Although established by Charles I in 1637 and fully open to the public since 1872, Richmond Park – the largest of the Royal Parks – has not, until now, had its own guidebook. With the Park attracting nearly 3 million visitors per year, the Friends of Richmond Park (FRP) decided that this gap in the market should be filled and the result is The Guide to Richmond Park, a compact yet informative and broad-based 140-page handbook to be published on 28th March.
As Sir David Attenborough says in his foreword to the Guide: “Richmond Park is a very special place… (its) wildlife is exceptional particularly for somewhere so close to a major urban centre”.
The Guide to Richmond Park features chapters not only on the famous wildlife but the history, ecology, trees, gardens, buildings, how it is managed, and even how visitors can help preserve and conserve the fragile environment. The Park is London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest, a National Nature Reserve and a European Special Area of Conservation. Its exceptional wildlife and biodiversity includes:
- About 300 red and 330 fallow deer
- 130,000 trees, of which 1,400 are veterans, including some oaks over 750 years old
- The largest area of protected acid grassland in London
- 11 species of bat (there are 16 in the whole of the UK)
- 1,350 species of beetle and 730 species of butterfly and moth
- Nearly 60 species of nesting birds – double that number visit the Park
The history of the Park has Royal connections which pre-date Charles I by 400 years. It has strong associations with Henry VIII, six other kings and three prime ministers. In more recent times it was used as an Olympic village for the London Olympics of 1948 and for organising the first London Marathon.
The Guide captures much of the history and wildlife with nearly 300 colour photographs and a handy fold-out card map enables visitors to explore the Park, appreciate its features and 2 hidden treasures and also find the loos and cafės! The suggested retail price is £9.99, and, as well as being sold in the Park and through local bookshops and other outlets, it may be purchased online via the FRP website, www.frp.org.uk.
The Friends of Richmond Park, which has over 1,700 members, is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is a charity whose objective is to conserve the Park, its natural beauty and wildlife, and to advance public education about the Park. It was founded in 1961 after a conversation between two local women in a greengrocer’s shop in Richmond about the need to combat the steady urbanisation of the Park, particularly the encroachment of through traffic. Sir John Betjeman and Sir Julian Huxley were early supporters. The FRP is marking this milestone with a number of activities and initiatives of which the Guide is the first.
The Friends of Richmond Park has a wide range of activities, including :
- Funding conservation projects and working with Park management on conservation initiatives
- Providing volunteers to staff the Visitor Centre, for conservation work, and for work documenting the history of the Park
- Organising educational activities for schools and young people
- Organising guided walks, courses and talks to local societies
- Publishing a regular newsletter, a monthly email, a Park guidebook and self-guided family walks
- Lobbying park management and central and local government on conservation issues
- Resisting planning developments that threaten the Park and its wildlife
- Working with Park management and the police to improve observance of Park regulations concerning wildlife
The Guide to Richmond Park
- ISBN 978-0-9567469-0-0
- Suggested retail price: £9.99
- Buy online: www.frp.org.uk
- © The Friends of Richmond Park, 2011
- Edited by John Karter
- Design and production by Alison Graham