Through the carefully trimmed foliage, St Paul's majestic dome appears no larger than a thumbnail.
Seen from 10 miles away, London's iconic cathedral seems to hover in the distance like a mirage, shimmering in the heat.
This unique "viewing corridor" from King Henry VIII's Mound, down a specially maintained tree-lined avenue, has been a feature of Richmond Park in south-west London, since the early 1700s.
With the surrounding modern buildings carefully hidden by the holly hedging, this "key hole" view of the 18th Century landmark from the park is like a window to London's past.
But heritage campaigners fear new planning laws - introduced by Mayor Ken Livingstone and rubber-stamped by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly - mean Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece could end up crowded out by sky-scrapers.
Under the new planning rules, the so-called viewing corridor has been narrowed from a width of 150m to 70m.
Situated on the highest point on Richmond Hill, overlooking Thames valley. Easy to find - from the Pembroke Lodge car park on west of park walk towards the Lodge (building with cafe in it) and bear right, heading about as far as you can go within the fenced off garden. The mound is signposted, with a handy free telescope on top to take advantage of the remarkable view through to St Pauls. The official sign at the bottom is quite informative, it quotes from Edward Jesse (1835): 'it has been opened and a considerable deposit of ashes found in the centre of it'.
Interestingly, the view in the opposite direction from St Paul's to King Henry's Mound aligns with the setting of the full moon closest to the summer solstice (major southern moon set). Another bronze age mound previously existed on the other side of sidmouth wood along this same alignment. This particular alignment is very common in other bronze age structures (e.g. the recumbant stone circles of n-e scotland. Also the alignment of Avebury with Glastonbury Tor, thought by many to be part of an ancient ley line, runs along a very similar angle. It seems improbable that the mound(s) were constructed to make this alignment with the site of St Paul's/ludgate hill (thought to be the site of a pre-roman temple) but the possibility remains intriguing. The line also runs directly through 10 Downing Street...
The OS Explorer mar 161 shows the word ‘mound’, very close to what looks like a small enclosed hump of ground. The general Richmond Park info board often uses a symbol for ‘ancient heritage’ but this time it doesn’t show anything in the area of the mound. When you go there, there is a very small hump covered in pine and oak trees and enclosed by metal railings with a locked gate. Not sure what it is, or was! As I had approached from the south I came across a few things that seem more interesting than the pretty innocuous tiny enclosed mound.
There is a suspiciously long barrow shaped mound about 20 metres long right on the edge of the hill - this is about 50 metres south of the enclosed mound. It is marked by 3 trees on its west side and a silver birch at the possible south of the possible barrow. Lots of possibles! Maybe I just like seeing possibles, but I also thought there was a suspicious possible round barrow almost at the foot of the possible longbarrow, just to the south of the silver birch tree. It’s a pretty innocuous piece of ground, with a grass path running straight through it, but the small humps and bumps on either side of the path (in an area of no other such bumps) give the impression that it could be a very worn down round barrow.
Living in London makes you desparate for heritage!