Autumn deserves notice and celebration, and that doesn’t come in the form of pumpkin spice lattes or wool leggings. It comes in the form of long walks, preferably walks that involve some scuffling through fallen leaves. The first weekend of October this year, I paid tribute to the season by visiting Richmond Park, which is one of the royal parks of London.
Richmond Park takes up 2,500 acres, which is about three times as large as Central Park in New York (!). Some of its oaks have been standing since Charles I first created the park in 1637. Like so much in this country, very old things trundle along in the modern day here. Also, most of the beautiful, old things were only very recently made available to the general public. Pembroke Lodge, for example, was owned by the prime minister and was later the birthplace of that PM’s grandson, philosopher Bertrand Russell; the lodge is now a tea room and a place you can rent for weddings.
As far back as Henry VIII, monarchs used the park to hunt deer. Where I come from, deer hunting is a big deal, but here the deer are protected. (You have to read the fine print on some of the signs around the park to realize that they cull a certain number of deer each year to keep them from growing too numerous, since they have no natural predators in the park. So… still a hunting ground? I’m not sure how the culling is done.) There are red and fallow deer in the park, and the males are either stags or bucks depending on which type of deer they are, but I don’t know the difference so I’m afraid I just thought of them all as ‘bucks.’
Here’s a slideshow of photos I took around the park. The deer roam free, and you’re warned to keep a certain distance, especially during rutting season. I did not want to get in the way of a horny buck, so I definitely kept my distance. They make an amazing call when they’re in the mood, a really guttural groan. I got a little of that noise on a super short video, which you can also see below.
Hail Britannia is the title I settled on for posts about the British adventures I’m having while living in London. It covers London and non-London locations alike. It has a pleasing ring to it but doesn’t, I hope, make us dwell too much on ‘Rule, Britannia,’ not least because I am neither in the Royal Navy nor pro-imperialism.