Rising out of the lush surroundings of London’s Richmond Park, the ancient barrow now known as King Henry’s Mound is home to a telescope, the view through which is a historically protected sightline.
The highest point in the park, the mound itself is believed to date back to neolithic times, probably created as a burial mound. Despite its prehistoric origin, the mound is better associated, factually or not, with a more recent event: the killing of Anne Boleyn.
According to the story from which the mound now gets its name, King Henry the VIII climbed to the top of the high hill in 1536 to watch for a signal from the Tower of London that Anne Boleyn had lost her head and that he was free to remarry. While there is no concrete evidence to back up this story and it is likely that the king was actually in nearby Wiltshire, the name has stuck.
Regardless of whether King Henry ever stood at the summit of the mound, the stunning view has not gone unnoticed. In fact the unique vista looks out over St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance. A permanent public telescope has even been set up on the summit so that visitors can take a closer look at the distant dome. The view is so beloved that has become officially protected so that no buildings can be built to obstruct the sightline, despite London’s housing crisis. Even the copse of trees that grow at the top of the hill has been bored through so that people can still see what King Henry likely never did.
Know Before You Go
Enter Richmond Park from Richmond Gate in the north west and walk a short distance down Queens Road. Closest station is Richmond (tube and rail)
Parking is at Petersham Park car park, a short distance from the mound.
The mound is through a heavy green gate and up a short slope. It is possible to see the sight line through the trees from the main path - just along from the gate, one of the wooden posts is marked 'St Paul's View'.