The long and winding river
Bushy Park’s distinctive landscape is shaped in part by its history as a royal hunting ground, but also by its many ponds and streams. These are fed by the Longford River, which was artificially created in 1637 by Charles I to bring water to the nearby royal residence at Hampton Court Palace. In a mammoth task lasting nine months, the 12 miles of river were dug by hand. Now it stretches from north of Heathrow Airport to Hampton Court, flowing through the villages of Bedfont, Feltham and Hampton before reaching the park.
During the Commonwealth period (1649-1660) part of the river’s flow was redirected to form the picturesque Heron and Leg-of-Mutton Ponds that remain popular areas for visitors today. Indeed, William III – the famous William of Orange – at one point wanted to make Hampton Court Palace his main home because Bushy’s flat watery landscape reminded him of his native Holland.
The central basin and Diana Fountain
In the 17th century part of the Longford River was used to form a large round pool, or basin, which lies at the heart of Bushy along Chestnut Avenue. The basin and avenue were intended to create a grand formal entrance to Hampton Court Palace, and were conceived by the eminent architect Christopher Wren. In the basin lies the stunning Diana Fountain; dating from 1637, it is the oldest statue in any of The Royal Parks.
Click on the boxes/pages below to learn more about some of the historic water features that contribute so much to Bushy Park’s unique atmosphere.