‘Healing’ Heath camp banned after row over late-night noise
‘Fairytale Collective’ handed trespass notice after holding hippy-style gatherings
27 August, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
Gatherings have been taking place at a ‘sacred spot’ on the Heath, offering people ‘a space to connect’; right: organisers Ilana Lorraine and Freya Gabriel
IT has become a lockdown landmark on Hampstead Heath – a group of people gathering under a tree covered in crystals and fairy lights while making music and offering “holistic” healing.
But now the Fairytale Collective, which has made a base for the past two months on a slope between Millfield Lane and the Highgate Number Three pond, have been ordered to clear their camp away, following complaints of all-night bongo drums.
Organisers Ilana Lorraine and Freya Gabriel, who have been served with a trespass notice from Heath managers the City of London, have been warned they could be banned from going on the Heath entirely.
Organisers Ilana Lorraine and Freya Gabriel
Singer-songwriter Ms Lorraine said she had been told by her therapist during lockdown that a good way to beat anxiety would be to go out and perform. So she went to the Heath with her guitar and a mobile speaker and it was there she met Ms Gabriel, who was practising her circus skills.
“We realised we had the same vision – to create a space for people to connect,” said Ms Lorraine. “We have sensory yoga, sound healing, performances. It has just got bigger. It feels like a sacred spot to me.”
She said they have been greeted warmly by Heath walkers, and many neighbours have also been supportive. But by bringing a mattress to sleep out under the stars, the Fairytale Collective have fallen foul of a bylaw preventing people from camping on the Heath.
Ms Lorraine said: “This is common land. If you are on the Heath during the day, lying down, listening to music and having a picnic, they don’t move you on. Where does it say if you’re doing the same thing at another time of day, you can be served an order?”
She added: “We have taken away the mattress. “We still want to use the place to connect and maybe it has become even more powerful.”
The Heath happenings have attracted like-minded people, many who have hosted workshops including star-gazing, reiki, massages, and forms of holistic healing.
To some, the hippy-style get-togethers have provided free entertainment for the good of the community, serving as an antidote to the weeks of lockdown. But for others, including some Heath staff, noise and mess have shattered the peaceful tranquility of the common land.
One Heath Ranger, who did not want to be named, said: “They have been up there for ages. They should give it a rest. We have had complaints with bongos going on all night. There has been a lot of litter. To say it is harmless is simply not true, and if everyone came here and just did whatever they fancied, it would impinge on others’ enjoyment.”
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A City of London spokesman said: “An area of land on the Heath had been occupied for a number of days by a small group. They were camping illegally. “The Heath Constabulary informed them that they must leave and were being treated as trespassers. “They have now vacated, and litter in and around the area has been removed by our staff.”