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Though less than 15 miles from the centre of London, Richmond Park is truly a green and tranquil oasis. As you enter the gates you come into a unique and beautiful landscape full of wildlife and yet surrounded by an urban environment.
Richmond Park has changed little over the centuries and the 1,000 hectares of hills, woodland gardens and grasslands set among ancient oaks has never been encroached upon by expanding London. The Park abounds in wildlife and has therefore been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to protect the rare invertebrates, ancient oak trees and acid grassland. These unique features have also resulted in the Park being designated a National Nature Reserve and a European Special Area of Conservation.
Charles I's passion for hunting gave rise to a 'great desire to make a great park for red as well as fallow deer.' Farmland and common land were purchased and by 1637 this was enclosed within a 13-kilometre brick wall thereby creating Richmond Park, the largest Royal Park in London. Today, about 700 red and fallow deer, the descendants of the original herd introduced by Charles I, wander freely throughout the Park.
The Park is a top UK site for ancient trees, particularly oaks, which have great historic and wildlife importance. The trees and associated decaying wood habitats support nationally endangered species of fungi, as well as a remarkable range of nationally scarce invertebrates that inhabit decaying wood such as the stag beetle. More than one thousand species of beetles (more than one quarter of the British list) have been recorded from the Park.
Centuries of grazing by herds of red and fallow deer have created a very special habitat - the largest and most important area of lowland acid grassland in the Greater London region. Lowland acid grassland forms on nutrient-poor soils on which communities develop with their own unique characteristic grasses and wild flowers, fungi, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals.