There are two herds of deer in Bushy Park, Red Deer and Fallow Deer. The herds have been in the park for centuries. The park is their living space. Your visit takes you into their habitat.
They are wild animals and unpredictable. Be aware that they can be aggressive when disturbed or frightened. Visitors who have got too close have been injured.
Visitors should stay at least 50 metres away from any deer and do not encourage them to approach you.
You must not try to feed the deer. Human food is injurious to the health of deer.
Keep your dog on a lead near deer, as the dog can upset the deer and be attacked.
In the rutting season during the autumn, and again in early summer when their young are born, the deer are especially sensitive and aggressive. It is dangerous to get close to them at any time of year, but especially so at these times.
The Diana Fountain is one of the primary architectural features of Bushy Park. It was originally commissioned by Charles I and located at Somerset House in London. It was moved to Hampton Court Palace in 1656. It was then moved to Bushy Park in 1712 as part of the plans drawn up by Sir Christopher Wren to remodel Hampton Court Palace for the monarchs William and Mary, completing his design for the Great Avenue, now known as Chestnut Avenue.
Visitors should not confuse it with the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fountain in Kensington Gardens.
Please see this map for details: Map of Bushy Park
The Woodland Gardens are found on the western side of Bushy Park. They provide tranquil woodland walks alongside streams, with many flowering trees and shrubs in Spring.
The gardens began to be cultivated in 1925 around the Waterhouse, from two early nineteenth-century plantations. In 1948 improvements were made by the then Park Superintendent, Joseph Fisher. He created the paths, layouts and ponds that are the basis of today’s gardens. Places in the gardens include Fisher’s pond, Triss’s pond, King’s River garden, Willow Plantation, Silver Birch Glade, the bog garden, and Hornbeam Avenue.
The Pheasantry café is located at one end of the gardens, in the centre of the park. Next to the café is the Visitor Centre, which opened in 2019.
The ponds in Bushy Park, like the gates and the deer and the trees are features which help define the character of this great Royal Park. They are described below by Dr Margaret Stedman, extracted from notes on a Friends’ walk.
Diana (or Arethusa) statue commissioned by Charles I, and located first at Somerset House; then moved to Hampton Court Palace in 1656; and finally to Bushy Park in 1712, on a new pedestal in the basin pond thus completing Christopher Wren’s design for The Great Avenue, now known as Chestnut Avenue. Shrouded in camouflage netting during WW2. Restored in the last phase of the Lottery Heritage-funded Restoration Project, completed on 2009 and awarded grade 1 status.
Created by Joseph Fisher, park superintendent late 1940s to late 60s; named after daughter Triss.
Created by Joseph Fisher just before his retirement; known as Fisher’s Pond
Initially dug in 1536 fed by nearby springs; in 1630s Charles I ordered construction of the Longford River fed from the Colne to augment the supply in the Waterhouse pond – effectively a reservoir to feed fountains in Hampton Court Palace.
River Lodge Pond:
Water Gardens and Canal Plantation (Dug early 90s)
Created by Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, to complement his house, now called Upper Lodge. It consisted of an upper pond fed from the Longford; in turn feeding a second pond over a cascade, whose outlet then fed back to the Longford. A third pond is in front of Upper Lodge. A fourth pond (now a marshy area), and a fifth, the Canal Plantation. All five are on an axis.
Hampton Hill Pond:
Believed to have been created by a World War II bomb crater.
Barton’s Cottage was and is a Grace and Favour residence. It was originally surrounded by farm buildings (hence the origin of the pond), which were demolished in 1851.
Heron Pond and Leg of Mutton Pond:
Dug in the Commonwealth Period when Oliver Cromwell was occupying Hampton Court Palace, to provide for the new pastime of fishing. Initially fed by springs, and later augmented by take-off from the Longford River. Bushy Park was sold into private ownership in 1654 but was bought back 2 years later, on the instigation of Oliver Cromwell.
Created after WW1 to provide employment. Small rowing boats and pedalos were for hire before and after WW2. Stopped in 1970s because ‘uneconomic’.
The Water Gardens were originally created by Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, in the 17th Century as pleasure gardens for his residence, Upper Lodge. They had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s, following the use of Upper Lodge as part of the Admiralty Research Laboratory. Following research during the 1990s by the Friends, and then substantial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, they were carefully restored to resemble their early 18th century glory. The major restoration of the Water Gardens was completed in 2009. The Friends of Bushy and Home Parks have, thanks to some generous donations, added further features – metal finials, metal reeds and 2 trompe l’oeil panels inside the arches either side of the cascade and the replica hoods over the Stoup basins. The last of these was added in 2017.
The Water Gardens are open every day except Mondays, 9am to dusk. They will be open on Bank Holiday Mondays but will then close on the Tuesday.
There is disabled access but there is no special car park for the Water Gardens.
There are two entrances. One on the north side from the main Hampton Hill gates. Walk straight ahead and turn right before the mews. The pedestrian gate is on the left just before you get to the Longford River. It is a 5 minute’s walk from Hampton Hill High Street. The south gate is reached via Upper Lodge Road. Take the footpath on the left just before you reach Upper Lodge. The entrance gate is at the end of the path. This gate is a 20 minutes’ walk from the Pheasantry Visitor Centre.
Please see this map for details: Map of Bushy Park.
Water Gardens Regulations:
The following regulations are to ensure the health and safety of visitors, and to preserve the peace and tranquillity of the restored gardens:
The Longford River is an artificial canal, which the monarch King Charles I, had constructed to bring water to Hampton Court palace gardens. It was excavated for twelve miles from the River Colne to the palace. Longford river enters Bushy Park at the Pantile Bridge in Hampton Hill, by-passing by the Water Gardens and continuing through the park into The Woodland Gardens, feeding streams and pond on the way to Hampton Court.
Longford River is maintained by The Royal Parks and is the responsibility of the Bushy Park Manager.
Bushy Park is noted for its acid grassland. What you may think are fields of molehills are ancient anthills. The acid grassland is an important habitat for conservation as it is quite rare in this part of the country and it supports biodiversity.
In the park you will find wild flowers such as sheep’s sorrel, harebell, heath bedstraw, tormentil, and in the wetland area, the rare mudwort (a set of names that one thinks could have been used by Shakespeare as characters in one his comedies).
The park also has a wide variety of fungi many of which are found attached to, or surrounding, trees.
Trees are especially prominent in the several planted avenues: Horse Chestnuts, Limes and Hornbeams. There are many oak varieties, and some of the veteran oaks are thought to date from the original planting in the time of Henry VIII. Hawthorns are also abundant and these, together with Limes, provide a habitat for mistletoe, which is at its best seen in the winter when the bunches are dramatically outlined against the sky.
Britain’s largest mammal species, the Red deer, forms one of two herds in the park. The other herd is of Fallow deer, a smaller species introduced to Britain by the Romans. There are around 320 deer in total in the park. The deer grazing keep the park grasslands cropped and this is what enables plant diversity and does not damage the anthills.
Other mammals in the park include common shrew, field vole, bank vole, hedgehog, woodmouse, rabbit and 9 species of bats.
The park has SSSI status for its insects and invertebrates, of which many are threatened or rare species. In summer you see many butterflies including Small Heath, Skipper, Beautiful Small Copper and the rare Double Line moth. The park also has over 150 species of solitary bees and wasps and beetles such as Stag, Rusty Click and Cardinal Click.
Reptiles include grass snake, common toad, common frog and smooth newt.
Fish in the ponds and watercourses include perch, rudd, roach, carp, chub and bream.
Birds include hobby, kestrel, sparrowhawk, three types of woodpecker, kingfisher, little owl, tawny owl, ring-necked parakeet, heron and many water birds including the exotic-looking mandarin duck and Egyptian geese.
Summer ground-nesting birds which come to the park are skylark, reed bunting, meadow pipit and stonechat.
These ground-nesting birds are vulnerable to disturbance by dogs and during the summer nesting season parts of the park are designated for dogs to be kept on leads. The birds are under threat from loss of farm habitat so dog-owners are requested to be certain they do not add further problems to these birds’ survival.