The park was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park. It is the largest of London's Royal Parks. It is of national and international importance for wildlife conservation. The park is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It is included, at Grade I, on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England.
Notable features in the park include Pembroke Lodge, once the home of the British Prime Minister Lord John Russell. Also in the park is White Lodge, home of the Royal Ballet School and once a royal residence. One house in the park, Thatched House Lodge, is the residence of Princess Alexandra.
The park is fully open to the public, with access by road, bicycles and pedestrians.