A BIG thank you to Idverde who have presented FOVP with an amazing collection of tools for our volunteer gardening group to use. We look forward to digging, pruning, chopping, hoeing, troweling (and then recovering with a well deserved refreshment at Parco Cafe!).
Following recent consultation, The Friends of Vauxhall Park are delighted to announce that the new sensory garden in the Park will be called The Fawcett Garden, in honour of Henry and Millicent Fawcett who are so important to the very existence of the Park.
Henry Fawcett and his wife Millicent Fawcett, the great Suffragist, lived in a house whose site was near to the current Tennis Courts. It was Henry’s wish that the people of Vauxhall had access to a freely accessible open space for their enjoyment and to benefit their health. Millicent, with Octavia Hill (Social Reformer and co-founder of the National Trust) together with many members of the local Community honoured this wish after Henry’s death, in 1884, which resulted in our wonderful Park (opened in 1890). The Park is still benefitting the residents of Vauxhall today. Millicent is well know for her work to increase women’s suffrage but Henry was also a remarkable figure of his era: Henry was blind but this did not stop him being responsible for many notable reforms including making it easier for the poorest to save and have access to Life Insurance at a time before the Welfare State, introducing the Parcel Post and Postal Orders during his time as Postmaster General and becoming a well respected academic and economist. He is remembered on the Reformers Monument in North London.
The FOVP have been closely involved with the replanting and redesigning of this area: the plants have all been chosen for their ‘sensory’ qualities, the paths have been laid out to make access easy, particularly for wheelchair users and those who are less mobile. There will be plenty of benches so not only can visitors linger to enjoy this special space but our older visitors are catered for. This redesign is to especially honour Henry Fawcett who was blind but always appreciated the benefits of the natural environment. We hope you will approve!
Vauxhall History have recently published an a history of Vauxhall Park’s lavender field, written by FOVP’s Polly Freeman. Please click here to read the article.
As part of the Masterplan works, the current plants, which have reached the end of their life, will be replaced by the same variety of Lavender (Grosso) which has grown so successfully in the park and yielded good quantities of oil for the oil sales. However the field will have a new design to make harvesting the flowers easier and make access to the plants better so the plants are not trampled. The FOVP have also commissioned a master stonemason to restore the human Sundial. This will be at the centre of the new design and we look forward to its new position intriguing many more people in the years to come.
Our friends at Vauxhall History have recently published a fascinating article, with some wonderful illustrations, about the beginnings of Vauxhall Park. Please click here to read the article
We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fanny Wilkinson is to be honoured with a Blue Plaque. The plaque will be installed on her house on Gower Street, where she lived two doors down from Millicent Fawcett who played such an important part in Vauxhall Park’s foundation.
FOVP’s Polly Freeman who leads guided walks around Vauxhall Park, attended a walk last summer about Fanny Wilkinson. After hearing about Fanny’s extraordinary story she was incensed to arrive outside Fanny’s House to see that there was no Blue Plaque. She applied to English Heritage and was heartened to hear that the Metropolitan Garden Association (MPGA) who Fanny worked for, had also nominated her. Subject to some further historical research, she will be honoured with a Blue Plaque.
Fanny Wilkinson was the first female professional landscape designer. She designed 75 spaces spanning London from Wandsworth to Plaistow and Camberwell to Haverstock Hill. In Lambeth, she designed both Vauxhall Park and Myatts Field Park. Unwittingly, every day, Londoners benefit from her extraordinary legacy. She was:
- the Honorary Landscape Designer for the Metropolitan Public Gardens, Boulevards and Playgrounds Association (now the MPGA) and worked for the Kyrle Society whose purpose was to ‘bring beauty to the lives of the poor’
- The first female Principal of the Swanley Agricultural College and, as such, encouraged other women to enter the profession
- Founder of the Women’s Agricultural and Horticultural Inernational Union. This organisation was instrumental in the use of women to sustain food production during WW1 whilst male agricultural works fought
She never allowed herself, as a woman, to be diminished in a then predominantly male profession:
I certainly do not let myself be underpaid,as many women do …this will never do. I know my profession and charge accordingly.
The Lambeth Parks Forum is an umbrella body representing the Friends groups of Lambeth’s Parks. They represent the Friends Of groups at meetings with Lambeth on matters such Lambeth’s Events Policy, maintenance etc. The FOVP regularly attend their meetings and contribute towards a building a better relationship between the Council and Friends Of groups. Their annual report for 2018/19 has just been published and can be read Parks ForumAnnual Report 2018
We are delighted that Vauxhall Park has once again been awarded one of the much coveted Green Flags. The judging was done by a mystery shopper so the park was seen as it is without any sneaky tidying up! We are very grateful to our fantastic volunteer gardeners who look after the park on a weekly basis (and guide our gardening groups), Kevin and Mickey in the Parks Department for conjuring up miracles out of the tiny budget allocated to Lambeth’s Parks and Community Payback who sweep, tidy, sweep and tidy some more.
Time Out have featured our beautiful lavender field as a must see in London along with lavender gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and our neighbours in Kennington Park. Click here to see the article. Catch it while you can though – it is nearly time for our lavender harvest!
Can you help? Our lavender field, planted in 2003 is urgently in need of replanting. Planted to mark the centenary of Vauxhall Motors starting in Vauxhall, they are unforunately unable to continue with their support for the much loved community asset. We have an exciting idea about how we can renew this popular part of the park with a new design centred around the human sundial. Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org if you could help us to fund our replanting.
We recently came across this map. Although ‘revved up’with decorations, you can clearly see The Lawn – the road on which the Fawcett’s house was situated. The current path which runs parallel to the South Lambeth Road and next to which is our Fawcett Plaque is on the line of The Lawn. We hope when Lambeth finally let us see the latest incarnation of the Masterplan, it will respect this important part of the Park