Royal Parks Guild header

The Royal Parks and The Royal Parks Guild, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is seeking volunteers to help us research, interpret and share our WW1 history. There’s plenty of training and support on offer.
Can you help us fill in the gaps and tell our stories of the Parks in World War I?
We are seeking volunteer researchers to explore the history of the Royal Parks in the First World War further.
To find out more go to the Team London or The Royal Parks website.

See Hampton Court’s gardens and gardeners

Click here to see a year in the life of Hampton Court.

Historic parachute event in Richmond Park

28 February 2019 was the centenary of the first descent by a woman using a packed parachute

Following the end of hostilities in November 1918, Richmond Park remained a busy place with a hospital, army camp, Royal Air Force (RAF) depots and continuing crop production. At the end of 1918 and beginning of 1919 the RAF’s No 2 Balloon Training Depot, situated near the Experimental Grounds in the park, was being used to carry out tests on various types of parachute. Supervising these tests was Major Thomas Orde Lees RAF, secretary to the Parachute Committee, a group set up in June 1918 tasked with organising trials on various designs and reporting on their effectiveness.

Sylva Boyden landing in Richmond Park, 26 March 1919 Sylva Boyden landing in Richmond Park, 26 March 1919

Image courtesy of Alanna Pritchard

On 7 March 1919 Parachute Progress Report No 17 was issued for the Parachute Committee by Major Orde Lees. In it he reported on a series of tests sanctioned by the Air Council on the feasibility of steering parachutes. On 28 February seven drops had been made from a tethered balloon in Richmond Park by two experimenters. What was not included in the report, but was widely publicised in the next day’s newspapers, was that one jump was by the first woman to dive 1,000 feet from a balloon using a closed or folded parachute. Her name, given in ‘The Daily Chronicle’ was Sylva Boyden, aged 19, “the first of her sex to hazard the experience”. Her feat was subsequently reported around the world.

To read more about Sylva and who she really was click HERE to download our latest research.

First World War park employees

The Guild are carrying out wide ranging research into those Royal parks employees who served or died during the First World War.

The names of the 24 Royal Park employees who gave their lives during the war are commemorated on His Majesty's Office of Works Memorial that is in the Treasury Building adjacent to St James's Park. On the memorial is carved We Band of Brothers.

As part of our research Guild members have revealed the details of 345 people who worked for The Royal Parks in 1911. To see the names, their place of work and family details click or tap here.

If you you had a family member or know of someone who worked in the parks prior or during the First World War please contact us by clicking here. We would be very interested in hearing from you.

World War One Centennial Commemorations

The Royal Parks Guild are working on two major projects to commemorate The Royal Parks in World War 1, and gardeners in general who gave their lives during the conflict. These projects are backed by major organisations who have agreed to help in the various events we have planned.

The Royal Parks in WW1 history project

The Royal Parks Guild is working in partnership with The Royal Parks in producing 10 Heritage Lottery Funded events between spring 2017 and summer 2019 to commemorate the centenary of World War One. Organisations working with us to produce these events include the 10th Essex Living History Group, the London Parks and Gardens Trust, The Postal Museum, The Holly Lodge Centre, Field Studies Council and Westminster Archives.

These events range from WW1 experiences, open days, schools and local community groups visits, interpretation and remembrance.

For the full range of events and activities visit The Royal Parks' WW1 website by clicking here.

Battlefields to Butterflies

This is a major Guild project independent of, but with the full knowledge of, The Royal Parks. It is from an idea by Mike Fitt, Chairman of the Guild, to commemorate those gardeners and groundsmen who died during WW1. It is a horticultural tribute with various implementations and installations with a physical memorial placed at Brompton cemetery for those men and women of the parks, gardens and grounds who lost their lives in WW1.

Our thanks go to the many organisations helping with the Battlefields to Butterflies project including J & L Gibbons Landscape Architects, Historic Royal Palaces, Historic England, Scotscape, Royal Hospital Chelsea, The Royal Parks, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Tomato Applied Art and Design.

Link into The Royal Parks World War 1 website

The Royal Parks and The Royal Parks Guild have joined forces, with the help of the National Lottery, to set up a website to record all of our events and results of our extensive research.

The site will be expanded as event information and topic research is finalised. Click here to go to the site.

Conserving Our Parks' Heritage

One important object of the guild is to research, record and conserve all aspects of The Royal Parks' heritage.

This can be reminiscences from past employees, photographic records, day-to-day artefacts, historical events in the parks, people from the parks and so on.

In collaboration with The Royal Parks we aim to build on this information. We already have a number of prints, photographs and artefacts, but we would always look to increase the size of the collection.

If you have memories of The Royal Parks you would like to share or item of interest relating to the parks you would like to donate to the Guild's archive collection then please contact us through the following link.

The Hearsum Collection based at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park has a diverse range of Royal parks heritage material covering the last four centuries. In the near future it is hoped that a museum can be built in the grounds of Pembroke Lodge to enable the collection to be displayed to the public. To learn more about this click here to follow a link to the Hearsum Collection website.

The Royal Parks Guild are dedicated to helping parks’ apprentice schemes and those that join them. If you would like to help us then click here to see if you could become a member of the Guild.

We value your comments and feedback. Please use the links below:

Postal address:
The Secretary
The Royal Parks Guild
14 Nelson Place
Isle of Wight
PO33 2ET

Please click here to visit our FaceBook page

Visit our Facebook page