Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 86

New Status for Royal Parks

Park Gates photo courtesy Fran Pickering
Park Gates photo courtesy Fran Pickering

The Royal Parks is changing its status to become a public charitable corporation. It will still have strong links to the government with the ultimate responsibility remaining with the Secretary of State. However the organisation will be run by a board of trustees, who will almost immediately have to decide whether to retain the present name or something very similar. The new body will absorb or merge with the Royal Parks Foundation, which up until now has been a separate charity raising funds for individual projects.

Mr Andrew Scattergood, the present Royal Parks chief executive, who succeeded Linda Lennon last summer, explained the background of the new proposals at the regular end of season review at St. John's Wood Church in November. He said that, while the principle of the new regime had been accepted in Whitehall, details were still being hammered out, especially with the Treasury. It was expected to come into operation by next autumn. Mr Scattergood pointed out that the present relationship with Whitehall did not allow the organisation to build up reserves - both to offset any loss of income and also to fund major projects over longer periods of time. Government funding is carried out very much on an annual basis. Mr Scattergood also hoped to increase opportunities for volunteers from the present total of about 1,800 across all the parks.

Since the meeting, the Friends has learnt that public organisations which generate more than 50 per cent of their funds must change their status - usually to become public corporations. However, for this to happen in the case of the Royal Parks, would involve further loss of funds through the imposition of value added tax. As a result the Royal Parks investigated alternatives and found that the creation of a public charitable corporation suited their needs, avoiding VAT and allowing greater flexibility in the use of funds. Grant funding by the taxpayer has fallen from 90 per cent in 2001 to about 30 per cent now. Under the new proposals the government will no longer provide a grant but under the terms of a service contract will care for the parks, which incidentally are still owned by the Queen but with responsibility for management resting with government. There is no guarantee that the current level of support from government will not shrink further.

The role of chairman of the new corporation is likely to be advertised imminently with further advertisements asking for applications for 12 to 15 board members in due course. The royal household will continue to be represented.

Judy Hillman, Patron

End of season review 2015

The chairman, Conall Macfarlane, introduced his successor, Ianthe McWilliams, who has had a distinguished career with the Department of Education. She will take over in January 2016.

He then introduced the two speakers, Andrew Scattergood, the chief executive of Royal Parks who took over from Linda Lennon in Mary 2015, and Sara Lom, chairman of the Royal Parks Foundation. See the report from Judy Hillman above.

He thanked Linda Johnson who has acted as secretary for the last few years but who has decided to stand down from the role after the AGM in 2016 because of her other commitments, so a volunteer to take on this duty is being sought.

He also gave special thanks to Nick Biddle and his team for their excellent work in the park and in particular Nick's initiative with the sculpture park installed with Frieze.

The treasurer, Robin Das, reported on the current state of the finances. He is hoping to obtain email addresses from as many Friends as possible. (see footnotes )

HS2 and the Cycle Super-highway have been hot topics during the last months and the chairman has prepared and submitted a petition on behalf of the Friends against the requisitioning of the zoo car park by HS2. He has also attended many meetings with TFL and the Royal Parks discussing the proposed Super Highway.

Watch out for the date for the Consultation period which should take place in January. This is your opportunity to have your say on the proposals and yet another reason for giving us your email address.

New flowering cherries

The new cherry trees in Chester Road will be a paler pink than those which had to be removed, Sara Lom, head of the Royal Parks Foundation, told the end of season review. She said that some 77 per cent of the £176,000 target had been raised including a donation for the first replacement tree from Prince Charles and the second from Richard Portnoy, who recently resigned from his role as treasurer of the Friends.

Cherry wood was extremely attractive and it was hoped to use the trunks of the former trees once they were seasoned. Apart from bird boxes, one possibility might even be to commission the creation of a new cello from craftsmen in Italy.


The Royal Parks Foundation had created a delightful hedgehog pack including a life-size furry animal costing £25, which sold out that evening. Sara Lom also reported on the two-year survey which was carried out involving the use of a thermal imaging camera and GPS trackers. No one knew why the hedgehogs population was concentrated in the zoo car park - at present threatened by the proposal to use it for construction lorries involved in the redevelopment of Euston for HS2. Even so, the population had shrunk from 38 to 20, in part at least because of road casualties.

Judy Hillman, Patron

In the gardens

The cherry-tree planting in Chester Road started on November 3 immediately after the dismantling of Frieze London. The variety chosen, Prunus 'Sunset Boulevard', will create an architectural feature in keeping with the Regency architecture in the park. Over 60 of the 100 trees had been planted by the end of November.

On Primrose Hill, Simon Farndon of Woodland and Coppice Products in Hampshire has been engaged to work on the boundary fence-line of Barrow Hill Reservoir, a 100 metre hedge which was planted in 2010 and is now mature enough for its first hedge-laying. This forms a sound solid base up to 1.2 metres high which will increase in height as it grows and help to hide the Thames Water iron fence around the reservoir. Simon will be using British native species of privet, field maple, blackthorn and hawthorns to encourage bird nesting. Refurbishment after Frieze of Marylebone Green and Gloucester Green started earlier this year with a slight hiccup due to late turf delivery and wet weather.

Both greens will be spiked and overseeded with grass seed in the spring. This year an experiment was tried to resolve the track way footprint left by Taste of London. The sites were cultivated before Frieze moved in so that the raised floor covered these areas and resulted in much less compaction after the event was dismantled.


Planning permission for the English garden to host the Frieze sculptures was obtained to extend until the end of January 2016 This involved much work by Frieze and cost to the galleries concerned, not to mention the enthusiasm of Nick Biddle, Park Manager, who was most grateful for their support.

New Year's Eve

People will not be encouraged to visit Primrose Hill for New Year's Eve but measures will be taken to help manage the situation in the event of large crowds. The park will close at 1am and visitors will be reminded that lighting of personal fireworks and flying lanterns is against park regulations, to respect the park and be considerate to fellow users. The park will be working closely with the dedicated Royal Parks Police unit and also with Camden Police, the Ambulance Service, Fire Brigade, Transport for London, Camden Council and the GLA to ensure that the plans are robust, coordinated and coherent.

Mark Bridger, Assistant Park Manager

Frieze Art Fair 2015

The two displays are housed in vast white marquees - Frieze London, twice the size of Frieze Masters, at the southern edge of Regent's Park and Frieze Masters at the northern edge. They are designed and built to a high standard in a short space of time, with slickly designed galleries laid out with spacious circulation and clear signage. They are well staffed and include one or two cafés, restaurants and bars.

Frieze London was as impressive as usual, its sleek minimal interior seeming to stretch miles into the distance, and its extremely chic visitors often exhibits in themselves.

Truck by Birgit Brenner
Truck by Birgit Brenner, courtesy Galerie Eigen + Art

The major galleries came up with the requisite high-calibre collections, but amongst the world-class selection of artworks on view, there was disappointingly little evidence of the essential skill of drawing. One of the elements which struck me was the interest in the 3-dimensional, ranging from the beautifully-crafted (almost classical but coolly 'hip') statuettes in various media by Xavier on the Perrotin stand, to the lifesize corrugated cardboard truck by Birgit Brenner at Eigen + Art. The accuracy and meticulous detail of Do Ho Suh's stitched polyester and steel wire washbasin, fridge and boiler room at Victoria Miro were absolutely stunning, giving a totally unexpected grace, wit and transparency to everyday installations. Another beautiful and delicate construction was by Rodrigo Matheus at Ibid: a narrow wall-length projection crafted from DIY and architectural hardware, creating a series of tiny shelves which acted as miniature display units.

Samara Scott's stagnant pond at Sunday Painter, mysteriously revealing its submerged objects, was as popular a draw as the press had predicted. The interest in found objects and particularly words recurred many times throughout the show, a feeling seemingly influenced by early Pop and its reliance on readymade graphics: for example, Sebastian Lloyd-Rees' grey and blue plywood hoardings at Mother's Tankstation, and several instances where three-dimensional letters from publicity signs had been incorporated into painting or sculpture.

Booth by Helly Nahmad
Booth by Helly Nahmad, photo Chris Tubbs, courtesy Helly Nahmad Gallery

This use of lettering and type was even more in evidence at the elegantly-designed Frieze Masters, with original Pop work from the 1950s and 60s often appearing here. Alan Cristea's homage to Richard Hamilton showed the artist?s ability to work in almost any 2-dimensional medium, traditional or modern, and emphasised the sometimes-unremembered finesse of his skills. One of the earlier pioneers of graphics in art was Fernand Léger, and Dickinsons' 'Mysteres de Cubisme' display must have exhibited one of the most impressive existing collections of this genre. Helly Nahmad's follow-up to last year's Paris studio, the talk of Frieze week 2014, was touching and poignant: an assiduous reconstruction of three rooms in a French asylum, 1942, the graffiti-scribbled surfaces showing the art brut of the inmates and the way that this inspired the work of Jean Dubuffet.

Away from Pop and pastiche, the title of the fair really came into in its own in many of the exquisite displays. There was real drawing here, from examples by medieval masters at Skarstedt, through studies by such 18th century artists as Delacroix; beautiful work by Rodin and Klimt at Le Claire Kunst; Schiele's uninhibited portrait sketches in Richard Nagy's atmospheric Viennese room; Calder's wall of lively brush-and-ink animal sketches at Pace, and Freud's meticulously-executed pencil figures and still lives, notably at Baroni.

There were several galleries specialising in photography and it was exciting to see little-known work by Horst, Beaton, Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray, the latter's Surrealist paintings at Luhring Augustine/Franco Noero showing another side to his skills. David Bailey's camerawork, recording people and places in 1960s London, was bizarrely and successfully exhibited alongside a collection of exquisite fishhooks at Daniel Blau, within the new 'Collections' section curated by Norman Rosenthal which highlighted the outstanding creativity in various specialist artforms across the centuries.

Many thanks to Jessica at Event Ticketing for allowing us the privilege of visiting the fair.

Henrietta Goodden

One of the delights this year is the agreement with the Royal Parks that nine of the sixteen outdoor sculptures will remain in the park until January 2016. An app with text by the curator Clare Lilley, available to download, helps to decode some of these works.

More is more by Kathleen Ryan
More is more by Kathleen Ryan

The young Californian artist, Kathleen Ryan's More is More Snake Ring of 2015 is of pale polished concrete. Is it a take on a kitsch piece of jewellery or something more sophisticated?

Shoe Chew by Aaron Angell
Shoe Chew by Aaron Angell

Aaron Angell's Shoe Chew of 2015 is made from beaten steel panels and would fit a very large foot! It was produced in collaboration with a blacksmith in Arbroath and is modelled on a shoe-shaped chew toy for dogs, hence the title.

Dreamy Bathroom by Gary Webb
Dreamy Bathroom by Gary Webb

Gary Webb presents Dreamy Bathroom which he produced in 2014 from a mixture of aluminium and bronze coloured with car paints and lacquer. From a distance it would appear to be a larger than life collection of tasty sweets perched on a mushroom shaped table.

The Dappled Light of the Sun by Conrad Shawcross
The Dappled Light of the Sun by Conrad Shawcross

The most dramatic piece in the park is The Dappled Light of the Sun IV 2015 by the English artist, Conrad Shawcross, whose work derives from strong mathematical principles. A complex mixture of repeating tetrahedral pieces of weathered metal it is supported by three tripods 'striding through Regent's Park' as described by Clare Lilley. The tetrahedron was thought by the ancient Greeks to represent the essence of matter. It is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each corner of vertex. Wait for a sunny day to experience the dappled light.


The summer season went well with successful breeding of 24 pairs of heron, 3 pairs of great crested grebes, 3 pairs of little grebes, 6 pairs of reed warblers and for the first time, we believe, sedge warblers. Winter work will focus on improving the habitat for the breeding of herons and grebes.

The autumn migration was also good with record numbers of redstarts and whinchats making use of the old tennis court enclosure, so many in fact that it could justifiably be called the 'chat enclosure'.

On July 24, on their migration south, a wood warbler, grasshopper warbler, tree pipit, pied flycatcher and lots of spotted flycatchers were spotted along with two hobbies.

A kingfisher arrived in late August and is still around the viewing platform end of the lake. Other arrivals which hopefully will be spending the winter in the UK are siskins, redpolls, firecrests and a yellow browed warbler.

Cetti's Warbler photo courtesy of Tony Duckett
Cetti's Warbler photo courtesy of Tony Duckett

A new species for the park is a cetti's warbler which can still be seen between Longbridge and the cricket pen but more likely can be heard singing in the reeds and bramble around the edge of the lake.

In partnership with the Berkeley Foundation provision has been made for an 18-month Wildlife Officer Apprenticeship. Frances Butler started with us on the October 12 and has settled in well.

Dave Johnson, Wildlife Officer

The Rose Garden

This year the was voted fourth in the Daily Telegraph's top 10 Rose Gardens, and was the only public garden among the winners. The management of Queen Mary's Garden (QMG) is becoming more organic with the use of composted tea applications, creation of wormeries and comfrey juicers and trialling certain areas to evaluate the benefits of moving to a more integrated approach in looking after the garden. So far results have been encouraging with improved plant health and soil structure in the trial plots. A recent visit by Michael Marriot from David Austin Roses left him impressed enough to consider using these techniques at their nursery and garden.

Funding has been secured for replanting areas of QMG which may look drastic but will look better in the long run. The bay hedge running from Chester Gate to the lavatories has been reduced which will make it more resilient and has thereby created two metres more planting area in the shrub bed. Planting of the Island and Cascade beds is now funded and work will start in the New Year with the removal of some of the smaller congested shrubs and new planting of more unusual plants. The Triton fountain and jungle border will be slightly enlarged and enclosed by a low hornbeam hedge. The beds facing the large lawns will focus on salvias and delphiniums, relocating the latter from their present bed where the soil has become 'sick'.

Mark Rowe, Assistant Park Manager

In the Park

Spotted in the park

Perenniporia fraxinea
Perenniporia fraxinea

Edible or not? This is Perenniporia fraxinea. Not edible but parasitic according to Andy Overall, the fungus man, who also says it is tough as old boots.

WWII trenches on Primrose Hill?

In early December there will be a non-obtrusive survey undertaken by Dr Rob Woolven and Gabriel Moshenska, archaeologist from University College London, to try to trace the system of trench shelters dug before and at the beginning of the second world war. If successful there will be a report in the next newsletter.

For Your Diary

Traffic calming, Cycle Superhighway - your opportunity to give your views Don't forget to look out for the date in January for the consultation period  
Bushy Park Trees in winter 27 February 2016 9.30am - 4.00pm For further information on the course or to book your place use the Field Studies Council website. If you are unable to find the information you need, contact the office 020 3130 0469. Places are limited, book early to avoid disapointment. This event is run by Field Studies Council (FSC) London, delivering Education in The Royal Parks in partnership with The Royal Parks
Introduction to Birdwatching 16 January 2016 10.00am -12.30pm Peter Burrows-Smith from the Friends of Richmond Park is hosting an Introduction to Birdwatching course. The course starts at Pembroke Lodge at 10am and includes a 30 minute talk indoors, with tea and coffee supplied, followed by a 2 hour walk around the park. Cost is £10 which includes membership to the Friends of Richmond Park. Free for existing members. Find out more about membership to the Friends of Richmond Park. For further information, visit the Friends of Richmond Park website or contact Honorary Secretary Max Lankester on 020 8940 7898


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 Sunday 24th January 2016.
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