Newsletter ‐ Winter 2018

From the Chair

Xmas Tree

May I commend all the interesting articles in this newsletter, including details of the End of Season Review meeting. I would also like to thank our tireless volunteer committee especially Stella Davies who has worked hard to implement the changed membership system in this year of transition. I would like to thank all of you who have joined or renewed your subscription using our new membership system.

This system has just engagingly changed its title to LoveAdmin instead of Paysubsonline, so please don’t think you are being approached by some unknown dubious body! For those of you who have not yet set up or checked your account with our new system this year, we still really want you to go online and set up your payments that way. Many of you have left your old £10 bank standing orders running, despite our frequent statements in these Newsletters and individual emails to say that the subscription price and method changed in January 2018. Some people have paid under the new system and failed to cancel their old standing order, which we will take as a donation! So, do please cancel your standing orders when you sign up new payment methods.

If we have not heard from you at all this year, and have not received the full £20 subscription, we are going to have to assume you are no longer interested in being a Friend, and your membership will be cancelled. Do make contact using the details below if you want to prevent this or are unable to use online access!

New paper membership cards are sent by email to those who have paid £20, and if Friends can’t print these, they can ask to have them sent by post. We are NOT sending out new membership cards until we have received the full £20, and you need to be aware that you must show a valid card to get your discounts. The old green enamel badges will no longer be accepted by the park cafés after the end of this year. If you haven’t registered online, you can do so from theMembership page on this website.

If you cannot email, then write to us: Membership c/o Friends of Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill, 18 Kent Terrace, NW1 4RP.

We’ve had 187 new Friends have joined since January 2018. Keep up the good work in encouraging friends and neighbours to join us.
Ianthe McWilliams, Chair

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End of Season review

The 2018 end of season review on 1 November at St John’s Wood Church Hall began with an update from Andrew Scattergood, Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, about five major capital projects. The Board was clearly focussed on investing in the fabric of the estate to ensure its resilience for the future. The five major projects were ‐ the Gloucester Gate Playground; the Primrose Hill Cafe; the Boathouse Café; resurfacing the Inner Circle (which had just been completed); and the nursery site.

Hyde Park Super Nursery

The Hyde Park super nursery has now been operational for six months, so the Regent’s Park site is no longer required for a nursery. Whatever is located on the site must be in keeping with the Park, so no hotels or residences would be permissible. An ‘expressions of interest’ process will be run soon and criteria for awarding the contract would include: meeting the charitable objectives of the Royal Parks; ensuring that the project is suitable and sensitive to the Park and financially viable and the track record of the proposing team.

Andrew also reported that Westminster City Council’s judicial review about CS11 had been upheld so it was now a matter of waiting to see what TfL would do next. The Royal Parks were committed to a speed limit of 20mph, which had received ministerial support. Andrew acknowledged that enforcing the speed limit would be a challenge and the police would be asked to assist.

Ianthe thanked Andrew for his interesting talk about the projects and welcomed Dominic Jermey CVO OBE, Director General of Zoological Society of London, lately British Ambassador in Afghanistan. Dominic opened his talk recounting some of his time in Afghanistan during very difficult times. He had found some respite by visiting the zoo in Kabul, which was the only place where he had seen happy children, boys only, as girls were not allowed to visit the zoo.

Now he found himself in a very different zoo, and one he had known well as a child. ZSL had started in 1826 and as it approached its 200th anniversary there was a new strategy. Their new vision was A World Where Wildlife Thrives. The strategy fell into three main categories - Wildlife & People; Wildlife & Health; Wildlife Back from the Brink.

Their work included ‐ engaging with wildlife; social and economic engagement; examining the consequences of our actions; stopping animals going extinct; contacts with rangers (e.g. in Kenya) and with the poaching communities; and work with conservationists. Currently there are two million visitors every year to London and Whipsnade.

Snowdon Aviary

It was important to make the best use of the Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings to ensure that the zoos were enticing places for people to visit, especially considering the nearby heavy competition in London. Dominic talked about the major £9m project to refresh the Snowdon Aviary. When it had been built in the 1960s it had been intended as a temporary structure! Lord Foster had designed a new house for the colobus monkeys which would sit next to the aviary and linked to it by colobus bridges. The aviary would house birds, monkeys and possibly some land mammals.

During questions, reference was made to the very high percentage of animals which Dominic had reported had become extinct already in his lifetime. Dominic said that one of ZSL’s campaigns was to reduce single use water bottles. ZSL had been able to re-introduce into the wild some species which had become extinct in the world, but there was still a very long way to go.

Penguin Pool

There was a question about the listed Lubetkin Penguin pool which is no longer used. Dominic explained that it was a concrete structure and experts had advised that it was damaging penguins' feet. They need the sub strata they were used to in their natural habitat to protect their bones. He believed that the zoo could simulate what they had in the wild and so tell a better story of the penguins. He said he was conscious that research had been London focussed and was pleased to report that marine and fresh water research had now moved to Whipsnade.

In answer to a question about education programmes, Dominic replied that over 200,000 children in school groups were engaged with ZSL in national curriculum subjects and in topics outside the national curriculum. There were live hook‐ups between scientists and children with opportunities for children to tune into live autopsies on cetaceans (marine animals) performed by ZSL.

Ianthe thanked Dominic for a most interesting talk and presented him with a gift. She then chaired a question and answer session with Nick Biddle, Manager of Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill. Nick confirmed that the Park was recycling everything they could, with nothing going to land fill. Benugo, the caterers, were trying to remove plastic straws and lids, and ‘buy and keep’ cups were available for purchase.

Apparently, there was a health and safety issue with the drinking fountains, but he was trying to restore the ones in the park and have them in use again. He was hoping for special funding and members of the audience gave him examples of public fountains that are available or being refurbished by local councils.

The delphinium collection had to be dug up because the soil was diseased but would be extended around other beds. The ZSL hedgehog boxes had been very successful. Regent's Park was the last breeding place in urban London.


There were concerns about speeding cyclists and cycling on the footpaths. Nick said that cycling in the park was always on the Safer Parks agenda. PC Rebecca England had left the Park on 1 November and her replacement, PC Richard Taylor, would be starting on 5 November.

Nick asked anyone with concerns about cyclists at specific times of the day (especially if cycling on footpaths) to let him know and he would pass the information to the police.

Rough grassland had to be cut at intervals so that it did not revert to scrub. It happened less than once a year and was done as part of a considered and measured programme to maintain diversity. There were no plans to develop the old golf and tennis school area. It was mainly open parkland, a wild corner of the park. The enclosed area was very beneficial to wildlife, especially hedgehogs.

Ianthe thanked Nick for fielding so many varied questions and thanked everyone for coming. She also invited anyone willing to help with the bandstand concerts next year to let her know by email.
Jackie Erwteman, Secretary

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In the Gardens


Autumn migration was slow this year due to the lack of prolonged easterly winds. Birds of interest included two wood warblers, seven redstarts, six pied flycatchers and six whinchat.

Two young tawny owls roosted by the Nature Study Centre until late September. Hedgehogs were seen in the Cricket, Wetland and Goose Pens and a hornets' nest was discovered in the decaying log pile at Dead Man's Corner.
Dave Johnson, Wildlife Officer

Surveys continued this year in May and September, key findings below:

  • 150 volunteers supported the surveys, contributing an incredible 560 hours of their time to the project
  • Thirty individual hedgehogs were found, twelve males and eighteen females
  • This includes ten juveniles ‐ which is great news and means the hedgehogs have successfully bred this summer
  • All of the hedgehogs were healthy, a good weight and no injuries were recorded
  • The areas around St John's Lodge, Cumberland and Gloucester Greens and The Zoo Car Park were most popular
  • The sports pitches also proved popular, a change from previous years - perhaps the summer drought pushed hedgehogs to irrigated areas of the park
  • The majority of the juvenile hedgehogs were found in the area around St John's Lodge, particularly in the fenced off wildlife areas

We will continue with the surveys next May and September and the results from this year will be analysed and written into a report, which will be published, along with previous reports, on The Royal Parks’ website when finalised.
Tess Pettinger, Volunteer and Programmes Manager

Volunteering in Queen Mary’s Garden
We are looking for volunteers to join the existing team to help with a wide range of general gardening tasks such as planting, weeding and pruning. You will work alongside skilled staff and get a chance to learn about practical horticulture, garden design and plant identification. This opportunity is available on weekdays and requires a regular commitment, ideally one day a week.

If this opportunity appeals and you would like to get involved, please contact the volunteering for more information.

The Delphinium Border in Queen Mary’s Garden
There had not been many delphiniums in the border over the last year. It has been difficult growing them possibly because of a build‐up of pests and diseases in the soil or, perhaps, poor drainage.

Sourcing replacement plants of suitable size from the new nursery in Hyde Park was not possible so replanting has been delayed until May 2019. The current plan is to create another delphinium border within the garden, ‘retire’ the present one and to replant it with grasses and other herbaceous plants.

It is hoped that in future years there will be a supply of replacement stock and the possibility of a delphinium celebration weekend making plants available to the public.
Mark Rowe, Assistant Park Manager

Staff Changes
Assistant Park Manager Mark Bridger retired on 12 October 2018 after thirteen years at The Royal Parks, initially overseeing the Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of the woodland gardens at Bushy Park before joining the management team at Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill.

His former position will be filled from 4 December by Phil Edwards who worked at Hyde Park for five years in the management team on the contractor side before moving to the Crown Estate at Windsor Great Park where has worked for the past fifteen years.

Following Colin Buttery’s move in February 2017 to the City of London as Director of Open Spaces, Tom Jarvis took up the post of Director of Parks on 1 October 2018. Tom has been at the Windsor Estate as Superintendent of Parks since 2011. Prior to his time at the Windsor Estate, Tom was Park Manager for Kensington Gardens and Brompton Cemetery. During his previous employment with the Royal Parks he also fulfilled the roles of Assistant Park Manager, Hyde Park and Horticultural Officer. Tom is delighted to be back and is a great addition to the team.

Other appointments include Darren Woodward as Director of Estates, Sally Nichols as Director of Fundraising & Engagement and Clare Wadd as Director of Resources.

Bird Feeding
The volume and frequency of bird feeding over recent years has created a big problem for the park and despite our best efforts to moderate this activity we have not been able to mitigate the severe problems it has been causing, notably ‐ huge populations of some species, especially crows.

Feeding Birds

Their behaviour has involved predation on eggs and chicks; aggression towards park visitors; offspring failing to disperse to new territory as they would normally, causing overcrowding, disease and in‐breeding with associated genetic abnormalities; leftover food attracting vermin; food left in lakes and ponds which damages water quality and when food is eaten the nutrients still end up in the lake.

We receive complaints about the volume of faeces on the waterside paths and there is no possibility of improving the condition of the waterside lawns given the current numbers of waterfowl. This latter problem is also related to the number of geese which descend on the park for the summer moult.

Much as we love our waterfowl, we need to maintain a more sustainable balance and so have, for the time being, posted signs to prohibit feeding. We will keep this under review and hope that rather than watching hoards of the bolder species squabbling for handouts, park visitors will enjoy observing the natural behaviour of our wildlife.

The Royal Parks Calendar
This calendar is now on sale. Visit theRoyal Parks website to purchase.

The slightly less visually appealing Annual Report has also recently been published!
Nick Biddle, Park Manager

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It’s Study Time


The Field Studies Council (FSC) is once again organizing an interesting series of courses in the Royal Parks in 2019.

To take part in most of our courses, you don’t need to have any previous experience, or any expensive kit, just enthusiasm, an interest in the subject and a desire to learn. The courses are offered at a range of levels and are delivered by subject experts, with enthusiasm for their subject.

Each course will be a day, with a mix of indoor and outdoor sessions. Courses start at £35 per day and include the training and materials and refreshments (bring your own lunch/snacks).

Courses are at the weekend start at 9.30 a.m. and finish at 4.00 p.m. unless otherwise stated. FSC London uses the inspiring, exciting and ever changing natural and built landscapes within London to deliver courses. FSC, is a charity that provides informative and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, and understand the environment.

Courses in The Regent’s Park:

  • 27 April 2019 ‐ How to Use Plant Identification Keys
  • 11 May 2019 ‐ Urban Wild Plants
  • 18 May 2019 ‐ Common British & Irish Plant Families 1: Cabbage, Carrot, Lily & Rose
  • 01 June 2019 ‐ Tree Identification: Summer
  • 15 June 2019 ‐ Common British & Irish Plant Families 2: Pea, Grass, Rush & Sedge
  • 22 June 2019 ‐ Meadows and Grassland Plants
  • 20 July 2019 ‐Common British & Irish Plant Families 3: Mint, Figwort & Borage
  • 17 August 2019 ‐ Common British & Irish Plant Families 4: Daisy, Goosefoot, Dock & Willow
  • 31 August 2019 ‐ Bats and their Natural History
  • 21 September 2019 ‐ Tree Identification: Autumn

To find out more and to book for your course, visit theField Studies Council website

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Frieze Masters 2018

Once again, The Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters brought in artists, dealers and connoisseurs from all over the world and our resident artist has chosen just five items from the large and very varied collection of works on exhibition and, of course, for sale.

Sarcophagus Mask

Polychrome Sarcophagus Mask

The promise of an afterlife for Egyptians offered hope in an uncertain world.

The mask was an important part of funerary equipment, not only for the protection of the face, but chiefly to present an idealised image of the deceased so that the dead would look their best in the afterlife and retain the ability to see and speak.

This striking polychrome sarcophagus mask, from the third intermediate period (21st Dynasty, 1085 ‐ 950 B.C.) was made at a time when Egyptian culture was being infiltrated by Libyan influences, thus marking a departure from earlier, classical periods.

Tunic (Cushma)


Early in the twentieth century, many artists broke away from portrayal or imitation of nature towards the more fundamental forms and shapes of the arts of primitive civilisations, which were now regarded anew.

Pre‐Columbian art, with its emphasis on rhythm and brilliant non‐representative colour, inspired artists seeking a new language and aesthetic.

This splendid example of a Huari culture textile (Southern Andes (Circa 800 A.D.) demonstrates the power of this culture’s virtuosity, inspiring the imagination of abstract artists such as Joseph Albers with his series, ‘Homage to the square’ and directly influencing his wife, Anni Albers, who claimed that her great teachers were the weavers of ancient Peru.

Marcel Duchamp (1881 ‐ 1968)

Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp’s complex work embraced cubism, conceptual art and Dada. “In a word”, he said, “it is always a matter of giving the viewer a startling impression that a weird logic has directed my work”.

This portable, miniature museum unfolds like a travelling salesman’s display case and contains sixty‐nine miniature replicas. One item, ‘Nude descending a staircase’, where the figure’s movement is brilliantly captured by the overlapping sections of the figure, caused a sensation when it was first shown in 1915.

Amongst other items, ‘Bride stripped bare by her bachelors’, is a much‐reduced painting on glass that took years to complete, perhaps his most enigmatic, and the most discussed piece of all. Amanda Malpass

Standing Virgin and Child

Standing Virgin

This free‐standing French limestone sculpture (Central France ‐ C.1470‐1480) is characteristic of the courtly style of the late medieval reign of St. Louis.

Probably from the Loire valley and influenced by the work of Michel Colombe, this piece has features that reflect the painting of Jean Fouquet.

The serene face, high curved forehead and downcast eyes reflect the ideal of feminine beauty at that time. Her closefitting tunic is tied at the slim waist with a girdle.

The heavily pleated folds of her mantle, typical of this period; and the long hair flowing in thick waves down her back lend grace to this late gothic Virgin, with the Christ child cradled in her arms.

A House Under the Hills

A House Under the Hills

Despite his academic training, Ivon Hitchens, C.B.E 1893 ‐ 1979 developed a freedom of expression bordering on abstraction. In 1940, after his home was bombed, he moved to Sussex, living in a caravan.

Nature now permeated his experience; her rhythms and moods directed his art entirely. Over time, his palette changed from subtle earth colours, beautifully lit to vibrant yellows and purples. His format is a wide landscape, onto which he swept his loaded brush, leaving white areas showing through.

At times, he scored the canvas with the tip of his brush and superimposed delicate marks against the bold images.

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Zoo ‐ Spotlight on Patrons

Simon and Elaine Brown started their involvement with ZSL with a gift of ZSL membership to Elaine. Both then took on work in their retirement as volunteer keepers at B.U.G.S. (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival), the zoo’s cutting‐edge biodiversity and conservation exhibit.

In 2010, however, they decided to become Patrons. “As Patrons, we feel privileged and valued” adds Elaine. “We’ve enjoyed working closely with the ZSL team, as well as meeting like‐minded Patrons at events. It’s been a joy to see ZSL develop into the global wildlife charity it is today.”

VisitBecome a Patron for more information or theVolunteering page for current opportunities.

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Zoo Celebrates the Festive Season

Zoo Celebrations

ZSL London Zoo celebrates the festive season until 1 January with a magical new light trail.

ZSL members can visit with a 10% discount on the ticket price and the traditional treats in the Christmas village.

Tickets start at £16.50 for adults and £10.50 for children.