Skip Main Navigation
Page Content

Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

Crystal Palace Park, in south London, is home to an extraordinary collection of statues depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. These were built in the 1850s by the sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. They were the world’s first attempts to create life-size, scientifically accurate models of beasts known only from fossils. The statues were based on brand-new, fragmentary evidence, plus the best scientific thinking of the day. More than 30 statues were placed in the park. The statues rest on a geological landscape. The whole site was designed to entertain and educate in classic Victorian style.

These statues and the whole geological site are unique in the history of science. They are protected as Grade One listed national monuments. They represent one of the most important heritage assets in this part of Britain.

Sometimes you need a few Friends

Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (no. 1165231) whose purpose is to promote the long-term conservation of these statues and the larger geological site. We don’t own the statues, and we don’t control access to the site. Instead, we keep a close watch. We work with the owners (London Borough of Bromley), custodians of the park, other charities, and key national organisations (such as Historic England) to ensure the dinosaurs get the care and attention they need. Our aim is to ensure the dinosaurs survive our generation intact, so they can be enjoyed for future generations.

We also care deeply about public engagement. Everyone loves the dinosaurs, and the site is as alive visitors today as when the park opened in 1854. The Friends develop engagement programmes, give public lectures, encourage visitors to do more than take a few quick photographs, and help school children think about the importance of science in their daily lives. We particularly aim to provide resources that will encourage others to draw their own meaning from the site.

A key part of engagement relates to history and heritage. The Victorian story of these statues is one that fascinates all who encounter it. Yet, there is much that still remains a mystery to the historian. The Friends are working to unravel some of that narrative. More important, the Victorians weren’t the only people to encounter the dinosaurs. What about the rest of us? No walk through the site seems to go by without hearing stories and memories from visitors. Whether it’s families on a picnic, or dog walkers, or couples relaxing, or grandparents sharing a story from their youth, visits to the dinosaurs form part of life for thousands of people every year. The Friends works to capture some of those encounters so we can preserve them for the future.

Sorry, there are no upcoming events

Save This Event

Event Saved