The Friends of Raleigh Park

Previous events

New house building next to Raleigh Park

The planning application to develop land owned by the Warburg family on Yarnells Hill, which adjoins the Raleigh Park fen and the Long South Western Tongue was objected to by the Oxfordshire Badger Group, the Chairman , the ecologist Judy Webb and the City among many others who have responded in full to this planning application for the building of houses next to and in the catchment area of Raleigh Park in a position below the level of the main sewer.

The Vale of White Horse Councillors overruled the Officer recommendation to grant planning and instead unanimously voted to refuse planning consent for the 3 houses that had been proposed to be constructed on the slope immediately above the fen. Had this development gone ahead it would have posed a serious threat to the quantity and quality of groundwater and set a dangerous precedent for cumulative damage to the fen's groundwater catchment which could have seen the end of this lovely and rare Alkaline Fen. Thank you for all your support in resisting this development and writing to oppose it.

AGM 2022 (by Teams)

The Chairman gave his report for the year. Adam Bows reported that work parties with volunteers to rake hard rush previously cut by the Parks Dept. was successful and fencing to keep the cattle off the fen while the orchids were in flower had been installed. He gave a presentation on the excellent progress in the rewetting of the fen.

Wild flower seed collected by Judy Webb has been sown. 430 common spotted orchid flower spikes had been counted.

Clive Smith gave a nest box report. Of the 11 boxes checked all had been used and had not been damaged by squirrels or woodpeckers thanks to the installation of metal plates reinforcing the entrance holes. The nests were bagged for Linda Losito to examine for invertebrates. The bird feeder was well used.

Barbara Witkowski presented the successful work of the Oxford Badger group doing badger vaccination.

OCC have resited the dog poo bin which partially blocked the Raleigh Park Road entrance and will pay half towards the Oxford Volunteers installing a gravel path down a muddy incline. They have not yet installed a proposed bench at a viewpoint.

Two signboards funded by the Friends are to be installed by the OCC at entrances to the site. A further one is planned when funds permit.

AGM Thursday 11 November 2021 (by Zoom)

The Chairman presented his Chairman's report and the accounts

Andy Gunn (BBOWT) reported on Wild Oxford. No volunteer sessions could take place due to the Covid-19 epedemic and the resulting financial constraints. However Community Group Team Wilder was launched by BBOWT to provide training for leadership roles in work parties for volunteers.

Wild flower seed collected by Judy Webb has been sown.

Adam Bows reported that a work party was planned with volunteers to rake hard rush previously cut by the Parks Dept. Creeping thistle and bullrushes need also to be pulled out. He gave a presentation on the fungi in the Park and reported that works to rewet the fen downstream of the pond have been successful and his study of the outcomes of the Wild Oxford initiative shows the benefit to the wildflowers and wildlife. Julian Cooper wrote to suggest the Parks Dept would trial cattle neck vibrators to keep them away from sensitive areas such as orchids in flower.

Clive Smith gave a nest box report. Of the 14 boxes initially erected three had blue tit and 5 great tit nests. The nests were bagged for Linda Losito to examine for invertebrates. She found fleas and body parts of weevils and click beetles. One weevil, Grypus equiseti, is a specialist on horsetail plants. One bag contained 7 live sap beetles, Soronia grisea, which must have been trying to hibernate.

The bird feeder was well used.

Swifts find it difficult to find holes for their nests and Clive has also made nest boxes for placement under the eaves of people's houses to help them.

Barbara Witkowski presented the successful work of the Oxford Badger group in the Raleigh Park badger vaccination report . The video shows a badger after inoculation. She reported that there could be no badger cull of vaccinated badgers.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust funded an invertebrate survey . They also funded the work done in rewetting the fen involving constructing leaky dams, filling in the ditch, digging ponds and clearing scrub.

OCC are to draw up a management plan for the Park in collaboration with interested parties and will lead eight work parties next year. They replaced the wooden gates with metal ones and will resite the dog poo bin which partially blocks the Raleigh Park Road entrance.

The Friends contributed to a bench erected in memory of Sue Cassettari who had given a presentation to the Friends with Jenny Miller (Forest School Leaders, North Hinksey Primary School) on Forest School Learning.


We had a stall by the Botley shops in the Jubilee celebrations on Saturday afternoon, 4 June 2021, 2-6pm with a display and Clive Smith showed some of his bird boxes.

AGM Thursday 24 September 2020 (by Zoom)

The Chairman's Report and a report on Wild Oxford were given by Stephen Parkinson. Adam Bows reported on the increase in wild flowers this year. and Carol Kramer reported the success of spreading ox-eye daisy seed and planting wildflowers such as wild liquorice raised from seed.

Clive Smith gave the nest box report.

The work of the Oxford Badger Group on badger vaccination was received from Barbara Witkowski. Julian Cooper reported that there would be no badger cull on City land.

A full report from the Freshwater Habitats Trust was received from Eleanor Mayhew. The range of mammals and birds at various sites including the Park was identified by their environmental DNA signatures.

An application for funding for accessibility improvements by Adam Bows with Michael Woods (Parks Support Officer) providing the information and planning required to TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire?s Environment) was unsuccessful. Julian Cooper indicated that the City had materials to construct paths and boardwalks to the pond and round the fen and a dipping platform with disabled access at the pond.

David Brown and Stephen Parkinson reported on the Viewport Signage project. The spires visible from the viewpoint in the Park have been identified and signage similar to that on other Wild Oxford Sites costed. Crowdsourcing is envisaged as a way to raise a portion of the funding required.

Adam Bows described his research project in the Park.

Judy Webb

Congratulations to the indefatigable Judy Webb for her inclusion in the Woman's Hour Power List. A just recognition of all her work for wildlife, wetlands and Wild Oxford.


The work of the Friends has been described in articles in the Sprout local magazine: Sprout article Dec 2018 and Sprout article Oct 2019 (Stephen Parkinson).

The Oxford Theatre Guild filmed the Forest of Arden scenes in Shakespeare's "As you like it" in the Park in summer 2020.

2019 AGM

The 2019 AGM was on Thursday 12 September 2019 at the Pavilion, Arnolds Way.


Wild Oxford (Andy Gunn)

Chairman's AGM Report (Stephen Parkinson)

Wildflowers (Carol Kramer, Adam Bows)

Nestboxes (Clive Smith/Stephen Miller)

Butterfly AGM Report (Barbara Witkowski)

Butterfly surveys (Barbara Witkowski)

Badger Vaccination (Barbara Witkowski)

Bats(David Brown)

Freshwater Habitats Trust (Eleanor Mayhew)

Accessibility improvements (Michael Woods/Julian Cooper/Adam Bows)

There were around 20 Friends present who enjoyed the presentations and a glass of wine.

Talk by Linda Losito on Thursday 13 June 2019 Linda Losito gave a talk on "Beetles, birds and mammals: how dung supports the living world" at 7:30pm on Thurs 13th June at the Pavilion, Arnold's Way.

Winter Bird Adventure. BBOWT activities in the half term break Thursday 21 February 10am to 2pm for children 4-11. Over 30 children enjoyed the unseasonal warm weather.

Brown Hairstreak Butterfly Egg Hunt. Saturday 19 January 2019 10:30am. This butterfly is very rare and lays eggs which

overwinter on the blackthorn stand by the gate at the Westminster Way entrance. We found 4 eggs there, and 6 later on Harcourt Hill where it turns into a track beyond Westminster College. We used magnifying glasses to identify the eggs found. The butterflies were seen in the hedges around the Louis Memorial Fields and on Harcourt Hill this summer and eggs were spotted previously in the Park in the winter 2017-18. Some of the blackthorn stand was cut down this summer to provide new growth for the caterpillars.

Autumn Adventure

The Autumn Adventure was held on Wednesday 24th of October 10:00am- 2:00pm with many half term activities for children 4-11years. The children enjoyed the event in the sunshine.

Hydrology Survey of Raleigh Park

David Mould of Milestone Environmental Ltd has submitted a proposal for a scoping study for a hydrology monitoring survey which includes 10 monitoring dipping wells, 3 of which would be automated and the other 7 monitored by the Friends and BBOWT, which provides good opportunity for Citizen Science and engaging the Friends in supporting the Park. The cost is £12k.

AGM 2018

The AGM was on Mon 17 September 2018 at the Pavilion, Arnolds Way. Nick Bowles of Butterfly Conservation was the speaker and there were reports on the butterfly surveys, nest boxes and Wild Oxford conservation progress.

Talk: Emily Seccombe described the Oxford Swift City project.

The swift city project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is working to raise awareness of swift conservation and encourage people to take practical actions to benefit swifts in Oxford.

Swifts are urban birds with a long cultural connection to Oxford and arrive back from their migration from April onwards, but are in serious decline in the UK. This may be due to a loss of nest spaces in urban areas - this is why they need the help of Oxford residents. The project is working to inspire and support people to survey for nesting and foraging swifts, and to protect and create nest spaces.

The Friends will be able to help record sightings of swifts nesting in their homes or foraging in the natural areas around Oxford, as well as take practical actions such as installing swift bricks or boxes - Clive Smith has already made some homes for discerning swifts for installation under the eaves of houses.

Some refreshments were provided to a good turnout of members.

Boxing Day Walk with refreshments 2017

Preparations for the walk.

The Boxing Day Walk was well attended this year. Participants were fortified with mince pies, home made Christmas cake and mulled wine then enjoyed a rather slippery walk round the park when objects of interest such as the badger sett and the Roman road were pointed out.

Radio Oxford 1st November 2017

Adam Bows representing The Friends of Raleigh Park, Julian Cooper Oxford Parks Dept. and Andy Gunn BBOWT were interviewed in the Park by Radio Oxford at breakfast time on 1st November.

AGM 2017

The Friends of Raleigh Park AGM was held on 14 September 2017 at the Pavilion, Lime Road.

Bob Cowley was the speaker. He outlined what has been achieved by the Friends of the Trap Grounds in the last 20 years, illustrated by a selection of excellent wildlife photos.

The Chairman outlined the progress made this year and introduced the BBOWT presentation.

Clive Smith put up nest boxes in the Park in the spring and Stephen Miller recorded the outcomes. The recording was done every 5-14 days through the nesting season following the BTO procedure. The nestboxes were well utilised by bluetits.

The excellent cakes provided were baked by Branches Young People's Support Service.

The AGM elected Adam Bows to the Committee.

Previous talks

Talks in March 2017 were by Clive Smith and Andy Gunn (BBOWT).

Clive Smith: Bird Boxes and the BTO recording protocol (Clive Smith's slides) .

Andy Gunn: Wild Oxford and Raleigh Park (Andy Gunn's slides) .

The 2016 AGM was held in the Louis Memorial Pavilion. There was a presentation by Susan Cassetari and Jenny Miller (Forest School Leaders, North Hinksey Primary School) on Forest School Learning and Julian Cooper (Parks Dept) outlined his plans for Raleigh Park.

Prof Riki Therivel gave a fascinating talk in March 2016 on woodland management describing her work in turning a 10 acre field on Hinksey Hill into a woodlot and a wildflower meadow.

In September 2015 the noted local historian Malcolm Graham gave a well researched and very interesting presentation on the history of the Oxford water supply.

Previously Gerald Dawe gave a presentation on the botanical and other environmental changes in Raleigh Park since his survey in 1996.

25 Oct 2012
[email protected]