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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.

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A mole in the Royal Parks?

A mole in the Royal Parks?

Mole. Photo by Michael David Hill, Wikipedia.

In the April edition of the Richmond Magazine celebrating the 50 years of The Friends of Richmond Park, to whom we offer our sincere congratulations; the editor, Richard Nye claimed that William III fell off his horse after it stumbled on a mole hill in Richmond Park.

The king had been riding Sorrel, his favourite horse and had insisted on taking his usual ride, even though he had not been well that morning. The horse stumbled and the king was thrown falling on his right shoulder and breaking his collar bone.

It is documented that the collar bone was set by his surgeon, Ronjat, who happened to be at Hampton Court that day.

It is also well documented at the time that he was taken to a hostelry in Hampton to where his surgeon was called. As the surgeon was called from Hampton Court to a local hostelry in Hampton, he must have fallen in Bushy Park rather than Home or Richmond Park.

If he fell in Richmond he would have been taken to a hostelry in Richmond or Ham. If he had fallen in Home Park he would have been taken to Hampton Court Palace as the surgeon was there already.

Where exactly he fell is not precisely recorded, although Home Park makes a claim that it was near the cork trees at the end of the Long Water. This makes the Richmond claim a little worrying. If I were to fall off my horse in Richmond I sincerely hope I would be taken to somewhere a little closer than a pub in Hampton.

But there is another mystery. There are no mole hills in Home Park, or Bushy Park, nor as far as I know in Richmond Park.

There are, however, ant hills in all three parks created over hundreds of years by the Yellow Meadow Ants, so the horse almost certainly stumbled on an ant hill and not a mole hill at all, so maybe the Jacobites, instead of drinking to The Little Gentlemen in Black, should have been drinking to The Little Gentlemen in Yellow.


Added: 24th June 2011:

In an article about Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park it is said that after William III died, not wanting to take any chances, his successors employed a royal mole catcher, and to this day there are no moles in Richmond Park. There is no documentary evidence to suggest that the mole catcher worked in either Home Park or Bushy Park.

Story: Pieter Morpurgo
Mole photo: Michael David Hill, Wikipedia.
Anthill in Bushy Park photo: Royal Parks

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 22nd Nov 8:00 pm

TALK by John Sheaf, “Bushy Park and the surrounding area in old photographs”

Latest report

On the morning of Saturday 3 November a group of members of the Friends assisted Sharon Evans, the Bushy Park Head Gardener, in planting an area of the Woodland Gardens.

Full report...