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The Holly Lodge Centre


The Victorian Pharmacy

The exciting project to expand our Victorian activities by refurbishing the interior of a building at Holly Lodge and then installing the furnishings from a Victorian pharmacy is completed.

On 26 January HRH Princess Alexandra, Royal Patron, officially opened Mr Philip Palmer’s Chymist for the Holly Lodge Centre. So now we are ready to start taking bookings for the educational activities which we will continue to develop as we establish a working culture for the pharmacy and try out different things with our early visitors.

Previously, the completed building was available for visitors to view it during the Richmond Park Open Day on Sunday 19 September. On that day over 1,000 people came along to see what we have achieved and to find out where and how we will offer the new educational activities based around the role of a Victorian pharmacy! Some of them are shown here watching a slide show about the project.



The concept started when a local retired pharmacist, Alex Mulholland, generously donated the entire Victorian interior of his shop, with over 400 artefacts and the original dispensing records dating from 1865. These show that members of the Royal Family and their household, who were living in Richmond Park then, were customers of this very shop! The collection has also been enhanced by other generous gifts mainly from the Herriot Watt University and Mr Robert Wesley.

This unique piece of local history will be used to teach today’s visitors about the role of the pharmacy and the pharmacist in Victorian times. We will do this in conjunction with the expansion of our Victorian kitchen garden where we will grow herbs and other plants that were used in Victorian medicine.

The building has been converted from its previous use as a carpenters’ workshop. Before that it had been used at different times as a cow-shed and as a brew-house for the farm that used to be at Holly Lodge. That’s quite a history! It has now been changed into a space ideally suited to hold the pharmacy furniture and contents in a way that fits the role of the Holly Lodge Centre and provides a hands-on educational facility designed especially for people with special needs.

Just before the Open Day we installed many of the artefacts that finally brought the pharmacy back to life in its new location and made it almost completely ready for our first visitors. We have just a few snags to attend to and to install a moveable wheelchair ramp at the emergency exit before we will be fully open for classes.

Click to see pictures of how the project progressed.

We have run a couple of pilot sessions with groups testing ideas for the education activities. Two classes came and made pills, cream and powder - all harmless of course! We will be developing these and further activities now that we have the facility waiting for visitors.

Please contact us on 020 8940 8730 if you would like to book a visit for a group to the pharmacy.

We have raised all the funds required to complete this initial stage of bringing the pharmacy back to life thanks to many generous donations, especially from the Wellcome Trust. Additional funding is needed to develop it and the educational facilities further. For this donations would be very gratefully received. A donation form is available below. Please remember that gift aid gives us an extra 28%.

If you would like to know more about the project then click below to view and download our brochure. You can also contact Stewart Perkes on 0208 948 3209 ext 259 or send us an email. A donation form is also available below, please remember that gift aid gives us 28% extra.

Download Donation Form

If you would like to know more about the project then click below to view and download our brochure. You can also contact Malcolm Childs on 020 8940 8730 or send us an email.

Download brochure (4.7MB)


How the Project Progressed

The following photographs show some of the key stages in the creation of this wonderful education facility.

Alex Mulholland at his Pharamcy in Sheen Lane Richmond before his retirement and donation of the contents which were destined to go into....

...this building at the Holly Lodge Centre which was previously used by the Royal Parks as a carpenters’ workshop...

..and then had everything (including asbestos tiles and wasp nests) stripped out ready for conversion...

...which involved some major work to get it ready for the Amtico floor to be laid....

...before Alex Mulholland could enter the converted building for the first time...

...to see the floor laid and ready for installation of the furniture...

...including the restored drug run which was sited at one end of the room...

...as Stewart Perkes completed the installation of the furniture...

...and all the audio-visual equipment is wired up....

..ready for us to open Mr Palmer's Chymist Shop.

..and welcome the visitors to the Richmond Park Open Day on Sunday 19 September.

This view shows the completed pharmacy looking towards the part of the building that shows how a Victorian pharmacy might have looked (apart from the temporary, non-Victorian table and chairs)...

...and this shows the other end of the pharmacy which is where we will run the educational activities.