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Richmond Park

Richmond Park, at almost 1000 hectares (2500 acres), is the largest Royal Park in London and home to around 650 free roaming deer. The pastoral landscape of hills, woodlands, ponds, gardens and grasslands set amongst ancient trees offers a peaceful sanctuary to visitors. You'll have to travel out of town to reach it, but that's no hardship. This southwest corner of London has many attractions and you can reach it by riverbus, which is a very civilised way to travel when the weather's fine.

The Park has changed little over the centuries and although it's surrounded by human habitation, the varied landscape of hills, woodland gardens and grasslands set amongst ancient trees is bristling with wildlife. Richmond Park: has had fallow deer since the reign of Henry VIIIth.
Richmond Park has been designated as a site of special scientific interest and a National Nature Reserve. The royal connections to this park probably go back further than others, beginning with Edward (1272-1307), when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII's reign. In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned it into a park for red and fallow deer. His decision, in 1637, to enclose the land was not popular with the local residents, but he did allow pedestrians the right of way. To this day the walls remain, although they have been partially rebuilt and reinforced.
 

Greenwich Park

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Greenwich Park is the oldest Royal Park, covering 74 hectares (183 acres) and is home to a small herd of Fallow and Red deer. Situated on top of a hill, visitors enjoy sweeping views across the River Thames to St Paul's Cathedral and beyond.

There has been a settlement on this site since Roman times, but Greenwich will always be strongly associated with royalty. Since the land was inherited in 1427 by the Duke of Gloucester, brother of Henry V, generations of monarchs have taken the park to their hearts. Greenwich Hill with Flamsteed House, part of the Royal Observatory on the prow.Greenwich was the birthplace of Henry VIII who introduced deer to the park. His two daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I were also born here and his son Edward VI died in Greenwich before reaching his sixteenth birthday. In the early 1600's, Greenwich Park was planted with many trees in the French style, some of which remain today. James I gave the palace and the park to his wife Queen Anne, who commissioned Inigo Jones to design her a special home which became known as the Queen's House.

 

Kensington Gardens

Cattle trough for horses and animals being driven through the parklands.Kensington Gardens covers 111 hectares (275 acres) and is planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds. It is a perfect setting for Kensington Palace, extensive Italian Gardens, the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine Gallery.

William III bought what was originally part of Hyde Park in 1689. An asthma sufferer, the king found the location quiet and the atmosphere refreshing, so he commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to design Kensington Palace. Queen Anne enlarged the Palace Gardens by 'transferring' 30 acres from Hyde Park and was responsible for the creation of the Orangery in 1704. Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and lived there until she became queen in 1837.

 

Regent's Park

The Royal Parks offer tremendous space, in the centre of the busy West End.Regent's Park covers 166 hectares (410 acres) and includes stunning rose gardens with more than 30,000 roses of 400 varieties. Making it the largest of the central parks in London.
Regent's Park is the largest grass area for sports in Central London and offers a wide variety of activities, as well as an Open Air Theatre & London Zoo and many cafes and restaurants.

Henry VIII appropriated Regent's Park for use as a hunting ground, which he considered to be an invigorating ride from Whitehall Palace. At that time, the only boundaries were a ditch and a rampart. Marylebone Park, as it was known, remained a royal chase until 1646. It was John Nash, architect to the crown and friend of the Prince Regent who developed Regent's Park as we know it today.
 

Green Park

Green Park entrance on Piccadilly. Green Park Covers 19 hectares (47 acres) and is quite different from its nearby neighbour, St James's Park. It's more peaceful, with mature trees and grassland and bordered by Constitution Hill, Piccadilly and Queen's Walk.

The park's primary role is as a peaceful refuge for people living, working or visiting Central London, and is particularly popular for sunbathing and picnics in fine weather. This picnic may well be a sandwich, drink and bag of crisps from Pret, rather than a wicker-basket affair, but the principle is the same. It is also popular as a healthy walking route to work for commuters. The paths are used extensively by joggers and runners.
 
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