Alexandra Park is a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafés and the pitch-and-putt course. It covers 196 acres around Alexandra Palace in North London.

The Friends of Alexandra Park is a voluntary group that promotes the use of the Park, encourages the conservation of its wildlife and protects the Park from unwanted development.

Become a Friend here - buy our book "A History Of Alexandra Park" in our shop




Our normal activities include:

  • Opening the Park Visitor Centre, where you can find leaflets, chat to volunteers and find activities for children.


Park rewarded with many Awards

The Park and Palace scoops lots of awards recognising the work done by the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust, John O'Conner (Park Maintenance) and the Friends. So a special thanks to our members.

The Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards have been once again awarded to the Park. Winners here.

In the London in Bloom Competition, the park scooped Gold Awards in three categories. Large Conservation Area, Heritage Park of the Year and Large Park of the Year. Winners here.

For a blog from the trust with lots more please follow this link.

Art in the Park Group

Thursday 23rd June from 10:00am to 11:30am (cancelled or postponed)

Sorry cancelled, possibly to be reschedued to Thursday, 30th June.

Another artist in the park... This is Alan Lancaster who often paints houses... just to illustrate the diverse opportunities......

This monthly meet-up provides an opportunity for park lovers to join others in a relaxed and friendly group and enjoy some quiet time in nature. Each month we meet in a different part of the park.

Enjoy spending time outdoors, observing the beauty of nature, through some drawing, painting or photography.

Bring something to sit on and your own materials (some basics are provided).

New members welcome!

The group is free and open to all, whatever your level. No experience necessary!

Please email allyparkn10@gmail.com to book a place or find out more.

London Metropolitan Brass Community Band

Sunday 26th June from 2pm to 4pm

A second band visit for the month of June, this time from the Community Band. Enthusiastic music and many tunes that all will recognise. Just come along to The Grove outside the cafe and sit on the grass for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Conservation Work Party


Thursday 30th June from 10:00am to 12:30pm

This picture is of yellow rattle growing well in the Anthill Meadow. This is now growing very and is important is slowing the vigour of more "thuggish" grasses

We will be back in the Ant Hill Meadow (previous called the Butterfly Meadow) for the next work pary. It's back to the task of cutting back and uprooting the brambles which have been encroaching on the meadow. Picture left courtesy Patricia Pearl.

Do join us if you can. We have mini-mattocks which are so good at taking out bramble roots. It's excellent exercise, and plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Please bring gloves and a drink/snack for the break that we take halfway through.

We work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you can. Meet at the Ant Hill Meadow, or if you're not sure where that is, be at the finger post half way along the Lower Road at 10 am.

Litter

Thanks to all the volunteers who have helped the John O’Conner team keep the park looking spick and span through the summer. (see award won below).



Anyone wishing to join the volunteer litter pickers, should please Email (AllyParkN10@gmail.com) us.


Heritage in Lockdown Hero Award – Alexandra Palace’s litter picking volunteers win

This award celebrates the local people who rallied to help Alexandra Palace clear its historic parkland of litter during lockdown. The efforts of the volunteers were critical in helping to keep the parkland safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.

Video explaining and celebrating this award.

Extract from a statement from the Palace

Alexandra Park has served as a haven for millions of people throughout the pandemic, with visitor numbers nearly double what they would be in a normal year. Unfortunately a negative side effect of this has been a huge spike in litter. Overall for the period May-December 2020, 147 tonnes of rubbish were collected in the park, an increase of 45 per cent on the same time in previous years.

The role played by the volunteers in tackling this issue was outstanding. More than 100 people, young and old, helped the effort, all with the common goal to support the environment and their local park.

RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK

Art in the Park - May

We had one of those days when we didn’t know if it was about to rain or the sun was about burst out from behind the clouds. In the end, it stayed overcast for the 10 of us in the Anthill Meadow, which meant that, disappointingly, the butterflies stayed away. However, there was so much to see in the detail of the tangle of long grasses that this kept our artists’ eyes busy. We found that when we sat down, the wildflowers and grasses came to eye level, so a whole world of interest opened up. We thoroughly enjoyed all the beauty on offer and also realised that we needed to brush up a bit on our wildflower names!

Conservation Work Party - May

The meadow is coming to life with several flowering plants noted, insects flitting and buzzing around, with a backdrop of bird song – particularly a black cap. Of particular interest was the yellow rattle: we had seeded five patches of bared ground, last autumn, all of which had some plants (including ones in flower) but two that were thickly carpeted with yellow rattle. There were also patches of self-seeded yellow rattle from previous years plantings. In those latter areas thinning of the vigorous grasses was evident – very pleasing to see. The next step will be to consider introducing seeds of other flowering plants appropriate to the area. People in the know, have noted that the meadow doesn’t have a great variety of flowering plants.

The alder buckthorn was in flower, with tiny five-petalled flowers, and looks particularly healthy this season. A green caterpillar was seen on a leaf, possibly a brimstone’s. (picture left)

We concentrated our work on three main areas of the meadow: removing rosebay willowherb from the west part, where it would overshadow the yellow rattle when grown; clearing bramble from the path that connects the anthill meadow to the butterfly meadow; removing a sapling oak and lowering a hawthorn which were overshadowing the alder buckthorn. We continue to build up the hedge line with the leavings.

Late Spring Wildflower Walk

Caroline started the walk with a question: are grasses flowering plants? The answer is yes – the flowers are so much less showy because they are wind pollinated and therefore don’t have to advertise their pollen using colour and scent in the way that insect-, bird- and mammal-pollinated flowers do.

Grasses can be tricky to identify, so it’s best to start with some that are easy to differentiate: we looked at rye grass, wall barley, cock’s-foot and annual meadowgrass.

Another tricky group are the dandelion-like flowers (part of the daisy family): we compared dandelion with smooth sowthistle, hawk’s-beard and nipplewort.

mongst the other topics we covered were the way that some leaves are positioned to avoid overlapping to catch the maximum amount of light, how leaves on the same plant can have different shapes and how plants of the same species can vary in size and form depending on where they happen to be growing.

Urban Tree Festival Tree Walk

Stephen led an evening tree walk to look at some of the more unusual and iconic trees in the park which welcomed quite a new audience (30) to the park, (with a few people from the Friends!). We also looked at a few of the pests and diseases affecting trees in the park including Ash Dieback and seeing some of the early oak processionary moth nests. This picture left was kindly provided by Colette Joyce (@colettemjoyce on twitter) and shows the group looking at the only Oriental Plane Tree in the park. This tree is one of the "parent" trees of the much more common hybrid London Plane.

For more information on the Urban Tree Festival and to catch events next year follow this link.

Spring Bird Walk and Ringing Display

Around 20 people (many of whom were first-timers) joined Gareth Richards to explore the park’s birdlife. The star of the morning was undoubtedly the singing garden warbler in the Cricket Scrub. Normally an uncommon and rather fleeting visitor to the park, this male has noisily held a territory for several weeks. This is hopefully an early indication of the success of the habitat work that was done in the Cricket Scrub over the winter.

The ringing demonstration by Gerry Rawcliffe also took place in the Cricket Scrub. We were lucky to see an interesting range of birds being ringed, including a greenfinch, several blackcaps and a group of juvenile long-tailed tits. This gave Gerry the opportunity not only to explain the scientific and conservation benefits of bird ringing, but also to show how a close examination of the birds could determine both their age and their sex.

Family Activities Day - May

Despite most of North London having disappeared for the bank holiday and the inclement weather, a few families enthusiastically got stuck into the activities on offer. The children delighted in handling a variety of leaves and sticking them onto a card band to create their very own crowns. They also found the nature hunt absorbing, gathering treasures in their collecting bags and then having them identified – any live critters were speedily released! The Xplore course, a mini orienteering activity testing observation and map-reading skills, had children (and their parents) rushing round the Grove. All in all, a very good four hours spent meeting park visitors and helping to open children’s eyes to the natural world of the park.

Picture shows a group off on an xplorer trail wearing theire crowns.

Members' History Walk - April

With the Bike Show in progress on the Pavilion car park and the public testing bikes on the slopes below it, we kept to the lower areas of the park to consider the many sports that have taken place in the park over the years. From the ladies’ archery contest at the park opening in 1863 to trotting, outdoor bowls and cricket (still being played in the park after 116 years), sport has always been a feature of the park. In fact the Alexandra Park Company, which developed the park, had a motto of ‘Healthy Exercise – Rational Recreation’. Gordon was able to point out a few visible features of earlier sporting activities, such as the swimming bath and the outdoor rifle range, and confirm their location on maps. And of course pétanque will shortly be added to the long list of the park’s sports. Pictures shows players in the Fairground Car Park

Anthill Work Party - April

Nine of us turned out on a warm and sunny April morning. We had a backdrop of spring birdsong to our work in the anthill meadow, with blackcaps, chiffchaffs and wrens being the loudest songsters. We continued with the remorseless job of bramble root removal before the new shoots take off. The yellow rattle seedlings are doing well in the west side of the meadow, although they do need water after all this dry weather. The highlight of the morning was seeing a female brimstone butterfly laying her eggs on the underside of alder buckthorn leaves (one of their host plants). She laid each elongated egg on a single leaf – so tiny that they were barely visible (pictured, an egg laid last year). This season’s butterflies will appear in around July/August.

Bat Walk - April


After a day of heavy rain and a cold wind, there were some doubts as to whether the bats would make their usual appearance around the Boating Lake, and Gordon’s introductory talk about bats and their habits was cut short by a brief rain shower. Then after a chilly wait the pipistrelles appeared, in rather better numbers than in recent years, and entertained the group with their customary acrobatics, punctuated by the clicks and buzzes from the bat detectors.

Gordon usually receives requests for extra bat watches from local groups, and this year 15 cubs and their leaders from the 221 North London (Hornsey) pack were thrilled to see the bats on a much warmer evening.

Spring Tree Walk - April

The trees at the lower end of the park are sometimes overlooked, so Adrian Thomas led a walk to find out more about them. The whole area is close to the reservoirs and is often damp, so willows and poplars are prominent, but there is a whole group of other trees, such as oaks and field maples, that flourish on the heavy clay soils, along with limes and beeches on the slightly elevated ground a little further away from the reservoirs.

The group also noted the vegetation along the ditch draining the old racecourse. Hawthorn dominated, but there were several other hedgerow plants including dogwood, blackthorn, cherry and one of the few alders in the park. One of the hawthorns already had blossom on it, showing how far the flowering date has moved: the flowers are traditionally called ‘may’.

Further on the group admired some of the well-grown oaks and sycamores lining the racecourse on the edge of the Conservation Area, and noted how well elm saplings are growing, even though they will probably fall victim to Dutch elm disease when they reach a height of 7 metres or so. (photo by Beatrice Murray.)

Great British Spring Clean - March

As our contribution to Keep Britain Tidy’s annual campaign, 23 volunteers wielded their litter pickers and scoured the park for some of the hard-to-reach rubbish that accumulates over the winter. The result was around 30 bags plus a small bike. Those who had participated in similar events over the years felt that there was less litter than normal – a tribute not only to the John O’Conner team’s good work, but also to the efforts of all the volunteers who kept the park clean last summer, several of whom continued throughout the winter. Our thanks to all the litter-picking volunteers.

Art in the Park - March

What a wonderful spring morning!


It's been beautifully captured in Tricia's photo

Lovely to have 5 new members join us too.

Conservation Work Party - March

It was such a lovely morning, especially with the sound of spring birdsong ringing around the meadow, the chiffchaff the loudest of all. We had a good morning’s work with most of us mattocking bramble roots, before the new shoots get going. Richard did some good work on the alder buckthorn, cutting out a rotten broken branch, the reward – three brimstone butterflies flitting around the meadow. Tony released an elder from the clutches of ivy, and Stephen stopped the march of bramble over cherry and blackthorn. To top it all we could see that good numbers of the yellow rattle seeds we broadcast last autumn had germinated.

Insects noted: 3 brimstone butterflies – 2 males and a female (paler); a peacock butterfly; a few bumblebees and ladybirds.

Birds noted: blue and great tits; chiffchaff; robin; magpie; jay; crow; wren; wood pigeon; green woodpecker.

Plants in flower: only two – dandelions and the blackthorn. (Jane Hutchinson)

March Wildflower Walk

Caroline led two walks to look at the wildflowers that are already out and about this year. There was information on identification and lots of interesting background stories on folklore of the plants. We started at the Park Visitor Centre and made our way down to the area where the compost head lies.

Caroline explained the difference between the Lesser Celandine and Greater Celandine which can be both found in the park, but only the Lesser is flowering. They both have yellow flowers, but are unrelated. Lesser Celandine is a relative of the Buttercup whereas Greater Celandine is in the Poppy family.

Stephen led an overflow walk that just concentrated on the identification of the flowers.

March Members' Walk - The View

This is definitely our shortest, slowest type of Members' Walk. We wandered from The Beach (the area outside the Phoenix Pub) along the facade of the Palace to below the BBC Tower taking an hour to do it.

The weather was generally poor with rain and only moderate visibility, but we did manage point out what is visible from the terrace including the protected view to St. Pauls. We also took time to look at the new buildings going up and those recently completed.

Art in the Park - February

This month’s meet up had to be put back a day due to torrential rain and hail forecast for our meet-up time! However, all was serene and sparkling up at the Boating Lake the following day. We were a smaller group of five due to the change of day, but we made the most of the sunny spot to enjoy each other’s relaxed company and attempt to capture the effects of rippling water and the forms of rather uncooperative water birds, who just didn’t seem to want to stay near us for longer than 10 seconds. We must remember food another time! New members are very welcome – please email allyparkn10@gmail.com if you would like to join the group.

Mosses and Liverworts Walk - February

Just as two years ago with our last pre-COVID walk, the weather was wet for our Bryophytes (Mosses and Liverworts) walk led again by Professor Jeff Duckett. Meeting by the Palm Court this year we walked straight down the steps pausing to admire the Tortula muralis with its capsules (the tall structures that contain the spores) on top of the wall.

We were informed that different bricks can contain different amounts of moisture and hence some are much more attractive to the mosses. An example given was london stock bricks which can retain 1 pint of water.

Crossing Alexandra Palace Way and heading down we paused by the large oak tree on the left. There was a large fallen branch nearby with Brachythecium rutabulum on it. We continued down the path and looked down at the tarmac with its hollows providing a haven for two Syntrichia species; S. latifolia and S. virescens.

Jeff explained that the Ash Tree is probably the best of the trees to find different mosses and nearby we saw Orthotrichum affine and Syntrichia papillosa (picture left) - the latter showing its gemma (light green dots) - assexual reproductive organs in contrast to the capsules. By this time the rain had ceased.

Walking towards The Grove we spotted three Fissidens species; F. taxifolius as well as F. bryoides and F. exilis.

Crossing the road on what was suspected to be the site of an old fire there was the moss, Funaria hygrometrica (below left) often seen on such locations.

After seeing examples of mosses on a brick (Tortula muralis and Rhynchostegium confertum), we looked at the base of a London Plane which yielded Amblystegium serpens with capsules.

Another moss located nearby was the fern-like Kindbergia praelonga. Next stop a litter bin (made of old railway sleepers) by The Grove car park which gave both Grimmia pulvinata and Bryum argenteum (picture below left). The argenteum in the name gives a nice clue to its colour.

In the patch of woodland opposite the Park Visitor Centre, we were treated to our only liverwort, Frullania dilatata.

During the walk Jeff Duckett explained that there are three distinctive types of organism that people sometimes erroneously mix together - algae, lichens (symbionts of fungi and blue-green or green algae) and the bryophytes which we were concentrating on.

There was prominent moss on one of the logs that showed its upright shoots very well, Cryphaea heteromalla (pictured bottom left).

We finished our walk almost opposite the Park Visitor Centre with a look at a dead ash branch fallen partially to ground which was festooned with mosses including Syntrichia papillosa with foliar gemmae and Orthotrichum diaphanum with capsules.

A big thank to Professor Jeff Duckett for guiding us through intriguing small world of the bryophytes.

All the pictures can be found here.

A full list of bryophytes seen in Alexandra Park

Link to the British Bryophytes Society (field guide can be ordered via the publication tab)

Here is a link to the report of the walk two years ago (page down).

Conservation Work Party - February

Attached is a photo of a very tiny, germinated, yellow rattle seedling, which Tricia took, while we were working in the anthill meadow. Fingers-crossed it has many siblings in the next few weeks.

Thank you very much for coming to the Anthill Meadow, last Thursday. We put in a good couple of hours work mattocking out bramble roots, in the central part of the meadow; removing and lowering saplings at the east end, along by the hedge line, adding to the dead hedge; and removing ivy from a couple of oaks in the hedge line.

Although it was a fine morning conditions underfoot were pretty atrocious, with all that surface water and mud, after all the rain we’ve had. I think several of us went home with mud be-spattered faces and clothing.

It’s always been a bit of a problem finding our patches of yellow rattle, in high summer, once the grasses and flowers have grown. Tricia worked out a way of finding the patches, by the ‘what3words’ App. She found the 3 words for each patch, and recorded them, which we now have in our phones.

We heard a selection of birds, including green wood pecker, dunnock, great tits, wren, magpies, crows.

Just to let you know that as the bramble cover in the meadow reduces we will have chances to work elsewhere in the Park. People seemed to enjoy a change of site, as when we worked in The Grove, to remove holly, and in the Cricket Scrub. If you have any thoughts on this let me know. There will also be opportunities to work with TCV and the O’Conners Maintenance Team, again, later in the year.


Jane Hutchinson

Members' Walk - this year

Gordon usually looks back at some aspect of the park's history, but this time he looked ahead to some of the activities which will be happening in the park this year - from concerts to conservation work, with the occasional diversion to trees, flowers and flying things.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2022

The local branch of RSPB set up a stall by the Boating Lake to help promote the Big Garden Birdwatch. They also aimed to introduce people to the RSPB and to point out local birds.

There was a guided walk to see some of the birding highlights - a slightly distant view of the peregine and a single redwing were among the highlights. The picture left shows a dispute between coots and egyptian geese. The weather stayed fair and a good day was had by all.

More pictures from the day here.

Members' Conifer Walk - January

It was a windless morning, which was lucky because there was a large group (26) of us but we could still hear Stephen clearly.

We started off with pines, which have needles in pairs, threes or fives. In the stand of black pines next to the Grove café, we discovered that their needles come in pairs. Next came the Bhutan pine, with feathery-looking needles in fives.

And onto trees whose needles come in ones: spruces and firs. We looked at the needles of a blue spruce, which are attached by a peg, and whose cones point down and eventually fall to the ground.

Later on we looked at a grand fir (the one on the South Slope that often gets decorated with baubles in December), with needles attached like a sucker, whose cones point up and stay on the tree. We looked at redwoods: the dawn redwood, which is deciduous, and the giant redwood, which is not. Both have cones with a pattern that is reminiscent of lips. We also looked at quite a few other conifers, so we all came away feeling pleased that we’d learned so much.

Spreadsheet of Conifers in the Park

Fruit Tree Pruning in the Springfield Orchard

A small group of the Friends met up with Ruben of John O'Conner (Park Maintainance Contractors) to prune the fruit trees in the Springfield Orchard in The Grove. These are the trees above the large fenced Veteran Oak and below the 3-4-5 Playgroup. The trees had not had any work recently so quite a lot of cutting was involved to encourage fruiting and to keep the trees in good condition.

Some of the things that we learnt....

To cut off any slightly damaged branches first. This is, because as soon as they get weighed down with any fruit they are liable to break off.

Next to stand back and assess which branches need to go. Those good for the chop are the ones that grow from the outside of the tree toward the centre crossing other branches. They stop air circulating and their fruit can be too each other and branches.

Later cuts are made to both remove the tops of high and elongated branches as well as branches growing too close to each other. Also we had to try a give the tree an even look. After each significant cut Ruben demonstrated that we should stand back and look all around the tree before making the next move.

One extra point was not to cut back the stone fruits (e.g. plum) as hard as the others (e.g. apple) - they don't response so well to "rough" treatment.

Thanks a lot to Ruben for his patience and clear advice.

More pictures from the afternoon here.

Art in the Park - January

A great turnout of 8 people for this cool time of the year. There was sunshine, but it was quite chilly. It was most enjoyable, but an hour was enough as people prompt went off to de-frost at the end.

Special Conservation Work Party with TCV - January

Note sent out by Jane after the event nicely sums up the great success of this work party.


Thanks for turning out in great number, yesterday, on what was a glorious if chilly morning.

It was most enjoyable morning working with you all. It felt like good, spontaneous, team work, with 19 of us ‘friends’ and six TCV members.

I was just amazed at how much we got done. I never thought we’d clear all that brash and logs to the outer perimeter of the Cricket Scrub, as we did. It was hard labour to move all that stuff and some skill went into creating the dead hedges. There were several of us ‘friends’ with previous or current TCV experience, which helped hugely, and ‘teams’ developed to tackle different areas. It was great having TCV volunteers with their skills. I think we all worked well as a team under the guidance of Gerry – he knew what was needed and set us all off on our various fronts.

The so-named Cricket Scrub became canopy woodland with self-sewn trees, and, under Gerry’s guidance we are attempting to return it to a scrubby habitat, so that it remains inviting to birds, particularly migrating warblers such as the spotted flycatcher (pictured in the Mail Chimp).

The next stage will be to plant some hawthorns within the glade created, to provide the low-bush scrubby habitat needed. This will all need maintenance so no doubt we will return to the Scrub once or twice a year.

Background to this work party:


The Cricket Scrub is an area of bushes and trees between the main football pitch and the old racetrack.

Scrub is a valuable habitat in its own right. It has its own assemblage of plants, birds and insects. It should be a mix of dense shrubby material interspersed with open, sunny glades. In the park, we have been losing our scrub over the last few years, primarily as the trees grow and create woodland, so we have been losing an important component of our biodiversity. In the Cricket Scrub some of the tree cover has now been removed.

On Tuesday we moved the cut branches to the edge of the scrub so that in due course we can plant hawthorn and blackthorn to improve the scrub.


More pictures on this link.


Some of the Friends normal events

Conservation Work Parties

We have been working in the Butterfly Meadow on an almost weekly basis for the last few months with limited numbers. This open space is covered in anthills of the yellow meadow ant. A great place to spot different butterflies and other wildlife. Other work parties have taken place in The Grove and by the edge of the Redston field and an annual litter pick.

Reports on work parties here.

Talks

Mostly taking place in the Winter and early Spring the talks focus on Nature (Butterflies, Bees, Birds etc.) with some on history and other subjects that are relevant to the Park.
We have had great talks on Bats, Trees, the New River and the old railway line that used to run up to the Palace.
Coming up when conditions allow, local resident Stuart Little will presenting elements from his film about the Park and Palace....
This will be great opportunity to see some elements of history from the early days up and until the (second) fire in 1980.

Nature Walks


We put on a number of different Nature Walks throughout the year. Normally 2 Bird Walks a year, 2 Bat Walks, 2 Fungi Walks, 3 or 4 Tree Walks plus extra walks on an ad hoc basic such as this year's Moss and Liverwort walk. All these activities are open to all and free.

Reports on all types of walks here.




Members' Walks

There are normally about 10 of these a year focusing on Nature (Wild Flowers, Tree Galls plus plus), History (seeing what was where) or just keeping people informed as to what's going on in the Park - these are our only Members' Only events.

The next walk (when pandemic restrictions permit) is planned to be:

Beating the Bounds: A brisk walk round the perimeter of the Park and a chance to look at what’s been happening in the Park in recent times.

Reports on earlier walks


Items which originally appeared on this Home page, may have been moved to other pages, such as Previous Events in the Park.

Please explore our other pages - scroll up, and see the menu across the top of the page.

Our Calendar for next year has now arrived! Available to order online for free local delivery via this link. Cost £8.50 (as always!)


Or in person.....

We will have a stall at the Farmers' Market in the Park on

Sunday, 5th December from 10am to 3pm

Also available at the Parkrun start on the Lower Path every Saturday from 8:45am to about 10am.

Available at the Park Visitor Centre 11am to 1pm while stocks last on

Sunday, 28th November

Saturday, 4th December

Sunday, 12th December and probably on

Sunday, 19th December.

Cash and card payments accepted.