Payments via the FHP website

You are now able to make payments to The Friends of Holland Park directly from this website. Payments may be made for new membership, renewing membership, event tickets, art exhibition entries and merchandise.

Payment is made through PayPal, but you are not required to have a PayPal account; you can make payment from your debit or credit card.

It is no longer possible to download an order form from this website and pay by cheque. We apologise if this is an inconvenience for you, but it makes good sense for The Friends administratively. Paid-up members will still receive an order form with their quarterly newsletters.

If you have any problems, please contact Rhoddy Wood on 020 7602 0304 or

[January 2018]


Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, 18 April 2018, at 7.30pm in the Orangery

The year 2017 was turbulent for the Borough and for the Council, and 2018 is also likely to be problematic. We will see new contenders for councillor roles in the May local elections, including Holland Ward. In addition, cuts in central government grants to local councils are resulting in reduced budgets for parks right across the country. In this grim context, we must do all we can to ensure Holland Park remains a green, open space for relaxation, a variety of leisure pursuits and quiet reflection for the residents of the borough. The pressure will be on for commercial revenue from the park and, while this is not unexpected, we should not allow the much needed quiet green space to be compromised for the next generation. The Friends work with elected members of the council and with council officers to discuss priorities for long-term sustainability of historic and natural assets, and to make sure projects are implemented sensitively.

Do come to the AGM to hear what is being done to meet tough challenges, and to air your own views. We welcome your support and your input.

[Spring 2018]

Defibrillators in Holland Park

We have been asked to let our members know about the availability of defibrillators in Holland Park. All Parks Police vehicles are equipped with a defibrillator and there is also one in the Holland Park Police Office in the Stable Yard. If you find someone in Holland Park in need of a defibrillator (not breathing or appears to be suffering a heart attack), please call 999. This will alert the London Ambulance Service. Any call made to the London Ambulance Service concerning someone in our parks and open spaces, is automatically forwarded to the Parks Police duty phone. This is to ensure the fastest possible response until an ambulance arrives.

[Spring 2018]

News Update

Holland House Conservation

HH with finials missingConservation of Holland House is well overdue, considering the schedule set out in the Conservation Management Plan for the Grade-1-listed building. We understand the inspection commissioned by RBKC has taken place but have seen no report or indication of the state of the building, the work required or when that work will be done. Historic England has visited the building, has said it is clearly vulnerable, and is pressing RBKC for a response to the concerns they have raised. We wait to see whether prompt action is taken, as it really should not be necessary for the building to be included on the At Risk register once again. The damage has not been caused by the landscaping works, which are restricted to the ground level.

Landscaping improvements

HH access rampThe landscaping work around Grade-1-listed Holland House and café yard is an enormous undertaking and certainly not without its challenges. The surface works look relatively simple, but the real challenge has been what was found under the terrace. As I write, the granite, porphyry and other paving are being placed on the terrace, and the soft colours work well with the brick and stone of the house. The access ramp is in place south of the hostel car park, and the huge drainage tank lies invisibly beneath the terrace surface. The handover to Opera Holland Park will be in mid-March, and we will have to wait until the end of September to see the full beauty of the work.

The Gates

In the last issue of the newsletter, we showed the design for new gates intended to go between the stone piers in front of Holland House. RBKC Planning wish to have further discussion about the historic context for the design, and the Planning and Listed Building applications have been withdrawn until this has taken place. We will keep you in touch with progress.

Nature Play Area

You might remember that the area of woodland immediately to the north of the Ecology Centre was, for a time, open to children as a place to play in a natural environment. It was so successful that the sheer number of little feet compacted the soil, wore away the ground cover, and there was some minor damage to the trees. The space was closed to give the area a chance to recover so that the wildlife could return to a more welcoming habitat. The compaction has proved challenging and needs some help. Leanne Brisland, Borough Head of Ecology, together with the Friends, has developed a plan, which involves hand de-compaction, tree planting and a native hedge. The area, once sufficiently robust, will again be open for groups of children under supervision to learn about nature. A path will lead from the entrance to the ‘classroom’, which will be fashioned from live willow ‘furniture’.

Work on Belvedere roofBelvedere

The main work on the exterior of the Belvedere is finished, but the tower is still under scaffolding. The delay is due to a significant beam being placed in a way that makes the permitted duct work impossible. A new scheme has been submitted, approval granted, and the work should soon be completed.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Spring 2018]

Membership Cards and Subscriptions

Those of you who use your membership cards to receive discounts when shopping with some of our Friends & Neighbours, might have noticed that the end of February is when your card expires. A new green one is enclosed with your Spring newsletter if our records show you as having paid your subscription for 2018. All subscriptions were due on 1 January except for those who joined after 1 September 2017. If we think you have not yet paid, there will be no membership card and your enclosed order form will be green, with a standing order form on the back. Over 600 of our members use standing orders, as it means they never have to remember again, and it helps our treasurer too.

There is now a further choice of method to pay which is to pay online via this website, paying with your credit/debit card or by PayPal. This avoids the hassle and expense of finding an envelope, cheque and stamp, but cannot be combined with a standing order. You can, however, click on a very obvious yellow button if you want to add a further donation, as some of our members do.

Current minimum rates are £12 or £9 for the over 65s, with joint subscriptions available for two people at the same address for £20, or £15 where both are over 65. You will agree these are very modest sums, but we keep them low to enable all to join.

Our records are not infallible, so do contact Rhoddy on 020 7602 0304 or if you have a query.

However you pay, we are most grateful for your support as it gives us clout in all our dealing with the Borough and other bodies.

[Spring 2018]

Lycetts Insurance Broker Offers Discount to Members

Jonathan LloydLycetts is different from most insurance brokers in that it is owned by a charity (Allchurches Trust), and all their available profits are invested in the community. They have been advising property owners for nearly 60 years, using the experience gained to build a deep understanding of risk, and to create insurance products that reflect the needs of their clients.

The firm has offered members of The Friends a 10% discount off the premium for household policies under ‘The Friends of Holland Park Household Insurance Scheme’. In addition, the firm will make a small charitable donation to The Friends each year.

This contact came about by a chance meeting at a reception given by the Tregothnan Tea Company. After introductions and a short conversation about each of our organisations, we both realised that Lycetts already arrange liability insurance for The Friends. We went on to discuss mutual interests and the discount offer. Jonathan Lloyd not only knows our park but was born in a house almost next to it. If you are interested, please contact Jonathan at Lycetts for a quote when your household insurance comes up for renewal.

Contact: Jonathan Lloyd at Lycetts’ London Office: Tel 020 7398 1660 or  

[Spring 2018]

ULI joins Friends & Neighbours

We are very pleased to announce that the restaurant ULI, in Notting Hill Gate, is the latest local business to join our Friends & Neighbours scheme.

The restaurant serves carefully selected dishes from Asia, prepared using traditional Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean disciplines. They believe that Asian food should be clean, fresh and healthy. Originally established on All Saints Road in 1997, ULI became a firm favourite among locals and critics alike. At its new home on Ladbroke Road, its pretty terrace forms part of the vibrant local scene. ULI serves lunch and dinner all week as well as an extensive range of snacks, cocktails and beverages. Please do visit them soon.

5 Ladbroke Road, London, W11 3PA. t. 020 3141 5878.

Offer: 10% discount on meals in the restaurant.

[Spring 2018]

Tree news

Tree removal and remedial work

During a recent tree survey in the park, several old trees were found to be declining and likely to become dangerous. The council is carrying out a programme of felling, or removal of potentially dangerous branches.

Red ChesnutsYou will have noticed the removal of a number of the Red Horse Chestnut trees that run in a line across the top of the sports field, and drastic pruning of the remainder. This hybrid species typically has a shorter life span than the more common Horse Chestnut and is prone to debilitating pests and diseases such as bleeding canker and a condition known as bud proliferation which eventually results in rot, making the tree more likely to snap. We are sorry to lose them, but it offers the opportunity for interesting new trees, chosen for their appropriateness to the site, to be planted next winter.

This work is an essential part of the long-term strategy, to ensure the park’s trees are healthy and flourish, so that we leave a beautiful green landscape for generations to come.

Proactive tree health

Commonwealth CopseProactive treatment is better than dealing with declining trees. The Friends funded a tree health care programme for the second year running, which saw Bartlett Tree Experts de-compact soil around selected trees, and give each a comforting blanket of mulch. De-compacting helps the roots to grow and ‘breathe’, and the mulch feeds the roots: the equivalent of a person looking after their health by eating a nutritious diet. In December 2017, 15 trees in the Commonwealth Copse (the copse of trees at the bottom of the sports field right next to the Design Museum) were treated. Two spindly trees, which should never have been planted where they were, have been removed, and the remainder have been air-spaded and mulched. Bartletts told us we would notice the improved health, and indeed we could when we revisited the trees treated in 2016. The leaves of the big London Plane outside the Orangery, the Walnut near to it and the two Coral Ash trees on the Belvedere lawn all showed reduced signs of disease. The very rare Birch-leaved Pear near the Phillimore Walk entrance and the Headache tree near tennis courts 1 and 2 had noticeably flourishing crowns of leaves. All very satisfying.

420 saplings from The Woodland Trust

The Friends worked with the Ecology team to bid for a parcel of 420 native saplings, all free, as part of the Woodland Trust’s campaign to ‘see a UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife’.  We have been granted the trees, which will arrive in early March and be planted in the woodlands.

Champion trees in Holland Park

In our winter issue we told you of the visit from David Alderman, Director of the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI). The result is a list of Holland Park’s champion trees, exceptional for size, age, historical association or rarity. The list is published on TROBI’s website and we hope to tell you more in our summer newsletter.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Spring 2018]

News Update

Landscaping improvements

The day after Opera Holland Park (OHP) had cleared the Holland House site (19 days early this year), the Council’s contractor, Blakedown Landscapes, started work on improving the area around the Grade-1-listed building.

Some of you have asked why it will take until 10 March 2018 to complete what looks to be a simple task of resurfacing the café yard, moving the road and resurfacing the Holland House terrace. It is anything but simple, and many of the complicated bits are likely to be those you will never see: under the ground.

The first task was to carry out tests to establish the bearing capacity of the ground under the terrace. Planning consent requires a large underground tank to accommodate water run-off from the Opera’s auditorium canopy: it is important to improve drainage of the permanently re-landscaped terrace. Remember all the unsightly puddles that used to accumulate on the paths between the Astroturf? A large tank needs a large hole, and you will notice approximately 60 truckloads of soil being removed over the next few weeks. Each year, OHP has rigged up its own electricity supply, but this will now be laid permanently under the terrace.

There are many mature trees on the site whose roots must be protected during digging and hard landscaping. Blakedown are advised by a tree specialist, engaged by the Council, whom I witnessed paying great attention to the space immediately around each tree on a recent site visit. Our RBKC arboriculturalists are also keeping an eye on our valued greenery. Unfortunately, the two Yellow Buckeye from the café yard are casualties of the new layout, but we are being compensated by a splendid and rather special Acer freemanii, ‘Autumn Blaze’, chosen in discussion with the Friends. This tree is in for special treatment with the most inventive chambered tree pit I have ever seen.

The new café yard layout will provide increased seating space, and extend further west than before. The café will remain open throughout the works, with seating inside and on the north terrace. Public access to the outside seating area to the south will be closed until 10 March 2018, and the Holland House Terrace will be closed to the public until the end of the opera season in September 2018. The much improved café area and terrace will be worth waiting for.

Notices on the site fencing show photomontages of the completed scheme, and give contact details for any queries.

Wildlife Enclosure

There was a time when rough sleepers and teenage drinkers were jumping over the fence into the Wildlife Enclosure and causing problems. The Parks Police worked hard to discourage this behaviour and the Friends collaborated with both the police and Park Management to find solutions in the form of prickly hedging, dead hedges and the robust oak gates we commissioned and paid for. It is gratifying that the police report these measures have been successful in reducing unauthorised entry.

Holland Park Conservation Volunteers

Conservation volunteersid verde are now running the Saturday volunteer programme for the Borough’s Ecology team who report strong interest at around 8-12 volunteers each session. Tasks focus on practical conservation that is needed at the time, with workdays every third Saturday of the month. For more information, please see Dates for your Diary at the end of this newsletter.

Photo courtesy of RBKC.

New writing on the Holland House set

Will Bowers book cover


Some years ago, Will Bowers, Junior Research Fellow in English at the University of Oxford, contacted me about his planned research on the Holland House set. This year he sent me a copy of his book, ‘Re-evaluating the Literary Coterie, 1580-1830’, by Will Bowers and Hannah Leah Crummé, ISBN 978-1-137-54552-7. He has written a chapter on ‘The Many Rooms of Holland House’: well worth the read. Will came to the talk by Prof. Malcolm Airs and told me the astonishing fact that most of the papers on Holland House visitors are in the British Library and, of all their collections, it is the third largest. Will’s next plan is to analyse all the visitors-book entries and produce a summary of precisely who visited and how often.


The Holland Park bees have produced honey this year and it will soon be available to buy from Park Reception in the Stable Yard. Due to the repair work on the Stable Yard roof, the number of hives has been reduced this winter, but we hope that Park Management, working in partnership with the London Beekeepers Association, will soon have more information on the bees and related events for 2018.

Friends & Neighbours

Sadly, the restaurant and deli, Valentina Fine Foods in Notting Hill Gate, has closed. They were friendly and supportive to the Friends and we shall miss them. We are trying to find one or two more businesses to participate in our scheme.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Winter 2017]

The Gates to the Holland House Terrace

HH gates designBetween the gate piers, built by Nicholas Stone in 1629, are some rather underwhelming gates. They are not old or valuable, and the wood panels conceal the view of Holland House from the road below. With the promise of a splendid new terrace and restoration of the terrace wall topped with terracotta tiles, we could do better with new gates.

You might remember that Topp & Co., leaders in the craft of fine architectural metalwork, worked their magic on the park’s Earls Court gates, which now look splendid. A successful collaboration between Camlin Lonsdale, who shaped the concepts and principles for the design, and Topp & Co., who brought their considerable expertise in architectural iron work, resulted in a design we like, and feel is fitting. The proposed gates are elegant but not regal and, while being a work of art on their own, will allow a clear view of Holland House.

The gates are bordered by ‘barbed quatrefoils’, which are the same shape as the terracotta tiles and much of the decoration on Holland House. The gate design and materials await planning and listed-building consent.

Your trustees feel strongly that the new gates must be worthy of the Grade-1-listed house, and that they should become part of the historical assets of the park. For these reasons, the trustees have agreed to contribute towards the cost.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Winter 2017]


News Update

Landscaping improvement

By the time you read this, Opera Holland Park is likely to have cleared the canopy and ancillary buildings from the Holland House site in record time, and Blakedown Landscapes will have started work on improving the environment around Holland House. This entails relaying the surface of the south terrace; re-siting the access road to that terrace, making the café yard a much more attractive space; and conservation of the walls and steps related to the terrace. Time is tight to finish the work before Opera Holland Park reclaim the site in March 2018. Some practical considerations are:

•    The Friends’ Nature Walk on Saturdays 7 Oct., 4 Nov. and 2 Dec. will meet by the entrance to the Stable Yard.

•    Holland Park Café will remain open throughout but, at some point, the entrance might be from the north. Look for the signs. The café seating area outside to the south will be closed until March 2018.

•    The Stable Yard, Police and Parks Offices will remain open throughout.

•    The south terrace of Holland House will be closed until October 2018.

Holland House conservation

Stonework repairsWe understand that the surveyor’s technical assessment of the state of Grade-1-listed Holland House has not yet been completed and that this cannot be done until the opera canopy has been removed to allow free access. After the surveyor’s report comes the proposal of works to be done, then RBKC approval. This will take time, so any work proposed is unlikely to start before the end of the 2018 opera season. This puts it well behind the schedule stated in the Conservation Management Plan for Holland House. From sight alone and, given that loose finial stones had to be removed this summer, it is likely that much work is urgently needed. By 2018, it will be ten years since repairs were last carried out on the building, as a result of the property being put on Historic England’s (then English Heritage) ‘At Risk Register’. We want to see this historic building, at the heart of Holland Park, preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

Photo: Jennie kettlewell

Belvedere building refurbishment

Belvedere TowerExterior refurbishment of the Belvedere Restaurant has started and the restaurant will be closed during October and November 2017. This work entails removing non-compliant additions to the building (listed under the curtilage of Grade-1-listed Holland House) and rationalising the maze of service plant on the roof. The tower will be renovated to halt deterioration. The restaurant hopes to re-open in December for its busy Christmas season. The Belvedere is one of our Friends & Neighbours partners, and offers a 10% discount on presentation of a Friends’ membership card, so make sure you book a table and enjoy the very tempting menu when it re-opens.

Photo: Jennie Kettlewell

Poetry Seat

Sadly our Poetry Seat, carved by Martin Pigg, has succumbed to the elements. It looked at home in its setting just east of the Lord Holland Pond, but we always suspected that the wood would not last for ever.

Box tree caterpillar

Box tree caterpillarMany of you might have experienced the rapacious box tree caterpillar (Diaphania perspectalis) in your own garden, so you know what a stubborn beastie it is and that it can completely defoliate a box plant in days. It is the larva of a moth and has been named ‘Top Pest’ by the Royal Horticultural Society. As it spreads fast across the south east of the country it has now reached the Dutch Garden in Holland Park where, you will be aware, all the formal beds are edged with clipped box. Treatment is specific and difficult because the insect passes through several stages from May to October. Most widely available sprays are ineffective but idverde have the product with the necessary ingredient. You might, on occasion, find the Dutch Garden closed while this work is carried out. We suggest that you do not touch the box hedges or let children touch them. We hope this treatment works but, if the caterpillar wins, we will have to replace the box with an alternative.


Stable Yard

Repairs are due to the leaky roof of the Stable Yard buildings that house the parks police office, park reception, sports booking office, sports changing rooms and public WCs. We await information on approval and start date. We also await news on upgrading of the public WCs, which are in a poor state.

Adventure Playground

The schedule of works we included in our summer newsletter showed that much needed work on the playground would happen in 2018. We await confirmation of approval and start date.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2017]

Silvi Spassov Co-opted as Trustee and Treasurer

In our last newsletter we announced that Silvi Spassov had taken on the role of Accounts Co-ordinator. This has worked so well that we asked Silvi if he would become a trustee and our Treasurer. We are delighted that he has agreed.

Silvi 2The Treasurer’s role involves oversight of the financial health of the charity, and keeping the trustees informed about the state of our finances. He will continue to handle all the day-to-day accounts and payments. Simon Lindesay-Bethune continues as Assistant Treasurer.

We have already enjoyed the benefit of Silvi’s considerable experience as a qualified accountant, having worked for many years as a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant with client-facing roles. He has introduced new ways of doing things that make managing the data quicker and simpler, and that is a huge advantage.

Silvi lives locally, loves the park and has shown himself to be ready to help out with many of the tasks faced by the trustees. You will most likely meet him when you come to one of our events.

We are looking forward to working with Silvi as one of the trustees.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2017]

Park Map

There was a request at our AGM for a map of Holland Park with all the places marked on it. We have produced one, and you can download it here. Please keep it; we hope you find it useful.

[Summer 2017]