Vauxhall’s Park for the People – a historical tour

FOVP Trustee Polly Freeman recently gave an on-line talk about the rich history of Vauxhall Park, Vauxhall’s Park for the People, hosted by the Tate South Lambeth Library.  Seventy people participated in the talk which included not only the history of how the park came into being but the surprising history behind many of the things that are in the park today.  The link to the talk can be found on the History Page of this website

A new Chair for FOVP

We are delighted to welcome, John Roome as our new Chair.

We would like to thank our outgoing Chair, Charles Vyvyan for all of his hard work and dedication to the Park, leading us through the final stages of the improvement works in the Park.

John is a very active member of the FOVP and is most often to be seen, leading the volunteer gardening groups or running across the Park to a gym session.  He was previously involved with the Bankside Open Spaces Trust and brings a huge wealth of experience to his new role leading Vauxhall Park into the next chapter of its’ history.

We would also like to welcome Lyn Woodcraft as our new Treasurer and to thank Helena Lewis for her many years service as Treasurer.  Clare Church left the Committee at our recent AGM after many years of sitting on our Committee.  Clare was, for some years, Secretary of the FOVP – a role now taken on by Mandy Knight.

We thank all of our hard working Committee for their time and energy to keep Vauxhall Park blooming.

A Gift for our community gardeners

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!).

A blooming weekend in Vauxhall Park

Thank you to all the enthusiastic young planters who, led by Idverde and FOVP,  lent a hand to plant up the amazing new playground in Vauxhall Park.  They were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the new play facilities and we think they were impressed.  

 

A new name for the Rose Garden

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!

 

As the old lavender plants are replaced .. a potted history of the field

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.

A Blue Plaque for Fanny Wilkinson, Vauxhall Park’s Designer

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.

Lambeth Parks Forum

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

Who is the Greenest of them all?

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.