London Parks & Gardens News: August 2010

News and views about London's parks and gardens

Return to Chiswick - Tuesday 19th October 2010

The restored cascade at Chiswick House Gardens
The restored cascade at Chiswick House Gardens
The new Italian Garden being laid out in front of the conservatory
The new Italian Garden being laid out in front of the conservatory

Following the oversubscribed study day at Chiswick House organised by the Garden History Society in March, the LPGT, in conjunction with the GHS, has arranged an afternoon tour of the recently restored grounds, to be led by Dr David Jacques, Trustee of the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust with long-term involvement in the landscape, and Fiona Crumley, Head Gardener.

This will be an opportunity to hear about the history both of the site and its restoration from David, and the management of the grounds and conflict resolution from Fiona. Meet 2.00pm outside the café.

Cost: GHS and/or LPGT members £15; non-members £18 (including tea). Please apply using the booking form

Further enquiries to Katy Myers, 020-8340 7623 or katherinemyers at waitrose dot com.

Address: Chiswick W4 2RP Sign-posted from Hogarth Roundabout (junction of A4/A316). Street Map.

Elephant Parade 2010

An elephant on location in Brixton
An elephant on location in Brixton

During May and June over 250 decorated elephant sculptures, sponsored by businesses and painted by prominent artists, were put on display in various locations around London.

At the end of June, they were moved to the Royal Hospital grounds in Chelsea for a final group display before being auctioned. The auction raised over £4m for Elephant Family, a charity established in 2002 to raise funds to save the endangered Asian elephant and its habitat. 

The highest price realised was £155,000, paid for an elephant decorated by the artist Jack Vettriano. Further details:

Trust Questions Royal Parks Transfer

The Royal Parks

THE Royal Parks continue to attract their share of controversy. The staging of Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park, and the proposal (since cancelled by the Coalition government) to charge visitors for parking in Richmond and Bushy Parks both aroused fierce local opposition. Earlier plans to build a five-a-side football complex in Regent's Park also angered local residents. Now hackles have been raised by government plans to transfer the management of the Royal Parks to the Greater London Authority.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson proposed the transfer, following the government's decision to dismantle the Government Office for London. The Mayor's proposals were immediately backed by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary. However, when councils, including Westminster and Richmond, objected to the plan and insisted they could take control of the parks within their boundaries, a break-up of the Royal Parks Agency seemed possible.

This is said to have dismayed the Queen. A report in the Daily Telegraph on 18th July claimed the Queen wanted to see the Parks kept together as a group, and that proposals for a split-up had been withdrawn.

As a result of the uncertainty, on 20th July Chris Sumner wrote, in his capacity as Chairman of the Trust's Planning and Conservation Working Group, to Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose, to express the Trust's opposition to any plans to transfer the Royal Parks to the GLA. Chris gave the Trust's reasons in his letter:

"I am writing as Chairman of the Planning and Conservation Working Group of the London Parks and Gardens Trust to express my and my fellow Trustees' deep concern at the proposal to hand control of the Royal Parks to the Greater London Authority. The view of the Trust is that such a move would not be in the best interest of the Parks or their users.
"The Royal Parks have established the highest standards in terms of maintenance, horticultural excellence and policing. The high quality of (their) projects and of the less- remarked but equally important day-to-day maintenance reflects the dedication and skill of the staff involved, who are following established traditions of doing things well. Our Trust is very concerned that the committed expertise of the Royal Parks staff, founded on accumulated practices dating back for centuries, will be dispersed and lost if the management regime is changed significantly."

Contributing to the debate, Judy Hillman, also a member of the Trust, wrote to the Evening Standard on 23rd July on behalf of the Friends of Regent's Park.

"The GLA has no experience or expertise in caring for open space," wrote Judy. "The Government should at least consider what sort of organisation would be best for the parks' long-term future. What about a Royal Parks Trust, the City Corporation - which has done very well with Hampstead Heath - or even the National Trust?"

The debate continues.