December Park News

Photo: "Ducks in a row" – Mallards on icy Lower Pen Pond by Nigel Jackman

St Paul’s view petition and protest

Don’t forget to sign our petition (over 7,000 signatures so far)

And please come to our Protest Gathering on Wednesday 14th Dec:

Date/time: Wednesday 14 December, 10.45 for 11.00, should end by 12.00/1230.
Location: King Henry’s Mound
What: Protest gathering and short walk along the avenue of trees framing the view (specially opened for the occasion)
Confirm: If you can confirm you’ll be joining us on the 14th we’d much appreciate it. Please reply here Protest Gathering

The developers, Manhattan Loft, have a ‘topping out’ celebration at 1pm on Wednesday, with the invitees promised to “be among the first to experience London’s most stunning view” – made possible by ruining our view. Help us to protest the development and push for action from the Mayor and the developers.

St Paul’s view media coverage. There has been widespread media coverage, with long pieces in the Guardian, Times and Mail online. The Times also published a letter from all the Chairs of the Royal Parks Friends. ITV News and BBC and LBC radio covered the story as did many other local and national media. The St Paul’s Chapter, Historic England and The Royal Parks have all issued statements of support. The two main candidates in the Richmond Park by-election both wrote to the Mayor, and it is being pursued by Richmond Council and Tony Arbour, our London Assembly representative. In addition, over 16,000 people saw our campaign to save St Paul’s view on Friends’ Facebook page and 7,000 signed our petition. You can see the all the media publications, plus our Press Release and letter to the Mayor here on our website.

Good News for Isabella’s ponds and streams. Friends will have read, in the recent Autumn Newsletter, a short article about how the ponds and streams of Isabella Plantation have been substantially improved with funding from the SITA Trust plus partial match funding from us Friends. As noted in the article the full version can be read on our website.

Beverley Brook on TV. ITV London News yesterday (Wednesday 7 December) had a fairly long piece on the conservation work undertaken at Beverley Brook, and how it has been returned to a natural stream with habitats for a variety of fish, invertebrates and plants. It had interviews with Adam Curtis, Assistant Park Manager, and Alister Hayes, TRP’s temporary Head of Ecology.

Bird species in decline. A study of bird species in Richmond Park by the Friends' Bird Group reveals a further reduction in 2016. See full report here

Winter in Richmond Park. The autumn newsletter had an article on the poet Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917). You can read about him and download the chapter “A Winter’s Day in Richmond Park” together with diary entries that include references to Richmond Park in “A Diary in English Fields and Woods” here

Christmas cards, gifts and 2017 calendars. Don't forget our Visitor and Information Centre for all your Christmas cards and gifts needs! All proceeds towards FRP's ongoing and vital work in conservation and education, to preserve the park for generations to come.



26 Dec  Pembroke Lodge car park
7 Jan    Robin Hood Gate car park
4 Feb    Roehampton gate car park

Every Friday – INFORMAL BIRDWATCHING WALK – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am.

Our free guided walks do not need to be booked ahead, except where indicated. Most (but not all) begin at 10.00am and finish around midday at the car park or gate shown. To double check dates or meeting points, or if you need special help or support, contact Ian McKenzie on 020 8943 0632 or consult the Park notice boards.

21 Jan Introduction to Birdwatching (Peter Burrows-Smith)

Most courses start at Pembroke Lodge at 10.00am. They are for members of the Friends only and do not need to be booked – just turn up. The courses are a 30 minutes talk indoors followed by a 2 hour walk. Coffee/tea provided.

Richmond Park Diary

Christmas trees. They are available from Roehampton Car Park. Purchasing one through our concession ‘Pines and Needles’ will help to look after the parks as a percentage of sales is paid to the Royal Parks. They are open every day during park opening hours up until Christmas Eve and trees can be delivered. See

Butchers Broom. A small evergreen shrub that is only known to grow wild in one location in the park, but is often planted in gardens to form low clumps or hedges. Its ‘leaves’ are coarse and prickly and aren’t leaves at all, but actually adapted stalks. It also has a large bright red berry on the deep green foliage making it ideal for Christmas decoration. Traditionally a sprig of butchers broom would be used to scrape clean a butchers chopping block – (hence the name). Its association with meat also lead to it being used mainly to decorate the plate used for the turkey or goose.

Beech tree near Roehampton Gate. Unfortunately a large beech tree near Roehampton Gate was felled in November. Superficially the tree looked very vigorous but earlier this autumn a fungus was found at the base of the tree that is known to weaken the roots. Subsequent investigations confirmed that the roots had started to weaken and rot and it would be difficult to predict how long the tree would continue to be structurally sound in the future. Being adjacent to a busy road and footpath, it was decided that the tree should be removed rather than risk it falling onto park visitors.

Rabbits. They are quite abundant in Richmond Park but are generally nocturnal. Valued for their meat, rabbit bones have been found in archaeological sites dating back to the Romans in the UK. However, their introduction really dates from the Normans in the 11th or 12th century, who kept them for meat and fur. By the 13th century a rabbit was worth more than a workman’s daily wage and so the warrener was a valued and respected member of any country estate, guarding the precious commodity from poachers. Originally they we not well adapted to the British climate and were easily predated and only survived where they were protected by the estate ‘warrener’. Gradually though, the escapee became acclimatized and populated much of the UK – providing ‘wild’ game meat. During the war time rationing, the supply of rabbit meat from the countryside into towns could not satisfy demand. During these times of hardship cats were eaten and became known as ‘roof rabbits’. Butchers could prove the origins of the meat by leaving the kidneys in – a rabbit’s kidneys are off-set but if the kidneys sit parallel in the body, it was a ‘roof rabbit’!