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  1. Introduction
  2. |
  3. Photos
  4. |
  5. History
  6. |
  7. Join In
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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

We are always pleased to receive feedback. You can contact us by clicking here.

Chestnut Sunday: History

The avenue of chestnut trees in Bushy Park was established during the reign of William and Mary (late 17th century) after Sir Christopher Wren conceived the idea of the mile-long Chestnut Avenue as a formal approach to Hampton Court Palace.

During her reign, Queen Victoria opened Bushy Park to the public and they flocked to enjoy the beautiful open space. Particularly popular were the displays of chestnut blossoms in late spring and the tradition of parading down Chestnut Avenue on the Sunday closest to 11th May (the date on which the blossoms are reputed to be at their finest) was borne. Even the royal family were known to take part in Chestnut Sunday.

Chestnut Sunday was suspended during World War I but resurrected when it was over. Bus companies ran special excursions from London.

In World War II Bushy Park was commandeered as the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and was the base from which General Eisenhower planned the D-Day landings. Understandably Chestnut Sunday could not take place and indeed it seemed that the tradition had died out completely.

But in 1977, Hampton Wick residents Colin and Mu Pain who were researching the history of Hampton Wick came across details of Chestnut Sunday in times gone by. They decided to resurrect the event, initially to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. Together with friends and members of the Hampton Wick Association, they arranged a simple walk down Chestnut Avenue on the Sunday closest to 11th May. From that simple beginning, the event has grown and grown to the full-fledged festival that it is today.

Why we need more Friends

With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.

Join us today!

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Saturday, 26th May 11:00 am

Walk ‘Trees of Bushy Park’

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.

Full report...

Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.