I’ve lived near Richmond Park for a long time now and I feel that I know most, of at least the south part of the park, pretty well. However I guess I’ve been making assumptions about certain parts of it, as what I particularly love about the park is the wild bits, the bits where you have to squelch around in mud, narrowly avoid twisting your ankle, be wary of the stags and get deliciously lost, so the bits where I can’t do that, meh, boring. Now, the area around Pembroke Lodge, a Georgian mansion set within the park, with an interesting history, to quote Wikipedia
In 1847, Queen Victoria granted the Lodge to Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, who conducted much government business there and entertained Queen Victoria, foreign royalty, aristocrats, writers (Dickens,Thackeray, Longfellow, Tennyson) and other notables of the time, including Garibaldi. Lord John was much taken with the Lodge – “an asset that could hardly be equalled, certainly not surpassed in England.”
Lord John Russell’s grandson, Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and mathematician, grew up there between 1876 and 1894. At Pembroke Lodge, he wrote, “I grew accustomed to wide horizons and to an unimpeded view of the sunset.”
To me, the area around Pembroke Lodge, despite its history, fell in the meh camp, due to the lack of mud, dangerous animals and over formality. So I always tended to associate Pembroke Lodge as a place to go and get food if it rained and then not even that, after they installed an outdoor food stall just outside its gates (the food stall is a bit cheaper and I’d prefer to get wet if it meant saving money). So I don’t think, despite living here for ages, I’ve ever explored the grounds of Pembroke Lodge properly and well, prejudices do normally mean you end up missing out. So I rectified that today and was rewarded by some gorgeous flowers.
Some fantastic views
And a bit of history in King Henry’s Mound, a prehistoric burial mound that was later used as a vantage point by King Henry VIII (and presumably others) whilst hunting.
The picture above shows the view away from the centre of London, although not from the point where I stood to take this photo, you can just about see Windsor Castle (or guess at it anyway). Turning in the other direction, you get this –
You’re meant to be able to see St. Paul’s Cathedral (which is 10 miles away) through the hole, I think that very much depends on the weather though, as I couldn’t. London has some interesting planning laws concerning St. Paul’s Cathedral and King Henry’s Mound (and other locations such as Alexandra Palace, Primrose Hill and Westminster Pier), from as early as 1710, nothing could block the view of the cathedral from the Mound. I wanted to see if I could get a better view, so I made my way out of the gardens
Found the vista barred by a very pretty gate
Walked around it (those rain clouds were going to get me absolutely soaked later).
And found St. Paul’s (it’s the little tiny dome, slightly to the left in this picture, surrounded by a phalanx of cranes)!