Richmond Park Visitor Centre
Richmond Park Visitor Centre
“Preserving the past, protecting the future”
We aim to share the stories of 400 years of this unique place, London’s largest Grade I-listed Park. To help us do this we propose to build a new Richmond Park heritage pavilion.
The Park has been a much loved and frequented amenity for centuries. However the Park will face many challenges in surviving the pressures of the 21st century. The popularity of the Park continues to grow, attracting some 5.5 million visitors each year. Combine this with a delicate eco system of unique biodiversity and the potential harm is vast. The heritage pavilion aims to protect the future of the Park by providing a suitable visitors centre adequate for serving a Park of its size. The visitors centre will provide information on the Park’s ecology and biodiversity. It will aim to encourage more sustainable and responsible use of the Park to ensure its protection for future generations.
The history of Richmond Park spans four centuries with numerous Royals associated with the Park, such as Charles I who enclosed the Park in 1637. These and other connections make for an immensely rich heritage which is unknown to most park visitors. The Hearsum Collection has been acquired over two decades and holds some 8,000 items relating to the Royal Parks, although this figure is constantly growing. Current storage conditions are unsafe and do not permit public access to this fascinating collection. The aims of the Heritage Pavilion are to provide safe storage and to allow access to all for their enjoyment.
To learn more about the Collection and our plans for the future please watch our video on The Hearsum Collection.
Aims of the heritage pavilion
- Encourage more responsible use of the park through increased awareness and respect for the immense biodiversity that exists here.
- Provide an educational facility with access for all, enabling greater public appreciation and enjoyment of the Park.
- Enable information on the Park, such as maps, leaflets etc. to be readily available to park users.
- Provide a visitor centre of suitable size given the popularity of the park.
- Support the management of the park, ensuring its long term sustainability.
- Provide public access to the Hearsum Collection consisting of some 6,000 items relating to the Park.
- Increase public access to Richmond Park and its many facets.
Who is involved?
The Hearsum Collection a registered charity that will develop and manage the heritage pavilion for the enjoyment of the park’s visitors.
The Royal Parks are actively supporting the project.
The Friends of Richmond Park will continue to provide trained volunteers to assist with the running of the heritage pavilion.
Current use of the site
Many options were considered. After much consultation one site was deemed to be the most appropriate place for the heritage pavilion.
The proposed site is located adjacent to Pembroke Lodge car park. There are many reasons for this choice. The area is:
- almost invisible from the open parkland
- close to a major visitor facility
- close to transportation links to provide easy and sustainable access
- a previously developed site where there is no existing public access.
The redevelopment of this site will increase public access to the park, as well as permit the removal of four dilapidated structures from the landscape.
The proposed site has been used as a service yard for Pembroke Lodge since time immemorial. There has never been public access to this part of the park and the current use is a private staff car park.
Having previously been developed, it is a suitable brownfield site to redevelop into a beneficial use to the public and the park.
Largely consisting of barren compacted land, the development and landscaping works proposed would be beneficial to the biodiversity and ecology of the site and the surrounding parkland.
Richmond Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty. The heritage pavilion must blend into the surrounding landscape. The general principles agreed between The Royal Parks, The Hearsum Collection, The Friends of Richmond Park and other stakeholders involved with the scheme, were:
- A traditional design to reflect the rich heritage of Richmond Park
- A building correlating to the existing built environment, namely the two adjacent pavilions
- Unobtrusive in the landscape of a Grade I listed park
- Scale suitable to serve the anticipated visitors and appropriate to the size of the park
- Landscaping to the surrounding areas to increase visual amenity and biodiversity
With these principles agreed, the design was produced to reflect all the criteria.
As a result of extensive consultation of all stakeholders over five years, the design has evolved to reflect the existing pavilion nearby.
Planning Permission was granted in June 2017
Floor plans of the heritage pavilion
- When will the pavilion operate?
The pavilion will be open 7 days a week from 10am, it will close at 5pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter.
- Who will have access to the pavilion?
The pavilion will be open to all.
- Will there be an entry charge?
No it will be free to all, except for modest charges for some group visits.
- How will the pavilion be staffed?
By one Learning Engagement Manager and one Project Manager, supported by volunteers from the Friends of Richmond Park.
- Is the building suitable for those with special needs?
The building has been carefully designed to be entirely accessible.
- Will the pavilion replace the existing information point?
Yes, the existing centre is far too small and unfit for purpose.
- Will there be a commercial element to the pavilion?
Yes to a very limited degree. As with the existing information point, items relating to the park will be on sale, all profits will fund conservation projects in the park.
- Will the pavilion take group bookings?
Yes, but only for school and local amenity groups.
Consultation so far…
Richmond Park is a much loved community asset within the local area and further afield. From the outset of the project various stakeholders and amenity groups have been consulted about every aspect of the development and operation of the Heritage Pavilion. Below are a just a few of the comments outlining various stakeholders’ keen support of the concept:
“We strongly support the plans to create a permanent Heritage Centre ….. We see such a centre as a high priority”
Ron Crompton – Chair, Friends of Richmond Park
“We whole-heartedly support this project, as it will enable greater understanding of the heritage importance of the park, thereby assisting its preservation”
Professor Ian Bruce CBE – Chair, Richmond Society
“We strongly support the idea of housing the collection in a dedicated building which would make it available to visitors of the Park, researchers, local societies and students of all ages”
Richmond Local History Society
“No other collection pulls together the range of material that the Hearsum Collection does”
Sue Barber MA – Curator of the Museum of Richmond, 2008-2013
“The future of the park depends on this!”
Piers D C Eley MA, MSc, Chairman, The Richmond Park Wildlife Group
“Richmond Park is one of London’s most important parks and this project will significantly improve the way people access the park and learn about its heritage”
Rachel Tranter – Head of Arts, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
“We anticipate that the educational content to be provided by the Centre will foster great understanding of, and hence respect for the park”
Linda Lennon CBE – Former Chief Executive, The Royal Parks
“We believe that the project has significant potential, and the Trust has put together an exciting and sustainable proposal. The project plans would see the venue become a resource for the park’s diverse community, as well as serving both physical and remote visitors to the park”
Andrew Scattergood – Chief Executive, The Royal Parks
We hope you will join the support of this project for the long term benefit of the park and its visitors.