Thanks to the grant from the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds and significant match funding from the Royal Parks and others, including The Friends, just over £6m is being spent on major restoration and improvements work.
The Chapel dome has required repairs to lead and timber, and removing, cleaning , repairing and replacing the glass panels on the outer dome. Stone work repairs are necessary for the Chapel and the Colonnades. Ramps are being provided to enable disabled access to the main entrance to the Chapel. The Chapel stone floor has been found to contain a splendid design matching the interior of the building and this is being refurbished. The interior is being redecorated up to and including the lovely cupola dome. Pavilions are being built on either side of the North Lodge, one on the west side to house a small cafe, with access to toilets, and the other on the east side to provide accommodation for the Friends and two public rooms for meetings, events and activities of various kinds. The east pavilion will be managed and staffed by the Friends' volunteers. A new maintenance yard near the North West side of the Cemetery will house the gardeners. Extensive work has been undertaken to secure the structural integrity of the Western catacombs, and a fresh section of the catacombs created for possible public use.
Landscape improvement plans will begin in autumn 2017, and will include a fresh approach to the Garden of Remembrance where ashes can be laid. The landscape plans will take several years to reach a settled state. These will include the planting of more than one hundred thousand bulbs funded and largely planted by the Friends volunteers, and some new flowering shrubs. This is, after all, a Garden Cemetery.
The Heritage Project will fund the repair of some monuments, and the Friends will repair others, including the Coombes memorial with the upturned skiff on top, where we plan to restore the missing heads on the four corner figures. We also intend to fund various other improvements when the Conservation Project has finished and we can assess priorities and possibilities for extra works providing value for money.
Considerable effort is going into developing good Interpretation for visitors to the Cemetery, work managed by the Royal Parks but to which the Friends are contributing. Indeed looking ahead to the end of 2018 when the Royal Parks Project staff will have left the Friends will then be the major driving force for maintaining the range of events and activities currently being developed, with closer integration with groups in the local community and more widely than before. These will take place in the Chapel, in the new Friends pavilion in North Lodge and widely around the Cemetery. For this we are recruiting a large number of new active volunteers to supplement our existing splendid volunteer force. If any reader is interested in considering areas of possible interest will they please contact our Volunteer Coordination, Ann Mulcare in the Project office in South Lodge - telephone number 020 7352 1060. Some details of volunteer opportunities are listed elsewhere in the website.
It is expected that the building works will all be completed by the end of 2017, enabling a start early in 2018 to developing an extensive range of events and activities for the benefit of the public.
Work is under way, in which the Friends are closely involved, to prepare a proper Business Plan for the Cemetery with the aim of eventually achieving financial self-sufficiency -- a challenging target, but important for the long term security of the Cemetery. This should be taking shape towards the end of 2017. The main source of the extra funding required will come from an increase in the sale of burial plots and funerals, all to be balanced carefully with the wider public enjoyment of the Cemetery.
The Royal Parks have made popular backdrops for many feature films and television programmes. Any filming, photography or audio recording that takes place in parks requires permission from The Royal Parks before it can go ahead and in most cases, will incur a fee.
Further details: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/press-and-media/filming-in-the-royal-parks