We believe that Charlecote Park has been an enclosed deer park since the Elizabethan period. Local legend has it that a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching deer here and was hauled up before the local magistrate – the first Sir Thomas Lucy.
He is said to have immortalised Sir Thomas as the fussy Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. There are certainly many references to deer and venison in the play.
The deer live in West Park which was previously closed to visitors, but we are increasingly allowing visitor access here and, of course, you can join one of our free volunteer-led park walks throughout the year. You'll often be able to see the deer across the river Avon from the picnic benches on the paddock.
Check the What's On page for special guided walks with the Ranger in spring and autumn.
Playing their part in the environment
In order to ensure that the deer are maintained in the best possible health we need to make sure that the land can sustain the numbers of deer and sheep that we have here.
The deer contribute to the grazing of our ancient pasture to maintain the plants and wildlife that co-exist here, and we maintain a fine ecological balance to ensure that everything benefits.
Managing the herd
Deer numbers go up every year and we need to reduce them to keep the numbers at a sustainable level. Between September and March we therefore cull some of the herd.
This is done by trained staff in a way that causes very little stress to the animals when the parkland is closed to visitors. The award-winning venison produced is sold in the Pantry shop and used in the Orangery restaurant.