The flat site of Bushy Park has been settled for at least 4,000 years. A Bronze Age barrow & burial mound was excavated near Sandy Lane and the contents are now housed in the British Museum. There are clear remains of medieval settlements, with the finest example found South of Waterhouse Woodland Gardens, where there are traces of the largest and most complex field system in Middlesex.
King Charles I had the idea of creating an artificial waterway in the park because Hampton Court Palace was always short of water. There was nowhere locally with a sufficient fall of water and so the Longford River was built exceeding 19 kilometres in length. It was designed by Nicholas Lane in 1638-39. It was built by hand, took 9 months to complete and cost £4000!
This mile long avenue was conceived by Sir Christopher Wren as a formal approach to Hampton Court Palace in the reign of William III & Mary II. Flanked on both sides by a single row of horse chestnuts and four rows of limes, it marks the park's zenith in terms of royal ambitions and sophistication. The view from Teddington Gate provides the most striking view of the Avenue, with the Arethusa 'Diana' Fountain and the Banqueting Hall as the backdrop.
During the First World War (WWI), areas of land in the park were turned over to the plough to 'Dig for Victory'. King George V gave his permission to use Upper Lodge as a home for Canadian Convalescents. Queen Mary visited the troops and made sure entertainment was provided with the help of local people. This Canadian tie with the park is commemorated by the Totem Pole and the Canadian Glade in the Waterhouse Woodland Gardens.
During the Second World War (WWII) large areas of the parks were again turned over for the production of food.
From 1942, Bushy Park became the site of a large U.S. base called Camp Griffiss, headquarters to a number of the Allied departments. General Dwight Eisenhower was averse to working in the centre of London during the Second World War. He decided instead to make Bushy Park the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) centre for planning Operation Overlord, the 1944 D-Day.
Operational since 1995 and manned by volunteers, the History Room is situated within White Lodge at the Stockyard. Visitors are welcome by prior appointment with the Park Office.
Records and information are available on Camp Griffiss, Upper Lodge, The Annular Tank, The Berlin Airlift and many other areas of the park's history.