Plans for a full revival of the traditional and popular Chestnut Sunday event in Bushy Park next May are having to be scaled back sadly, it was confirmed today.
Instead of the big event Friends of Bushy and Home Parks will encourage families to organise picnics in the park alongside the tree-lined avenue in the historic custom of the Victorian times.
It is hoped that special guided walks will be provided highlighting the wildlife of the park as well as its history and buggy rides will be available to explore the more remote areas of the park on Sunday, May 12.
The Friends also hoped to organise an exhibition about the park’s history, possibly told through a gallery of amazing photographs.
Plans have had to be scaled down because of ‘stretched resources’ of the Bushy Park management team as they continue to complete an extensive restoration programme following the damaging impact of the COVID lockdown on the park.
In a newsletter the Friends say: “The management team just does not have the capacity to organise Chestnut Sunday for next May.
“The restoration investment is visible with new planting, pathways, fencing, and other improvements benefiting park users and wildlife.
“The Friends trustees agree that the priority must be given to finishing the restoration; it involves substantial funding, from the government and from the People’s Postcode Lottery, which must be used by April next year.
“While it is disappointing for many of us wishing to revive Chestnut Sunday much as it was before COVID, the Royal Parks and the Friends aim to do that, in an eco-friendly way, in 2025.”
Additionally, The Friends will be aiming to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day in June 2024 highlighting the historic and crucial role which Bushy Park played as the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) HQ during 1944 including its use as a base by General Dwight D. Eisenhower known as Camp Griffiss.
Phil Edwards, Bushy Park Manger said: “Unfortunately, we are unable to bring back Chestnut Sunday in 2024, due to the unprecedented amount of improvement works that are currently taking place at Bushy Park, including a restoration project to restore paths and grasslands in Bushy Park and the Woodland Gardens restoration project.
“Previously, Chestnut Sunday has been organised and delivered by our small in-house park team, but recently we have not had the capacity to dedicate sufficient planning time to this community event.
“We will be partnering with the Friends of Bushy Park to bring back this event in the future and have established a working group to begin to scope how this might happen.
“In the meantime, the Friends of Bushy Park will be delivering a smaller event in May 2024, and this will include guided walks, buggy rides to more remote areas of the park and a special exhibition about the park. On the day, they will promote picnicking either side of Chestnut Avenue, reflecting the Victorian origins of Chestnut Sunday.”