Kingston’s second largest park
Manor Park, at 25 acres is the second largest park in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. Its size is quite deceptive when you enter the park, but as you explore further in you become aware how much more there is to see.
A mixed space
The park comprises of sports and recreational space, and a significant amount wooded copse and more natural land.
By the railway bridge entrance to the park, there is a small seasonal pond, which provides habitat for Common Frogs and insects. You’ll often find it teaming with tadpoles in spring.
One of the first conservation activities of the Friends of Manor Park in 2017 was to restore this pond, as it had become rather overgrown.
Blot on the landscape
Sadly, by the railway bridge, is a small area of privately owned land, which has been acquired by a property speculator. He removed a beautiful wooded copse a few years ago – the area has become wasteland. He has little chance of ever developing the land, so we hope at some point in the future the land will be restored back into parkland. We also working to restore a legal right of way across this land.
Behind the privately owned land volunteers have restored a small wooded copse, and planted 2,500 bulbs to create our new Blubell Copse. It should be a sight to behold in Spring.
Woodpeckers and anthills
Further round by the railway is some rough grassland, which contains a number of ancient anthills – the large bumps you’ll see in the ground. This makes a good feeding ground for our local woodpeckers.
Following the path round still further takes you into the North-east corner of the park, which has been left to become more wild, with walking areas mown into the longer grass. You’ll see smaller trees in the middle of this space, whilst the area towards the railway-line is covered in wooded copse.
The Ditch Copse
Following the path around takes you on to a couple of adult size football pitches and a cricket pitch. There is a ditch and thin strip of wooded copse dividing these pitches from the previous area. The Friends group has added an extra path to move between these spaces, and to avoid trampling through the copse.
Plants, animals and insects
The park contains a good mix of indigenous trees – oak, silver birch, elm, ash, elder, hawthorn & blackthorn. We have a lot of Blackberry bushes, and Blackthorn (Sloe). There’s a good crop to be had in the Autumn. You often sees families picking fruit.
There is also a good mixture of wildlife – birds, small mammals, insects and frogs. Local residents backing on to the park have reported foxes entering their gardens, and even seeing fox cubs playing at dusk. Sadly, the park used to be a habitat for rabbits and hedgehogs – but for some reason they haven’t been seen recently. We hope one day to see them again.
Friends of Manor Park
Part of the work of Friends of Manor Park is to protect and enhance the natural spaces in the park. We want to increase the biodiversity. We seek to employ best practices for managing woodland, and our other natural spaces.
We’d like to invest in the future of the park, by adding more the plants and trees. We see this as part of the legacy of our current activities. We’d love to speak to any organisation or individual who’d like to make a donation towards new trees, plants or bulbs.
We want residents to enjoy the park as a beautiful space, and we see adding flowering spaces as an important part of this. We’re working to plant bulbs in our wooded areas. We’d like to develop some areas of flowering meadowland. Each year we’ll do a little bit more.
It’s worth noting that flowers provide food for insects, further helping to support and increase our biodiversity.
Developing and improving the network of paths is important in terms of, general accessibility, getting people further into the park, and ensuring that vulnerable woodland habitat isn’t trampled on. We are also looking at integrating play facilities further into the park. These will be more natural, rather tasteful log based type activities accessible by our paths.
The Environment Trust
We are supported in our conservation work by Elliot Newton, from the Environment Trust. He helps us develop and deliver our programme of activity. Within a short space of time, under Elliot’s watchful eye, we’ve achieved a lot – we’ve established our new Bluebell Copse with a path to guide walkers through, restored the seasonal pond, and very recently developed a new path connecting the rear sports fields with the more natural far corner of the park.
If you’d like to get involved with our conservation work then please see our calendar of events, or feel free to drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org We particularly keen to hear from anyone prepared to take on more of a leadership role. A good starting point is to simply sign up as a Friend of Manor Park.