Photo by Rob Kirkham

Heathrow,  Rangers  &  World Wars


Diary Dates

  • 12 Mar         Putting civility into parks by Loyd Grossman (venue: Chiswick)
  • 16 Mar         Richmond Park During The Wars, a talk by Diana Loch
  • 29-31 Mar  WW1 Exhibition (venue: London SW3 4SR)
  • 13 Apr          Friends of Richmond AGM (at King’s School, TW10 6ES)
  • 18 Apr          2020 Calendar photos – closing date for entries 


Thank you to everyone who responded to the special bulletin we sent two weeks ago about the consultation on Heathrow’s proposed future flight paths (the proposals are for one arrival path and two departure paths to go right over Richmond Park). Some 339 of you e-mailed the consultation with your views, making some or all of the points we suggested and copied your email to (if you did email Heathrow but didn’t copy ‘chairman’ could you please do so and we can add it to the 339 – it all strengthens our case).

We spoke at the public meeting organised by Zac Goldsmith on 27 February, attended by Heathrow management, and issued a press release which resulted in a good piece in the Guardian online and printed version.

Heathrow has also agreed to meet us in the near future. So, with your help, we have achieved our first objective – to get Richmond Park, its importance and the public concern about it squarely on the flight path agenda, rather than ignored as had happened to date. The Royal Parks have made a separate submission. Many other local societies and their members have also made submissions since the proposed flight paths cover the whole of south-west London.

The newly recruited 27 Voluntary Community Rangers (VCRs) have had their first training session, and it was a huge success. A great bunch of enthusiastic, positive people who are very excited to be a part of the trial VCR service and to get out in the Park. The session included an introduction to the service, the organisation, the Park and some of the key topics that they will encounter, and some good discussions and thoughts were shared. Further training will take place this coming week-end, with the involvement of the Friends of Richmond and of Bushy Park, and you may see the VCRs out in the Park during March with the full trial at Easter in mid-April. Recruitment will start after Easter for the second tranche of volunteers to be deployed in the early summer, so if you missed out the first time please apply again.

LOYD GROSSMAN TALK – ‘Putting Civility into Parks’
The Chairman of The Royal Parks, Loyd Grossman will be speaking to the Bedford Park Society on ‘Putting Civility into Parks’ and the importance of public parks, including the Royal Parks, on Tuesday 12 March at 8pm at St Alban’s Church, South Parade, Chiswick. Tickets are £10 and available online.

A reminder that Diana Loch will talk on Richmond Park in the two World Wars on Saturday 16 March at 10.15 at Pembroke Lodge. This will be a talk only – no walk.

28 February marked the centenary of the first parachute jump by a woman. Sylva Boyden, aged just 17, became the first woman in England to jump from a great height and use a packed parachute to land safely in Richmond Park on 28 February 1919.

A free exhibition by The Royal Parks Guild describing, through images, living history and commemoration, the role that The Royal Parks and Royal Hospital Chelsea played during the First World War and the transition to demobilisation. The exhibition is at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4SR. Friday 29 March to Sunday 31 March 2019. 10.00am to 4.00pm. All are welcome. More information 

The skylark breeding season started in late February. Notices will be up soon at Lawn Field (between Lower Pen Ponds and the Ballet School) and Crown Field (across the small stream at the back of the rugby pitches) asking people to keep to the paths and keep their dog on a lead in those two areas. After similar restrictions in previous years, skylark numbers appear to be stable; everyone wants to avoid a return to the mid-2000s when it looked as if the skylark would become extinct in Richmond Park. And if you’re in the area, pause for a moment to listen to the wonderful singing of the skylarks – it’s no wonder it’s such an icon of the British countryside.  .       

Lyme disease is a serious illness that is caused by a bite from a tick infected with bacteria. The good news is that a course of antibiotics taken soon afterwards usually cures the infection. The disease is not always easy to diagnose but it often begins with a typical ‘bulls-eye’ rash – a circular rash that increases in size and may or may not develop a central clearing.  As blood tests for Lyme disease take weeks to get a result and are often not accurate, GPs have been given a new guideline from NICE (The National Instituted for Health and Care Excellence). More information 

We are now inviting photos of Richmond Park for the Friends’ 2020 calendar. Please see for details of how and where to send them. Closing date 18 April. We look forward to seeing your amazing images – a maximum number of 8 photos from each photographer, but not more than 4 from any one season: winter, spring, summer, autumn. The 2019 calendar was a sell-out and raised a record amount for projects in the Park. We are very grateful to all who donated their photos.

On 26 February the Friends and the Visitor Centre volunteers held a farewell event at Pembroke Lodge for Mary Davies and Liz Hunt who are retiring from managing the VC after nine and six years respectively. Mary said “With a splendid tea kindly provided by Daniel Hearsum may I add how much I and Liz Hunt appreciated the very kind words and generosity shown to us, both from the volunteers and the Friends’ Trustees, as we step down from managing at the Visitor information centre. The Trustees gift of lifetime membership of the Friends was a great surprise and very much appreciated. We shall continue to volunteer there under the new team of William Arnold, Marilyn Watkinson, Gillian de Beaumont and Diane Peake and look forward to future developments.”

The guest speaker at this year’s AGM will be Tom Jarvis, TRP’s new Director of Parks, who previously ran Windsor Great Park; Simon Richards, the Manager of Richmond Park will also be present. It takes place at King’s House school, 68 Kings Rd, Richmond TW10 6ES.  Doors open at 10.00 (coffee and tea provided) with the AGM starting at 10.30; the AGM will end at around followed by a sandwich lunch.

BIRDWALK (A poem by John Grant, following a Friday morning bird walk)
In the small copse behind the coffee kiosk the Little Owl
was in his usual place, up high, no doubt wondering why
every seven days strange people come, stare at him
through things black. He always stares back.
In the same patch Tree Creeper, which hunts up, drops down;
a Nuthatch which searches bi-directionally for insects in a tree.

We walked down to Pen Ponds surrounded by drumming,
the signals of the Greater Spotted vibrated the air.
On the water a flotilla of black necked Geese from Canada,
a Greylag, an Icelandic infiltrator, seemed un-noticed.
On the island baby Herons strained their necks for a view,
a solitary Cormorant sat waiting for the sun to dry his wings.

While we crossed towards Isabella a squadron of Parakeets
whirled and screeched across the sky, then we heard singing.
A Song Thrush, a beautiful sound. We saw him perched
at the pinnacle, issuing his invitation. A Sparrow Hawk
gave him a glance, proceeded flap flap glide, passed by.
We carried on, to rest and relieve by Peg’s Pond.

The Mandarins were back from their holidays.
I prefer the plain yet pretty ducks to the gaudy drakes.
The Mallards were getting frisky with one particularly
aggressive and nasty, trying to rid the pond of his rivals.
Two Kestrels were heard chatting each other up,
Skylarks and a Kite flew over, a Cetti Warbler warbled.

The Tawny was not in its usual hole but Prince Charles
Spinney was busy. Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tails and
a Gold Crest. Siskins hung upside down on the catkins
of the Alders. A Buzzard circled, looking for lunch,
more drumming from Greater Spotted Woodpeckers
and a Green one laughed.

John Grant
February 2019.
Poem based on my own observations but also very much on the weekly after-walk report by Margaret Delpy. 

To join one of the Friday morning informal bird watching walks, meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am. No booking required, just turn up.


Events Calendar

All are welcome to join our walks. Start at 10.00am from the designated car park unless stated otherwise.                          

  • 06 Apr    Sheen Gate Car Park (+ Walk the Wall) 
  • 04 May    Broomfield Hill Car Park

Meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am.

TALKS & WALKS – Friends’ members only. (New members – join here)
Start at Pembroke Lodge at 10.15am, unless otherwise stated. No need to book – just turn up. Coffee/tea provided.
Usually 45-60 minutes, followed by an optional 90 minute walk, unless otherwise indicated.

  • 16 Mar     Richmond Park During the Wars (Diana Loch). Talk only.
  • Apr          NO TALK
  • 11 May    Richmond Park Flora (Mary Clare Sheanan). Talk & Walk.


Richmond Park Diary

TOAD IN THE ROAD! (and frogs and newts!).  If you cycle through the park at night, please watch out for amphibians on the road when it is wet.  Frogs, toads and newts come out of hibernation to mate in the parks ponds and they cross the road very slowly.  If the weather has been dry and/or cold, the 1st wet mild evening in spring will see large numbers on the roads.  Frogs and toads look much like leaves and newts look much like a small stick – please be careful not to squash any!

DOGS ON LEADS AT PEN PONDS.  For over 10 years the Royal Parks have asked dog walkers to keep their best friend on a lead during the summer months.  This was to reduce disturbance to birds during the nesting season, allowing water birds a better chance of raising young.  In recent years the water birds have struggled – possibly due the park becoming so much busier and last year the swans in Pen Ponds were severely injured by dogs with one subsequent fatality. The Royal Parks are now requiring that all dogs are always kept on leads around Pen Ponds.  Isabella Plantation remains a dog on leads area all year round.  The skylark nesting areas will remain as seasonal dogs on leads with signs in place between march and august.  Only Pembroke Lodge, playgrounds and the small fenced gardens at the park gates are no go areas for dogs. – that still leaves hundreds and hundreds of acres where (responsible) dogs walkers can enjoy unrestricted access.

WRENS: – are often thought to be the UK’s smallest bird but they are a feather or 2 heavier than the Goldcrest, though shorter and ‘dumpier’.  They are the UKs most abundant breeding bird, yet their behaviour sometimes makes them difficult to spot.  Their scientific name is Troglodytes troglodytes – which many people will recognise as a ‘troglodyte’ or cave dweller.  The name comes from the Greek meaning ‘to creep into holes’ which describes the wren’s behaviour as it searches in scrub and tree crevices to hunt insects and nest.  They also roost in crevices including houses and often roost communally for warmth in winter.  Even so they often struggle through hard winters and it’s not unusual for find a wren in a house that hasn’t made it through the winter. They are well represented in culture and traditions, perhaps the most famous is in Aesop’s Fables when the birds competed to be king.  The wren hitched a lift on the back of the eagle and flew just that bit higher! – proving that wisdom would always triumph over strength.

10 years ago, this month The Royal Parks held a consultation on amendments to the Park Regulations which included proposals for parking charges of £1hr or £3 all day and a maximum stay.  This was supported by the then Labour Government to meet the reduced government funding and balance the all-day use of car parks by non-park users.  Following the 2010 election, the coalition government reversed the decision and since then use of the Parks 1800 or so parking spaces have remained free and unrestricted.  The Royal Parks have continued to seek funds from other means to offset the costs of maintaining the park and later this year we will install a donation box in each of the 7 car parks. They will take the form of a voluntary pay and display machine but clearly marked as ‘donations. We hope that our visitors will realise the value of the Park and support the initiative.


Isabella Plantation in March

Here Erica x darleyensis ranges throughout in its pink and white varieties. Erica erigena forms taller dense mounds and is represented by “W.T. Rackliff” which is white, and “Brightness” which has rose purple flowers and bronze leaves. Set back towards the top of the Heather Garden is Erica lusitanica, tallest of all, with white flowers opening from pink buds. Erica carnea ‘Myretoun Ruby’ has recently been planted near the Swamp Cyprus its deep reddish pink flowers brighten this spot from January to May.

Following the path which runs through woodland up the western side of the Garden you will find two of the many famous williamsii hybrid camellias: Camellia ‘Donation’, and C. ‘Inspiration’ near the ancient pollard oak. Nearby, the formal double white flowers, striped with red and pink, belong to Camellia japonica ‘Lavinnia Maggi’. Camellias frequently produce ‘sports’, and you may find white, red and striped flowers all on the same plant. Camellia japonica ‘Preston Rose’ also grows in this area and bears salmon- pink paeony form flowers. Camellia ‘Parkside’ another williamsii hybrid bearing an abundance of large clear pink semi double flowers grows in Magnolia grandiflora Glade set back from Thomson’s Lawn. Another garden favourite, Camellia Japonica ‘Alba Simplex’ shows large white flowers with conspicuous yellow stamens and grows in many spots around the garden, including set back at the top of the main stream path.

Rhododendron lutescens, is an early-flowering rhododendron species from China, small leaves and primrose yellow blooms. Many of these plants grow set back to the east of the Main Stream. More, younger plants grow near the fence in Wilson’s Glade. Wilson’s Glade is situated to the north of the entrance gate from Broomfield Hill car park. It houses a collection of plants introduced to this country by the famous plant collector, Ernest Wilson. Also near the fence of the glade is a group of Stachyurus chinensis, a shrub with long drooping racemes of soft yellow flowers. Close to the main path through the glade is Corylopsis veitchiana, a large erect growing shrub that also bears its flowers in large racemes of primrose yellow with conspicuous brick red anthers.

During March several magnolias come into flower. A fine Magnolia stellata stands near the path above Thomson’s Pond. Many others are planted throughout the Garden, particularly in woodland areas on the western side. Two young Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ can be found growing in Bluebell Walk opposite Acer Glade. This large shrub or small tree bears lilac-pink flowers that are deeper in bud. A more mature form can be found growing on the other side of Acer the Scots Pine

Growing on the wet lawn near the gate from Broomfield Hill car park, the dwarf Narcissus cyclamineus, native of Spain and Portugal, has pendent golden flowers with narrow trumpets and upward sweeping petals, reminiscent of a cyclamen bloom. Soon to follow on this lawn will be N. bulbocodium, commonly known as the ‘hooped petticoat’, due to its widely flared trumpet.                                                                                         

The “Fuji Cherry”, Prunus incisa, grows set back behind the Witch Hazel’s on the path leading from the Broomfield Hill gate leading to the lawn above Thomson’s Pond. This lovely Japanese species bears small white flowers, which are pink-tinged in bud and appear pink from a distance. Clematis armandii, an evergreen Clematis with creamy white flowers grows up a dead tree in Beech Bay, the area between Thomson’s Pond and the Main Stream. Rhododendron sutchuense stands above the Still Pond, this outstanding Chinese shrub bears a profusion of large bell-shaped flowers which are a rosy-lilac in colour with purple spots. This Rhododendron is another Ernest Wilson introduction. In the ‘V ‘ between the streams area look out for two stunning Rhododendrons grown for both their stunning flowers and bark; Rhododendron shilsonii which has loose trusses of bell shaped blood-red flowers and Rhododendron hylaeum with its pale pink flowers. R.calophytum ‘Robin Hood’ grows above these two rhododendrons, set back off the main stream path and bears large trusses of pale pink bell-shaped flowers with a maroon basal blotch.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.

Walks will take place on:

March: Sunday 24 & Friday 29 

April: Sunday 14 & Friday 26 

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge.

Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.