Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park (locally referred to simply as the Great Park) is a large deer park of 5,000 acres (20 km2), to the south of the town of Windsor on the border of Berkshire and Surrey in England. The park was, for many centuries, the private hunting ground of Windsor Castle and dates primarily from the mid-13th century. Now largely open to the public, the parkland is a popular recreation area for residents of the western London suburbs. It is owned and managed by the Crown Estate. The Great Park is a gently undulating area of varied landscape. It has sweeping deer lawns, small woods, coverts and areas covered by huge solitary ancient oak trees. There is a small river in the north of the park called the River Bourne Ц it is sometimes called "Battle Bourne". It runs through a number of ponds, particularly to the south. Chief amongst these are Great Meadow Pond and Obelisk Pond, near the great lake of Virginia Water. The most prominent hill is Snow Hill and the avenue of trees known as the Long Walk runs between here and Windsor Castle. The area is accessed by a number of gates: Queen Anne's Gate, Ranger's Gate, Forest Gate, Sandpit Gate, Prince Consort's gate, Blacknest Gate, Bishop's Gate and Bear's Rails Gate and the original medieval park pale can still be seen in places. The main Sheet Street Road (A332) into Windsor runs through the north-east of the park. On the western side of the park is The Village, built in the 1930s to house Royal estate workers. It has a popular village shop. Other buildings include the Royal Lodge, Cumberland Lodge, the Cranbourne Tower and Norfolk Farm. The park lies mostly within the civil parish of Old Windsor, though the eastern regions are in the Borough of Runnymede and there are small areas in the parishes of Winkfield and Sunninghill. Areas associated with or attached to the Great Park, but not officially within its borders include the Home Park, Mote Park, Flemish Farm, Cranbourne Chase, Forest Lodge and South Forest.The modern enclosed Deer Park is at the northern end of the Great Park. It is home to a large herd of semi-wild deer, reflecting the original medieval purpose of the park. Main article: The Copper Horse The Long Walk runs south from Windsor Castle to the 1829 Cop
er Horse statue of King George III atop Snow Hill where there are impressive views of the castle. It is 2.65 miles (4.26 km) from George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle to The Copper Horse. Other equestrian statues in the park include one of the Prince Consort, to the west of the Polo grounds, and one of The Queen near the Village. Main article: Royal Lodge The Royal Lodge was built in the centre of the park as the Deputy Ranger's house. It was made in to a retreat for the Prince Regent from 1812, but was largely pulled down after his death. The remains were renovated, in the 1930s, as a home for the then Prince Albert, later King George VI, and his wife. It is now the official residence of the Duke of York and not accessible by the public. Main article: Cumberland Lodge Other notable buildings in the park include Cumberland Lodge, built in 1652 during the Commonwealth. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the Lodge quickly became the home of the Ranger of the Great Park, an office in the gift of the sovereign. Each Ranger made his Ц or in one case, that of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough Ц her own mark on the features of the house and its surroundings. Throughout her life Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor. Her daughter Princess Helena of the United Kingdom lived at the Lodge for over fifty years, presiding over elaborate re-building after a bad fire in 1869 and extensive alterations in 1912. Lord FitzAlan, last British Viceroy of Ireland, was the last private person to be entrusted with the Lodge. It was in his time, in 1936, that the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, discussed the crisis over King Edward VIII's desire to marry Wallis Simpson, talks which led to his Abdication of the Crown a few weeks later. In 1947, the King made the Lodge available to the newly established St. CatharineТs Foundation, later known as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St. CatharineТs. Today the organisation is simply known as Cumberland Lodge. Cumberland Lodge today is an educational charity dedicated to initiating fresh debate on the burning questions facing society. The grounds are not generally open to the public, but the house is continually holding conferences, open days and lectures.