Deer parks

A deer park is an area of land, usually enclosed, which is set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other wild animals to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food throughout the year. They also provided a protected area for woodland management and grazing. Deer parks are generally situated in the open countryside, either on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They may also be established on areas of earlier farmed and settled landscapes.


A deer park was composed of both woodland and grassland and it may contain a variety of component monuments directly related to it such as a warren, decoy pond, moats, lodges, watch towers, fishponds, dower house and other manorial features. Deer parks are recognised through their distinctive boundaries which take the form of a linear earthwork.


The deer park is usually associated with the Norman aristocracy. The creation of deer parks reached a peak in the 13th and 14th centuries, but continued into the 17th century. This specific use then declined and the parks were given over to other functions or were turned into landscape or amenity parks.


Deer parks are to be found in virtually every county in England but their frequency varies. They are most numerous in the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Worcestershire; in the Home Counties, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey; and Sussex. Several examples in Buckinghamshire are the one at Stowe, Langley and Whaddon. Generally, deer parks are to be found in open countryside, away from habitation in areas of woodland on the margins of previously cultivated land. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples which were created over existing farmed and settled areas.