In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government, they are a territorial designation, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; the unit rolled out across England in the 1860s. A civil parish can range in size from a large town with a population of about 75,000 to a single village with fewer than a hundred inhabitants. Eight parishes have city status. A civil parish may be known as and confirmed as a town, neighbourhood or community by resolution of its parish council, a right reserved not conferred on other units of English local government. 35% of the English population live in a civil parish. As of 31 December 2015 there were 10,449 parishes in England; the most populous is Weston super Mare and those with cathedral city status are Chichester, Hereford, Ripon, Salisbury and Wells.
On 1 April 2014, Queen's Park became the first civil parish in Greater London. Before 2008 their creation was not permitted within a London borough. Wales was divided into civil parishes until 1974, when they were replaced by communities, which are similar to English parishes in the way they operate. Civil parishes in Scotland were abolished for local government purposes by the Local Government Act 1929, the Scottish equivalent of English civil parishes are community council areas, which were established by the Local Government Act 1973; the Parish system in Europe was established between the 8th and 12th centuries and in England was old by the time of the Conquest. These areas were based on the territory of one or more manors, areas which in some cases derived their bounds from Roman or Iron Age estates. Parish boundaries were conservative, changing little, after 1180'froze' so that boundaries could no longer be changed at all, despite changes to manorial landholdings - though there were some examples of sub-division.
The consistency of these boundaries, up until the 19th century is useful to historians, is of cultural significance in terms of shaping local identities, a factor reinforced by the adoption of parish boundaries unchanged, by successor local government units. There was huge variation in size between parishes, for instance Writtle in Essex was 13,568 acres while neighbouring Shellow Bowells was just 469 acres, Chignall Smealy 476 acres; until the break with Rome, parishes managed ecclesiastical matters, while the manor was the principal unit of local administration and justice. The church replaced the manor court as the rural administrative centre, levied a local tax on produce known as a tithe. In the medieval period, responsibilities such as relief of the poor passed from the Lord of the Manor to the parish's rector, who in practice would delegate tasks among his vestry or the monasteries. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the power to levy a rate to fund relief of the poor was conferred on the parish authorities by the Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601.
Both before and after this optional social change, local charities are well-documented. The parish authorities were consisted of all the ratepayers of the parish; as the number of ratepayers of some parishes grew, it became difficult to convene meetings as an open vestry. In some built up, areas the select vestry took over responsibility from the entire body of ratepayers; this innovation allowed governance by a self-perpetuating elite. The administration of the parish system relied on the monopoly of the established English Church, which for a few years after Henry VIII alternated between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, before settling on the latter on the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558. By the 18th century, religious membership was becoming more fractured in some places, due for instance to the progress of Methodism; the legitimacy of the parish vestry came into question and the perceived inefficiency and corruption inherent in the system became a source for concern in some places.
For this reason, during the early 19th century the parish progressively lost its powers to ad hoc boards and other organisations, for example the loss of responsibility for poor relief through the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. Sanitary districts covered England in Ireland three years later; the replacement boards were each entitled to levy their own rate in the parish. The church rate ceased to be levied in many parishes and became voluntary from 1868; the ancient parishes diverged into two distinct, nearly overlapping, systems of parishes during the 19th century. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 declared all areas that levied a separate rate: C of E ecclesiastical parishes, extra-parochial areas and their analogue, chapelries, to be "civil parishes". To have collected rates this means these beforehand had their own vestries, boards or equivalent bodies; the Church of England parishes, which cover more than 99% of England, became termed "ecclesiastical parishes" and the boundaries of these soon diverged from those of the Ancient Parishes in order to reflect modern circumstances.
After 1921 each ecclesiastical parish has been the responsibility of the parochial church councils. In the late 19th century, most of the ancient irregularities inheri
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Guildford railway station
Guildford railway station is at one of three main railway junctions on the Portsmouth Direct Line and serves the town of Guildford in Surrey, England. It is 30 miles 27 chains down the line from London Waterloo, it provides an interchange station for two other railway lines: the North Downs Line northwards towards Reading, which has a connection to Aldershot. Guildford station is the larger and more diversely served of the two stations in Guildford town centre, the other being London Road on the New Guildford Line; the station was opened by the London and South Western Railway on 5 May 1845, but was enlarged and rebuilt in 1880. The Reading and Reigate Railway opened its services on 4 July 1849, was operated by the South Eastern Railway. LSWR services to Farnham via Tongham began on 8 October 1849 and the New Guildford Line to Leatherhead and Epsom Downs on 2 February 1885. On the latter line is the other Guildford station: London Road: the line to it describes a curve around the town on an embankment, crossing the River Wey by a high bridge.
Guildford station was the northern terminus of the Cranleigh Line of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, which opened 2 October 1865 and closed one hundred years on 12 June 1965. This line ran to Horsham by way of Cranleigh and Christ's Hospital. On 8 November 1952, an electric multiple unit suffered a brake malfunction approaching the station, it collided with a stationary steam locomotive. Two people were killed and 37 were injured. On 28 July 1971, a parcels train was derailed at the station; the main station buildings are on the Down side. At the end of the Down side platform is a bay for the New Guildford Line. There are now three islands with seven platform faces plus the bay linked by both a long footbridge and a subway. Platforms 6 and 7 are opposite sides of the same line: these were used for unloading mail and parcels until the mid-1990s; the station was rebuilt by British Rail in the late 1980s. Platform 1 – Stopping services to London Waterloo via Epsom and peak time trains to London Bridge via Sutton and West Croydon on the Sutton & Mole Valley Lines Platform 2 – Stopping services to London Waterloo via Cobham Platform 3 – Stopping services to London Waterloo via Woking Platform 4 – Fast and stopping services towards Portsmouth.
Services to Ascot via Aldershot depart from either this platform or platform 6Platforms 6 and 7 are on opposite sides of the same single line. Automatic train doors only open on the platform 6 side. Today doors are not opened on platform 7 due to the live rail being on that side, hence rendering that platform disused. Platform 6 is signalled for bi-directional working – trains may approach from either direction. Guildford station was the site of an important motive power depot opened by the LSWR in 1845; the original building was demolished in 1887 to make room for the enlargement of the station, was replaced by a semi-roundhouse, enlarged in 1897. This was closed and demolished in 1967; the Farnham Road multi-storey car park was built on the site in the 1990s. Guildford station was to have been the southern terminus for the proposed Heathrow Airtrack rail service; the project, promoted by BAA, envisaged the construction of a spur from the Waterloo to Reading Line to Heathrow Airport, creating direct rail links from the airport to Guildford, Waterloo and Reading.
Airtrack was planned to open in 2015, subject to government approval. In April 2011, BAA announced that it was abandoning the project, citing the unavailability of government subsidy and other priorities for Heathrow, such as linking to Crossrail and HS2; the station is served by services operated by Great Western Railway from Reading to Gatwick Airport and South Western Railway from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour, Waterloo to Guildford via Cobham or Epsom and Ascot to Guildford via Aldershot. Occasional CrossCountry trains to Newcastle and Southern services on the Sutton and Mole Valley route towards West Croydon and London Bridge call. 8tph to London Waterloo, of which: 4tph run via Woking 2tph run via Cobham 2tph run via Leatherhead and Epsom 2tph fast services to Portsmouth Harbour 1tph stopping service to Portsmouth and Southsea 1tph stopping service to Haslemere 2tph to Ascot via Aldershot 2tph to Reading 2tph to Redhill, of which 1tph continues to Gatwick Airport 3 trains per day to London Bridge via Sutton and West Croydon.
1 train per day to Newcastle via Reading and Birmingham New Street Photos of Guildford stationTrain times and station information for Guildford railway station from National Rail
Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom
Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom provide emergency care to people with acute illness or injury and are predominantly provided free at the point of use by the four National Health Services of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Emergency care including ambulance and emergency department treatment is free to everyone, regardless of immigration or visitor status; the NHS commissions most emergency medical services through the 14 NHS organisations with ambulance responsibility across the UK. As with other emergency services, the public access emergency medical services through one of the valid emergency telephone numbers. In addition to ambulance services provided by NHS organisations, there are some private and volunteer emergency medical services arrangements in place in the UK, the use of private or volunteer ambulances at public events or large private sites, as part of community provision of services such as community first responders. Air ambulance services in the UK are not part of the NHS and are funded through charitable donations.
Paramedics are seconded from a local NHS ambulance service, with the exception of Great North Air Ambulance Service who employ their own paramedics. Doctors are provided by their home hospital and spend no more than 40% of their time with an air ambulance service. Public ambulance services across the UK are required by law to respond to four types of requests for care, which are: Emergency calls Doctor's urgent admission requests High dependency and urgent inter-hospital transfers Major incidentsAmbulance trusts and services may undertake non-urgent patient transport services on a commercial arrangement with their local hospital trusts or health boards, or in some cases on directly funded government contracts, although these contracts are fulfilled by private and voluntary providers; the National Health Service Act 1946 gave county and borough councils a statutory responsibility to provide an emergency ambulance service, although they could contract a voluntary ambulance service to provide this, with many contracting the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance or another local provider.
The last St John Division, to be so contracted is reputed to have been at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, where the two-bay ambulance garage can still be seen at the branch headquarters. The Regional Ambulance Officers’ Committee reported in 1979 that “There was considerable local variation in the quality of the service provided in relation to vehicles and equipment. Most Services were administered by Local Authorities through their Medical Officer of Health and his Ambulance Officer, a few were under the aegis of the Fire Service, whilst others relied upon agency methods for the provision of part or all of their services.” The 142 existing ambulance services were transferred by the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973 from local authority to central government control in 1974, consolidated into 53 services under regional or area health authorities. This led to the formation of predominantly county based ambulance services, which merged up and changed responsibilities until 2006, when there were 31 NHS ambulance trusts in England.
The June 2005 report "Taking healthcare to the Patient", authored by Peter Bradley, Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service, for the Department of Health led to the merging of the 31 trusts into 13 organisations in England, plus one organisation each in Wales and Northern Ireland. Following further changes as part of the NHS foundation trust pathway, this has further reduced to 10 ambulance service trusts in England, plus the Isle of Wight which has its own provision. Following the passage of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, commissioning of the ambulance services in each area passed from central government control into the hands of regional clinical commissioning groups; the commissioners in each region are responsible for contracting with a suitable organisation to provide ambulance services within their geographical territory. The primary provider for each area is held by a public NHS body, of which there are 11 in England, 1 each in the other three countries. In England there are now ten NHS ambulance trusts, as well as an ambulance service on the Isle of Wight, run directly by Isle of Wight NHS Trust, with boundaries following those of the former regional government offices.
The ten trusts are: East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust London Ambulance Service NHS Trust North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS TrustThe English ambulance trusts are represented by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, with the Scottish and Northern Irish providers all associate members. On the 14 November 2018 West Midlands Ambulance Service became the UK's first university-ambulance trust; the service was operated before reorganisation in 1974 by the St Andrews’ Ambulance Association under contract to the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Scottish Ambulance Service is a Special Health Board that provides ambulance services throughout whole of Scotland, on behalf of the Health and Social Care Directorates of the Scottish Government.
Due to the remote nature of many areas of Scotland compared to the other Home Nations, the Scottish Ambulance Service has Britain's only publi
United Kingdom census, 2011
A census of the population of the United Kingdom is taken every ten years. The 2011 census was held in all countries of the UK on 27 March 2011, it was the first UK census. The Office for National Statistics is responsible for the census in England and Wales, the General Register Office for Scotland is responsible for the census in Scotland, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency is responsible for the census in Northern Ireland; the Office for National Statistics is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department formed in 2008 and which reports directly to Parliament. ONS is the UK Government's single largest statistical producer of independent statistics on the UK's economy and society, used to assist the planning and allocation of resources, policy-making and decision-making. ONS designs and runs the census in England and Wales. In its capacity as the national statistics office for the United Kingdom, ONS compiles and releases census tables for the United Kingdom when the data from England and Wales and Northern Ireland are complete.
In the run-up to the census both the main UK political parties expressed concerns about the increasing cost and the value for money of the census, it was suggested that the 2011 census might be the last decennial census to be taken. The first results from the 2011 census and sex, occupied households estimates for England and Wales and Northern Ireland, were released on 16 July 2012; the first results for Scotland, the first UK-wide results, were published on 17 December 2012. More detailed and specialised data were published from 2013; the Registrar General John Rickman conducted the first census of Great Britain's population, was responsible for the ten-yearly reports published between 1801 and 1831. During the first 100 years of census-taking the population of England and Wales grew more than threefold, to around 32 million, that of Scotland, where a separate census has been carried out since 1861, to about 4.5 million. From 1911 onwards rapid social change, scientific breakthroughs, major world events affected the structure of the population.
A fire that destroyed census records in 1931, the declaration of war in 1939, made the 1951 census hugely significant in recording 30 years of change over one of the most turbulent periods in British history. The 1971 census was run by the newly created Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, a body formed by the merger of the General Register Office and Government Social Survey. In 1996 the Office for National Statistics was formed by merging the Central Statistical Office, OPCS and the statistics division of the Department of Employment. In 2008 the UK Statistics Authority was established as an independent body. A population census is a key instrument for assessing the needs of local communities; when related to other data sources such as housing or agricultural censuses, or sample surveys, the data becomes more useful. Most countries of the world take censuses: the United Nations recommends that countries take a census at least once every ten years; the design for the 2011 census reflects changes in society since 2001 and asks questions to help paint a detailed demographic picture of England and Wales, as it stands on census day, 27 March.
Data collected by the census is used to provide statistical outputs which central government uses to plan and allocate local authority services funding, which local authorities themselves use to identify and meet the needs of their local communities. Other organisations that use census data include healthcare organisations, community groups and businesses; the questionnaires, including people's personal information, are kept confidential for 100 years before being released to the public, providing an important source of information for historical and genealogy research. The 2011 census for England and Wales included around 25 million households. Questionnaires were posted out to all households, using a national address register compiled by the Office for National Statistics with the help of local authorities through comparisons of the National Land and Property Gazetteer and the Royal Mail and Ordnance Survey national address products. People could complete and submit their questionnaire online, or fill it in on paper and post it back in a pre-addressed envelope.
Guidance was provided online and through the census helpline. Completed questionnaires were electronically tracked and field staff followed up with households that did not return a questionnaire. Special arrangements were made to count people living in communal establishments such as. In these cases field staff delivered and collected questionnaires and, where needed, provided advice or assistance in completing the questionnaire. There was a legal requirement to complete the 2011 census questionnaire, under the terms of the Census Act 1920; as at 27 March 2011 everyone who had lived or intended to live in the country for three months or more was required to complete a questionnaire. Failure to return a completed questionnaire could lead to a criminal record. Lockheed Martin UK, the UK arm of US-based aerospace, technology company Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to provide services for the census comprising questionnaire printing, a customer contact centre and data capture and processing.
The contract is valued at £150 million one third of the total £1 million census budget
The Pilgrims' Way is the historical route taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire, England, to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury in Kent. This name, of comparatively recent coinage, is applied to a pre-existing ancient trackway dated by archaeological finds to 600–450 BC, but in existence since the stone age; the prehistoric route followed the "natural causeway" east to west on the southern slopes of the North Downs. The course was dictated by the natural geography: it took advantage of the contours, avoided the sticky clay of the land below but the thinner, overlying "clay with flints" of the summits. In places a coexisting ridgeway and terrace way can be identified; the trackway ran the entire length of the North Downs, leading to and from Folkestone: the pilgrims would have had to turn away from it, north along the valley of the Great Stour near Chilham, to reach Canterbury. The prehistoric trackway extended further than the present Way, providing a link from the narrowest part of the English Channel to the important religious complexes of Avebury and Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, where it is known as the Harroway.
The route was still followed as an artery for through traffic in Roman times, a period of continuous use of more than 3000 years. From Thomas Becket's canonization in 1173, until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, his shrine at Canterbury became the most important in the country, indeed "after Rome...the chief shrine in Christendom", it drew pilgrims from far and wide. Winchester, apart from being an ecclesiastical centre in its own right, was an important regional focus and an aggregation point for travellers arriving through the seaports on the south coast. Indeed, this was the route taken by Henry II on his pilgrimage of atonement for the death of Bishop Thomas from France to Canterbury in July 1174. Travellers from Winchester to Canterbury used the ancient way, as it was the direct route, research by local historians has provided much by way of detail—sometimes embellished—of the pilgrims' journeys; the numbers making their way to Canterbury by this route were not recorded, but the estimate by the Kentish historian William Coles Finch that it carried more than 100,000 pilgrims a year is an exaggeration.
A separate route to Canterbury from London was by way of Watling Street, as followed by the storytellers in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Conversely, the concept of a single route called the Pilgrims' Way could be no older than the Victorian Ordnance Survey map of Surrey, whose surveyor, Edward Renouard James, published a pamphlet in 1871 entitled Notes on the Pilgrims' Way in West Surrey. Here he asserted that the route was "little studied" and that "very many persons in the neighbourhood" had not been aware of it, his insertion of the route name on the Ordnance map gave an official sanction to his conjecture. In fact, the route as shown on modern maps is not only unsuitable for the mass movement of travellers but has left few traces of their activity; the official history of the Ordnance Survey acknowledges the "enduring archaeological blunder", blaming the enthusiasm for history of the Director, General Sir Henry James. Together, romantically inclined authors have succeeded in creating "a fable of...modern origin" to explain the existence of the Way.
However, F. C. Elliston-Erwood, A Kentish historian, notes that tithe records dating from before 1815 use the well established name "Pilgrims' Way" to reference and locate pieces of land. Earlier still, surviving thirteenth century documents show a "Pilgrim Road" by the walls of Thornham Castle, Kent, on what is today considered the route; the Pilgrims' Way is at the centre of the Powell and Pressburger film A Canterbury Tale, with the camera panning along a map of the route at the start of the film. Anyone walking the'Pilgrims Way' from Winchester would have started along the Roman road east following the route through New Alresford, Four Marks and Bentley to Farnham; this follows the modern A31. The ancient main streets of towns along the route from Farnham through Guildford and Reigate align west to east suggesting that this was the most important route that passed through them. On modern Ordnance Survey maps, part of the route is shown running east from Farnham via the heights by Guildford Castle north of the village of Shere, north of Dorking, Merstham, Godstone and Westerham, through Otford and Wrotham, north of Trottiscliffe, towards Cuxton.
South of Rochester, the Pilgrims' Way travels through the villages of Burham, Boxley and continuing in a south-east direction to the north of the villages of Harrietsham and Lenham. The route continues south-east along the top of the Downs past Charing, to Wye and turns north to follow the valley of the Great Stour through Chilham and on to Canterbury. Along some stretches the pilgrims' route left the ancient trackway to encompass religious sites, examples being Pewley Down, near Guildford, where the way passed St Martha's Hill and The Chantries, some 500 metres to the south. At Reigate the thirteenth-century chapel of St Thomas and a hospice were built for the pilgrims' use, although they were not on the route. Boxley Abbey, with its revered Rood of Grace, was another recognised detour; the North Downs Way National Trail parallels the old Pilgrims' Way between Canterbury. Much of the traditional route of the Pilgrims' Way i
Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park is a Royal Park of 2,020 hectares, including a deer park, 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 from the mid-13th century; the park covered an area many times the current size known as Windsor Forest, Windsor Royal Park or its current name. The park is funded by the Crown Estate. Most parts of the park are open to the public, free of charge, from dawn to dusk, although there is a charge to enter Savill Garden; the park is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Windsor Forest and Great Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest; the Great Park is a undulating area of varied landscape. It has sweeping deer lawns, small woods and areas covered by huge solitary ancient oak trees. There is a small river in the north of the park called the Battle Bourne running to the Thames near Datchet; the River Bourne runs through a number of ponds to the south.
Chief amongst these are Great Meadow 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, Cranbourne 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 road known as Sheet Street into Windsor runs through the northeast 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 village infant/junior school. Other buildings include Cumberland Lodge, the Cranbourne Tower and Norfolk Farm; the park lies 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 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; the Long Walk runs south from Windsor Castle to the 1829 Copper Horse statue of King George III atop Snow Hill where there are impressive views of the castle. It is 2.65 miles 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, one of Queen Elizabeth II near the Village; the Royal Lodge was built in the centre of the park as the Deputy Ranger's house. It was made into a retreat for the Prince Regent from 1812, but was pulled down after his death; the remains were renovated, in the 1930s, as a home for the Duke and Duchess of York before their accession as George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It is now the official residence of the Prince Andrew, Duke of York and not accessible by the public; the Royal Chapel of All Saints was built after the chapels of the Royal and Cumberland Lodges proved too small for growing numbers of household staff.
The chapel was built in 1825 by Jeffry Wyattville and used by George IV during the refurbishment of Windsor Castle. It was remodelled in the Gothic Revival style by Samuel Sanders Teulon and Anthony Salvin. Queen Victoria attended the chapel as did the Duke and Duchess of York before their accession as George VI and Queen Elizabeth, it is used by Queen Elizabeth II when she is in residence at Windsor. 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 became the home of the Ranger of the Great Park, an office in the gift of the sovereign; each Ranger made his – or in one case, that of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, 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. Catharine's Foundation known as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine's. Today the organisation is 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 open to the public, but the house is continually holding conferences, open days and lectures. The private Cranbourne Tower is viewed from surrounding paths, it is all that survives of the residence of the Keeper of Cranbourne Chase. It is thought to date back to the 16th century. In the south-east of the park, near Englefield Green, are the well-endowed Savill Garden and Valley Gardens which were designed and built by Eric Savill in the 1930s and 1940s.
They include an extraordinary range of trees from around the world. Smith's Lawn and Polo Grounds are nearby; the gardens are open to visitors between 10:00 and 16:30 in the winter and 10:00 and 18:00 in the summer. Virginia Wat