Inventory Site Record

Old Deer Park *

Old Deer Park * (Richmond)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The Old Deer Park is a fragment of the land connected to Richmond Palace, named from the hunting park created by James I in 1604. It was an integral part of the royal estate until the mid C19th when a ha-ha was built between the ornamental gardens at Kew and the parkland to the south. A monastery established in 1414 was later the site of George III's Royal Observatory, built in time to observe the Transit of Venus in 1769 and on the original Meridian Line used before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian in 1884, still marked by a number of obelisks. Capability Brown, royal gardener from 1764, created an Arcadian landscape uniting Kew Gardens, Syon Park and the Old Deer Park. Since the C19th the Crown Estate has leased parts of the park for various sports activities and today part is public recreation ground and part leased to private clubs and other organisations.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Richmond Recreation Ground, Old Deer Park Recreation Ground
Site location:
Kew Road/Twickenham Road, Kew
Postcode:
TW9 1PQ
Type of site:
Public Park
Borough:
Richmond
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
Public recreation ground is unrestricted. Rest of site is private
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Pool on the Parks Complex, children's play areas; football, cricket, rugby and tennis facilities, car park
Events:
Numerous events including Richmond Horse Show, circuses and fairs
Public transport:
Rail/London Overground/Tube (District): Richmond. Bus: 65, R70, 190

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.richmond.gov.uk/parks_and_open_spaces

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

The Old Deer Park is a fragment of the land connected to Richmond Palace built by Henry VII, named from the hunting park created by James I in 1604. It was once an integral part of the royal estate until the mid C19th when a Ha-Ha was built between the ornamental gardens at Kew and the parkland to the south. A Carthusian monastery, the Charterhouse of Jesus of Bethlehem of Sheen, was established in 1414 by Henry V on land from the former Royal Warren, on a site which was at the centre of the present Old Deer Park. Later, George III acquired the monastery site and commissioned Sir William Chambers (1723-96) to built the Royal Observatory in time to observe the Transit of Venus in 1769; the Observatory was on the original Meridian Line used to set the King's time at the Houses of Parliament before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian in 1884. A number of obelisks still exist in the park marking the old meridian line, which were used for adjusting instruments. Capability Brown was appointed by George III as royal gardener in 1764 and was responsible for creating an Arcadian landscape uniting Kew Gardens, Syon Park and the Old Deer Park.

Since the C19th the Crown Estate has leased parts of the park for various sports activities. In 1865 Richmond Cricket Club leased c.4 hectares adjacent to the old royal laundry and in 1866 the club let out the ground for winter football; various sports including hockey, croquet, archery and athletics took place here in the following years and in 1885 Richmond Town Cricket Club and Athletics Association leased the first 3.64 hectares of the current Athletics Ground, bring other sports such as tennis, cycling, bowls, quoits and athletics. The Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club leased land around the Observatory in 1892 and two 18-hole golf courses were laid out. An annual Royal Horse Show took place on the Athletics Ground in 1892 and is still held each year in June on the lower flood plain level of the public Recreation Ground. Richmond Borough Council leased over 35 hectares in 1898 in the southern part for football, hockey, cricket, a drill hall for the new Territorial Army and a tea room; originally called Old Deer Park Recreation Ground, it is now known as Richmond Recreation Ground. A Motor Show took place here in 1899. From WWI until 1932 c.7.5 hectares were used for allotments to provide food for people of Richmond and Kew. London Scottish Rugby Club moved to the Athletics Ground in 1892. The eastern part is leased to the Athletics Association.

The site now consists of a public park, Richmond Recreation Ground, as well as a number of private sports grounds including the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club, Richmond Athletic Ground, London Welsh Rugby Football Club, and Richmond Cricket Club. Richmond Swimming Baths were built in 1966 and are leased by Whitewater Leisure plc.

Crown Estate's Landscape Strategy for Old Deer Park was commissioned in November 1997 from Kim Wilkie Associates to provide a holistic framework for co-ordinated management of the park. As part of this project work is being undertaken to re-open vistas within the park such as the original Meridian line on which the King's Observatory is located which now has public information boards (Thames Path).

Sources consulted:

John Archer, David Curson, 'Nature Conservation in Richmond upon Thames, Ecology Handbook 21', (London Ecology Unit) 1993 p63; Thames Landscape Strategy

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ171752 (Obelisk) (517552,175660)
Size in hectares:
147 (29.18 Rec. Grd)
Site ownership:
Crown Estate, leased to LB Richmond
Site management:
LB Richmond, Environment Planning & Review, Parks and Open Spaces (public recreation ground) and various tenants. (Friends of the Old Deer Park)
Date(s):
C15th onwards
Designer(s):
Various, including Capability Brown (C18th)
Listed structures:
LBI: King's Observatory. LBII: three obelisks/meridian marks, Richmond Swimming Baths
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Yes
NHLE grade:
Grade I
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Old Deer Park
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Boro Importance I (with Kew Gdns)
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
Yes
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Policy Area
Other LA designation:
None

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