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.

Things Helen Loves, Bushy Park information board and view across lake to pink blooms.

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.

Things Helen Loves, Bushy Park. Image of river in London park. Reeds and waterway in the foreground, green tress in sunshine to the background

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.

Things Helen Loves, Bushy Park London. Woodland gardens, shrubs with red blooms and a pathway to trees and flowers in the background

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.

Things Helen Loves, Diana Fountain in Bushy Park, London. Water in foreground, line of green trees in background

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.

Helen x

28 thoughts

  1. I’ve not spent long enough exploring bushy TBH as Hampton Court normally distracts me! If I can offer one recommendation its to try the linear (as opposed to circular) walk that follows the Capital Ring walk (v well signed) from Wimbledon Park tube station, through Wimbledon Park, near to the All England Club and then across Wimbledon Common, straight into Richmond park and across that fab park to Petersham meadows and into Richmond and the tube at Richmond. If you are interested here’s the link from the TFL website

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      We’ve been eyeing up this Capital Ring Walk for some Summer walking, Lord knows where we’ll end up. It’s all exploring, I suppose. It’s taken us to get to Bushy, despite having spent a few weekends in Richmond. I’d love a posting in or around London, could just take myself off all over .

      1. I’ve done the ring several times now and it never fails esp if you like history… hope you get to do some. Surely the MoD must have a desk?

  2. I’d never heard of this park, Helen, but I love that area of rhododendrons and azaleas. They’re some of my favourites.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      They are beautiful, aren’t they? I’d not heard of Bushy Park either until I found it on the Royal Parks website. Definitely worth a visit!

  3. I’ve not been to Bushy Park but it looks lovely and being there to see the azaleas in bloom must have been special.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It was so lovely in the Woodland gardens with everything in bloom, really made me feel like Summer is on the horizon. I am in awe of what it must take the grounds keeping team to create something so wonderful!

  4. Diana is very elegant, her clumsy base less so. It took me a while to notice the bird, I thought at first it was elaborate head-gear. Doh! I think I must be due an eye-test…

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think she must warm up in the sun and be an attractive perch! Not very dignified for her, but I suppose it makes her both use and ornament. Yes, I did think she could have stood on a simpler base but I suppose it wasn’t they style of the time.

  5. Thank you for sharing this place with us. It looks beautiful and the history is so interesting. It is such a long drive from Cumbria to visit it myself so I am happy that you gave me a virtual visit ☺️.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      My pleasure, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Bushy is one of the lesser known London parks so I was happy to share.

  6. I had no idea it was quite so big – thank you for the beautiful spring time tour! 🙂

  7. Shame on me, I have never heard of Bushy Park, and it looks wonderful. I always thought Regency style dresses were the most gorgeous. Loved your post.

  8. Lovely piece Helen which I really enjoyed, especially as Bushy Park has (for reasons unknown) managed to evade me all these years. Appreciated the history too and had a giggle about Henry VIII as so many London parks’ early days are informed by ‘Orrible ‘Enry and his thirst for hunting on large swathes of land.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Leighton, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’d never heard of Bushy, I only found it because I had a thought to visit all the Royal Parks and went online to make a list. It’s a good one though, my favourite so far.

  9. I too have never heard of Bushy Park. It’s almost as if it has been secret all this time. Anywhere with free roaming deer and rohdedendrans is a hit with me. 🙂

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s totally underrated! I don’t think it helps that Richmond park is just along the road. Bushy is a beauty though, definitely recommend!

  10. Beautiful photographs! I love the historical context and look forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. Looks absolutely stunning! I also love the little bit of history you added – it gives such meaningful context to a place! Am adding this to my list for my next trip out to England/London!

  12. lrbarrera says:

    What a beautiful park (and a beautiful write-up)! Especially love the deer.

  13. How beautiful! I’d never heard of Bushy Park before, so thank you for all these wonderful facts!

  14. I can’t believe I’ve never been to Bushy Park, or even really thought of visiting. You have amply demonstrated that I’ve been missing out, and need to put this right when I’m near enough to do so.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It seems a bit of an under the radar park! Lovely place though, I hope you get to make a visit 😊

  15. I love this park! My dentist is in Teddington which is over an hour’s drive from where I live (long story). My drive takes me over the Thames, past Hampton Court, and through Bushy Park. At least, it used to, you’re unable to drive straight through now. Although I used to live near Richmond Park, I think I prefer Bushy Park. My journey almost makes going to the dentist a pleasure!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      We all need something lovely to balance out a trip to the dentist- either of these parks would do it!

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