About the Park
Hanworth Park was created out of Hounslow Heath during the reign of King Henry VIII and became a royal seat used also by Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. At this time it was a deer park. During the 1600s the property changed ownership several times including John Bradshaw the man responsible for the execution of Charles I.
In 1797, Hanworth House was destroyed by fire and five years later was rebuilt on its present location. The site was converted into an airfield in 1917 to accommodate Whitehead’s war-time bi-plane factory. In November 1928 it was announced that Hanworth Park was to become The London Air Park, and this opened in July 1929, providing a flying school and local air services. During the 1930s it was also used for flights to Zeppelin air ships. During the Second World War, General Aircraft turned out Hamilcar gliders, Spitfires and Seafires, which were collected from Hanworth by pilots for delivery to the services. At the end of the war the Air Ministry was asked for permission to restart the flying club but this was refused because of the opening of the nearby (Heathrow Airport). The airfield closed down in 1946 and no further flying took place at Hanworth. The park was bought in 1956 by Feltham Urban District and in 1965 its administration was taken over by the London Borough of Hounslow.
The Longford River, owned by the Royal Parks Authority, runs through the park past the current house on its way to Hampton Court. Part of this was culverted to accommodate the airfield, but the stretch near the house remains open and reasonably natural, though its course has been changed over the years.
Today the house lies abandoned and can be glimpsed through the railings surrounding the woodland, which includes some impressive trees, including a huge veteran Horse Chestnut, the largest known specimen in the Borough.
The surrounding grassland supports a rich and diverse wildlife and is by far the largest continuous area of lowland dry acid grassland in the Borough. This area is widely used by the public, including dog walkers and joggers. The site has its own ‘Friends of Hanworth Park’ group. Public facilities and the sports pitches are located towards the eastern and southern sides of Hanworth Park.
Once a tree-filled royal hunting ground, most of Hanworth Park's trees disappeared in the Second World War to make way for an important makeshift airport. After the war, the space was once again a public park but without its variety and multitude of trees.
Today the park is 67 hectares in size and large parts are comprised of lowland dry acid grassland, which is an important biodiversity habitat. The park is designated as a Site of Local Nature Conservation of Borough Importance (Grade II), together with the Longford River that flow through part of the site.
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