Tradition holds that the spot where this officially protected view originates from – the prehistoric barrow known as King Henry’s Mound – was where King Henry VIII stood on 19th May, 1536, to watch for a rocket fired from the Tower of London.

The signal was to indicate that his former wife, Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded for treason and hence that he was now free to marry Jane Seymour.

Sadly, the story is seen as unlikely – the king was apparently in Wiltshire at the time.

But it adds a nice nostalgia to this tree-framed view which looks across Richmond Park and areas south of the River Thames to the great dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The mound, which also offers views west over the Thames Valley towards Windsor, is believed to cover a burial chamber from the Bronze Age (it would have stood more prominently over the Thames Valley in those days) and was later used as a viewing position for hunting deer and falconry.

A permanent public telescope has been set up on the mound which since the 19th century has sat in Pembroke Lodge Garden (named for the Countess of Pembroke who lived in a cottage here between about 1788 and 1831).

The historic view made headlines last year over calls for London’s Mayor to step in and halt building work amid concerns that the 42-storey Manhattan Loft Gardens tower in Stratford, east London, could be seen in the view behind the cathedral dome.

WHERE: King Henry’s Mound, Richmond Park (nearest Tube station is Richmond); WHEN: 24 hour pedestrian access except during the deer cull in November and February; COST: Free entry; WEBSITE: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park

PICTURE: Royal Parks

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• If you’re not too exhausted after last weekend’s Diamond Jubilee festivities (or if you’re looking for something a little more sedate), this Saturday and Sunday London plays host to Open Garden Squares Weekend. Among the 208 gardens to be opened this weekend is the communal garden at Number 10 Downing Street, home of Prime Minister David Cameron. Laid out in 1736, the L-shaped garden at 10 Downing Street is shared by residents of both Number 10 and Number 11, including Larry, the Downing Street cat (tickets for this garden have already been allocated via a ballot process). Among the more than 200 gardens open to the public as part of the weekend are 24 new gardens and, for the first time, the event is being supported by the National Trust (along with the usual organisers, the London Parks and Gardens Trust). Downing Street aside, other gardens open to the public include the Regent’s Park Allotment Garden, the Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden, the Kensington Roof Gardens, and the gardens at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. Tickets for the gardens are cheaper if bought online in advance of the weekend and picked up on Saturday or Sunday – it’s not too late to do so, so for tickets and more information, head to www.opensquares.org.

A new pair gates designed to mark St Paul’s Cathedral’s tercentenary were opened in Richmond Park for the first time last week. The gates, which now form part of the historic vista seen from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park when looking toward’s St Paul’s Cathedral, were designed by 21-year-old blacksmith Joshua De Lisle and funded through a donation from the family of family of the late environmentalist and The Ecologist magazine founder Edward Goldsmith. Called ‘The Way’, the gates stand on the fence of Sidmouth Woods, and depict oak branches. Sir Christopher Wren, designer of St Paul’s, is acknowledged through the inclusion of a wren on one of the lower branches. For more on the Royal Parks, see www.royalparks.org.uk.

• Now On: Winning at the ancient Games. The British Museum is celebrating the London Olympics with a victory trail bringing together 12 “star objects” in its collection, united by the theme of winning. The ‘stops’ on the trail include a classical Greek statue of a winning charioteer on special loan from Sicily, a previously never exhibited mosaic showing Hercules, the legendary founder of the ancient Games, and the 2012 Olympic Medals. The trail is free. For more information, see www.britishmuseum.org.

Now On: Build the TruceDrawing on the idea of truce that was implemented during the ancient Olympic Games to allow athletes from Greece’s warring cities to compete, this new display at the Imperial War Museum features films, interviews and insights collected during a project investigating the concepts of truce, conflict and resolution and their relevance in the 21st  century. Highlights include excerpts of interviews with former IRA prisoner Seanna Walsh and former UDA prisoner Jackie McDonald -both now involved in peace initiatives in Northern Ireland, Courtny Edwards, who worked with a health service in displaced persons’ camps following civil war in Sierra Leone; and Professor Tony Redmond, who led aid teams in Kosovo following NATO attacks in 1999. Family activities are being run in conjunction with the exhibition on selected weekends. Entry is free. Runs until 23rd September. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk.

Covering almost 1,000 hectares, Richmond Park, located by the Thames in the city’s south-west, is the largest of the Royal Parks. We have talked about some of Richmond Park’s history in an earlier post, but here we’ll give a little more detail.

The park’s association with royalty goes back at least to the time of Edward I, who ruled in the late 13th and early 14th century, when it was part of the Manor of Sheen.

It was King Henry VIII who renamed the manor Richmond (after one he possessed in Yorkshire) but it was King Charles I to whom the park owes its existence as we know it.

Charles, who had brought the court to Richmond in 1625 to escape the plague, enclosed the park – then farmland and pastures – in 1637 with eight miles of walls (these still remain, albeit having been repaired) and kept 2,000 red and fallow deer inside. The move didn’t met with universal approval from his subjects but he did pay compensation and eventually give people a right of way and allow them to collect firewood after complaints.

Features within the park – which still contains 650 Red and fallow deer (don’t get too close!) – include King Henry’s mound which features a protected, although tiny, view of St Paul’s Cathedral in the city 12 miles distant – it’s said by some that it was here where King Henry VIII watched for fireworks to be set off at the Tower of London indicating Anne Boleyn had been beheaded although the truth of that remains lost to history (others say it was here he watched hunting parties in the park – perhaps more likely).

The park is also home to White Lodge – it was a hunting lodge built for King George I and is now The Royal Ballet Lower School (complete with ballet museum) – and Pembroke Lodge – this house with stunning views overlooking the Thames Valley, now a restaurant, was once home to Prime Minister Lord John Russell and later the childhood home of his grandson, Nobel Prize-winning philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell.

More recently created is the Isabella Plantation – a woodland garden created largely in the 1950s by George Thomson , then park superintendent, his head gardener, Wally Milleron, an area once known as The Sleyt or Isabella Slade. The garden is well worth a visit at any time of year, having been specifically designed to be interesting all year round.

Richmond Park also features a lake divided in two by a causeway – as so known as Pen Ponds – which was dug in 1746 and remains a good place to see waterbirds.

WHERE: The park is located south of the Thames-side village of Richmond (nearest tube is Richmond). WHEN: 7am in summer (7.30am in winter) to dusk; COST: Free to enter; WEBSITE:www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond_park/