorists can be seen parking outside the designated car parks or driving off the roads. Recreational cyclists can be a problem: some
mountain bikers are tempted to ride away from the designated cycle paths.
As with other Royal Parks, the use of
barbecues and the lighting of other fires is illegal. [ [http://www.royalparks.org.uk/press/archive/press_release_36.cfm BBQs could burn down Richmond Park] ] The playing of radios or other musical equipment is also not allowed.
Richmond Park is also the name of a Parliamentary constituency comprising some of the districts that surround the park:
*The Electoral Wards of Barnes, East Sheen, Ham &
Petersham, Kew, Mortlake, North Richmond and South Richmond in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames;
*the Wards of Canbury,
CoombeHill, CoombeVale and Tudor in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
The present MP is
* "Richmond Park: The Walker's Historical Guide", David McDowall, (1996), ISBN 0-9527847-0-X
* cite web
url = http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971639.htm
Statutory Instrument1997 No.1639
title = The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997
* [http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/parks/richmond_park/ Richmond Park website]
* [http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/docs/park_maps/richmond_park.pdf Richmond Park map] (
* [http://www.totallyrichmond.co.uk/ Totally Richmond website]
* [http://www.frp.org.uk/ Friends of Richmond Park]
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