News & Events

Grand Opening of the History Hut

Friday 10 December 2021

Friday, December 10th is the unveiling of our fabulous new Kennington History Boards.


Our MP, Florence Eshalomi, will cut the ribbon at 11 o’clock, in our newly-named Kennington Park History Hut. It is the brown and white wooden shelter, located near the Flower Garden.


The History Boards were conceived, written and designed by the Friends of Kennington Park, to celebrate the rich history of Kennington and its park. Kings and Cricket, Charlie Chaplin and the Chartists, pop stars and parakeets, they’re all right here!


Lambeth Council and Surrey County Cricket Club helped us turn this idea into a reality. 


We hope that you can join us for the opening, along with local residents and park users.


An Award Winning Park

18 November 2021

Good news!


Kennington Park has retained its Green Flag Award.  London in Bloom have awarded the park a Silver Gilt and the Flower Garden has received a Gold Award.


Many thanks to the work of Lambeth Landscapes and the volunteer gardeners!


We are waiting for confirmation from the Northern Line Extension people as to when the dog walking area at the north of the park will open.  At the moment the new turf and meadow grass is taking root.

Memorial service to remember "Kennington's forgotten tragedy"

Sunday 17 October 2021

On 15 October 1940 a wartime bomb fell on the trench air raid shelter on the south field of Kennington Park, at least 104 local people were killed, but only 55 have been identified.  The casualties all lived locally - including the Kennington Park Estate, Offley Road, Vauxhall Gardens Estate and Ravendon Street.


In 2006 a stone memorial to those killed with an inscription by Maya Angelou was erected in the park.


Last year was the 80th anniversary, but due to Covid restrictions, only a small memorial service was possible.


On Sunday 17 October the Friends of Kennington Park and the Rev Steve Coulson and the congregation of St Mark's held a remembrance  service at the memorial in the park.

Black History Month walk in Kennington Park

Took place on 9 October 2021

“THE BLACK MAN AND HIS PARTY” – William Cuffay, Kennington and the Chartists”

This walk took place on Saturday 9 October 2021


William Cuffay was born in 1788, a man of African heritage, his father, Chatham Cuffay, had previously been enslaved and was originally from St. Kitts.


Cuffay, a tailor and political activist, was one of the main organisers of the large Chartist rally that too place on Kennington Common on 10 April 1848; the Chartists were a mass movement petitioning the government for democratic reform and the Common was a popular site for protest meetings.


Months later Cuffay was arrested and convicted of preparing acts of treason, sentenced to 21 years penal transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) where he spent the rest of his life.


William Cuffay – ‘The Black man and his party’ as the press described him – wasn’t the only important Black activist in the story of Kennington Common. Abolitionist, Robert Wedderburn, son of an enslaved West African woman in Jamaica, preached here on the site of what is now St Mark’s Church.


Marietta from the Friends of Kennington Park led the walk in the footsteps of Black British radical leaders like Cuffay and Wedderburn.



WHAT'S ON IN THE PARK?

3 December 2021

Friday 10 December at 11am

Grand opening of the Kennington Park History Hut by our local MP.  This is the brown and white shelter near the flower garden. All welcome


Sunday 12 December from noon to 4pm

The December monthly volunteer gardening session is in the Flower Garden on Sunday 12 December from noon to 4pm.  Lead by Ruth Morgan and Marietta from the Friends. Tools and gardening gloves are provided.  No gardening skill required!  Stay as long or as short a time as you like.  The work is mainly tackling the weeds.


 We will probably take a break in January 2022 and re start again in February or March.  These sessions are funded by the Friends of Kennington Park including a generous anonymous donation, but why dont you join the Friends, it is a bargain at £6 per year - details on this website.






FOKP's AGM Wednesday 7 July 2021

28 October 2021


The Friends of  Kennington Park AGM held a successful AGM on  Wednesday 7th July in a large, covered, outdoor venue - the garden of Montgomery Hall at 58 Kennington Oval.


The paperwork from the AGM is on the website and the Minutes will be posted later.  

The meeting heard how FOKP coped during the  pandemic, about  Lambeth Council’s investment programme for the park and how, over the  next 2-3 years, we'll be working with Lambeth on a range of projects and  initiatives in the park. If  you'd like to be involved in any of these, please do get in touch by email.

And you can also help us shape a programme  of events to mark FoKP’s 20-year anniversary in  2022 and our early plans for marking the 175th  anniversary of the famous Chartist Rally in  2023.


The office holders elected for 2021/2022 are 

Chair: Marietta

Secretary : Rita

Treasurer: Vilde

Membership secretary: Ian

Committee members:  Marnie, Nikki, Rachel and Nichola.  LATER The committee was joined by Mark and Alison.


Interested in getting more  involved? FoKP recently became a registered charity.  It's run entirely by local volunteers, who love the park and  want to make it better. We have two spaces available on the  committee, and we'd love to hear from you if you'd like to help. Email us at friends@kenningtonpark.org

173rd Anniversary of Kennington's Chartist Rally

10 April 2021

On 10 April 1848 thousands of Chartists marched to a huge rally on Kennington  Common (now Kennington Park). They were demanding democratic reform at a time  when only those with land and property were allowed to vote. 


The Chartist's  charter had 6 demands:

The right to vote for all (however this referred to men aged over 21)

Voting by secret ballot

Abolition of property qualifications for MPs

Annual parliamentary elections

Members of parliament to be paid

Parliamentary constituencies to be of an equal size


By 1928, with votes for women on the same basis as men,  5 out of their 6  demands, the outstanding one is annual elections.  The  result of the Chartist campagn is our right to vote in the London elections on  Thursday 6 May.


One of the key speakers at the 1848 rally was William Cuffay, a tailor, political activist and leading Chartist, he was the son of a former slave from St Kitts.  Cuffay was later transported to Tasmania 21 years for his role in allegedly planning an uprising against the British Government. He was pardoned after 3 years and died there in 1870.  A new housing block in Southwark has just been named after him.

Volunteer gardening in Kennington Park - OCTOBER SESSION

15 September 2021

The next volunteer gardening session is on Sunday 10 October between noon and 4pm in the Flower Garden.


Thanks to those who, despite the poor weather, turned up for the gardening session in August and those who helped with cutting back the lavender in September.  


It has been a great bonus that, throughout the time of the Covid regulations, we have been able to run the gardening sessions.  


The sessions are chatty and relaxed, due to the heavy rain and sunshine, thework has mainly been weeding and cutting back.


Tools and gardening gloves are provided, but, if you have your own tools and gloves please bring them. Hand sanitiser and wipes will be available. 


Ruth Morgan and Marietta lead the sessions; just turn up, you will find us in the Flower Garden. All welcome and no gardening skill required!


The park cafe is open (card only) There is an adult toilet block in the park.


In 2020 there were 200 hours of volunteer gardening in Kennington Park


Kennington Park's Classic Skatebowl - UPDATE - good news & beware!

18 November 2021

The Friends of Kennington Park (FoKP) and Lambeth Council are working together to try to restore the Park’s classic 1970’s skatebowl.


A condition survey was done during the second week of February. This involved  lifting part of the concrete surface to check out the infrastructure condition, there is a hole in the surface so the skatebowl has had to be fenced off and should not be be used. Further work was done in mid July to check on the structure, this required the removal of the surface layer that had been added during the work done by Converse, only part of it has been removed and contractors will to return to remove the rest . Please bear with us, it is for the longterm future of the bowl.  It’s important that people don’t try to use the skatebowl at this time.


Did you know? Kennington Park’s skatebowl was one of the first to be built in the UK. It was designed by Lorne Edwards and it's one of only a few of its type left.


Repairs were carried out a few years ago but sadly they did not do the job. So further work and new techniques are now necessary.


THE DETAILS: Using a spec drawn up by FoKP, Lambeth Council commissioned civil & construction engineers Price & Myers to do the condition survey, lifting the concrete slabs that sit on an adjustable supporting framework. This is important as they need to assess the condition of the framework before looking at possible next steps.


Because of its condition, the bowl has been fenced off for several years, as it’s considered unsafe. The need to break up part of the surface concrete during the survey  is going to make it even more dangerous. So please help by not using it and by discouraging other people from using it too.


It’s been a longtime ambition of FoKP to get the skatebowl restored – it will be great to see the bowl, known affectionately as “Kenny”, back in action.

Local skateboarders are thrilled with this news. You can follow their #bring.back.kennington campaign on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bring.back.kennington/ – it's getting a lot of attention. And they’ve set up an online petition at chng.it/btBm9KTfFN. Please sign!


One of the people helping the Friends is a Professor of Urban Architecture at UCL, and a skateboarder. His insider knowledge about the design and history of the bowl have been really useful, providing them with key information at the start of the project.


The surveyors' first report was considered by a Project Steering Group in March. It’s very much a starting point. Even with the bowl’s structure is still in relatively good condition, much depends on the removal of the surface layer to do further checks.  A great deal of work will need to be done. It’s likely to take many months and will cost a lot of money.  The Friends will post updates on what is happening.


The inclusion of skateboarding in this year's Olympics and the lockdown have both led to a massive increase in skateboarding among riders of all ages, particularly young women. The UK’s current champion is a 13 year old girl named Sky Brown. Sky is the youngest professional skateboarder in the world, who won a Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics!

BIG GARDEN BIRD WATCH 2021 - FOKP and RSPB Results

9 April 2021


The last weekend in January was the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch, it  was dull and damp, but this didnt deter either visitors or birds to Kennington Park.  


FOKP (The Friends of Kennington Park) handed out RSPB survey forms in the park and did a mini survey which was logged on the RSPB site.  Charlie Holland of Greener Kennington collated all the local sightings - here they are!

Kennington’s RSPB Garden Bird Watch results – thanks to Greener Kennington for collating


Kennington Park

17 sparrows, 7 feral pigeons, 2 wood pigeons, 3 great tits, 1 Chaffinch, 3 parakeets, 1 robin


Orsett Street by Sancroft House block

6 feral pigeons, 2 magpies (with a nest in one of the threatened trees), 2 crows


Rupert House block, Reedworth Street.

a) The rear lawn to the left of the path: 4 pigeons, 2 crows, all briefly.

b) the area with some bushes, two bird feeders with fatballs, grass and bare beds: 7 pigeons, 6 sparrows, 3 great tits


Reedworth Street house back garden

4 coal tits, 2 wood pigeons, 1 magpie, 1 wren


Reedworth Street different house back garden

1 wood pigeon, 1 great tit, 1 blue tit, 1 Robin


Unspecified courtyard

2 wood pigeons, 2 great tits and 1 robin


Gilbert Road back garden

2 wood pigeons


South Lambeth Road back garden

15 sparrows, 1 blue tit and 1 great tit


Finally, Charlie Holland of Greener Kennington reports that he cheated – he counted as he walked past, on Lambeth Walk Open Space behind the new Vanguard School at Lollard Street

26 crows, 10 pigeons, 1 starling.


The RSPB have just released their Top 10 for the 2020 Garden Bird Watch.   

1. House  sparrow, in the top spot for 18 years

2. Blue tit

3.Starling

4.Blackbird

5.Woodpigeon

6.Robin, up by 2 places since 2020

7.Great tit

8.Goldfinch

9.Magpie, up 1 place since 2020

10.Long-tailed   tit


The sad truth is that there are fewer birds around now, over the last 50 years, 40 million birds have vanished from the UK skies. Since 1979 the number of house sparrows has fallen by 58%, whilst the number of wood pigeons is on the increase – as well as parakeets in Kennington Park!

Events in Kennington Park in 2021

19 July 2021

Welcome to the website of the Friends of Kennington Park.


We have lots of plans for the park in 2021, but,  even though the Covid lockdown is easing, most of them have had to be on hold, but we did manage to have a Bat Walk in April and monthly volunteer gardening sessions in the Flower Garden   since February - there is always lots of weeding and some cutting back and Ruth and Catey have been doing some painstaking work on the climbing roses.


The next volunteer gardening session will take place on Sunday 8 August, noon to 4pm.


Tools and gardening gloves are provided, but if you have your own tools and gloves please bring them. Hand sanitiser and wipes will be available and, after the session, the gloves will be washed and the tools cleaned.


Ruth Morgan and Marietta from the Friends of Kennington Park lead the sessions;  just turn up, you will find us in the Flower Garden (or maybe in the flower beds near the Lodge) and stay as long or as short a time as you like.


All welcome and no gardening skill required!  If you would like to be included in the volunteer gardening email list, please contact us on: friends@kenningtonpark.org


The sessions are generally on the second Sunday of the month - with a break in  January.


BATS GALORE - we ran a Bat Walk in April with Lambeth's Dr Iain Boulton, armed with bat detectors we both saw and heard a lot of bats.  Apparently the park is host to a colony of about a dozen pipestrelle bats and we saw about 7 of them.  They had just come out of hibernation and are starving, so at dusk and dawn they come out to feed and can eat about 1000 insects in one session!


ART COMPETITION - throughout April the Friends ran an art competition, with cash prizes, for photos, drawings, poems, prose on what people loved about the park during the lockdown.  Details of the prize winning entries elsewhere on this website and have been posted up in the park.


OTHER PARK EVENTS: the Friends are planning to run a family event in the park on Bank Holiday Monday, 30 August.

As part of Lambeth Heritage Month, Marietta is doing a park history walk on Saturday 4 September at 11am from St Mark's Churchyard, this is to tie in with the local history fair in the church.


If you would like to help at any of the FOKP events, please get in touch on:

friends@kenningtonpark.org

If you are not a member, do come and join us, details on this website

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY KENNINGTON PARK

9 November 2020

Due to the new Covid Regulations, there was no official Royal British Legion Remembrance Day service at the Kennington Park war memorial on Sunday 8 November. However, a number of socially distanced people came to the war memorial that day and laid wreaths.

Kennington's Black History

30 October 2020

As we come to the end of Black History Month, the FOKP Twitter page featured a Black History walks leaflet produced some years ago by the Lambeth Archives, here are a few of the local places in and around Kennington Park:

OVAL CRICKET GROUND: In 1928 the West Indies played their first match at the Oval. During their victorious 1976 tour, 2901 of Viv Richards’ 829 runs were scored here and Michael Holding took 6 wickets for 57 runs. The Oval was also  the scene of the Scottish football team’s historic 6-1 victory over England in March 1881. Captaining Scotland that day was Andrew Watson, widely believed to be Britain’s first black professional footballer.

6 MEADOW ROAD: was the home of the writer, editor and political activist Claudia Jones from 1958 to 1960. She published The West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian News – Britain’s first post-war Black newspaper. She also organized the yearly Caribbean celebrations in London that would evolve into the Notting Hill Carnival.

KENNINGTON PARK: formerly known as Kennington Common, this stretch of green was the site of several gatherings of the Chartists throughout the spring of 1848. The Chartist movement sought voting rights for all adult men, a secret ballot and payment for MPs among other demands.  The best known rally was held on 10 April 1848 when over 250,000 people assembled. The event was organize by William Cuffay [pictured], the black elected member of London’s Chartists.  Seeking to ridicule the movement, The Times newspaper referred to them as “the black man and his party”. Two black men, Benjamin Prophett and David Duffy, were identified as ringleaders at one of the meetings.  [The size of the crowd on 10 April 1848 is still being debated].

ST AGNES PLACE [between the heritage park and the park extension]. The Rastafarian Community Centre at number 93 was visited throughout 1977 by the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley while he was recording the “Exodus” album.

Kennington Park's Civilian War Memorial 80th anniversary in October

15 October 2020

On 15 October 1940 an enemy bomb dropped on a civilian trench air raid shelter on the south field of Kennington Park. No official death toll was announced, but it is believed that about 104 people were killed, but only 48 bodies were recovered and buried in Lambeth Cemetery.  It was Lambeth's worst World War II bomb incident.  In late 1940 the damaged trench was filled in, but the remainder of the trenches remained in use. They were finally demolished in 1947 and the south field of the park was re turfed and re seeded.

 

Long forgotten in 2005 a memorial was erected in the park to commemorate this event, carved by Richard Kindersley, it bears the dedication "To commemorate the wartime suffering of the people of Kennington and in particular over 50 men, women and children who were killed on 15 October 1940 when a bomb destroyed an air raid shelter near this spot. Rest in peace."

It also bears an inscription from poet, author and historian Maya Angelou: "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived but if faced with courage need not be lived again."

This October is the 80th anniversary of "Kennington's Forgotten Tragedy".  In conjunction with the Rev Steve Coulson of St Mark's Church, the Friends of Kennington Park held a small service  at the memorial at noon on Thursday 15 October, sadly, due to the Covid restrictions it could not be widely publicised. The short service where all the names of the known victims were read out was recorded and can be seen by clicking on the link via the image for this article.

On Sunday 18 October the Rev Coulson will remember the casualties at the 1030 service, he will play the recording and put it on to the Church's YouTube channel.

 

The photo shows a small commemoration in 2019, the mother of one of those present  was in the air raid shelter that night but escaped unharmed.

If you have any family stories about this sad event, please get in touch with the Friends of Kennington Park. Marietta was recently contacted by someone whose grandparents both died in the air raid shelter on 15 October 1940. RIP.

Green, green grass

24 June 2021

The departure of the Friendsfest event from the park last autumn left a mud bath and it took many months for the south field to recover with a lot of work by Rudy and his team from Lambeth to repair and reinstate the field.



LOOS IN THE PARK

6 June 2021

The portaloos have returned to the park - they are near the picnic area by the cafe (opposite the entrance to Bee Urban) and the adult toilet block is open.


There has been an ongoing problem with a lead in the children's toilets in the playground - and these toilets are for children only.


The park cafe toilet is NOT available to customers.

COVID UPDATE from 4 July children's playgrounds & open air gyms OPEN

4 July 2020, updated 12 July 2020

Saturday 4 July 2020 sees a further relaxation of the Covid 19 lockdown rules.

What it means for Kennington Park is:

* Social distance guidance changes to “one metre plus”, so where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, please try to remain at least 1m distant to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

* The children’s playground will re-open, we hope that the toy train will be in operation soon, please ensure good hygiene, cleansing hands and avoid face touching

* Outdoor gym equipment can be used again, again please ensure good hygiene

* Meet ups in groups of up to 2 households, indoors and outdoors. It doesn’t have to always be the same household

* With social distancing, continue meet ups in groups of up to 6 people from different households

 

And what you cannot do is to meet in groups of more than 30 people.

 

Please remember that social distancing is still essential.

 

And please help to keep the park tidy by putting rubbish in the bins. Or even better, take it home with you. Please don't leave rubbish next to the bins.

There are 8 Portaloos and a Baby Changing Cabin are by the picnic ground near the park cafe, the adult toilet block is now open.

Stay safe

FOKP's Virtual 2020 AGM - held and the report back posted

1 July 2020 and update

On 1 July 2020 we posted this  about Our AGM,  but not as you know it!
 
Like so many things in 2020, the FoKP Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a bit different this year. Instead of our usual gathering in the library or park, with presentations by committee members and contributions from guest speakers, there's a virtual AGM, where we're concentrating on FoKP issues over the past year and our plans for the year to come.
 
We're not using Zoom or any other video technology. To try to keep the arrangements simple, we've posted the AGM reports on our website: click here. You can give us your comments on what we've proposed and add your own ‘Any Other Business’ items.
 
This arrangement obviously doesn’t offer the same ability to debate an issue as a live meeting. But it does, we hope, give more of you the opportunity to take part. And we've presented the papers in a way that hopefully makes the detail easier to review, although this wasn’t possible for the formal accounts!
 
The schedule for the AGM is as follows:

1st July: Formal notification of the AGM via an e-bulletin to the members and on the website.

13th-14th July: Agenda and papers published on the FoKP website (click here for papers)

22nd July: Deadline for responses (comments, questions, notification of additional items) by FoKP members by:
Email: friends@kenningtonpark.org (preferred method)
Letter: FoKP, c/o 1 Radcot St, London SE11 4AH

27th July: Consideration by the committee of FoKP members’ comments and questions, and decision on actions.

3rd August: Publication of AGM decisions on website.


We're very sorry not to be able to hold our usual meeting, and to chat to members before and after the meeting. But we decided it was important to have an AGM, even a rather unusual one, rather than to cancel it altogether.
 
We hope you enjoy reading the papers (which can be found by clicking here) and we look forward to your comments and ideas.
 
Marietta Crichton Stuart
FoKP Chair
1st July 2020

END OF JULY: many thanks to all those who contacted us with comments about the park and the work of the Friends.  Notes of this and the election of the committee have been posted on the website.

Volunteer gardening latest

4 November 2020

With the Covid lockdown being relaxed on 12 July we held a volunteer gardening session in Kennington Park. This worked well and sessions were held in August, September and October.  Having risk assessed the new Covid regulations that will start on 5 November, there will be a session on Sunday 8 November between noon and 4pm led by Marietta and Ruth.  We might be harvesting some of the olives and figs in the flower garden!

The sessions have been risk-assessed, social distancing will be operation and open to over-18s only. We will take a register of people's contact details.  The gardening will respect the new rule of 2 and social distancing.

We asked people who had their own gardening gloves and tools to bring them, but we also had a supply of gardening gloves and tools, along with hand sanitiser and wipes.

Thanks to all for their help in the previous gardening sessions and we look forward to seeing you in November.  See Events for details of the other dates.

 

POLITE NOTICE - trees are not gym equipment

25 June 2020

Trees are not gym equipment. Please don't use trees and tree branches as part of your keep fit regime.  Branches get damaged and weakened if pulleys, ropes and exercise bands are fixed to them or slung over them and then people hang from them. Many of  Kennington Park's beautiful trees are getting on in years and arent suitable.  Please respect the park's trees.