I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.
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In medieval times, this area was open grazing land. It seems certain that it was Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16 th century who first enclosed with timber palings land that we now know as Home Park. Henry VIII walled the road from Kingston to Hampton, creating a clear division with emparked areas to the north, which eventually combined to become Bushy Park.
From around 1530 to the 1650s, Home Park was in two sections. The more southerly was the House Park, which contained fallow deer. Towards the north was the Course, providing a mile-long course for the racing of dogs in pursuit of deer. The Park was originally mainly planted with oaks, but these were largely stripped by speculators during the period of the Commonwealth in the mid-17th century.
In the 1660s, after Charles II was restored to the throne, the great canal, now known as the Long Water, was dug, and its avenue of 550 lime trees first planted. After William III’s accession in 1689, the extra diagonal avenues were added, as well as a cross avenue linking their far ends. The 600 metre terrace overlooking the Thames (now part of the formal gardens) was added in 1701: It ended in a bowling green, around which four substantial pavilions were built in 1702, but now only one (The Pavilion) remains.
In the eighteenth century, the Park developed as the home of a royal stud, and Stud House was built for the Master of the Horse. The latter house was changed and expanded in the Regency and George IV periods as a possible royal residence but never became so. The stud waxed and waned, involving both Home and Bushy Parks, but was largely sold in 1894. At one time, 16 walled paddocks existed along the north side of the park, but now only three remain in the north-west corner. One of these was used as allotments for Grace and Favour residents of the Palace up until the 1990s.
The Park was opened to the public in 1893, while the golf club opened in 1895. Soon after, model boating began on the Rick Pond. Parts of the Park were used for crop production during the 1939-45 War, although care seems to have been taken to protect ancient features of the Park’s landscape.
With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.
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The HWA and the Friends of Hampton Wick Library are proud to present an illustrated talk by Roland Wales about the fascinating life of R C Sherriff, Hampton Wick’s celebrated playwright, Hollywood screenwriter and World War One hero.
Over 50 people took part in the Deer Walk in Bushy Park on 3rd September 2016.Full report...
The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors to find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.
Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.