About Richmond Park
Stretching over 2,500 acres, Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London. It is important for wildlife conservation, being a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, and is also Grade I listed on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England.
History of Richmond Park
The park’s close royal ties begin with Edward I when it was known as the ‘Manor of Sheen’. It was changed to Richmond during Henry VII’s reign.
In 1625 Charles I used the area as a refuge from an outbreak of the plague in London and subsequently turned the land into a red and fallow deer park. Whilst retaining a pedestrian right of way, he also decided to enclose the land in 1637.
Following Charles I’s execution, custodianship of the park passed to the Corporation of the City of London, but was returned to Charles II in 1660.
The park was used for cavalry training during World War One and later as a military convalescent depot during World War Two, when the Pen Ponds were also drained to disguise them from enemy surveillance. Approximately 500 acres were also converted to agricultural use during this time.
Richmond Park contains many significant buildings, including Grade I-listed White Lodge (completed in 1730 and formerly a royal residence, now home to the Royal Ballet School) and Pembroke Lodge (home to Prime Minister Lord John Russell in 1847).
Richmond Park today
The park is still home to approximately 650 deer, and is primarily known for its woodland and grassland. It is also home to 30 lakes and ponds, historic buildings, gardens (such as the Isabella Plantation) and recreational activities including horse-riding. The park is famous for its uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral in central London, some 12 miles away. In July 2014, broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough opened the Attenborough Pond in the park.
Getting to Richmond Park
The nearest station is Richmond Station, approximately 20 minutes by train from London Waterloo; both National Rail trains and the District Line tube use the station. From Richmond Station, catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham. There are many bus routes near the different gate entrances to the park, with the park a short walk from these.