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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Alcock

A Brief History of Richmond Park in London

What is Richmond Park?

Richmond Park is a large natural retreat created by King Charles I in the 17th century as a royal hunting ground.

Richmond Park Trail

Richmond Park History

As a Royal Park, Richmond has formed a close and enduring relationship with the British Royal Family. Interest in the area began in the late 15th century when King Henry VII built a palace in the Manor of Sheen (which is what the area was then known as), using the surrounding neighbourhood and land for hunting.

Charles I, in the following century, moved his court to Richmond Palace. Retreating from the plague which had broken out in London during the 1620s, he came to Richmond and was inspired to order the medieval farms and pasture to be converted into a royal park for hunting. He closed the park to the public, allowing pedestrians the right to thoroughfare only within the park’s borders.

He proceeded to introduce over 2,000 deer into the park; to ensure that they didn’t stray, Charles had his master builders construct a 13-kilometre brick wall. Although these walls have been refurbished and refixed, they can still be seen to this day.

Richmond Park Deer in Winter

In the early 20th century, giving in to public pressure, King Edward VII disbanded the Royal Hunt and opened the park to his subjects. In the following years, the park became more accessible to the public, who were encouraged to use the newly marked out football and cricket pitches, as well as the new golf courses added in the 1920s. Across the park there are now also numerous walking and cycling trails, as well as several local stables.

Richmond Park is also an important site for ancient trees, particularly oaks, which have great historic and ecological importance. Across the park there are more than a dozen woods, as well as the Isabella Plantation (an attractive 40-acre woodland garden within a larger 19th-century forest plantation) that was created to grow oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees as a source for timber.

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