In South West London there are 2 Royal Parks which due to them once being Royal hunting grounds, still have their resident deer, once killed for sport by the likes of King Henry VIII , Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I and II.
Richmond Park is the biggest of our Royal Parks and created by Charles I in 1637 as the biggest and best hunting ground in the country. Originally having 2000 deer, by the 1700’s they were reduced drastically by hunting to only about 600. This is when venison became popular and they moved from hunting to farming the deer for the royal households. Now they are protected for us to see whenever we like thanks to a man called John Smith who fought for 3 years to maintain public access in 1755.
Bushy Park, the lesser known of the 2 but actually the 2nd largest of the Royal Parks in London, was the hunting ground of Henry VIII, given to him by Cardinal Wolsey at the same time as Hampton Court Palace. It was private royal hunting ground until Queen Adelaide handed it over to the public in 1830 and people were partaking in the new hobby of cycling by the 1850’s! It contains about 320 red and fallow deer so come along and see the deer in Bushy Park!
Amphibians present are frogs, toads and newts. Other mammals are a small population of water voles and 7 species of bat have been recorded as well.
Bird life in the Park is hugely varied with around 144 species recorded over the last 10 years and 63 breeding species, including all three native woodpeckers, sandpipers, herons, kestrels, owls, warblers, finches, tits, red wing thrushes and a range of waterfowl. The Ring-necked parakeets are present here also and their raucous cries are now one of the most commonly heard sounds of the Park.
We have been given permission, and a license by Royal Parks to run guided tours around these 2 parks for you to come and see the deer and hear both of their long histories.
We work very closely with Visit Richmond the local information site for visitors, check here for any other ideas for things to do in the area.