Biodiversity at the royal palaces

Conservation of biodiversity at the royal palaces is as important as conserving the gardens, monuments and artefacts. The historic landscapes of Hampton Court Palace, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and Kensington Palace support a wide range of wildlife communities.

By Historic Royal Palaces

The South Terrace, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2019) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

The wildlife in our historic landscapes benefits from large green spaces that are cared-for by expert gardeners and are being sensitively restored and managed. ​ 

Kitchen Garden, Hampton Court Palace (2019) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

Our teams of gardeners at HiIllsborough Castle and Gardens, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace both conserve existing habitats and create new ones.​​

Yew Tree Walk, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2018) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

A diverse landscape at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

At Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the diversity in the woodland, lakes, grassland, hedgerows, formal gardens and walled vegetable garden supports a wide range of mammals, including badgers and otters, reptiles, birds and insects. ​

Steely Bonnet fungi, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2019)Historic Royal Palaces

Hollowed out veteran trees provide breeding and roosting sites for bats, so these are left to decay naturally. When non-native canopy trees die naturally, if it's not going to affect the historical context, they are replaced by native species. 

In certain areas, undisturbed landscapes create a unique habitat for invertebrates and insects, in turn creating a great food source for birds. Under the lime trees in Moss Walk at Hillsborough, the shaded, flat and damp conditions have created a wonderful moss carpet.

Moss Walk, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2015) by Chris HillHistoric Royal Palaces

By growing as many different plants as possible in the formal and productive gardens,

our gardeners can extend the flowering season, ensuring a continuous supply of nectar, pollen and fruit for insects and birds​.​

The Lake, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2018) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

The Lake at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is home to herons, mute swans, greylag geese, mallards, little grebes, moorhen and coots. And if you're really lucky, you might spot kingfishers along the stream. 

Yew Tree Walk and Lady Alice's Pond, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens (2018) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

A dedicated newt pond was constructed during the redevelopment of the Walled Garden after our team discovered a population of breeding smooth newts. These protected newts were transferred to their new home after special permission had been secured.​

Ducklings in the Great Fountain Garden, Hampton Court Palace (2009) by Richard Lea-HairHistoric Royal Palaces

A rich wildlife haven at Home Park and Hampton Court Palace

At Hampton Court Palace, the waterways of the formal Long Water canal, Longford River and the Thames offer a range of wetland habitats for birds, amphibians and insects​. Eight species of damselfly and dragonfly have been found here. 

Fallow deer in Home Park, Hampton Court Palace (2008)Historic Royal Palaces

One important means of preserving biodiversity is by managing grassland with grazing animals. Home Park was once the hunting ground of Henry VIII, but now the deer are protected and play an important part in the conservation plan.​

Fallow deer in Home Park, Hampton Court Palace (2013)Historic Royal Palaces

The fallow deer herd is currently 300-strong and lives wild in the park. Today Home Park is a a designated site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, as well as a unique green space on the urban fringes of London.

Bumblebee on dahlia 'Moonfire' (Asteraceae) flower, Hampton Court Palace (2016)Historic Royal Palaces

Here, ancient oak and lime trees grow alongside acid grassland. An incredible range of species live in the park including many different butterflies (such as the small copper butterfly), bumble bees, stag beetles, grass snakes, water voles, hedgehogs and many more.

Wildflower meadow, Kensington Palace (2019)Historic Royal Palaces

A wildflower meadow in the city at Kensington Palace

However, encouraging wildlife is important in the formal areas of the gardens, too. Even at Kensington Palace, in the heart of London, supporting biodiversity is key. 

Our new wildflower meadow in the East Front of the palace includes poppies, campion, daisies, Ragged Robin and many other native wild flowers, which have come out in abundance.

The flowers are immensely beneficial to pollinators and other insects who sometimes struggle to find food and shelter in the big city.

Credits: Story

Find out more and visit the historic gardens in our care at the Historic Royal Palaces website

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