Think green for the future

The launch of the Fulham Palace biodiversity and climate change resilience policy.

Every day we’re reminded of the ecological and climate emergency that threatens the planet. As custodians of a heritage site, the team at Fulham Palace is more aware than many of the impact of action (and inaction) on a site that is many centuries old. Fulham Palace Trust is acting now, releasing a new biodiversity and climate change resilience policy on 2 May 2021.

Image shows three people looking at a potted plant

The 13 acre site of Fulham Palace that you see today is a remnant of a once extensive country estate on the banks of the River Thames, stretching from Chiswick in the west, to Chelsea in the east, and up to Willesden in the north. It was owned by the Bishops of London from 704 to 1974 and was his country house from the 14th century. The Palace has been a home, a farm, a manorial court, a banqueting house, a hospital, and offices. I believe that our story of survival and re-invention is an inspiration for what we must do in the future to not only preserve the Palace, but to save the planet for future generations.

Fulham Palace Trust is committed to reduce our own environmental and pollution footprint, increase biodiversity, and inspire others to do the same. The Palace is not yet as green as it could be, and there is more that we can and must do.

- Sian Harrington, CEO of Fulham Palace Trust

To celebrate the launch of this pledge, Fulham Palace Trust is holding its first annual ‘green meet’ on 2 May 2021. The event will be a chance for the community of Hammersmith and Fulham to discover and celebrate the value of nature, ecology, biodiversity and sustainability. There will be a series of talks, workshops, a green market and local, sustainable food for sale.

In its first year, the talks and workshops are focussing on the work being carried out by the team at the Palace, led by head gardener Lucy Hart, who will speak about planting hundreds of plant species in the garden to increase biodiversity, using biological controls to manage pests and supporting trees in crisis, such as ash and elm. Botanist Dr Mark Spencer will discuss finding rare plants in the Palace moat as well as his research into the garden’s long botanical history. Other speakers include Judy Ling-Wong CBE, director of the Black Environment Network and Miranda Lowe, a principal curator at the Natural History Museum. Topics include sustainable tree planting, bee keeping and broadening access to nature.

On the day the Palace’s staff and volunteer team will be sharing their knowledge by leading workshops on how you can bring your gardens, patios and window boxes alive with plants and wildlife. Visitors can take part in a workshop to learn how to make a nature pond, or bring any extra seeds from packets they’ve planted and take part in a seed swap.

The Palace is a green oasis in Fulham, and the second oldest botanic garden in London. In the garden, plant varieties have now been introduced which were first grown at the Palace 300 years ago (many for the first time in the UK and even Europe). The walled garden has been replanted with 120 organically grown fruit trees as well as flowers and vegetables which are available to purchase from the garden – reducing food miles. Alongside this, the learning and engagement programme provides opportunities for involvement for a range of audiences and volunteers. The result is a freely accessible green lung in the heart of London, helping to tackle a nature deficit for people living in the city.

But the Palace can do more. The new policy pledges that the number of pollinator plants, which support a range of insects, will be increased; grasslands will be developed, creating resilience against climate change and offering shelter to a number of animals and green energy will be used where possible in the Palace and the garden. With a historic garden, the impact of changes made now will last for centuries – trees for example can last for hundreds of years. This is shown by the Palace’s holm oak which is more than 500 years old. Real thought and foresight is required for planting strategies, and the Palace will develop a long term planting and natural regeneration plan to ensure that there are different age cohorts of trees and that the trees are managed in a way which supports biodiversity and the Palace’s history.

Future plans for developing and supporting the site’s ecology will be based upon available evidence and expert advice from London’s natural history community and urban ecology specialists. Fulham Palace hopes to establish an expert panel to help guide us through some of the decisions we need to take, and help take account of the site’s various historic and landscape designations – including a Grade II* listed garden and a non-statutory Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) which is designated of ‘Borough Grade I’ significance.

By bringing in new measures which emphasise the importance of nature and biodiversity, we’re planting the seeds for future generations. Events like the green meet as well as our schools and outreach programmes will especially help younger generations to discover the importance of nature and the environment, not just at the Palace or in their local area but throughout the world. I hope that by acting now, we’re laying the foundations for a greener Palace and inspiring others to help make a greener world.

Lucy Hart, Fulham Palace head gardener
Image shows head gardener next to a Gingko tree
Notes to the editors

Entry to Fulham Palace is free

Further information and press images

Nicola Price, Fulham Palace Trust | 020 7610 7166 |

About Fulham Palace

Fulham Palace is the historic home of the Bishops of London. Purchased in AD 704, for centuries the Palace and surrounding estate served as a country retreat for the bishops and their families before becoming the Bishop’s permanent residence in the early 20th century until the last Bishop moved out in 1973. The Palace and 13 acre botanic garden are now managed by Fulham Palace Trust, an independent charity dedicated to the ongoing preservation, restoration and interpretation of this historically important site.