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Chair’s Welcome

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.

We are always pleased to receive feedback. You can contact us by clicking here.

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AGM Talk: The History of Bushy Park

by Ray Brodie, Bushy Park Manager, 6 March 2009

Ray gave a most interesting and informative talk going back over 500 years and bringing us up-to-date with news on progress of the Restoration Project.

The site has been settled for at least 4,000 years and there is evidence of a large medieval field system. Back in 1497 Richmond Palace burned down and Royalty moved to Hampton Court. The park was used for recreation including hunting and hare coursing. Between 1500 and 1515 Cardinal Wolsey rebuilt Hampton Court Palace and the park was gifted to Henry VIII who built a brick wall round the park and created a deer chase.

Water makes the park very special with the water coming from the Longford River. This river is 12 miles long, built in 1638-39 and takes water from the River Colne 11 miles away near Heathrow. Ray is responsible for the river outside the park including an aquaduct over the river at Fulwell.

There is an old plan of Water Gardens dating back to 1710-1715. They were built by the Earl of Halifax who lived in Upper Lodge. All that remained in 1998 were 2 derelict pools and The Friends have been instrumental in the restoration of the Water Gardens. (Kathy White will be giving a talk on October 22nd.) In 2000 there was a minor archaeological dig followed by more extensive excavations in September 2008 which found some brickwork dating back to 1710.

These gardens are unique, work is nearing completion and they will be open to the public this summer. The Friends have installed a camera which has recorded the various stages of the restoration.

The old Brewhouse has also been restored and work has now started on repairs to the 17th. Century Diana fountain.

Oliver Cromwell loved fishing and built the Heron and Leg of Mutton ponds and the royal connection remains today with The Queens horses in the Royal Paddocks. In the reign of William and Mary, Chestnut Avenue (conceived by Christopher Wren) was built as the formal approach to Hampton Court. Chestnut Sunday has been celebrated for over 300 years and has increased in popularity over the last 12 years.

Bushy House was built in 1663 by Edward Proger as keeper of the Middle Park. The Montagu family started repairing and rebuilding Bushy House in the early 18th century; Lord North lived there until his death in 1792. William Duke of Clarence and his family lived in the house until 1812; he married again in 1818 and remained at bushy House until his accession to the throne in 1830.

In 1896 The Royal Society set up the National Standards laboratory and the National Physical Laboratory was established in Bushy House in 1902.

The Woodland Gardens were designed and laid out by Joseph Fisher in 1947 using water from the Longford River to feed the gardens.

Deer are also a very important presence in the park. Old records show deer coming from Richmond and Kempton in 1660, from Kempton and Althorpe in 1813 and from Windsor in 1848. Some were even imported from New Zealand.

In the First World War areas of the park were turned over and used for ‘dig for victory’ and George V gave permission for Upper Lodge to be used as a home for convalescent Canadian servicemen.

During the Second World War in 1942, the US Base, Camp Griffiss was established. General Eisenhower made Bushy Park the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHEAF) which was the centre for planning Operation Overlord.

In 2003 the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to support detailed proposals for repair and restoration work in the park. This has resulted in work in the Woodland Gardens, the restoration of the Brewhouse, additional educational facilities in the Stockyard buildings, improved interpretation and signage, infrastructure repairs and the crowning glory of the Water Gardens.

Ray took several questions including assurances that skylarks in the Hampton Wick corner of the park will be protected; the opening up of the old Clapperstile gate for easier access to the sports facilities; proposed car parking charges and the opening of the new Welcome Centre this summer.

Many thanks to Ray who is now in his 11th year as Park Manager.

Jane Cliff, March 2009

Why we need more Friends

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.

Join us today!

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 21st Sep 6:22 pm

Nature trail in the Woodland Gardens

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...

Information Point

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.