The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : People at Play

Bushy Park, a Victorian Playground
Opened to the public by Queen Victoria, Bushy Park has become a place of recreation for local people

Skating in Bushy Park in 1907

Broadly, the history of Bushy Park has turned full circle. What was once Common Land was appropriated by Cardinal Wolsey and then Henry VIII, so becoming a private fiefdom. The gradual erosion of the Crown’s preserves followed later. In 1838 Queen Victoria opened nearby Hampton Court Palace to the people and this led to the increased popularity and use of the Park. By the end of the 19th century the public enjoyed almost unrestricted access to the amenities. Thus the Park gradually became a place of recreation for both the local population and the people of London.

Daily horse-drawn coaches ran from London to Hampton Court, down the Great Avenue from Teddington, which came to be known as the Chestnut Avenue. When the railway came to Hampton Court in 1849 still greater access was afforded. Many social groupings as well as schools and disadvantaged groups had a yearly treat of a day’s outing to Bushy Park.

Chestnut Sunday, when the horse chestnut blooms were at their best, became an event attended by thousands. On Chestnut Sunday in 1894 over 3500 tickets were collected at Hampton Court railway station alone.

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