‘Our deer will not be shot’ – thanks to the Ham & High for this bit of dramatic news. It seems that yet another feature of the Palace is going to change as the small herd of Fallow deer are suffering from stress and will be transported to a new home in Devon. Vets think the enclosure is too small and that the success of events held at the Palace in recent years has meant an increase in visitor numbers, causing too much disturbance to the deer.
Alexander MacKenzie included a small deer enclosure when he designed the original layout of the park which first opened in July 1863. The GLC introduced Fallow deer here around twenty years ago and it is thought the dozen individuals we see today are their direct descendants. Of course deer have been associated with ‘parkland’ attached to great estates since early medieval times so perhaps MacKenzie was making reference to the democratisation of Britain’s grand buildings in his design for ‘The People’s Palace’. Times have changed and it seems only right to think about the welfare of the animals who are housed too close to the boating lake, funfair and ice-rink, for their comfort. We wish them well in their new home.