A Park milestone celebrated

It was 250 years ago that a Richmond brewer called John Lewis succeeded in re-establishing the rights of the public to walk across the Park using rights of way dating from before its enclosure in 1637. In April 1758 judgment was given in favour of Lewis at Kingston Assizes, when the Ranger, Princess Amelia, was ordered to reinstate ladderstiles which would again allow access. On 16 May that year the ladderstile at Sheen Gate was opened.

On 16 May 2008 The Friends of Richmond Park and The Royal Parks were pleased to mark Lewis' achievement by erecting a plaque to him at Sheen Gate, which had been the scene both of the incident in 1755, when Lewis had been denied entry, and the mass entry into the Park three years later. Around 80 people attended the ceremony, including representatives from many local societies.

Susan Kramer, MP for Richmond Park, unveiled the plaque to Lewis following speeches by Ron Crompton, Chairman of The Friends; Colin Buttery, Deputy Chief Executive of The Royal Parks; and Max Lankester, a Committee member of the Friends, who related the story of John Lewis.

Following the unveiling ceremony, a party of 24 or so, led by Peter Burrows-Smith, who leads the Friends' programme of walks and courses, walked across the Park to Ham Gate, where refreshments were on hand so that a final toast could be drunk to Lewis.

Below, left to right: Simon Richards, Manager of Richmond Park; Cllr John Farebrother, Mayor of Wandsworth; Susan Kramer, MP; Cllr Helen Lee-Parsons, Deputy Mayor (now Mayor) of Richmond; Cllr David Berry, Mayor of Kingston; Colin Buttery, Director of Parks and Deputy Chief Executive, The Royal Parks; and Ron Crompton, Chairman of The Friends of Richmond Park.