Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 82

A bumper Frieze

The Peasant Lawyer
Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Peasant Lawyer
Koester Gallery Ltd

I do hope that this year’s Frieze art fair, (now in its 12th year) in which over 160 galleries from 25 countries exhibited, was of as much interest to the Friends with their 25% discount, as it was to the general public, art collectors and dealers who visited – 60,000 in all. This is now one of the largest and most successful British business art fairs in the UK.

A Still Life
Balthasar Van der Ast, A Still Life
Johnny van Haeften Gallery, London

Hubert Van Ravesteyn, Walnuts in a Wanli bowl 1670
Richard Green Gallery

The revamp of Frieze London by Universal Design Studio showed bigger dealers, such as Hauser & Wirth with fewer works on more curated stands. Some large franchise galleries taking financial risks and exhibiting works that go right to the edge, as seen in the collective Shanzhai Biennial (exploring how art events are increasingly divorced from the works that underpin them), who recreated a life style brand with a high-gloss advertising campaign to sell a £32 million London real estate.

What next for 2015?

The Collector
Robin Brown, The Collector 2014, Helly Nahmad Gallery

At Frieze Masters 127 galleries from 19 countries exhibited, with artists such as Francis Bacon at Marlborough Fine Art, and, “The Collector”, a recreated fictional 1968 Parisian apartment designed by British film-set designer Robin Brown with catalogue essay by its curator Norman Rosenthal represented by Helly Nahmad Gallery. But one of the delights was that exhibits included a 7,000 year old Neolithic idol, a 1st century AD torso of Aphrodite, and a stunning collection of Native American works of art. Ethnographic and tribal art was well represented along with the classic Old Masters such as Cranach the Younger, Rubens and, of course, Rembrandt. The more modern 19th century masters as Delacroix, Degas and Monet were there as well as those from the 20th century, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Cindy Sherman and Bruce Nauman to name but a few.

Franz West, Sitzwurst 1999-2000 Faggionato

small lie
KAWS, SMALL LIE 2013, Galerie Perrotin (photo: Malcolm Kafetz)

eyes off
Gabriele De Santis, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You 2014, Frutta

Your editor enjoyed the way galleries juxtaposed the old with the new, hinting at the influence of the one on the other.

Many of the big names in the gallery world were there – amongst them were Richard Green Gallery, Koetser Gallery, Didier Aaron Ltd, Eric Franck, Bruce Silverstein and Johnny van Haeften Ltd, Annely Juda Fine Art, Jean-Luc Baroni. The Sculpture Park in the English Gardens, was in its third year and had expanded. Curated by Clare Lilley, from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, it presented twenty-one artists from both fairs, with works mostly created within the last few years such as Sitzwurst by Franz West (a giant pink sausage), represented by Faggionato and the unmissable large-scale sculpture made from afromosia, a rare hardwood, “KAWS, SMALL LIE”, 2013, depicting a Mickey Mouse-cum Pinocchio figure, linking street art and fine art, in the vein of Jeff Koons.

Philippa Jane Wielgos

End of season review 2014

Following a slight hiccup with computer connections, which gave everyone welcome extra time to examine Stephen Crisp’s wonderful aquatint coloured panoramas of Regent’s Park engraved by Richard Morris in 1831, Conall Macfarlane welcomed everyone to the 2014 End of Season Review.

Engraving after William Westall, 1827 Collection of Stephen Crisp

Conall spoke first of the forthcoming 20p charge for using the loos that will be introduced next April but concluded that it was inevitable, given that this represents an income of £1.5 million over all the Royal Parks - the equivalent of 10% of their budget. Conall reported that The Hub coffee mornings are continuing at 11am on the first Wednesday of each month and that we hope to attract many more members to these informal events. He also reminded people of the request for email addresses so that we can improve communication with members. He thanked Nick Biddle, Park Manager, for all his hard work in Regent’s Park who reported that, although there had been a slightly shaky start to the year in the park, everything was now looking very good. At this point John Malpass, acting Treasurer reported that the Friends had £12,000 in the kitty and that the committee would welcome suggestions about how best to spend this to help the park. John then handed back to Conall who asked all those present to send constructive criticism of Benugo, the new park caterers, either to them direct or via Nick Biddle. Finally, Conall addressed the problem of cuts in The Regent’s Park police budget which was unfortunate, especially following a recent spate of vandalism on Primrose Hill. Cycling has been tackled successfully this year with the police issuing 188 fines so far in 2014, but a new and potentially dangerous problem has emerged with an increase in cyclists racing around the outer circle. The police budget cuts will make it more difficult to keep on top of these cycling issues in future years.

Conall then asked Loretta Balfour, who chairs the Crown Estate Paving Commission, to introduce our guest speaker. Loretta began with an explanation of the work and history of the CEPC which is a statutory body of 19th century origin which still controls and is responsible for the highway and pavements of the Outer Circle and its surrounding terraces and associated gardens. One historic aim of the Commission is to maintain and enhance the symbiotic relationship between the natural landscape and the built environment of the Outer Circle. Now, in the 21st century, it has asked for help with this task from Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, the renowned landscape architect and landscape advisor to the historic royal palaces. Loretta introduced Todd and asked him to speak about his report Reinventing John Nash’s Picturesque Vision of The Regent’s Park, London.

Todd began by saying that he had been interested in Regent’s Park since the days of studying for his PhD. It was one of the greatest townscape commissions of 19th century London and had been undertaken by Nash to cement his reputation. Regent Street was the main south-north route from St. James’s Park and Nash’s vision saw the street culminate in the vast open space of Regent’s Park and its grand terraces. The original aim was for the park to be a private pleasureground, but public protest meant that by the 1830s the Broadwalk had been opened to the public, although the masses were still separated from the rest of the private park by chains and bollards.

Todd explained that Nash did not want the park to be viewed as a static landscape but as part of a journey. The Outer Circle was designed as a circuit approached from Park Crescent and then circumnavigated clockwise so that the countryside around Primrose Hill was arrived at from the south before you descended in a south-easterly direction past the terraced houses of the Outer Circle that were designed to look like great palaces with private gardens. Todd emphasised that the view from these raised terraced ‘palaces’ over their own private gardens and down towards the park was an integral part of the conceit of the whole enterprise – and the terraces were up for sale. The key view was from the first floor ‘piano nobile’ of each terrace house. For this illusion to be successful, it was essential that the boundary of the park itself was no more than a simple chestnut fence which did not create an impenetrable barrier.

Todd contrasted this with today’s dense hawthorn hedges which render the park invisible from the Outer Circle. He emphasised that his research at the National Archives had shown that Nash’s tree planting was always of a scale and type to engage with and complement the built environment. To show how we have lost this aspect of Nash’s original design for Regent’s Park, Todd showed a series of early and mid-19th century illustrations and contrasted them with the same views since the end of World War Two. In particular he demonstrated how the planting of inappropriately large trees had robbed the park of a view outwards towards Cumberland Terrace and vice versa. The planting of hedges on both sides of the Outer Circle was contrary to the original vision and also, in Todd’s view, contributed to a speeding up of traffic.

Todd is now working with the CEPC to persuade the Royal Parks to return to the original link between the built landscape of the terraces and the planted landscape of the park. A tree survey in 2013 had looked at the last 200 years of planting and would help the past to inform the present. The aim is not to cut down healthy trees, but to ensure that when diseased trees are replaced, the scale of planting will allow a renewed interaction between the park and the terraces.

Todd was applauded for his fascinating presentation and the questions that followed centred on the role of the longlived CEPC in ensuring that Todd’s proposals are still being followed fifty years from now. Todd concluded that an active partnership between the Royal Parks, the CEPC, Transport for London and the local authorities was the key.

Linda Johnson, Secretary

Zoo news

2014 has been the busiest year yet with many more visits from school parties. Conservationists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Google are using television whitespaces (TVWS) – the ‘gaps’ between digital TV frequencies - to trial a groundbreaking new technology at ZSL London Zoo, which could one day help to protect endangered species around the world.(see TVWS at ZSL)

Dubbing the trial ‘Whitespaces for Wildlife’, ZSL hopes that the TVWS, which can be used to transmit data over long distances and through obstacles such as trees or foliage, will enable field conservationists to accurately monitor endangered animals in remote areas that have previously proved incredibly difficult.

Cameras and radios have been installed in animal enclosures at ZSL London Zoo to test the use of TVWS by wirelessly transmitting live video to YouTube - using Google’s Spectrum Database to ensure no interference with existing channels.

Albeit unknowingly, the animals at ZSL London Zoo will be playing a crucial role in the trial, with the focus of the cameras, and the public, entirely on them.

Footage from the cameras will be sent via TVWS and streamed live on ZSL London Zoo’s YouTube channel, ‘ZSLVideo’. Members of the public will be able to tune in and check out what the playful otters, mischievous meerkats and chilled-out giant tortoises are getting up to 24-hours-a-day during the pilot period.

Fabulous at forty

At the end of October, Zaire, a 16.5-stone western lowland gorilla, marked her milestone birthday with a very special guest. Fan favourite on this year’s Great British Bake Off, Richard Burr, lived up to his star baker reputation and created a very special birthday treat for the Zoo’s eldest gorilla to celebrate in style.

Richard faced a new challenge in making a unique creation from Zaire’s favourite treats including sugar-free jelly, apples, carrots and walnuts, in her favourite pink colour. But with a record five weeks as star baker he wasn’t feeling fazed by the tasty task.

Richard said: “I’m thrilled to have made a birthday gift for such a special lady. I’ve always loved London Zoo and am a regular visitor so it’s a pleasure to use my bake off skills and help celebrate Zaire’s birthday. I hope she likes the treat I’ve created especially for her!”

Asiatic Lions

The Zoo’s lions, five-year-old Ruby and three-year-old twins Heidi and Indi, have taken up temporary residence at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s 600 acre site in Bedfordshire, where they will enjoy a private holiday, away from the public, while their brand new breeding centre is built. Land of the Lions, ZSL London Zoo’s new, state-of-theart lion exhibit, is due to open in spring 2016.

Land of the Lions is part of an ambitious public fundraising project by the ZSL, which aims to raise £5.7 million for the endangered Asiatic lion, and will include the new breeding centre as well as the extension of vital conservation work in India, where only 400 Asiatic lions are left in the wild.

The public can support the Lions400 campaign in a range of ways, from donating a small one-off gift to plant a tree for the Zoo’s lions to prowl behind, to donating £10 a month towards veterinary training kits for treating injured lions in the wild. All donation options can be found on ZSL’s new interactive map of the Land of the Lions exhibit at

James Wren,
Development Director, ZSL

The Bandstand

A number of Friends have asked about the lack of music on the Bandstand in the last year or two. Nick Biddle, Park Manager, has explained that the Royal Park’s post which managed the music on the bandstand was cut following the first Comprehensive Spending Review of the current government. Although the finding of musical content is not a problem, the issue is the lack of staff to manage it. Sadly, there will be no music for the foreseeable future.

In the gardens

The Waterfowl Collection

Following a period under threat as a result of significant cuts in government funding, plans are now underway to rationalise and re-establish the Waterfowl Collection. According to Mark Bridger we no longer breed birds but continue to maintain a facility for sick and injured birds. The collection has diminished over the past two years but we plan to rebuild the collection to feature the more colourful (when in their breeding plumage) northern hemisphere birds.

We have been suffering increased “pressure” from our resident foxes and will be carrying out some work to redress the balance in favour of the birds.

The north bank of the Longbridge bird sanctuary is a great place for our waterfowl to graze, but one or more of our resident foxes has taken to using the shrubs there to lie in wait to do some grazing of their own. The water fowl have thus moved elsewhere.

We are planning to remove these ambush areas and put them to grass in the hope that this will not only benefit the water fowl but also provide more opportunities to see the collection birds, as well as creating a sweeping view of the grass bank coming down to the water’s edge.

Replacing the trees along Chester Road

The Royal Parks are applying to Westminster City Council and The London Borough of Camden for planning consent to remove the 95 cherry trees along Chester Road, many of which have already failed and are in poor shape. They would be replaced by one hundred flowering cherries of the variety Prunus ‘Sunset Boulevard’ a similarly spectacular flowering cherry with excellent autumn colour but with a slightly more upright form than the current, more spreading variety ‘Kanzan’. Ideally the existing trees would be removed during the coming winter, followed immediately by cultivation and re-soiling, with a nine-ten month period for settlement and consolidation. This is important as the trees will be around five to six metres tall with a root ball 90cm in diameter. The new trees would be planted in November 2015. Thus, although Chester Road will be without trees for the summer season, if consent is granted, the long term effect will provide an elegant formal avenue.

Mark Bridger, Assistant Park Manager

Elsewhere in the gardens


Planning permission has now been received for the much needed improvements to The Garden Café in Queen Mary’s Gardens. This will include double-glazing and heating improvements, the installation of a wood-fired pizza oven, new toilets to the rear of the building and more space to the front of house. The work is programmed to start in January and be completed in February.

Contract Tendering

The contract with Will to Win which manage the Tennis Centre at York Bridge has reached the end of its term and, as required by government procurement rules, will be retendered early in 2015. The proposed start date for the new contract is 12 April, early in the new financial year but avoiding a clash with Easter or school holidays. The contract for the boating concession and Boathouse Café will be also be relet in 2015.

The Trim Trail

Following consultation with stakeholders, the Trim Trail in Primrose Hill is undergoing renovation, partly funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust. We are hoping to reopen by mid-December with improved drainage, a change to existing infrastructure and a merger with the existing petanque site. One of the petanque courts will be relaid to serve shuttle runs, a popular technique in fitness training, while the remaining court will still be available for booking.

The Hedgehog Survey

Hedgehogphoto: Yusuf Akhta

A great deal of survey work was carried out in the park in May and September this year by a highly skilled and dedicated team of volunteers. Funded by a local benefactor and coordinated by The Royal Parks Foundation, the team included staff from ZSL London Zoo, Dr Jan Hewlett who sits on the Central Royal Parks Wildlife Committee and Dr Nigel Reeve, a national expert on hedgehogs and former Head of Ecology for The Royal Parks, now retired.

This survey of the only central London population of hedgehogs, which included some radio tracking to determine individual movements, has identified at least 47 individual hedgehogs within the park. The data is currently being analysed and a report is due to be published this coming spring.

Gloucester Gate Playground

The Royal Parks Foundation is also currently working hard to fundraise for a refurbishment of Gloucester Gate playground.

We are again working with Farah Huxley Associates, the Landscape Architects who worked with us on the recent improvements to Marylebone Green Playground, with which we are delighted. As with that project we aim to transform the playground from a relatively sterile site with equipment to play on into a far more engaging place; one which offers opportunities for a far wider range of activities, not only to spin, swing, climb etc but to explore, to imagine, and to play hide and seek. We are also focusing on making this playground accessible to children with a very wide range of physical abilities.

Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards

Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill have again this year been awarded Green Flag status.

Additionally, for the first time, Regent’s Park received the Green Heritage Award.

This recognises our custody and management of the historic landscape.

Nick Biddle, Park Manager

Wildlife Update

The tawny owls and little owls have each had three young and the sparrowhawks have had two. The kestrels have had five young and there were a total of 22 heron nests.

Rare bird sightings include yellow browed warbler – the first sightings in inner London.

Butterfly sightings during the warm summer included brimstone, peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, comma, speckled wood, small and large white, large and small skippers. There are six pairs of great crested grebes and a good number of green and great spotted woodpeckers. The invasive ring-necked parakeets and egyptian geese are also on the increase. Ten new bat boxes have been installed across the park.

Dave Johnson, Wildlife Officer
The blog, is run by Tony Duckett who is now Conservation Officer for The Royal Parks working across the Royal Parks’ estate.

The Great Flood!

Flooded streetFlooded street

Flooded banksFlooded banks

It was no dawn chorus at 7am on 24 November when residents of Wells Rise, Primrose Hill, woke up to see Wells ‘Cataract’ cascading down the hill. The reservoir had broken its banks, the water eventually reaching the banks of Regent’s Canal. Needless to say, the havoc caused the closing of Prince Albert Road for some time.

Primrose Paddington A Peruvian Bear on Primrose Hill

Paddington BearPaddington Bear

Paddington Bear dressed in green covered with primroses has been standing on a path leading up to the summit of Primrose Hill. According to the designer, actress Julie Walters: “Paddington is a very literal bear and would undoubtedly think that Primrose Hill was covered in primroses. For my bear, I wanted to bring to life one of the prettiest parts of London, just as Paddington would have imagined”. Julie stars as Mrs Bird, the Brown family’s nanny, in the film Paddington, released at the end of November. Our bear is one of 50 installed all over London in a PR drive for the film. But his position on Primrose Hill is doubly important as the fictional home of the family who adopted him was filmed in Chalcot Square in November 2013. A route planner has been designed to help locate the other 49 bears, many of which have been designed by celebrities and they will be on show until December 30.

X marks the spot!

David Ivison and his wife Clare of the Royal Parks Guild have identified the most likely location of the postal depot and its many buildings (see newsletter 81). The depot including the Censor’s office, all of which were dismantled at the end of the war, took up nine acres on and around Gloucester Green.

For the diary

Coffee at the Hub The committee plan to arrange a coffee morning at the Hub for Friends first Wednesday of the month, starting on Wednesday 6 August 2014 from 11am. We hope to see many of you there
The Royal College of Physicians is staging an exhibition on Denys Lasdun the architect of the Regent’s Park building and the National Theatre. It includes letters from Ronald Searle and photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Royal College of Physicians 8 September 2014 – 13 February 2015


Your email address

Would all members with email addresses please send an email with their name, postal address and email address to the current secretary, Linda Johnson
We would like this information so that we can communicate more efficiently with our members.

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Site created on Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Tuesday 6th January 2015.
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