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, 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, Roehampton and East Sheen. . The park is also famous for its Red and Fallow Deer.
There is a protected view of St Paul's Cathedral from King Henry VIII's Mound, and a view of the central London's London Eye, Natwest Tower and '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 listed buildings.
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 view of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London over 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 panorama of the Thames Valley.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 Constabulary 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.
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. The playing of radios or other musical equipment is also not allowed.
The present MP is Susan Kramer.