News Update

As at 29 October 2108

Cricket netsNew cricket nets

Contractor, Total Play, were able to start earlier than expected on improved cricket nets, and were on site by 15 October, with work expected to take around four weeks. id verde say they are pleased that the cricket ‘cages’ will be surrounded by a 3m security fence, and hope this reduces misuse and damage which, sadly, has been a problem with the current nets.

‘No Cycling’ sign

The park is a no-cycling zone because the paths are so well used by pedestrians, with their children, pushchairs and dogs. The Highway Code sign, used on signposts in the park, can be misinterpreted because there is no red line through the bike. Members often ask why a red line cannot be added, but this government sign must be used unchanged, so that cyclists can be legally stopped and, if necessary, fined. The Friends have been asking for ‘No Cycling’ signs to be set into the road at park entrances as they are more likely to be noticed by cyclists. The first will be installed at the Duchess of Bedford Gate.

Adventure Play Area

Work on a greatly improved Adventure Playground is due to start on 29 October. It involves substantial topographical, drainage and installation work, so the play area might not be open again until April 2019. Please look out for signage in the park, which will keep you informed on progress. The Friends have been involved in the discussion about new trees for the play area, and look forward to seeing some new planting.

Belvedere tower

And still the work continues. We have been told it will be finished by Christmas, but time will tell.

Parking meters in the car park

These meters seem to confuse everyone as they seem to want payment by card, and I have seen people give up trying to pay. They are not under the management of the park, and the park has to accept what is installed. So, if you want to use the park before 6.30 p.m. come prepared to pay by card.


Litter seems to have got worse in the park, especially around some of the benches. There are regular litter clearance patrols by id verde, but the sheer amount of litter is challenging. One wonders why visitors cannot take the trouble to use the bins. Park Management is aware of this increasing problem, and is working with other boroughs to see what has been successful.

Text and photo: Jennie Kettlewell

Official Opening of Holland House Terrace

At last the landscaping works on the south terrace of Holland House are complete, and it now looks an elegant and fitting environment for a Grade l-listed building. It was certainly splendid in the evening sunshine at the formal opening on 25 September.

Terrace openingCllr David Lindsay, Lead Councillor for Healthy City Living, described the convoluted historical context, followed by RBKC Executive Director, Sue Harris, who thanked all those involved in the many aspects of ensuring success from vision, to consultation, and design to implementation. Chairman of The Friends, Jennie Kettlewell, followed with a description of what the terrace had looked like several years ago and how pleased The Friends are to see the final result of some very skilled input. Xanthe Quayle, director of Camlin Lonsdale, the landscape architects, told the audience that the huge project had often been challenging, that she was relieved to have overcome those challenges, and pleased to have created a landscape that set off the grand house. The terrace was formally opened by Deputy Borough Mayor, Cllr Mohammed Bakhtiar.

The sizeable and attentive audience was made up of those who had been involved in the project and many members of The Friends.

Special thanks wee given to Xanthe for her vision and caring about getting the detail right, and to the Council’s project co-ordinator, Ian McNicol, who had masterminded exemplary Terrace at sunriseconsultation throughout, so that not one single objection was raised to the planning application. Thanks were also given to Natan Gjongecaj, Blakedown Landscapes’ site supervisor, who oversaw the implementation of the whole project with care and good- natured responses to the daily questions from us all. Appreciation was expressed to Tim Ahern who, as the RBKC councillor responsible for the environment during the planning and start of the implementation, steered us through some complex negotiations. Michael Volpe, General Manager of Opera Holland Park was thanked for reducing the build and strike periods of the opera season so that the terrace can now be open to the public for longer in the year.

Now we can all enjoy sitting on those comfortable benches, in the winter sunshine, with a fine view of the remaining stonework arcades of the original Jacobean house and a view to the south towards the Design Museum. Do go and have a look.

Jennie Kettlewell

Our photos show from L-R: Ian McNicol, Jennie Kettlewell, Natan Gjongecaj, Sue Harris, Cllr David Lindsay, Cllr Mohammed Bakhtiar (© Justin Thomas), and the terrace at sunrise by Natan Gjongecaj.

[Winter 2018]

Holland House Needs Urgent Conservation

HH damageHH East WingIn the autumn newsletter, we were pleased to report that the conservation plan for Grade 1-listed Holland House was being drawn up in three stages, with work on the roof and facings of the main building due to start this autumn. Well, it seems the Council has hit a snag, and there is as yet no news about when this essential work will start: this year or next. We understand that the detailed plans of the stage-one work have not yet been sent to Historic England, so The Friends are lobbying hard to get this important programme back on track. Parts of the stone facing are flaking off, the finials were loose and have been temporarily removed, and anyone who cares to look will see that the window frames in the east wing, housing the youth hostel, are in a very sorry state indeed. What another winter will do to this fine example of Jacobean architecture does not bear thinking about.

Where we are making progress is that The Friends are obtaining quotes from two specialists in historic tiles conservation to get the beautiful tiles on the upper and lower walkways cleaned, repaired and protected. The Council is happy for us to do this, as we were instrumental in the major tile conservation work (both getting it done and contributing funds) in 2004, under The Friends’ previous chairman, Nicholas Hopkins.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Winter 2018]

Children were Holland Park Detectives

On a sunny Tuesday during half term, children walking past the café area were surprised by a stall draped with a banner stating: ‘Imagine you are a detective! What can you discover?’ During the day about 60 children visited the stall, eager to find all the features depicted on an activity sheet that we handed out, with clues to help find them, all the features being within easy walking distance of the stall. When the children had ticked off all the items, they were given badges that showed that they were now ‘Holland Park Detectives’. This occasion also offered an opportunity for the children and accompanying adults to learn more about the park and The Friends. Several of our publications were sold, especially the new ‘Children’s Guide to Exploring Holland Park’. Click here for more details.

We are hoping to have such a pop-up stall again sometime.

Joy Puritz

[Winter 2018]

Richard Kulczycki Joins as a Trustee

We are delighted that Richard has agreed to become a trustee, and he has been enthusiastically co-opted onto the committee. His focus will be on ecology matters in the park, although I am sure he will contribute on other subjects too.

Richard KulczyckiYou might remember the photo of Richard in the last newsletter, shown cleaning out the Wildlife Area pond on one of the Ecology Centre’s volunteer days. He has got his hands dirty in a few areas of the wilder parts of the park and knows what the soil and plants are like. This knowledge means he was able to help when the Ecology Team and The Friends worked together on an application to the London Mayor’s Greener City Fund so that the West Woodland Enclosure (previously known as the Nature Play Area) can be restored as a habitat, with a space for learning about nature.

The Borough has an excellent ecology team with a vision for the park, but they do not have the hours available to do all they want to do. The Friends will continue to work with them to support their programmes and add resource when possible.

Richard seems to have unusually eclectic interests and has been helpfully observant on subjects as diverse as the park’s drainage and a green solution for the newsletter envelope. Welcome Richard. We look forward to working with you and hope you enjoy being a trustee.

Photo by Eva Blechová

[Winter 2018]


News Update

as at 30 August 2018

Café Yard

Cafe Yard 2At last the café yard is finished and now boasts 170 seats, some of which will be removed during the quieter winter season. The area under the western arches has been opened up and provides a shady space to enjoy a cold drink, coffee or meal. Big planters have been borrowed temporarily from the stable yard to provide at least some softening. We hope a couple of small, leafy trees will be potted up into large containers to provide a pretty green setting, appropriate for a park. It would be good to see some flowers too. We hear that delivery lorries are being directed across the front of Holland House in order to turn at the Duchess of Bedford Gate. This is disappointing as a great deal of work has been done over the years to reduce traffic in the park.

Holland House conservation

The conservation plan for Grade 1-listed Holland House is being drawn up in three stages. Work on Stage 1, the roof and facings of the main building, should commence in autumn 2018. Work on the East Wing, leased to the youth hostel, is scheduled for 2019 as Stage 2. Stage 3 will cover the walkways, though it is not yet known if this includes conservation of the tiles. We are delighted to hear that conservation is at last going to happen as it is very much needed and also overdue.

Thanks due to Opera Holland Park

When planning consent was sought for the opera’s ancillary buildings for the years 2018-2020, the application was for the opera to occupy the site from 12 March to the end of September, in line with their lease. In the consent report it was noted that there was an agreement between The Friends of Holland Park and Michael Volpe, General Director of Opera Holland Park (OHP), to work together to reduce the build and deconstruct time so that the Holland House terrace could be open to the public for longer each year. I can report that just over four weeks has been shaved off the working time this year, without affecting performance dates. There is no promise of precise timing for next year because it is weather dependent, but I feel there is enough trust to know that we are well on the way to having the terrace open to the public for longer each year than it has been in the past. Many thanks are due to you Michael and to Nic Watson, Operations Manager of OHP.

Belvedere TowerBelvedere tower

The renovation work has taken far longer than expected and the end date is still not clear. Not only would we all like a view of the elegant tower on this listed building, but I think many will be pleased to see the contractor’s compound and equipment removed from the car park, where it takes up an unacceptable amount of space.

Adventure playground

Planning consent for the much needed improvements has been granted and work, including drainage channels to prevent flooding, is due to start this October. The installations will be of natural wood, rather than the current gaudy constructions, so they fit more appropriately into the park environment. It is after all a woodland play area and not a city centre landscape. This is a fundamental overhaul rather than cosmetic change, so it is claimed that the resulting playground should last at least 20-25 years. Consequently the topographical and installation work will take time, and the play area may not be open again until April 2019. Please look out for signage in the park, which will keep you informed on progress.

Cricket nets

Planning consent has been granted for improved cricket nets on the sports field. The bowler’s run up will be incorporated into the structure to prevent a line of worn grass on the field. The whole construction will enclose a three-bay practice facility with an artificial grass surface. The cricket cages will be surrounded by a 3-metre security fence to prevent misuse and damage which, sad to say, is a problem with the current nets. It will also ensure stray cricket balls do not endanger others in the area. The work is due to start sometime in October. Again, please watch out for information signs in the park.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2018]

Crab Apple Jelly

At the time of writing (early September) it is not yet clear whether this year is or is not a good one for apples. We need the small green bitter kind that makes your mouth dry up if you bite into a raw one, but miraculously turns into tangy red jelly when cooked. Be assured that we will search for them later this month, so when you read this do ring 020 7602 0304 to place your orders. Supplies are always soon exhausted.

Rhoddy Wood

[Autumn 2018]

Holland Park Conservation Volunteers

RichardThe volunteers usually meet on the third Saturday of each month (see Events), with a brief to carry out tasks to help with the maintenance and conservation of the woodland and meadow areas of the park. Tasks might include clearing vegetation, meadow management, scything, dead-hedging and planting.  These work days are free to attend and aimed at adult participants.

The volunteers benefit the park, get a day in the open, meet like-minded people and have some fun too. Member of the Friends and regular Holland Park volunteer, Richard Kulczycki, was obviously having fun when he helped clear out the Wildlife Area pond. If you are interested in volunteering, contact or ring 020 7938 8186.

Jennie Kettlewell

Photo by Gerald McEnery

[Autumn 2018]

Annual General Meeting 2018: Report

The Friends’ AGM was held on 18 April 2018. President, Sir Angus Stirling, welcomed those present and the minutes of the 2017 meeting were approved.

The Trustees’ Report for 2017 was presented by Andy Walker, the main points being:

•    The year had been one of messy works in the park, being improvements to the historic buildings.

•    The enhancement of the Holland House terrace, approach road and the Café Yard had started in September.

•    Rainwater management work had been carried out in the west of the park.

•    The Friends had contributed to the Council’s Holland Park Conservation Area Appraisal, which describes the essence of the park as a statement of what aspects need to be protected and maintained.

•    Grants to the park included replanting of the Mediterranean Bed in the Dutch Garden, the second stage of the proactive tree health programme, Ecology Centre walks and talks, and a map of Holland Park.

Silvi Spassov gave the Treasurer’s Report for 2017. The balance for the financial year 2017 was £97,795: up on 2016 due to funding expenditure projects being postponed to 2018 and to exceptionally high income from donations (£86,470). Events income had been £19,315 in 2017, compared with £12,160 in 2016, largely due to healthy sales at our art exhibition. The events surplus had risen from £3,529 in 2016 to £4,226 in 2017. The full accounts had been circulated in the spring 2018 newsletter.

The Secretary’s Report was delivered by Rhoddy Wood, who said that membership stood at 1,016, higher than the same time last year. Payment via The Friends’ website was helping to increase membership, though the number of members signing up for Gift Aid had declined. Gift Aid was important as it resulted in an additional 25% tax refund on the cost of each subscription or donation paid by a signed-up member. Mrs Wood thanked all those who kindly help deliver the newsletters.

Election of the trustees. Silvi Spassov was elected as a trustee. All other trustees had agreed to stand again and were duly re-elected.

Election of the independent examiner. Roger Foreman was re-elected.

Chairman’s Outlook for 2018. Chairman, Jennie Kettlewell, emphasised that, after a year of messy works, the built assets of the park are now in better shape, with the exception of Grade-1-listed Holland House. Opera Holland Park had obtained consent for their buildings for the next three years. Written into that consent was the fact that OHP would work with The Friends and other stakeholders to see what could be done to shorten the time taken for the ancillary buildings to be cleared, and for the terrace to be open to the public earlier than in former years. She thanked Nicholas Hopkins for his tireless work to enable payment through The Friends’ website, the trustees for the staggering amount they achieved each year, and Sir Angus Stirling for his wise advice and reassurance. There were some interesting questions from members, which we are making sure we address.

Much has happened since the AGM in mid-April; see News Update below.

[July 2018]


News Update

as at 11 June 2018

Holland House Terrace

New HH terraceContractors, Blakedown, formally handed the newly resplendent Holland House terrace back the Council at 9.30 a.m. on 19 March. An hour later Opera Holland Park started work on their build for this year’s season. It is a great credit to Camlin Lonsdale and Blakedown that they were only one week later than the scheduled date, considering the real challenges found under the ground they were paving. We will see the full beauty of the new landscaping after the opera season. Thanks are due to Opera Holland Park for shaving time off the deconstruct time last autumn and a speedier build this spring. The intention is that there will be a ticketed celebration on the terrace for members, stakeholders, Council officers and elected members, and of course those who carried out this large project. We think this is likely to be in the early evening on Tuesday, 25 September. Watch the website and noticeboards in the park for details.

Photo by Camlin Lonsdale

Café Yard

Cafe yardThe café’s south terrace is now open and attracting custom. By the time you read this, the work on the full extent of the café’s outside area should be completed, and the capacity will have increased from 80 to 170 seats. This has been partly achieved by opening up the area under the western arches, previously used for storage. The café will look wonderful but a little stark to begin with, and we need to green it up as appropriate for a park.

Photo by Jennie Kettlewell

Nature Play Area

You might have noticed the flourishing living willow classroom that has appeared in the Nature Play Area just to the north of the Ecology Centre. This is part of a wider project being worked on by the Ecology team and The Friends. Some years ago, this area was given free access as a children’s play area, but its popularity was its undoing, and the result was compaction, loss of ground cover, loss of habitat and damaged trees. It had to be closed to the public and has not re-opened. The intention is to have limited and supervised access by a single gate and path to the willow classroom. Woodland management work will produce a healthy canopy layer, an understorey of shrubs and green ground cover as an attractive and appropriate environment for children to learn about nature. The Friends will work with Ecology to re-apply to the Mayor’s Greener City Fund, with the fund opening for applications from July 2018. Funds are needed to cover the cost of volunteer work, materials and planting. We have received feedback on why the 2017 bid was unsuccessful, and have been advised to limit future access to avoid re-compaction and to guard against ‘woodland gardening’ i.e. pretty flowers that are not in keeping with natural woodland.

Holland House Conservation

Conservation of Holland House remains well overdue, considering the schedule set out in the Conservation Management Plan for the Grade-1-listed building. We heard that a condition report was sent to Historic England who were considering their response to the Council’s proposals for essential work. It would be of great concern if this grand listed building did not live up to its new environment.

Adventure Playground

Adventure playgroundThis playground is well used and popular, with the result that it is suffering from the wear and tear of many years. Plans for a much improved playground, including draining works, have been agreed under a Certificate of Lawful Development, which did not require consultation. Planning consent was, however, required for the equipment over four metres in height, and a decision is due by 26 June. The Friends’ concern was the application to fell 12 trees. After discussion between RBKC Park Management, a Council tree officer and trustees, it was established that several of these trees were poor specimens that needed to be removed on safety grounds, and some others would jeopardise the drainage needed to prevent the playground from flooding. The contention was about three horse chestnuts, two of which were not especially good specimens and not expected to last more than ten years. Given that this costly renovation is expected to last at least 20-25 years, it has reluctantly been decided to achieve the best possible playground and drainage solution, and replace the chestnuts with trees that will last the course.

Photo by Erect Architecture Robert Bray Associates

Tree donated by The Friends

Acer freemaniiAn excellent start to the greening up of the café area is the new Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’, donated by The Friends and looking splendid in the Café Yard. This semi-mature specimen was planted on 25 May by Cllr David Lindsay (Lead Member for Healthy City Living) and chairman of The Friends, Jennie Kettlewell. To ensure it thrives in this paved area, there is an impressive 2-cubic-metre structure under the ground, which will allow the air and water to reach the roots, without compaction.

Belvedere tower

We are surprised that this renovation work is not yet completed. In order to improve the temporary appearance for those hiring the Belvedere and Orangery, we understand that the scaffolding will be covered with a scenic screen, depicting the tower beneath it.


Children’s Guide to Exploring Holland Park

Children will love this new book packed with fabulous things to discover, interesting facts and lots of fun activities. At 36 pages, there is enough to keep kids occupied through the holidays and over many visits, so you do not have to think up ideas to occupy them. We were advised by children (6-10-year-olds) who told us what they really, really liked and what simply did not interest them; and we listened. If you have children, small relatives or friends with kids, do not deny them the chance to try out the word searches, spotting challenges, nature drawing, ‘spot the difference’ and dot-to-dot pictures.   Price £6.50 including postage.

Order online here.

New Offers for The Friends

Artisan du Chocolat

Artisan du ChocolatAfter founding the chocolatier business in 2000, Gerard Coleman is still hands-on in the production atelier so that he can focus full attention on finding the finest ingredients, and on quality, which is his passion. In the shops it is the aroma that first strikes you, then the wonderful display of irresistible chocolate. Go on, treat yourself! And do try their hot chocolate drink as you won’t have experienced anything quite so indulgent before.

Offer: 25% discount on all in-store purchases.

Participating branches of Artisan du Chocolat are:

246 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6DN.  t. 020 7348 0381

81 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UL.  t. 0845 270 6696 (option 2)

89 Lower Sloane Street, London SW1W 8DA. t. 0845 270 6996 (option 3)

Jeroboams’ new shop

Jeroboams KHSWe are very pleased to announce that the newest branch of Jeroboams is the latest local business to join our Friends & Neighbours scheme. The store offers a wide choice of wines both classic and from lesser-known interesting producers. There is a selection of spirits, some of which you might not find easily elsewhere. Do visit soon and ask manager, Philippe Berthome, to suggest some summer drinking. They also provide glasses and ice, delivered with your drinks for your summer parties. Jeroboams fine food and wines in Holland Park has been with us since we launched our programme.

Offer: 10% discount on all purchases from both these shops, when no other promotional discounts apply. Certain products are excluded from the discount, at the discretion of the manager:

254 Kensington High Street, London W8 6ND.  t. 020 7348 0644.

96 Holland Park Ave, London W11 3RB. t. 020 7727 9359.

[July 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]

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]

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]