A park is an area of natural, semi-natural, or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. It may consist of grassy areas, rocks, soil, and trees, but may also contain buildings and other artifacts such as monuments, fountains or playground structures.
The first parks were English deer parks, land set aside for hunting by royalty and the aristocracy in medieval times. They had walls or thick hedges around them to keep game animals (e.g., stags) in and people out. It was strictly forbidden for commoners to hunt animals in these deer parks. These game preserves evolved into landscaped parks set around mansions and country houses from the sixteenth century onwards. They may have served as hunting grounds but they also proclaimed the owner's wealth and status. An aesthetic of landscape design began in these stately home parks where the natural landscape was enhanced by landscape architects such as Capability Brown. As cities became crowded, the private hunting grounds became places for the public.
With the Industrial revolution parks took on a new meaning as areas set aside to preserve a sense of nature in the cities and towns. Sporting activity came to be a major use for these urban parks. Areas of outstanding natural beauty were also set aside as national parks to prevent their being spoiled by uncontrolled development.