For over 300 years Richmond Park has inspired poetry and prose from writers such as James
Thomson (writer of Rule Britannia), early 20th century novelist/naturalist W H Hudson, renowned 20th
century essayist and poet Edward Thomas to Australian poet Rosemary Dobson and London punk poet
On 17th June, winner of the 2014 prestigious TS Eliot Award for poetry, David Harsent (who lives in
Barnes), premiered a new poem dedicated to Richmond Park and its wildlife at an event in Pembroke
Lodge to celebrate the restoration of Poets Corner in the Park.
The poem 'A Dream of Richmond Park' exalts many of the favourite wildlife residents of Europe's
largest enclosed urban park; the trees and flowers, butterflies, birds, beetles, bats and, of course, the deer.
He celebrates walking in the Park in “a waking dream” to observe the wonderful flora and fauna but
beseeches “tread and leave no mark”.
The special event saw David read his new work – which he describes as a “necklace of poems” - to an
audience that included Sir David Attenborough, patron of the Park's charity, Friends of Richmond Park,
as well as council leaders, local councillors from three authorities, politicians and other prominent local
Well known actors Anthony Calf, Julian Glover, Stella Gonet and Julia Watson
read a range of poetry and prose including works by Shelley, Tennyson, Edward Thomas and W H
David Harsent said of his new poem: “I wanted to write a poem that shows the beauty and variety of
Richmond Park, its fantastic wildlife and history, but to urge readers and visitors to the Park to treat this
fragile environment with the love and respect it needs and deserves”.
Friends Patron, David Attenborough, said:
“Richmond Park isn't just a park, its a very special place; a
national nature reserve, a site of special scientific interest and home to a wealth of wonderful wildlife
from thousands of rare beetles and birds to over 1,100 veteran oak trees, some over 700 years old.”
David, who formally opened the restored Poets Corner, is also patron of the Park's ponds and streams
“With nearly 5.5 million visitors per year, Richmond Park and its wildlife have never been
under greater pressure. Many species are threatened by increasing visitor numbers as well as diseases
such as acute oak decline, pests including oak processionary moth and climate change and, as David
Harsent says, we urge all visitors “tread and leave no mark” in Richmond Park.”