Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks in London and covers an area of 2,360 acres. The distance round the park by road is a total of 6.7 miles – which probably feels a lot longer when you’re cycling uphill!
With its open grasslands, pathways and woodland, the park is an ideal place for a wide range of activities – from picnics with the family and leisurely walks to sports activities such as cycling, golf, horse riding, kite flying, running, football and rugby.
The Natural Environment
Richmond Park features a number of woods, copses and plantations.
- The Isabella Plantation (renown for its stunning displays of azaleas and rhododendrons in the Spring);
- Two Storms Wood, with its beautiful old oak trees;
- Sheen Cross Woo;
- Queen Elizabeth’s Plantation; and many others.
Trees and grasslands:
The Park is a major UK site for ancient trees – and in particular oak trees. Many of these would not seem out of place in a scene with Hobbits from The Shire in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
The trees not only have great historical importance but are also essential for the ecology of the environment.
Dead wood from ancient trees helps support endangered species of fungi as well as a wide range of nationally scarce invertebrates such as the cardinal click beetle and the stag beetle.
Centuries of grazing by herds of red and fallow deer have helped to create an amazing environment that contains the most important area of Lowland Acid Grassland in Greater London – a priority habitat in the Government’s UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Richmond Park is home to an extensive range of mammals such as foxes, rabbits, shrews, mice and voles. It is an excellent habitat for bats as well as many species of birds, butterflies and bees.
There are also a number of ponds that are frequented by wildlife: Pen Ponds being the largest and most popular where swans and flocks of Canadian Geese can be seen.
The Park also contains some historic buildings such as White Lodge (home of the Royal Ballet School) and Pembroke Lodge, which also houses a cafeteria for the public.
White Lodge has been the home of The Royal Ballet Lower School since 1955.
Originally commissioned as a hunting lodge by George I, the building is a fine example of the neo-Classical English Palladian style of architecture. The White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre is the first dedicated ballet museum in the UK and is open to the public, although all visits must be booked in advance.
For further information see:
Pembroke Lodge is a magnificent Georgian mansion that has historically been home to the Countess of Pembroke, the Prime Minister Lord John Russell, the birthplace of philosopher Bertrand Russell, the Dowager Duchess of Dudley and the HQ of an intelligence unit during World War II.
During the 1970s the Lodge was opened up to the public as a government-run tea room. It is currently privately owned and is a popular venue for weddings and conferences because of its picturesque location.
The cafeteria offers a wide range of refreshments that can be enjoyed sitting in one of the Lodge’s spacious rooms or outside on the patio overlooking a spectacular vista of the Surrey countryside.
For further information about Pembroke Lodge or to enquire about hiring the venue for a wedding or conference see their website:
Set within Pembroke Lodge grounds is Henry VIII’s Mound, which is the highest point within Richmond Park. Visitors to the Mound can enjoy looking through a telescope to experience a stunning view of St Paul’s Cathedral, in the City of London. This can be seen through a small gap in the trees surrounding the mound and visitors can use the telescope installed there to get a close up view of the cathedral.
Holly Lodge is a building located between Sheen Gate and Richmond Gate and is home to numerous agencies related to the running of the park. These include the Royal Parks administration team, the buildings and works maintenance staff, stables for the Shire horses that work in the park plus the Metropolitan Police Operation Command Unit.
Within this complex, The Holly Lodge Centre is the only part actually open to the public and offers a range of educational activities related to the natural and historical resources in the Park. The Centre is a popular source of educational activities for local schools. It provides excellent facilities for special needs children, who comprise about 60% of the Centre’s visiting groups.
For further information on Holly Lodge see:
For further information on Richmond Park, see our articles on:
Or look at the websites for:
The Royal Parks: www.royalparks.org.uk
Friends of Richmond Park: www.frp.org.uk
1. Friends of Richmond Park have published their comprehensive “Guide to Richmond Park” as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.
2. For a guide to walks in Richmond Park see: David McDowall’s book “Richmond Park: The Walker’s Guide” (Paperback).
Map of Richmond Park
To download a map of Richmond Park go to: