Richmond Park

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This article is about the Royal Park in London. For the football ground in Dublin, Ireland, see Richmond Park (football ground).
Royal Parks of London
Image:Isabella Plantation - Richmond Park - London - England - 120604.jpg
A corner of the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks in London. It is close to Richmond, Kingston upon Thames, Wimbledon, Roehampton and East Sheen.

The park covers 955 hectares (2360 acres)<ref>Written answer to the House of Commons from the Head of the Royal Parks Service, 7 February 2002</ref> and is Europe's largest urban walled park.


[edit] Significant features

It contains the Isabella Plantation, an important and attractive woodand garden and a major visitor attraction in its own right.

There is a protected view of St Paul's Cathedral, which is 12 miles away, from King Henry VIII's Mound in the park.

Pembroke Lodge stands within the park, in its own gardens. Originally a home of 1st Earl Russell, it is now a restaurant.

The Royal Ballet School has been based for many years in the park, at White Lodge, where younger ballet students continue to be trained.

[edit] Plantings

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, many created with donations from members of the public.

One such area 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 Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother.

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.

[edit] Wildlife

Image:Richmond Park - London - England - 02102005.jpg
Deer in Richmond Park, October 2005

Herds of red and fallow deer roam freely within much of the park. An annual cull takes place each November to ensure the numbers can be sustained.

It is an important refuge for many other types of wildlife, including squirrels, rabbits, stag beetles and many other insects, numerous ancient trees, and many varieties of fungi.

Richmond Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a National Nature Reserve and a Special Area of Conservation for the Stag beetle.

[edit] History

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 Russell and was later the childhood home of his grandson, Bertrand Russell. It is now a popular restaurant with glorious views across the Thames Valley.

The Isabella Plantation is 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.

Richmond Park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve.

[edit] Access

The park is enclosed by a high wall with several gates, but there are public motor roads running through it. These are only open during daylight hours, the speed limit is 20 mph, and 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 to motor vehicles in 2003 as part of a traffic reduction trial — as of 2006 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 local public opinion. Local residents are divided on the issue of banning motor traffic from the park altogether.

The park also has designated bridleways and cycle paths. These are clearly shown on the various maps and noticeboards displayed near the main entrances to the park, along with all the other regulations that govern use of the park.

The 1997 regulations in force limit cycling within the park to: (a) the main roads; and (b) the hard yellow cycle path that runs round the park; and (c) certain other hard surfaces within the park (e.g the concrete path that lies between Pen Ponds and Ham Gate). Cycling through the woods, or across mud paths within the park, is not permitted.

Until 2005 the park was policed by the separate Royal Parks Police service but 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 which can occasionally be seen on the roads and elsewhere round the park. Most users of the park 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 other motorists can be occasionally seen parking outside the designated car parks or driving off the roads. Recreational cyclists can also be a problem: many mountain bikers are tempted to ride away from the designated cycle paths, and in wet weather they are often the cause of soil erosion and other damage to the environment. The park regulations make it clear that cyclists are welcome on the roads and the designated paths only.

The bridleways in the park 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 of the riding track generally discourages anyone not on horseback. Most riding in the park is done through organized stables who, in general, carefully obey the rules about where they can ride.

Visitors planning a picnic in the park should note that lighting stoves, fires, or barbecues is expressly forbidden, as is the playing of radios or other musical equipment.

[edit] Constituency

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; and the Wards of Canbury, Coombe Hill, Coombe Vale and Tudor in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The present MP is Susan Kramer.

[edit] References


[edit] External links

Parks and open spaces in London

Alexandra Park | Battersea Park | Brockwell Park | Burgess Park | Bushy Park | Cannizaro Park | Clapham Common | Clissold Park | Eel Brook Common | Epping Forest | Finsbury Park | Green Park | Greenwich Park | Hackney Marshes | Hampstead Heath | Hampton Court Park | Holland Park | Hornchurch Country Park | Hyde Park | Island Gardens | Kennington Park | Kensington Gardens | Kilburn Grange Park | Lincoln's Inn Fields | London Fields | Mile End Park | Morden Hall Park | Morden Park | Osterley Park | Oxleas Wood | Parliament Hill | Parsons Green | Plumstead Common | Primrose Hill | Queen's Park | Regent's Park | Richmond Park | Kew Gardens | South Norwood Country Park | St. James's Park | Streatham Common | Trent Park | Valentines Park | Victoria Park | Victoria Tower Gardens | Wandsworth Common | Waterlow Park | West Ham Park | Wimbledon Park | Wimbledon and Putney Commons | Wormwood Scrubs

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

Districts: Barnes | Ham | Hampton | Kew | Mortlake | Richmond | St. Margarets | Teddington | Twickenham | Whitton

Attractions: Bushy Park | Hampton Court Palace | London Wetlands Centre | Kew Gardens | Richmond Park | Twickenham Stadium

Constituencies: Richmond Park | Twickenham

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Richmond Park

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