News 2020

News Update

as at 20 October 2020

Worms do the work

Digging out cylinders of earthYou could be forgiven for forgetting that there had ever been grass on the strip of land between Holland House and the sports field. For a while it has been compacted earth topped with dust. Over 55 trees in the area have done well to survive in the impoverished ground, and now they have help. In early October Adam and Luke from Bartletts Tree Experts arrived with some impressive machinery to dig out cylinders of earth around every tree. Each hole was filled with nutritious biochar, compost and Lumbricus terrestris worms, a species indigenous to the park. Now the worms are at work. Often known as 'ecosystem engineers', worms spread the nutrition under the trees and increase porosity of the soil. There is still some de-compacting to be done, surface soil to be added, all followed by grass seed. Next year we should all be able to enjoy a lush green sward.

Winter coat for 'The Melancholy Man'

In the north wall of the Dutch Garden is a statue known as 'The Melancholy Man'. He will soon be carefully wrapped for his own protection, not, as you might expect, from the weather, but from repairs and re-pointing work to be carried out on the wall. The west end of the wall is leaning, and it is likely that the top half will have to be rebuilt and buttresses added. This sizeable project will require mobile scaffolding and will take at least until mid-January. idverde have the challenging task of removing plants where possible and storing them until they can be returned. Small trees and large shrubs will stay in place with appropriate protection. The four plants fixed to the wall (Staff Vine, Fig, Dutchman's Pipe and the very old wisteria) will have to be very carefully detached and fixed to a special scaffold, while work is in progress. The plants in that bed were donated by The Friends.

A passion for historic tiles

Alvar at work on the tilesDay after day this autumn, Alvar Maitan worked painstakingly on conservation of the Florentine tiles along the walkway above the café.  Richard Rogers Conservation were commissioned to undertake the project, and Alvar was the specialist who preserved the tiles outside the café last year, so he knows the park and its decorative treasures. He also knows all about old tiles, and often works for the British Museum, so we are lucky to have benefitted from his expertise. One of his interests is how paints were made through the ages, and he created his own mixture of acrylic and powder colour to get the precise match to our tiles. He filled cracks and holes and repainted damaged bits of design, aiming for the whole to look old rather than perfect. During his time in Holland Park, he became fascinated by its history and decorative arts, and that added passion to his work. We hope to see Alvar back once we can get approval to conserve the Old Dairy tiles.

Holland House Conservation

Finally, the much needed work proposed by conservation architects Allies & Morrison has been approved by RBKC. Two phases are scheduled, with the first phase being conservation of the East Wing (youth hostel), starting this autumn if possible. Phase two will be repairs to the stone and brickwork of Holland House itself. You can expect to see substantial scaffolding on various parts of the Grade-1-listed building for some time. The house will remain on Historic England's At Risk Register until the work is considered to have progressed sufficiently.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Winter 2020]

Wildlife Talks


The Ecology Service nicely filled the gap of walks and talks in the park, with a series of talks on line, all sponsored by The Friends. Specialists braved the internet and told us about wild flowers, swifts, worms, frogs, moths and foxes. Who knew that foxes wagged their tails when they got to know a human, or that swifts sleep in flight?

None of us can guess yet what will be permitted next year, due to the pandemic, but the on-line talks have been so successful in terms of increased attendance, that it is likely they will be continued, alongside expert-led walks, once they are allowed.

Next year's programme is currently being planned, so keep an eye on

Jennie Kettlewell

Photo by Fox Project

[Winter 2020]

Subscription Renewals and Membership Cards

Thank you again for all your support, and we hope you will want to continue to help through these troublesome times when the park is more appreciated than ever, but also has extra strains put upon it. Your membership also gives The Friends clout when negotiating with the Borough on the Park's future.

The Friends' subscription year runs from 1 January. Some of you have already paid for 2021, and a healthy number (about 60%) pay by bank standing order on 1 January. New members who have joined since 1 September are already covered for 2021. To the rest of you, now is the time to pay, using the order form on our website;   If in doubt, check with Graham Franklin 07802 761 548 or  We would like to emphasise that it is less trouble to both you and us if you pay by standing order; if you do not yet do so we are always ready to send you a form.

You will know that your membership card, which entitles you to discounts under our Friends & Neighbours scheme, expires at the end of February. Those who have paid their subscriptions for 2021 will receive replacement cards with their spring newsletters, which will reach them in late February. Please be careful opening your newsletter, as the cards can easily fall out and be lost.

Rhoddy Wood

[Winter 2020]

New discount offer for The Friends

Threads Hair & Beauty

ThreadsThis laid-back hair and beauty salon has its own coffee bar where you can relax and enjoy freshly-roasted coffee, juices and snacks. Treatments include hair cutting, styling and colouring as well as facials, manicures and pedicures.

Threads & Co is the brainchild of Australian born entrepreneur and make-up artist Matthew Bartell. Its sister company, Threads Beauty Ltd, was launched in 2009, with threading & nail bar concessions in various department stores & fashion stores in Ireland.

We could all do with a little pampering and this relaxing environment is just what you need.

256 Kensington High Street, London W8 6ND.

For more information, visit or call 020 3903 7272.

Offer: 10% off hair and beauty treatments.

[Winter 2020]

Happy Birthday!

Rhoddy with her 'Coat of Arms'Rhoddy's Coat of Arms

Rhoddy Wood, well known to many of you, received a gift from the trustees on the occasion of her 90th birthday. Yes, really, 90th! The gift was a 'coat of arms' showing Rhoddy's connection with Holland Park. The Latin words mean: 'Have regard for all your friends'. Note the cup of coffee and piece of cake in the bottom left quadrant. The design was exquisitely painted by Gordon French.

[Winter 2020]

Green Trees or Grey Dust

Holland Park's trees are taking a battering. Successive years of drought have resulted in quite a few dead trees. We are not alone and understand that all parks are suffering, with birch trees being particularly badly affected. We must renew efforts to implement the long-term tree strategy.

Red Horse ChestnutsThis strategy takes each area of the park, defines its characteristics, then fast forwards 50 years to imagine what it will look like if we do nothing. Next, we define what needs to be done now if we want to retain those characteristics. This is essential if we are to act as stewards of the land for our descendants. We need to work fast, because the effect of climate change is accelerating. But this is not all bad news. It offers the opportunity of exciting new trees. Many of these trees will be non-natives, selected for our future climate, as our poor native species will not be able to survive, and we need trees that now grow in Spain and the South of France.

One place for renewal is the north boundary of the sports field where a line of red horse chestnuts has had its day. They are diseased, frail and have had some severe remedial pruning, which has resulted in rather misshapen trees. The decision has been made to remove them before they fall apart, and to replace them with some splendid new species. In years to come our children and grandchildren will enjoy green canopies of leaves, rustling in the breeze.

Chairman's Greeting

Dear Friends

Once again, we are experiencing lock down, in an attempt to manage the spread of Covid-19. I hope you are safe and well. Like me, you will be spending much of your time at home until at least early December. Many of you found great comfort in visiting the park during the spring lock down and I hope you can continue to visit and to enjoy the splendid autumn colours. Distancing can be a challenge in a public space and we ask all of you that you do your best, even if you find some others are less considerate.

One day things will get back to something approaching normal, though it will be gradual, and I look forward to meeting you all again at an event, or just out for a stroll. Until then, keep well and keep cheerful.

Jennie Kettlewell, Chairman

[Winter 2020]

Pandemic puts events on hold

The pandemic continues to prevent us running our usual events, and we have sadly had to cancel our very popular Christmas concert planned for 6 December. Philip Simms and the Tallis Chamber Choir have entertained us every Christmas for the past 20 years. We always enjoyed it and, very evidently, so did they. We wish all of them a safe end to the year and look forward to their being 'on song' in 2021.

We were also very sad that the concert by Ancora had to be cancelled; however, if you would like to buy any of the duo's CDs at £10 plus postage (flute with guitar or with harp), have a look at the website Anne is offering a special pre-Christmas deal for the Friends: two CDs for £15. You can order directly via Anne's e-mail:

Your trustees are working on what we can do virtually to get events going again. It will, however, mean 'events' with no glass of wine or canapés!

[Autumn 2020]

Mayor Awards Chairman of The Friends

Jennie KettlewellEach year the current Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea recognises people who have made a significant contribution to the local community. One of the 2020 awards was made to the Chairman of The Friends, Jennie Kettlewell. There was to have been a presentation ceremony and reception at the end of March, but Covid-19 put a stop to that. Since it is now clear that no events will happen any time soon, the certificates are to be posted.

Monica Castelino, Parks Manager for the Borough, who has worked closely with Jennie on both strategy and projects for Holland Park, commented: 'I am delighted that Jennie has received a Mayor's Award recognising her hard work and dedication to The Friends of Holland Park, and the benefits this work, coupled with her genuine enthusiasm and enjoyment of the natural environment, has had on Holland Park now and for the future.'

Jennie said she was thrilled and felt quite emotional when she got the news:  'It means a great deal to me to know that the work of The Friends of Holland Park is noticed, and I am proud to have played a role in that. I thank all those considerate people who found time to support the nomination that resulted in the Award.'

[Autumn 2020]

Ciao Michael!

Michael Volpe

I first met Michael Volpe seven years ago, when someone from the Council decided it would be better for us to have a first-hand discussion. We were given a Council 'minder' in case of disagreement, but he found himself redundant as Michael and I soon discovered points on which we agreed. Of course, we didn't agree about everything, but had enough in common to kick off a productive way of working from that time until today.

We have had regular conversations, some contentious, some weighty, often noisy, but highly enjoyable; and occasions to share ideas and laughter. I shall miss those talks now that Michael has decided to leave Opera Holland Park, after some 30 years, to seek new challenges.

The Friends owe particular thanks to Michael for two things: the first is the loan of his 'posh tent', otherwise known as the Dutch Garden marquee, for our summer Pimm's Party. It is a great venue for a sunny summer's evening, has been enjoyed by our members, and we are grateful for it.  The second is the real drive of Michael and the opera team to reduce the time of the opera build and strike, so that park visitors can enjoy the terrace and view of Grade-l-listed Holland House for longer each year.

We know that not every park visitor appreciates opera, and we also know that many of our members are also members of The Friends of Opera Holland Park and enjoy the performances. Whatever your view, Michael has been inspirational. Ciao. We wish you well, and please don't forget Holland Park.

Jennie Kettlewell

Photo Linked in

[Autum 2020]

Christmas Cards

The Walking Man


Catherine Masterman has again painted a view of Holland Park for us: The Standing Man statue. This is a bit of a triumph as she had started on the design and taken photographs when Covid-19 struck and she was not able to get back to the park. I think you will agree that she has made the picture both accurate and cheerful. Last year she painted Lord Holland, so this is the second in a series of views of our sculptures. Perhaps the tortoises next time?

We will hold a ready supply of these cards in both the standard 152 mm x 197 mm format at £10 the pack of ten, and the small 118 mm x 168 mm at £8.50.  We will also make up mixed packs of old designs of Holland Park at £6.50, which will be very largely of big ones in at least three or four different designs. These can all be very quickly delivered. It would be a great help if you could order early so that the publisher knows what initial printing he needs. If your newsletter is hand delivered (no stamp), our delivery is free, but beyond that we have to charge an additional £1.40 per 10 cards. Please note that sending the order to us instead of directly to Mountbatten gets The Friends an extra discount, unless overprinting is required.

To order online please click here

Rhoddy Wood

[Autumn 2020]

News Update

as at 1 September 2020

Green Drive

Green DriveAt last, Green Drive, the road that runs between the Ilchester Gate, across the front of Holland House to the Duchess of Bedford Gate, has a fine new surface, neat edging and proper drainage. It looks rather too bright, but will soon wear to a more muted colour. The next stage is to restore the adjacent dogs-off-lead area that has been worn to dust. The whole area will be decompacted to improve the health of the trees, and then be treated with 'vertical mulching'. This new technique will improve the quality of the soil without spreading mulch on the surface, as that would be far too tempting for dogs. The Friends have met the challenge of sourcing thousands of the right species of earthworm to add to the mulch holes. Finally, the surface will be seeded with tough grass, which will need to be fenced off temporarily to allow it to establish itself.

Ireton Lodge site and Sun Trap entrance

You might have noticed work being carried out in the extreme north east of the park. Regular requests to hold inappropriately large events in Holland Park have been held at bay, but in these times of budget cuts the Council will always seek ways of gaining income from the park. This enclosed space has been chosen to meet that need, in a way that minimizes impact on the park. It is the site of Ireton Lodge, demolished some years ago when it became unstable. The area had been fenced off, but had of late been used by a few members of the public for somewhat anti-social behaviour. The space will be for hire for daytime, quiet events in summer, with no music, and access up the steps from the road, rather than through the park. There will be no hard landscaping, no structures, and it will remain as an area of grass, screened by trees. We would all rather not have it, but it is better than what might have been.

Sun Trap entrance

Sun Trap wallThe curved north wall has been repaired, painted and looks much smarter than it has for many years. The filigree iron gate at the entrance has been beautifully restored. Next will be resurfacing of the path up into the park: not an easy task, as the whole structure of the hill tends to shift downwards, due to soil having been brought into that part of the park when the street that runs past the gate was carved out in the mid-19th century. The drainage will also be sorted out to prevent a rush of water down the path in heavy rain.

Holland House conservation

The tendering process for a conservation contractor is delayed due to complex processes, but we hope to hear the result and a time-line for the work very soon. The RBKC Property Department is keeping us in touch with proceedings and has committed to ensuring minimal disruption to Holland Park, Opera Holland Park and the Youth Hostel.

Conservation of historic tiles

Conservation of the Florentine tiles along the upper walkway, above the Holland Park café, will have started by the time you read this.

Text and photos: Jennie Kettlewell

[Autumn 2020]

Crab Apple Jelly

The seasons roll round independently of Covid-19, and your secretary was pleased to be able to follow routine to the extent of gathering crab apples in September. Not quite so many as in some years, but more from lessening energy than lack of fruit. So at the time of writing, there are a few jars for sale, strictly first come first served.  Please give Rhoddy a call on 020 7602 0304 to check prices and availability. As always, buyers will have to come to my flat to collect and pay with cash or cheque.  For safety's sake it will be arranged so that there is no need to enter my flat.

Rhoddy Wood

[Winter 2020]

Pandemic Puts Events on Hold

The pandemic continues to prevent us running our usual events, and we have sadly had to cancel our very popular Christmas concert planned for 6 December. Philip Simms and the Tallis Chamber Choir have entertained us every Christmas for the past 20 years. We always enjoyed it and, very evidently, so did they. We wish all of them a safe end to the year and look forward to their being 'on song' in 2021.

We are also very sad that the concert by Ancora has had to be cancelled; however, if you would like to buy any of the duo's CDs at £10 plus postage (flute with guitar or with harp), have a look at the website Anne is offering a special pre-Christmas deal for the Friends: two CDs for £15. You can order directly via Anne's e-mail:

Your trustees are working on what we can do virtually to get events going again. It will, however, mean 'events' with no glass of wine or canapés!

[Autumn 2020]

News update

As at 27 May 2020

As you know, we had to cancel our AGM, planned for 22 April this year. The Charity Commission has been informed and we wait to hear if there is a deadline by which we must hold the meeting. Gatherings are still not permitted and we do not know when they will be, so we have not planned a new date. In the meantime, the Report and Accounts for 2019 have been approved by the trustees and the Independent Examiner. More news in our Autumn newsletter.

Holland House conservation
Planning and Listed Building consent have been obtained for the conservation work, and the next stage is the tendering process to choose a contractor to do the work. Covid-19 has slowed things down, but it is hoped that a contractor will be in place by mid-September.  Work can then be commenced this autumn, so that all is completed before Opera Holland Park start their build in March 2021.

Conservation of historic tiles
On hold due to Covid-19.

Road resurfacing

Road resurfacing

The first stage has been completed and the road north of the Earl's Court gate has a fine new surface and neat edging. Green Drive, the road that runs between the Ilchester Gate, across the front of Holland House to the Duchess of Bedford Gate is due to start during the last week in May and should be well under way by the time you read this.

Holland Park Café is now open for take-away only. Likely hours are 10 am to 4.30 pm, but this might vary. Outside seating is not open.

Public toilets in the park will re-open and drinking fountains will be switched on once Park Management is satisfied risks to park users and cleaning staff have been considered and mitigated. Best practice is being shared with Parks for London and other boroughs. They might already be open by the time you read this. The much needed refurbishment of the toilets is temporarily on hold because it is likely that the approved design will need to be amended due to the impact of Covid-19, i.e. the need for sensor taps/touch-free features etc. 

Sun Trap entrance
Suntrap entrance


Work is recommencing to repair the north wall. The Sun Trap gate is being removed for restoration; have you ever noticed what a fine gate it is? We will have to put up with some rather unsightly Heras fencing until this is done.

(Photos: Resurfaced Earl's Court path (RBKC); Sun Trap gate (Jennie Kettlewell))

[Summer 2020]

Friends and Neighbours

As at 27 May 2020

It is difficult to explain the situation. We know what it is at the time of going to press, but it will quite likely have changed by the time you get to read this. The Government announced the opening of many types of retail outlet from 15 June, with the exception of cafés, restaurants, bars etc.

Gallery 19 will once again welcome visitors and be open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm. Careful safe-distancing measures will be in place.

Holland Park Café: Now open for take away only. Likely hours are 10 am to 4.30 pm but this might vary. Outside seating is not open.

Imagine Spa, Holiday Inn, Kensington: In line with Government advice, the spa is currently closed and will not re-open until July at the earliest. The management is preparing a way of opening in a way that is safe for members. While closed, they are not charging the monthly  membership fee.

Jeroboams, Kensington High Street is now open again, with safe-distancing measures. Hours might vary from usual.

Miles & Miles car hire support current Government policy for car travel. A car can be booked on a request basis at 020 7591 0555.

Rassells Garden Centre is also open. Hours are 10.30 am to 4.30 pm daily, except Fridays. They need to keep Fridays clear for them to take stock of their plants, label them up etc.

Romulo Café has re-opened their kitchen and are offering a delivery and take-away service. Ring 020 3141 6390.

The Belvedere, Sadaf, Uli and Il Portico restaurants remain closed until Government guidelines change. Sadaf, Uli and Il Portico offer a take-away service so that you can still enjoy their tasty meals, but in your own home.

The Design Museum Kitchen restaurant was closed earlier this year, while the museum considered its best options for offering food to visitors.

[Summer 2020]

Please attend our virtual AGM at 7pm on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Covid-19 meant we had to cancel our AGM this April, and hopes of any live meetings have faded as the pandemic limits our activities. So, we will update you at a Zoom AGM on what your trustees are doing to protect and enhance the historic and natural assets of our very special park.

Voting: By now, all members should have received a form, either by e-mail or by post, so that you can vote to approve the minutes of the 2019 AGM, accounts for 2019, re-election of the trustees and of the Independent Examiner. We are required to have member approval before we can file the accounts with the Charity Commission, so please do vote. The results will be announced at the virtual AGM. The 2019 Accounts can be found by clicking here, and the minutes of the 2019 AGM by clicking here.

Virtual AGM: Members should register to attend the AGM by e-mailing, giving your full name, by Monday 19 October 2020.  You will then be sent the link.

At the AGM, we will tell you about current and planned projects: there are quite a few! We ask that you let us have questions in advance of the meeting, so that we can group subjects and answer as many as we can. Please e-mail any questions to by Friday, 16 October 2020.

This time we will not be able to offer you a glass of wine and canapés, but we should have plenty of information and news to keep you going until we meet again in 2021.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Summer 2020]

How Holland Park has Helped us during Covid-19

Spontaneous appreciationHi everyone! We know that a lot of you have been able to visit the park throughout these difficult times, and we felt it worth keeping a record about what you have especially appreciated and how it has helped you. You might like to say this in either words or pictures. So, we are planning in the autumn issue to print a selection of your views. All our newsletters are kept in the Local Studies section of the public library in Hornton Street, so your feelings about Holland Park during Covid-19 will be available for historians down the ages.

To help us manage the project, all contributions should follow these guidelines:

1.    Anyone may contribute, members or non-members. We welcome under 16s who should state their age and provide the name of a parent or guardian through whom we may correspond.

2.    All contributors should give their name and contact details, including phone number and e-mail address if possible.

3.    All contributions should be original and should be given a title.

Spontaneous appreciation pinned up in the Park

4.    Written submissions should be not more than 200 words.

5.    Pictures can be photographs, drawings or paintings which we hope you might enjoy producing. Each contributor may provide up to 4 items, either as illustrations to their text or as stand-alone items. The size limit is A3, i.e. 11 ½" x 16" or 29cm x 42cm. If this size is exceeded, the edges will get cut off during reproduction. Please remember they will show much smaller on the page.

6.    All contributions will be acknowledged.

7.    All contributions will be credited to the authors unless otherwise requested.

8.    All contributions will become the property of the Friends and will not be returned.

9.    All contributions might be reproduced in whole or in part in the Friends' newsletters and possibly in other of our publications or on merchandise. It should be noted that the newsletters are uploaded in full to our website.

10.    Contributions should be sent to Rhoddy Wood, preferably by e-mail at or by post to 21 Kenton Court, 356 Kensington High Street, W14 8NN. No signature to be shown may be requested. Pictures should be packed with a piece of cardboard to avoid damage in the post. If anyone wants to hand deliver, it is possible to do this while maintaining social distancing, but please first telephone  020 7602 0304.

11.    The closing date for submission is 7 August.

Rhoddy Wood

[Summer 2020]

Litter-Picking for a Good Cause

Andrew LeeOver the last month you might have noticed someone litter-picking in Holland Park, usually early in the morning. Andrew Lee is 17 years old and is currently at Westminster School. He intends to study medicine and was scheduled to do a volunteering placement with St Thomas' Hospital, but the pandemic put a stop to that. His school ethos had taught him to give something back to society, so he considered how else he could contribute, and chose to combine his passion for the environment with raising money for St Thomas'. He is visiting Holland Park each day for 30 days to help keep the footpaths litter-free.

Although idverde's regular park maintenance team do their job and keep the paths clear of the worst rubbish, there are far more people in the park during the pandemic and therefore more rubbish. Andrew says: 'By helping clean up the litter, I hope to benefit local animals and plants, and make easier the efforts of others to stay healthy and active during these challenging times.'

Even better, he loves the park and is very interested in the trees.

Jennie Kettlewell

He has greatly appreciated the support given by members of the Council and by The Friends of Holland Park. By the time you read this, his project might be completed, but his Just Giving page is probably still open, so why not support Andrew, Holland Park and St Thomas' Hospital.

[Summer 2020]

We Nearly Lost It!

Richard Tufnell, Senior Property Manager of Ilchester Estates, entertained us with a most interesting talk at our Winter Warmer on 25th February. He explained the long history of the Ilchester's connection with Holland House before moving on to more recent times. There is still a connection because the residual estate outside the park, known as the Holland Park Estate, is now in the ownership of the 6th Earl of Ilchester's great grand-daughter and is managed by Ilchester Estates.

Much of what Richard showed us came from the Ilchester archives at Melbury, Dorset, and was material most of us will not have seen before, and fascinating it was too.

Grant of right of way


We knew that rights to the public footpath across the front of Holland House were traded for rights to what is now Holland Walk, previously part of the park. It was extraordinary to see a slide of the original grant for the right of way from Kensington High Street in the south to Holland Park Avenue in the north by George III, complete with the massive royal seal.



Residue of estate


This map shows the residue of the estate that was acquired by Henry Fox-Strangways, with all the land shown in green having been sold. Leighton House and the Tower House on Melbury Road are shown as well as Oak Lodge (sold in 1878), the site of the future Oakwood Court.










This 1911 map (left) shows the estate having been parcelled up into lots for valuation, and presumably development. It includes a substantial part of the north of Holland Park. Lady Holland, living in Holland House, did not approve and, fortunately, the north of the park was never given over to development, which would have meant no woodlands for us.





1953 map`1953 map



Another threat to the park, this time in 1953, at the time Holland House and its grounds were sold to the LCC. The plan below shows the estate parcelled up at various densities of housing, ranging from 6-8 houses per acre. The heart of Holland Park, shown as a hatched area, is labelled in the key as 'undetermined'.



Much of the estate was of course sold off over the years since it covered 'the four Manors of Kensington' in the late 16th century, but we might have lost more of it, or even all of it, if commercialism had won over aesthetics.

Words based on Richard Tufnell's talk. The Ilchester Estates hold the copyright for the illustrations.

[Summer 2020]

Carrie Starren's Gift to The Friends


Actually, it is her second gift. The first was her very generous fulfilment of our commission to write The Families of Holland House, a book much appreciated by The Friends. The second….. well let's go back to the start.

Carrie was born and educated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. She was Local Studies Librarian from 1990 to 2000 and has since run her own company, specialising in research, talks and exhibitions on West London local history.

Throughout this career she has amassed a fascinating collection of information on Holland House, the people who lived there and the grounds: now Holland Park. She very kindly asked if The Friends would like her collection. We would.  So off I went to meet Carrie and collect the files. As you can imagine, Carrie, having been a Local Studies Librarian, had all the material beautifully organised in labelled files, with notes on who held copyright if we wanted to use anything. It has made fascinating reading for me during lockdown. One task that remains is to digitise all the many slides. Another gift was both volumes of the Ilchester's Chronicles of Holland House.  So, The Friends now own some excellent historical records. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Carrie.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Summer 2020]

Corners of Holland Park

HH cards

Four different notlets of black and white drawings, blank inside.

Liz Farrell


Sold out Autumn 2020

Virtual meeting, by Zoom

Covid-19 means we will hold our 2020 AGM virtually. Please do attend as we will be updating you on current and planned projects.

Please take action to vote in advance of the meeting and to attend the AGM.  See below.

By the end of September, all members should have received a form, either by email or by post, to enable voting to approve the minutes from the 2019 AGM, the 2019 Accounts, re-election of the trustees and the Independent Examiner. The results will be announced at the AGM on 21 October. The 2019 Accounts can be found by clicking here, and the minutes of the 2019 AGM by clicking here.

Members can register to attend the AGM by emailing, giving your full name.  You will then be sent the link.

[Summer 2020]

Chairman's Greeting

Dear Friends

Like me, you will have spent most of your time at home over the past months. I hope you are well and have managed the challenge of being within four walls for all or much of the day. Some of you have visited the park, which has remained open, and sent news or photos; thank you. Some of you have decided not to visit and must be missing the wonderful spring show. Now that the government has withdrawn its 'stay-at-home' guidance, the idverde gardeners have returned to work and are tackling the weeds with gusto. The Parks Police and the idverde maintenance team have been present in the park throughout the lockdown, and we are most grateful for their hard work and cheerful smiles. Distancing is difficult in a public space and we ask all of you that you do your best, even if you find some others are less considerate.

One day things will get back to something approaching normal, though it will be gradual, and I look forward to meeting you all again at an event, or just out for a stroll. Until then, keep well and keep cheerful.

Jennie Kettlewell, Chairman

Photo: Ian Bruce

[Summer 2020]

Ecology walks and talks
As with everything else, the programme of interesting wildlife walks and talks, many sponsored by The Friends, is on hold. If permitted, they might resume later in the year. Keep up with news on
[Summer 2020]




Wednesday, 22 April 2020 at 7.30pm in the Orangery

Be sure to put 22 April in your diary and come along to our AGM. The formal part is usually over quickly and we have time to talk about what has been achieved over the past year and what needs to be done now.

A great deal has been achieved in the past 12 months. This time last year, Holland House had been put on Historic England's At-Risk Register, and now we are well on the way to expert conservation. Woodland restoration has started, and some bare patches of muddy earth have been fenced off to give them a chance to regenerate. Plans are afoot for other improvements.

Often, when it seems things are improving, people do not feel they need to come to the AGM.  But please do come, as there are still issues that need sorting out, as there will be with any park. Come and challenge us with thoughtful questions and share your ideas. The trustees need your support and want to know that we are representing you.

As always, we will have the chance to catch up with each other over a glass of wine after the meeting. I look forward to seeing lots of you on the 22 April.

Jennie Kettlewell

[Spring 2020]

Seeking Volunteers

Following our last request, Rhoddy Wood, who still works extremely hard, has passed responsibility for the members' database to Liz Merica. Rhoddy will continue to respond to new member applications and to work with the much appreciated team of newsletter deliverers. She would, however, very much like someone to take over the fulfilment of orders for event tickets and merchandise.

Event bookings and merchandise orders come in the form of phone calls, written requests or payment via our website. Once the volunteer has payment, they will need to post the tickets or park guides to the address given. Stamps and stationery are supplied. Stocks of merchandise are kept in store, so only a small number of guides need be kept at home.

It would be helpful if this person could also undertake a small number of tasks related to our database.

All The Friends' volunteers work at home on their own computer, which allows the tasks to be organised round other commitments. While not particularly onerous in terms of time, this role requires computer literacy, attention to detail and an understanding of the work of The Friends. You do not need to be a member currently.

We are also looking for a volunteer, possibly with marketing communications experience, to help publicise our events to the local community.

If you are interested, please contact Rhoddy Wood (Secretary) on, or Jennie Kettlewell (Chairman) on to find out more and explore options.

[Spring 2020]

Pimm's in the Park

On hold pending further information

Wednesday, 8 July 2020, 6-8pm, in the marquee east of the Dutch GardenCome and join us for our annual summer party in the marquee on the raised terrace overlooking the formal garden. In this lovely venue this is the only Friends event that is exclusively for members and their guests, plus invited councillors, council officers and the parks police, in appreciation of their support. The party is always much enjoyed, and it is a good opportunity to chat to others with an interest in the park.

As always, we have the General Director of Opera Holland Park, Michael Volpe, to thank for the use of this weather-proof and scenic venue. We hope very much that Michael will join us, as it will be his last summer as General Director of the opera. Pimm's, soft drinks and canapés will be served. Tickets are £18 each.

[Spring 2020]

Christmas Concert

Our carol concert on 8 December was as enjoyable as always. We were proud to have Can it be True? performed, a carol composed by Friend Richard Moore, this time in a slightly revised version. Thanks to Richard, Philip Simms the conductor and his choir, this was most enjoyable, so much so that a member of the audience acquired a copy of it from one of the singers. Richard says that he does not keep a record of any possible performances for copyright reasons, and perhaps the lady in question simply wanted a memento of the piece. However, he would be most grateful if she would kindly contact him on 020 7602 7564.

PS: Contact has been made!

[Spring 2020]

Real Progress with Holland House Conservation

At last we are well on the way to getting the much needed conservation of Holland House done. An application for Planning and Listed Building Consent (PP/20/00298) was lodged by conservation architects Allies & Morrison on 14 January 2020. By the time you read this, the consultation will be closed, although we will not hear the decision until after 10 March.

The Friends have been consulted throughout, have had details of the application explained, and our questions have been answered. You might be interested in the main points from our written response to the Council:

'We are pleased to note that

•    The integrity of the historic building will be maintained, although some materials will be replaced.

•    Access is being designed in order to facilitate future maintenance.

•    Improved rainwater run-off measures will help to prevent further damage.

•    The upper causeway 'path' will be resurfaced to improve water run-off and prevent water ingress to the lower causeway. The coping of the wall and faulty render will be replaced to reduce further damage to the historic tiles.

•    Repairs to the roof, brickwork and masonry of the Old Dairy will be carried out to prevent further damage to the historic tiles.

•    Repair conservation work will be carried out to the stone and brick facing of Holland House and the East Wing. As it is repair work, it is not included in the planning application.

Planning applicationThe Friends would like to be reassured that a buildings maintenance schedule will be agreed once works are completed, so that further damage is avoided.'

The roof of the main house and East Wing will be protected until the main work starts after the opera season in autumn 2020.

We thank Council officers and the specialists at Allies & Morrison for involving the Friends throughout, so that we are able to support the application. It is so heartening to know that Holland House will be secure and look glorious once again.

If you look at the drawings on the application, one curiosity is how crooked the old house has become: like a proud old lady with arthritis. Not really surprising after all those years.

Photos courtesy of Ståle Eriksen and Allies & Morrison respectively. In the planning application drawing the pink is a working colour code only.

[Spring 2020]


Due to current Government advice regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, The Friends of Holland Park have made the decision to cancel or postpone all its April events.

•    Art exhibition (18-26 April) is cancelled
•    Members' AGM (22 April) will be held later in the year
•    Ancora concert (24 April) will be held later in the year
•    Dawn Chorus Walk, run by the Ecology Service, has been cancelled

•    Pimms in the Park (8 July) on hold pending more information.

It was sad to have to make this decision, but it is more important that we all stay safe and healthy.

The Park itself is open, but busy, so please observe the 2m distance guidance if you visit. Facilities, such as toilets, tennis courts, cafe, kiosks, playgrounds and outdoor gym are closed, as is the Parks Reception Office. The Parks Police remain on duty.

[Spring 2020]

The Ancora Duo


Friday, 24 April, at 7.30pm in the Orangery

Last April our annual spring recital, taking place during our art exhibition in the Orangery, was performed by the flute and guitar duo, The Ancora Duo: respectively Anne Allen and Sarah Freestone. This duo was so popular that we have asked them to perform for us again this year. The programme is still a secret except that, by popular request, we have been promised the tango by Piazzolla that was so loved last year. Tickets at £18, to include wine and canapés.

[Spring 2020]

Ecology Service events sponsored by The Friends


These events are free, but must be booked. Please call the Ecology Team on 020 7938 8186 or e-mail

Sat 21 March  Beginner's Guide to bird-watching, David Darrell-Lambert. 9-11.30am

Thurs 2 April  Spring Botany Walk, Dr Mark Spencer. 6-7.30pm

Sat 25 April  Dawn Chorus Bird Walk, David Darrell-Lambert. 5-7am

Wed 6 May  Spring Bat Walk. 8.30-10pm

Thurs 14 May  House Sparrow Talk, Daria Dadam. 6-7.30pm

Thurs 21 May  Common Lizard Talk. 6.30-8pm

Thurs 28 May  Amphibian Walk. 6.30-8pm

News Update as at 5 February 2020

Green Drive and Dutch Garden resurfacing

Green DriveGreen Drive is the road that runs between the Ilchester Gate and across the front of Holland House as far as the Duchess of Bedford Gate. It must be robust enough for cars and lorries, within park restrictions, but we do not want it to look like a bitumen motorway. The project is out for tender, with work expected to last four weeks and be finished before the opera takes up residence. The chosen surface is a light brown, rather than black tarmac, intended to blend in with the colours of Holland House. Stone kerbs will improve the current messy edge and encourage vehicles to keep to the road.

If you are wondering why the Dutch Garden path resurfacing is taking so long, it is because of adverse weather. The work cannot be carried out satisfactorily while wet, and will be completed as soon as the ground has dried out.

Photo by Jennie Kettlewell

Gnomon gone, but not for long

Saul, one of the idverde gardening team, was working in one of the shrub beds when he was surprised to find the missing gnomon from the armillary sphere in the Dutch Garden. It is in fact the original, not the replacement ordered by The Friends after it was first stolen. It is currently in the safe custody of the Parks Police, until Richard Rogers Conservation can return to weld it firmly into place.

Conservation of historic tiles

Now that conservation of the tiles in front of the café has been completed, we have received a tile-by-tile assessment of those on the upper walkway from Richard Rogers Conservation. This is currently being considered for approval by the Council Conservation Case Officer, so that work can be commissioned. The Friends have committed to paying for this expert work. We have also received a first report and estimate for work on the tiles in the old dairy, next to the Ice House. The first stage is to get the dairy building repaired, which will be done this autumn as part of the Holland House conservation project. We will then discuss the dairy tile report with the Council and decide how to proceed.  It is considerably more expensive than the walkway tiles, so we will have until 2021 to ensure funds are in place. We hope that, eventually, the public will be able to see into the tiled dairy and even go into the room on occasions.

PC Tom McGeehanGreen transport for Parks Police

When The Friends discovered that our Parks Police had no bicycle to travel between parks in the borough, we offered to buy one for them. Off they went and chose a smart black model that can carry what they need, including a defibrillator. PC Tom McGeehan looks pretty pleased with it in this photo. They are awaiting delivery of an electric police car.

Photo courtesy of RBKC

Jennie Kettlewell

[Spring 2020]

Seeking Volunteers

Your membership secretary, Rhoddy Wood, works extremely hard and covers many roles, including management of the members database, new and renewing member communications, fulfilment of orders for merchandise and tickets, keeping the park noticeboards up to date, distribution of the newsletter, and much, much more.

She would now value some assistance, and The Friends are looking for one or possibly two volunteers to help with two functions: database management and sending out tickets and merchandise in response to orders. Volunteers will be working at home on their own computer, which allows the tasks to be organised around other commitments. While not particularly onerous in terms of time, it requires computer literacy, attention to detail and an understanding of the work of The Friends. You do not need to be a current member.

If you are interested, please contact Rhoddy Wood (Secretary) on, or Jennie Kettlewell (Chairman) on to explore options.