History of deer at Ashridge
The fallow deer are an integral part of the landscape at Ashridge and a much-loved feature of this historic estate.
Deer are part of the Estates extensive history
There have been deer here for hundreds of years. Fallow deer were brought to England after the Norman Conquest as a ’beast of the chase’: those at Ashridge were almost certainly part of the royal hunting ground Richard of Cornwall (the son of King John) established in the 13th century. It is entirely possible that the fallow deer we see today are the descendants of those that roamed the 13th century deer park.
In the centuries that followed the enclosed deer parks would have included other deer species, and even goats. Red deer and the Japanese sika deer were captive in Ashridge Park during the 19th century. When the estate was broken up and sold off in 1926, the red and sika were removed and the fallow deer roamed free as the deer park fencing was taken down.
It’s thought that the muntjac we see at Ashridge may have escaped from Woburn in the late 19th century. These very small deer originate from Asia and are now widespread across much of England.
Although the deer are wild we do have to manage them in order to look after them and the wider estate. Find out more about deer management here.