Thanks to the generosity of our Patrons, members and supporters, we now have our own small brood of hens!
Our hens are a British heritage breed and haven’t travelled too far – they were reared by an amazing local breeder in New Malden (one of south of England’s best). The hens, called Pekin Bantams, were originally brought to Europe from China in the nineteen hundreds from Peking, hence the name.
Pekin Bantam hens are typically small chickens, and the breed is famous for its feathered feet. They can live for between five to seven years, but some have been known to live to the ripe old age of fifteen. Our new hens are settling into their new home, and will soon start laying eggs.
Phylis, our black hen donated by Anthony Harding, a Palace volunteer and life patron. Matilda, a brown hen donated by Yvonne Masson, who is a frequent Palace visitor. Next is Coco, the little white hen donated by Fiona Beatty, a Palace trustee and Patron, and also a regular visitor with her children and family.
Finally, Myrtle! She’s lavender grey and donated by Pete Carter one of our Palace senior gardeners – their chief custodian. Pete chose the name Myrtle after the plant grown in our gardens (some of these plants are rumoured to have come from sprigs of Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet!).
Funds generously donated also helped us buy their spacious chicken coop with a three-meter run, giving them space to roam happily and safely in the walled garden while staying securely protected from foxes. Their manure will help fertilise garden beds, and keep the soil balance healthy reducing fungus with extra nutrients. The hens themselves are great pest controllers, eating small bugs and helping aerated the ground with their pecking!
The coop design enables the hens to be moved around the walled garden in different areas to stop any build-up of parasites in the soil. We have registered the flock with DEFRA and are following their guidance to keep our flock healthy. To help protect from the avian flu, we’re following guidance and taking measures such as covering the coop and run to help reduce infection from wild birds, disinfecting it, and also the gardening teams’ footwear regularly in order to keep our flock happy and healthy.
In addition to attracting visitors to the garden, our flock allows us the chance to incorporate new learning and education opportunities. From chickens and sustainably to garden tours and family events our education team can’t wait to share new learning opportunities.
As you can see, our latest residents are enjoying their new coop and walled garden home as much as our visitors!
Come and visit our flock for yourself! Our walled garden is open from 10:15 -15.45. For information about the walled garden click here.
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If you would like to learn more about membership and how you can support our work, please email Imogen Arcangeli, membership and individual giving manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.