Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter bunnies

I went to the Pavilion today to photograph some of the paintings of the park for the 'Art in the Park' web page I'm working on. The weather was wonderful, and I have never seen more people enjoying the park except when there is a special event on, and the Pavilion was full of children obviously enjoying one of the many Easter Holiday activities. The organisers are to be congratulated for running such a popular event - in fact they were expecting to have to run it a second (unplanned) time later in the day as it was very over-subscribed! The theme was 'Easter bunny crafts' - not what I had intended to photograph, but I already planned to include a section in the new web page on recent art and craft activities, so this fitted in very well with that.

There are several more special events over the Easter Holiday, including 'Herb collection in a pot', 'Edible planting pots', an 'All new Easter egg hunt', 'Fun with fish', 'Knights and dragons' on St George's day, and 'Medieval tile making' (not limited to children!). You should be able to find more information on these other events elsewhere on the web site - we hope to see you at some (or all) of them.

Thanks again to all those involved in running what seemed to be a hugely successful event.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wildflowers in the Park

These snakes head fritillaries are in flower in the park at present. They are quire rare nowadays, so it is a real privilege to have some here in the park.  They flowered for the first time last year, but are much more impressive this year. Enjoy them as they are, and please try to avoid damaging them - they should be there to be enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Easter activities in the park

There are lots of activities organised by the Park Rangers going on in the park over the Easter period. Here is a list, kindly supplied by Lydia, the Senior Park Ranger.

Easter bunny crafts
Tuesday 15 April, 1.30-3pm
Come and join us for this Easter bunny themed session where we will be making a variety of art and craft items for you to take home.

Herb Collection in a pot
Wednesday 16 April, 1-2.30pm
Potting workshop of plug plants for all the family to get involved. Pots will be provided and you can bring* a small container from home to pot up. Egg prize given for the best. Suitable for children of all ages. This session is run by Growing Opportunities – Ideal for all.

All new Easter egg hunt
Thursday 17 April, 10.30am-12pm
The rangers have devised an all new egg-citing Easter egg hunt around the park for the whole family to join in.

Edible planting pots
Tuesday 22 April, 1-2.30pm
Potting workshop of plug plants for all the family to get involved. Pots will be provided and you can bring a small container from home to pot up. Egg prize given for the best. Suitable for children of all ages. This session is run by Growing Opportunities – Ideal for all. *Visit their Facebook for ideas on containers.

Knights and dragons
Wednesday 23 April, 10.30am-12noon
Today is St Georges Day so what better way to celebrate with a variety of knight and dragon themed crafts and activities to keep the children entertained. 

Fun with fish
Saturday 19 April, 2-3.30pm
This art and craft session is themed around fish and fishing. Come and make yourself a model fish and also learn to use a rod and line.

Medieval tile making
Thursday 24 April, 11am-12.30pm  and 1.30-3pm
Our medieval tile expert Karen Slade will be here to run these two tiles making sessions for families. You will get to make your own tile to take home and also learn a little about the history of the medieval tiles found in Priory Park. Open to all ages. Booking is essential on 01384-812474.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wedding Exhibition at Priory Hall

When I went for a walk in the park this morning (15 March) I wasn't aware of the exhibition at the Hall, so it came as a surprise to see all the cars and other activity going on there. The weather was excellent for the event as well.

Friday, March 14, 2014

RIP Pepper, 1999-2014

Pepper was a regular member of the Wednesday Walking Group on the park until very recently, and will be much missed by everyone.

Priory Park Through Time

Saturday 15 March 2014, 2:00pm
Come and take a look at the historic artwork and photographs of the park showing how it has changed since the 1150s when the Priory of St James was built, through to the park we see today.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Crocus Glade

The magnificent display of crocuses (croci ?) in the Glade never ceases to amaze every visitor to the Park and invites numerous photographers to capture the essence of the display.The problem year on year is to come up with a new take, but last years renovations, including new gates to the Broadway entrance, offers distinct possibilities.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ghost Busters!

Are there ghosts in Priory Hall? There are stories of ghosts in the Castle, and perhaps even the Priory, but I've never heard of any in the Hall. I was walking back home when I unexpectedly encountered this scene, which was being shot by the press to promote wedding services and the Hall as a location for wedding ceremonies. My thanks to those involved for allowing me to gate-crash. Alan Finch, the current mayor of Dudley, is also the local councillor, and he works tirelessly for Dudley and the area, and he was Chairman of FoPP before he became mayor, so particular thanks to him for all the good work he has done, and continues to do on our behalf. In the background is the A-Team van.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Half Term activities in the Park

The Rangers have a lot of activities planned for the half-term holiday period - please do look at the previous post about the Stag and Doe competition as well! Here is a list of what will be happening:

Family activities coming up at Priory Park this February half term:
Nest Box Building      
Wednesday 19 February
It’s National Nest Box Week and we will once again be offering the opportunity to build and decorate your own bird box to take home and hang in your garden. Bird box kits are limited so please book your place on 01384-812474, there are just a few places left so call now!
Medieval Madness
Thursday 20 February
A fun session of themed crafts centered around the times when Monks lived in the Priory. Suitable for all ages. No need to book, just turn up.
Recycled art
Friday 21 February
Get crafty with items of junk that would normally just be thrown away. If you have any clean food containers (such as cereal boxes or egg boxes) please bring them along. No need to book, just turn up.
For information:
All activities meet at the pavilion (near the tennis courts). Priory Road, Dudley DY1 4EU
Children aged 15 and under must be accompanied by a responsible adult for all of our activities.
For more information contact Priory Park Rangers – 01384-812474

FoPP is also planning some other activities for later in the year - watch this space for an update when we have finalised the dates and other details!

Looking for other things to do during half-term?

Nothing to do with Priory Park, but personally can I suggest some other locations nearby you might find worth a visit during this half-term holiday, weather permitting (both charge for entry though):

1. The Black Country Living Museum - a great place to visit, and although opening hours are reduced during the first months of the year, I'm assured it will be open every day during half term (unless weather conditions make it unsafe).

2. Dudley Zoo and Castle - it is not the best time of year to visit, as the animals don't like the bad weather either! But there are a lot of new animals to see, and lots of superb new signs on the enclosures - fabulous photos!

Oh, and don't forget the Canal Trust - you will be underground most of the time, so rain isn't a problem (though of course if the water has frozen, the boats can't get out!).

Stag and Doe competition

From next Tuesday (18th February 2014) a new competition is being launched on the Park relating to the excellent sculptures at the Woodland Avenue entrance to the Park - the Stag and Doe. The timing of course is to coincide with half-term! It should be fun, but we also hope that the publicity will help to secure funding for a new feature in the Park. There is a prize for the winner of the competition too.

For full details, please see the Press Release - an entry form is available at the Pavilion, or you can download it from here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Half Term

You can find out more about what will be happening on Priory Park at Half Term here:


These aren't events for which FoPP claims any credit, but are great events organised on the park by DBMC and the Rangers.

We expect to have updates for events which FoPP has contributed to to REAL SOON NOW.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Deer in the snow

Friday, February 07, 2014

Today's Lap Walks around the Park for British Heart Foundation

Today's sponsored walk on behalf of the British Heart Foundation was very successful: after several days of horrible weather, and more forecast to come, we must count ourselves very lucky today.

Anyway today was the date for the British Heart Foundation lap-walking around Priory Park. We had a good turnout, split into two groups for the walk, partly to allow for the official qualification of two excellent new walk leaders.

I've arranged the photos to reflect some of the stages of a walk around the park, so as I've also tried to depict those on both walks, please live with any apparent 'continuity errors'!

Great to have both Ben (L) and Murphy (R) in the photo; both are over 12 years old, but I fear Murphy will not be with us much longer.

Oh, and for photographers, never work with animals or flags - both dogs chose to look in the wrong direction, and the flags blew inside-out in one of the first photos!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Are you Reddy

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Big Garden Birdwatch - horrendous weather!!

Our Big Garden Birdwatch event was from 2:00pm onwards today (25th January). Unfortunately it started raining just about at the start time, eased off a bit, and then we had thunder, lightning, a hail storm, and heavy rain for about an hour! The birds understandably found somewhere to shelter (we chose the Arbour), and I think that all we managed before the weather were 4 wood pigeons and 3 crows. An interesting event, but happily everyone enjoyed the challenge, and thank you to those who came. We hope to see you again in 2015, when we can only hope the weather will be better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Join us on January 25th for the Big Garden Birdwatch

This weekend, 25-26 January, is when the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch will be taking place.   On Saturday 25th there will be the opportunity to have a walk around Priory Park and take part in the event. The event starts at 2:00pm and will be led by Park Ranger Mark Tarpey. The idea is to identify as many different bird species in an hour as you can. Binoculars will be available to help you spot the birds, and information will be available to identify them. What birds can you expect to see? Well, you can never be sure, but robins, blackbirds, crows, pigeons, blue tits and great tits are almost certain, and there are plenty of other birds to be seen there, although not necessarily guaranteed. We look forward to seeing you there on Saturday.

Below: Some of the birds seen in the park on 21st January



Long Tailed Tit


Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 - year of achievement: a message from the Chair

As another year closes and a new one opens up, I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the Friends.

Your commitment to conserving and protecting Priory Park for the benefit of ourselves and others is a real achievement and an absolute credit to the energy and time you give.

Looking back to January 2013, when we worked so hard to get the improvements started, we can be very rightly proud of what we see around us. We have managed some great events and have generated a good contribution to our much desired feature in the rose garden.

Let’s hope 2014 will be as enjoyable.

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year.

Warmest wishes

Mariann Harris

Chair – Friends of Priory Park

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Carol Concert

The Carol Concert on the evening of 17 December was very successful. The weather was kind, there was a good turn out, and the performances of the Priory Primary School choir and the People's Orchestra were excellent, despite the poor lighting meaning it was difficult to read the music and the words! Ned Williams gave an entertaining talk about the Father Christmas wars in the Black Country, and the concert was followed by food and drinks in the Pavilion.

You can see more images from the event HERE - apologies for the poor quality, but the light was extremely poor, and the two main cameras I tried to use would not perform, so I was forced to use a simple Point-and-Shoot camera.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Entrances to Priory Park no. 1

Along with all the other improvements to Priory Park, nearly all the entrances have been enhanced in various ways, and we thought we would produce a series of photographs of these. Our first entrance is the one in Woodland Avenue.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Christmas is a coming

An update on the committee

The page on this website about the Friends of Priory Park has been rather neglected for several years, but at last it has been updated! Click on the link to 'Friends of Priory Park' under 'More Information' on the right of the home screen to see the revised version.

This seems a good opportunity to welcome Mariann Harris Thexton as Chair of the committee, although she has actually held that position for most of this year, taking over from Councillor Alan Finch, who is currently the Mayor of Dudley. The picture below shows Mariann in September at the formal opening of the improvements to the park, which have been taking place during 2013, and which are now just about complete. In the background you can see Alan Finch, looking rather serious in his official role!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Lime Mortaring

Although the weather was horrible (much wetter, and much earlier, than forecast) we had a great morning learning about lime mortar, and how to do it. Hopefully this will enable all of us to do more to keep the ruins, Lily Pond, Rose Garden etc, in better condition in the future, though of course major work will still need the experts.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Outstanding Achievement Award for Chris Rich

Christine Rich was a founder member of Friends of Priory Park, and has worked tirelessly for our group ever since then, so it is only fitting that her work has been recognised now. I apologise for the delay in posting the news of this, but I have been in Scotland for a week, and could not find time to post about it until now. 

Chris received the DCVS Long Service Special Award in honour of Gordon Lindsay, former Chair of DCVS, on the evening of 17th October.  FoPP was also recognised for Outstanding Commitment to Voluntary Service.

You can find out more about Dudley Volunteer Awards at 

Apologies again for the delay in posting this news, and congratulations to Chris on this well-deserved recognition of all her work.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More about the new tiles

They may be new, but most of them are based on the design of tiles that were originally in the priory. A very interesting talk by the Company of Artisans on Sunday shed a lot more light on the subject of the original tiles, and how they were re-created, plus the involvement of local schools in some of the new designs. The new tiles look great, as do all the improvements to the park, and I hope all these improvements can be maintained in the future.

You can see more pictures of the new tiles HERE.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Talk about the new tiles

Today there was one of the first events in the newly refurbished and extended pavilion, even though the pavilion is not yet fully open. The Friends of Dudley Castle had arranged for a talk about the new tile features around the Priory ruins - one of the highlights of the improvements which have been made to the park in recent months.

Karen and Charlie Slade of the Company of Aritsans gave a really enjoyable, entertaining and informative talk, which was greatly enjoyed by those present. But it also served to make us aware of just how much research went into the creation of the design of the tiles, and also producing and laying the tiles.

Many thanks to Karen and Charlie for the talk, but even more thanks for all the work that went into the project, and thanks too of course to the Friends of Dudley Castle for organising the event, and the Park Rangers and others for helping to make the pavilion available for the event.

Incidentally, the pavilion looks great inside now (even pending some more work on the floor following a burst pipe!), and will be a huge asset to users of the park.

I hope to publish some more pictures of the new tiles in the next few days.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Grand Opening

Today's Grand Opening of the improvements to the park went very well, and we enjoyed good weather. Turf was being put down, and other work being done, while the first guests arrived, and in  truth there is still work to be done before everything is complete, but all credit to the contractors who have done an excellent job to get everything looking great, even if they needed a bit more time to perfect things.

I took 327 photographs during the day, a small selection of which (just 18) can be seen within my


Many thanks to everyone involved in the huge improvements in the park (Heritage Lottery Fund provided the money), and in organising today's very successful event.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big event on 20th, and Dorothy Round statue

There is still quite a lot to be done around the Park for the launch event on Friday 20th, but the statue of Dorothy Round arrived on Wednesday evening, and it looks fabulous. Still a bit of work to be done around the base though.

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last two weeks, but I was on holiday on Orkney!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Community Day

The Community Day on Priory Park was very successful, and the weather stayed fine for the whole day. Follow this link to see some more photographs from the day.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Community Day on the Park - 24 August

There will be a lot going on in the Park on 24th August (more than listed on the flyer below), so don't miss the event!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Planting in Priory Park - volunteers needed!

As I'm sure most of the people visiting this (web, or the Park itself) site know, there has been a lot of work going on recently. We are now near completion of the Lottery Fund (MANY thanks to HLF!!) improvements, but there are still some things to do, and WE all really need to make sure that the Park can be maintained in the condition that it is in following the work, or perhaps even better (given that vandals have already destroyed some of the early improvements).

So, please support this initiative if you can: I'll be on holiday on Orkney, and much as I'd like to be on Priory Park supporting this, I really don't think I can! Please accept my apologies for not maintaining the web site as much as I should have done for the last 4 months, but cataracts have been a problem. However, they are now fixed - great to be able to see properly again!

If you can help, please let Senior Park Ranger Lydia Allt know - 01384 812474
07557 323171 lydia.allt@dudley.gov.uk

"We have a large planting project coming up in Priory Park and are once again looking for volunteers.
Around the existing pond garden we will be putting in herbaceous borders in order to improve the diversity of the area and provide better areas for the newts and frogs to hibernate. The gardeners are busy preparing the new beds for us and I am looking to find as many volunteers as possible with just over 1000 plants to be planted!
The dates that I have penciled in for the planting to take place are Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th September, 10am-3pm with lunch provided."

Priory Park Allstars

Priory Park Allstars recently held a knock-out competition organised by themselves on the Park - this is picture of the group.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Healthy Footsteps for 50 Plus on 22 August

An event to be held on the Park, starting from the Registry Office, on Thursday 22 August, from 1:30pm.