7 September 2009 - Girlguiding opens renovated maze in Crystal Palace Park

The historic maze at Crystal Palace Park has been completely renovated and redesigned by Girlguiding to mark the launch of the organisation's Centenary celebrations. The project has been undertaken in partnership with the London Borough of Bromley with support from the London Development Agency, and the maze is open to the public.

There are important historical connections between the Girl Guides and Crystal Palace Park, because it was at a Scouts' Rally in the park on 5 September 1909 that a small group of girls dared to attend and approach Lord Robert Baden-Powell, requesting that he set up 'something for the girls'. Baden-Powell founded the Girl Guides a few months later.

The renovated maze was opened by Chief Guide Liz Burnley in front of 40 Brownies and Guides, and afterwards 6,000 more Girlguiding members arrived at the Park to enjoy an afternoon of Centenary Launch celebration activities. All age groups - Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section, as well as their Leaders, had the opportunity to enjoy exploring the new maze during the afternoon.

The maze opening was also attended by Bromley Head of Parks and Open Spaces Patrick Phillips, and by representatives from the LDA, project manager Jo Gibbons, and artists Leo Brook and Tiffany Black. Earlier in the year the artists held workshops with local Guide and Brownie groups as well as open sessions for members of the local community to explore possible themes and features of the maze, prior to a public consultation process.

The new maze is true to the layout of the original. With the active involvement of the London Borough of Bromley there has been an astounding transformation of the planting in the maze area where the hornbeam bushes have been lowered and renewed and other native British tree species introduced to give more body. The arc of Lombardy poplars which formed a grand entrance to the maze has been restored to its former splendour, with 24 new trees planted, while encroaching rhododendron has been removed and grassy areas re-seeded.

New artworks have been introduced into the maze, transforming it into a fun experience for all ages: an educational 'treasure hunt' to be enjoyed by young and old. Ten granite monoliths have been placed within the maze to be discovered, each one bearing an emblem drawn from the world of nature and significant to the Guiding movement, from snowdrops and daffodils to polar bears and dolphins.

At the centre of the maze, a map depicting its layout is set on the ground within a paved circle, and raised roundels reveal the positions of the ten monoliths.

A new leaflet about the maze is available from the Park Information Centre.

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