The Scale of It.
Over 1000 acres. If, like me, you don’t do well with imagining actual size from given measurements just take it from me; it’s massive. Bushy is the second largest of the eight Royal Parks and if you want to explore at a relaxed pace, you won’t conquer it in a day.
The History of It
There’s always going to be a bit of history sprinkled into my posts, because I just love it.
You could just go to Bushy Park- to any of the Royal Parks, really- and have a wander. Even if you knew nothing of the past, they are beautiful places to get outdoors and just be. I do think you see things in a different light when have a little bit of background knowledge.
Bushy’s story begins in 1529 when it was given to King Henry VIII along with Hampton Court Palace. Those are the sort of friends to have, right? The park today is full of historical hints, including evidence of medieval farming, the remains of a Tudor deer park and traces of a military camp that played a vital role in WW2 and beyond.
A River Runs Through It…
But it isn’t really a river at all.
The Longford River is completely man made and was created on the orders of Charles I in 1637. Dug by hand in just nine months, the twelve mile stretch of water way was designed to create a water supply for the royal lodgings at Hampton Court Palace.
Having been redirected in the 1600s to create additional pools and water features, the Longford River has been key in shaping the park as we see it today. After so long, it looks completely organic. But we know differently, don’t we? Another quirky London gem.
Dogs Are Welcome…But Not Everywhere.
Dogs are welcome at the park and it’s a beautiful place to walk with them. They are not permitted in The Waterhouse Woodland Gardens.
Confession: We completely missed the signage going in, and only noticed as we exited into the wilder stretch of parkland. Oops. I’m surprised no one said anything. Either the locals are a very tolerant bunch, or we just reeked of being clueless out-of-towners who’d rolled in with this massive dog and no idea.
The Waterhouse Woodland Gardens are beautiful, especially in Spring. Blossoms and blooms, everywhere. Dogs are welcome outside of this area of the park but do keep in mind…
There Are Free Roaming Deer
Bushy Park is a deer park. For hundreds of years, Red and Fallow deer have roamed here. Back in the day, they were kept to be hunted by Royals and their guests. Now, they are much loved residents and The Royal Parks take their welfare very seriously.
Humans and dogs alike should stay 50m clear of the deer. However cute they look and whatever ideas Bambi gave us, deer are wild animals. Not for feeding, petting or selfies. You might think it obvious, but having spent time deer spotting in a few parks, it seems to not be obvious to all.
However lovely our four legged friends are to us, they are a potential threat to deer. Autumn is the rutting season and late Spring-into-Summer the season for birthing. Dog owners need to take extra care about where they walk and keeping dogs with less than perfect obedience and recall under control. From 1 May until 31 July 2022 it will be compulsory to have your dog on a lead in all areas of the park .
It’s Home to the Oldest Statue of all the Royal Parks
In the form of the Diana fountain, and she is a beauty. Everything a fountain in a historic park should be.
The bronze goddess mounted upon a stone and marble fountain was created in 1637 as a gift from King Charles I for his wife, Henrietta Maria. As if a goddess wasn’t quite extra enough, the French sculptor Hubert Le Sueur also added some boys, water nymphs and shells.
Originally part of the Hampton Court gardens, the fountain was moved to Bushy Park to stand as the centre piece of the Chestnut Avenue, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. If you can wander along the mile-long Avenue, look down to the Diana Fountain and not have thoughts of being dressed up like you’re in a Regency-era period drama and being whisked off to a party at Hampton Court… well, your less fanciful than me.
Fanciful or not, Diana is a beauty and she’s the star of the show at Bushy Park. Not to be missed. Unfortunately, there’s a bird perched on her head in my only photo. It perched there stubbornly the whole time.
I suppose I can have all the period drama inspired day dreams I want, but real life can always catch me out, hey?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Garden Art @ Herrenhausen
We went off exploring Bushy Park as part of a little challenge we’ve set ourselves ( By We, I mean me but Mr THL always has my back on these things. Happy wife, happy life) to visit all eight of the Royal parks, plus a few other sites they care for. If you’ve a favourite, or know of a hidden gem in any of them, drop me a link in the comments below.