The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 53 Richmond and Kew

Richmond Park

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At the top of Richmond Hill, on the right, on the site of the famous Star and Garter Hotel, is the Star and Garter Home for totally disabled soldiers and sailors. The site was purchased and presented by the members of the Auctioneers' Institute, and the new building, designed gratuitously by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was erected and equipped at the cost of the women of England. It has room for 120 disabled men. The Star and Garter Hotel, originally a small inn built in 1738, rose into fame under the management of Joseph Ellis and became a fashionable resort of London society, who used to drive out from town for luncheon or dinner. The introduction of motors, however, was fatal to its prosperity, and it stood empty for some years before it was pulled down in 1915. Opposite the Star and Garter lies the Richmond Gate entrance to Richmond Park. First enclosed by Charles I. in 1637 as a hunting-ground, the park is now 2350 acres in area and just under 8 miles in circumference. There are other carriage-entrances at East Sheen, Roehampton, Robin Hood, Kingston, and Ham, besides wicket gates at East Sheen Common, Bishop's Lodge Gate, Ladderstile Gate, or Kingston Hill Gate (Coombe), and at Petersham School. The park, an undulating plain with low hills, is well wooded, with enclosed thickets (no admission) and venerable groves and avenues of oaks, chestnuts, and birches. The dense clumps of rhododendrons present a charming sight in early summer. The park is stocked with about 1600 fallow deer and 50 red deer; the latter should not be approached in October. From Richmond Gate the road to the left leads straight to (1+ miles) Roehampton Gate, a. little south of which is the entrance to the Public Golf Course (1/6 per round, 2/6 per day). Most of the side-paths on the left lead to (1+ miles) Sheen Gate, near which, to the east, lies Sheen Lodge, lent by Queen Victoria in 1852 to Sir Richard Owen, the comparative anatomist. The first path to the right of the Roehampton road skirts Sidmouth Wood (heronry), which commands a beautiful view extending to the towers of Westminster and the Crystal Palace. The path then passes between the Pen Ponds, two beautiful sheets of water constructed under George II. and well stocked with fish and waterfowl. Close by are the enclosures for the deer. We may go on to Robin Hood Gate, 2+ miles from Richmond Gate, and thence cross Wimbledon Common to Wimbledon. The second track to the right of the Roehampton road is the Queen's Ride, 1 miles in length, leading to White Lodge, long a royal residence, built by George II. Edward, Prince of Wales, was born here in 1894. The road to the right from Richmond Gate leads to Ham Gate and Kingston Gate, 1+ and 2+ miles respectively. On the right (+ miles) lies Pembroke Lodge, occupied by the Countess of Pembroke (died 1832) and by Lord John Russell (died 1878). Just inside the gates is a memorial to the poet Thomson. Farther on is a mound whence Henry VIII. is said to have watched for the rocket on Tower Hill announcing the execution of Anne Boleyn. Beyond Ham Gate, to the left of the road, is the picturesque Thatched House Lodge. From Richmond to Kingston. (a) Walk through the park (3+ miles), - (b) On foot or by omnibus (No. 65) via Petersham, - (c) Southern Railway in 20 minutes (trains every 10 minutes).