Skip to main content

The Arboretum

The Arboretum

The Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance is fortunate in having the Arboretum situated at the back of the Katharine Worth Building. This is a unique, environmentally rich and theatrical space.

The Arboretum, also originally known as the London University Botanical Gardens, has ‘one of the finest post-1950 tree-plantings in the British Isles’ (Alan Mitchell, internationally distinguished arboriculturalist, 1989) and includes many trees rare in the British Isles. Professor Frank Jane, the head London University Botanical Supply Unit, which supplied all the University of London colleges with plant specimens for undergraduate and research use, was responsible for much of the planting. 

For more information on the Arboretum, including directions, click here.

The summer term workshop in the arboretum offered drama students an opportunity to explore 3.5 acres of land that was originally part of the Botany Department at RHUL with a wide range of trees from around the world planted for study from 1950 into the 1970s. It now stretches back from the Drama, Theatre and Dance Department buildings. Jonathan Howe (Head of External Spaces) led a short tour of the arboretum to explain its history and the significance of the trees, some of which are endangered, together with current approaches to their care and upkeep. See information on the site here.

The workshop focus was on environmental sustainability and the creation of movement and text performances in response to the special qualities of the woods. We created scratch performances on the final day which were filmed rather than offered live to ensure safety given the pandemic restrictions/concerns. See the photos and short film below to gain a glimpse into student responses to the space that generated dance and spoken word poems. The workshop began with the idea of sleep walking into climate change but developed to incorporate many more themes in response to release from lockdown and appreciation of the role that the natural environment has played during recent extended periods of isolation and restriction.

L: Measuring the Oak to gauge its age - at least 150 years old.  Jessica Lingard-Nutt and Brandon Thompson.

R: Looking for tree rot and fungus.  Jonathan Howe (Head Gardener), Jessica Lingard-Nutt, Brandon Thompson and Rebecca McCutcheon.

L-R: Movement with trees.  Hualo and Natasha Richardson.  All images © Libby Worth 2021.

Performers: Silver beech, Sweet Chestnut and Cockspur Hawthorn with Oscar Roemmele and Brandon Thompson.

Filmed by: Julie Brixey-Williams (Guest visual artist and PhD student at University of Reading)

Film editor: Brandon Thompson

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today