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Hidden Stories of The Royal Parks

A podcast series where we take a behind-the-scenes look at our eight Royal Parks.

From the Royal Observatory of Greenwich Park to the roaming deer of Richmond, together we’ll explore 5,000 acres of historical parkland right in the middle of London. We will meet some of the incredible experts who work at The Royal Parks and discover the fascinating stories of these iconic green spaces.

Episode 14: Helping Nature Thrive

In this episode, host Kristen Mueller delves into the many ways that we can help nature thrive in the parks. To help her she’s joined by our Biodiversity Manager Peter Lawrence and Volunteer Officer Jo Hayward.

Peter is the person whose wide ranging job it is to promote the flourishing of plants and wildlife in all eight Royal Parks. Here he talks about habitat creation, wildlife conservation and how the parks can thrive as both havens for wildlife and for human recreation.

Jo, as her job title suggests, helps coordinate our brilliant Volunteer Rangers who carry out a vital role in the parks, keeping visitors informed about the parks and their wildlife. Jo tells us all about the deer in Richmond & Bushy parks and how best to enjoy them – by giving them space.

Published: Wednesday 7th July 2021

Episode 13: National Gardening Week with Grow2Know

In this episode, recorded for National Gardening Week, host Laura McMahon talks to Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Danny Clarke of charity Grow2Know.

Tayshan, a lifelong resident of the community around Grenfell Tower, founded the charity in 2017 to bring residents together through the power of collective action, creating green spaces in the community designed to uplift and unify. Danny Clarke, AKA The Black Gardener is a garden designer and TV presenter as well as being a Director of Grow2Know. Together they discuss the importance of horticulture to physical and mental health, the difficulties faced by people of diverse backgrounds in a mainly white and often affluent-seeming industry, how to make it appeal to all and how they’re building an RHS Chelsea garden in honour of the Mangrove 9.

Published: Monday 26th April 2021

Episode 12: Women in The Parks

In this episode, recorded as part of Women’s History Month, our Interpretation Manager Lucy Kellett explores the stories of some of the great women associated with The Royal Parks.

To do this she is joined by Claire Harris, Brompton Cemetery’s Partnership & Community Outreach Officer. Claire’s work involves researching and communicating the unique stories of Brompton’s residents, among whom are Emmaline Pankhurst – founder of the Women's Social and Political Union, otherwise known as the Suffragettes. Starting with Emmaline, Claire and Lucy tell the tale of how voting rights for women were achieved as well as the stories of other extraordinary women who pushed the boundaries in their own fields, fighting for equality.

Published: Thursday 8th April 2021

Episode 11: The Secret Underworld of Ponds

Did you know that there are many lakes and ponds across the Royal Parks, with over 30 in Richmond Park alone? In this month’s episode, we take a closer look at these underworlds and the unique creatures that live within them.

We talk with ecology experts from The Royal Parks and the conservation charity, Froglife, to understand more about the importance of ponds, how we look after them, what things you can spot this time of year and how you can make your own pond at home.

Published: Thursday 18th February 2021

Episode 10: Wellbeing in Nature

In this episode, our interpretation manager Lucy Kellett looks at the importance of nature for our wellbeing. A timely episode, as we enter what is normally the  bleakest month of year in another lockdown in the UK.

She explores stories of the past including how kings and queens, such as Charles ll of England, used their parklands and gardens for their wellbeing up to 400 years ago, even giving rise to the naming of Constitution Hill in Green Park. So much of this incredible history helped shape the Royal Parks today. She interviews Community Learning Officer, Laura McMahon who tells us about how she uses nature to improve the wellbeing of participants in her projects and shares personal insight around how to get the most of our your daily walks.

Published: Thursday 28th January 2021

Episode 9: Holly Holidays in Richmond Park

In this month's festive episode, we explore the history of the Victorian Christmas. Anna King, the Centre Manager for the Holly Lodge Centre in Richmond Park, shares how they travel back in time to allow people to experience those traditions firsthand through their Victorian Christmas sessions. She also tells us more about their inspiring education programme, which focuses on connecting children and adults with special needs to the nature and history of Richmond Park.

Stay tuned at the end for Anna's top tips on where to visit in Richmond Park over the festive period.

Published: Monday 21st December 2020

Episode 8: Parks at War

In this month’s episode we interview David Ivison, historical researcher for The Royal Parks Guild. David tells us about the practical uses the Royal Parks had during both world wars, paying particular attention to WW1.

He explains how the government drained the lake in St James’s Park to make way for the temporary building of the Ministry of Shipping and how much of the parks were taken over for allotments to combat food shortages. We discuss how the wars shaped our parks today and the touching stories of parks' staff who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Published: Wednesday 25th November 2020

Episode 7: Brompton Cemetery - Halloween Special

In this month's Halloween special we are talking with Charli Carver the Business Development & Cemetery Services Manager for Brompton Cemetery, one of the fantastic  green spaces we maintain.

Charli tell us about what it’s like to work in the amazing cemetery, the history of this beautiful space, the stories of the people buried there and some strange encounters she’s had. Come and explore Brompton Cemetery with us, a space for both the living and the dead.

Published: Friday 23rd October 2020

Episode 6: Running Green

This week, we're going behind the scenes of the Royal Parks Half Marathon, the flagship fundraising event for the Royal Parks charity. Founded in 2008, this incredible run goes through four of the eight Royal Parks and takes in some of the most extraordinary sights London has to offer.

We explore the race's role in shaping sustainability in the UK and talk with project-lead, Persephone Deacon-Cole, about the future of the event.

To learn more about the Royal Parks Half Marathon, presented by Royal Bank of Canada visit royalparkshalf.com.

Published: Friday 25th September 2020

Episode 5: Prickly Business - The Urban Hedgehog

In this episode, Bryony Cross, Volunteering and Programmes Manager for The Royal Parks takes us on a long journey through the night to learn about the urban hedgehog. One of many weird and wonderful mammals in the Royal Parks, we are home to the only breeding population found in central London.

We learn about their history in the Royal Parks, talk about uncovering little hoglets, and uncover the role you can play in ensuring their survival for generations to come. Join us as we learn more about this prickly business.

Published: Wednesday 19th August 2020

Episode 4: Bugs of the Royal Parks

Discover the wonderful world of the minibeasts we call invertebrates.

Dr. Alice Laughton, The Royal Parks' Mission: Invertebrate Project Manager, tells us more about the role they play in supporting our beautiful green spaces, how the biodiversity in the parks has changed during lockdown and how The Royal Parks supports these incredible critters to help them thrive… Cue Mission: Invertebrate!

Published: Wednesday 22nd July 2020

Episode 3: Trooping the Colour

Lucy Kellett, Interpretation Manager for The Royal Parks, interviews Mark Wasilewski, Park Manager for St James's Park, to learn about the national events and celebrations hosted in the Royal Parks. They explore the pomp and circumstance that is Trooping the Colour, as well as other memorable moments in the city's history. 

Learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the making of these incredible events possible in London.

Published: Thursday 11th June 2020

Episode 2: Dawn Chorus

In this episode, we explore the incredible natural event called Dawn Chorus. Royal Parks team members Tony Duckett, a conservation officer, and Alison Dent, a learning officer, share their expertise about this special song that nature sings this time of year.

Tune in to learn more about what Dawn Chorus is and why it only happens during a short window in spring. You’ll learn how to identify a variety of birds by their song, many of which you may hear on your daily walks. Our team shares stories of the unique birds that can be found in our Royal Parks, including a special sighting of a Red Throated Diver.

Published: Saturday 16th May 2020

Episode 1: The Pelicans of St. James's Park

In this episode, we interview Hugh Smith, our wildlife officer. Hugh looks after and feeds our resident pelicans in St James's Park, while also looking after all our other wildlife.

Hugh talks about what it's like to look after 6 Great White Pelicans, the stories of how they arrived into the park and about the mischievous Gargi who flew away on a holiday only a few weeks ago.

We talk about the history of St James's Park and tell you about some secrets that you may not know about, including a story about a governor of Duck Island and his connection with Champagne.

Published: Monday 4th May 2020

Trailer: Hidden Stories of The Royal Parks

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