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Facts you might not know about St James Park in London

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St James’ Park is the smallest royal park, it is a great place to take pictures, in fact it has a perfect view of Buckingham Palace from the bridge of the pond, called Blue Bridge.

In the pond you will find a variety of swans, ducks, loons and geese and even four pelicans. Pelicans have been in St James Park since 1664 when they were donated by the Russian ambassador. At 2.30pm you can see when they are fed.

Apart from the pelicans in this park there are also owls, woodpeckers, great tits and different types of sparrows. During the day the animals you will see are undoubtedly the numerous grey squirrels but in the evening you can also see different types of mice, foxes and bats.

The pond has two small islands one called Duck Island and the other West Island. The land of St James’ Park was bought by Henry VIII, just after his marriage to Anne Boleyn, then it was a marshy area where the River Tyburn passed.

Henry VIII spent his youth at Eltham Palace in Greenwich where there was a park full of deer for his favorite pastime: hunting. Once he became king and had to move to central London he bought this swampy land where there was a hospital for leprous women. He had all the patients thrown out and created a park for deer, a pond for swimming, a vegetable garden and a garden to relax.

James I decided to reclaim the area and put exotic animals there including giraffes, crocodiles, camels and elephants. However, the name St James does not come from the monarch (who was never made a saint) but from the hospital for leprosy women that used to be here.

Charles I, son of James I did not do much in the park but before being beheaded he took a walk in the park covered by a black cloak.

The Birdcage Walk has this name because of the many bird cages, many of which were exotic, placed by Charles II . He also opened  St James’ Park to the public . While in exile in France, he was very impressed with Versailles. On his return to England, he tried to do something similar in the ground of Henry VIII park was by then completely neglected. Instead he wanted the deer park and a beautiful garden full of flower beds like that of the French royal palaces. The French gardener André Le Nôtre convinced the king not to change the landscape, as the natural simplicity of this park was perhaps even better than the manicured flower beds. But they finally decided to compromise. An 800-meter-long canal was excavated for the entire length of the park.

 

The canal was to be the central point of the park and all the avenues would start from here even if it never reached the complexity of the French gardens.  In those days the canal often froze in winter and could be used for skating. Henry VIII’s pond was left and for years it became a place of suicide for women who were disappointed in love or betrayed.

The small lake or Rosamond’s Pond was then covered in the late 1700s by the well-known Capability Brown who tried to improve the park. In fact, from 1750 onwards the park became a den of criminals and prostitutes.

To celebrate Napoleon’s defeat, the royal family held a great party in which all the royals of Europe participated. A pagoda very similar to that of Kew Gardens was built for the festival but built on a bridge built by John Nash.

During the celebrations with fireworks, the pagoda caught fire and collapsed into the canal. Two spectators died.

Most of the trees you see now are no older than 1827 when the park was modernized, previously the trees were normally cut for lumber and on several occasions fireworks in the park burned several trees. Most of the trees in the park are plane trees, there are also oak and mulberry trees that date back to the time when James I tried to bring the silk industry to London.

Two major changes took place in the park over the course of 10 years, one was when the canal was transformed into the present pond around 1820. In fact, a long and straight channel was not considered very aesthetically beautiful.

The second was in 1911 when the Queen Victoria Memorial was built in front of Buckingham Palace on land that belonged to the park and was part of the pond.

St James’ Park is part of the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk and for those wishing to complete the walk, you can find the map here. The park is open from 5 am to midnight every day of the year. It is visited by over 5 million people every year. 

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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History

What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London?

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What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London? thumbnail
Maybe you don’t know what that kind of gothic spire is in front of Charing Cross station in London. Don’t worry we explain everything here. Edward I was a king of England in the thirteenth century and was known for his lavish lifestyle. He loved to spend money and had a fondness for extravagant items such as jewellery and tapestries. His wife, Eleanor of Castile, died in 1290 advertisement Harby near Lincoln. Charing Cross is one of twelve crosses called Eleanor Cross that the king had built to mark where his wife’s funeral procession stopped.

The cross was destroyed in the year 1647 by the Puritans during the English Civil War. After the construction of Charing Cross station in 1865, a reproduction of Eleanor Cross was created and placed outside the station and not in its original place in Trafalgar Square where the equestrian sculpture dedicated to Carlo.

The reproduction was created by the architect EM Barry himself who built the railway station. He used uncommon images available from the original. at the top, there are eight images of Eleonora, 4 as a queen, with imperial symbols and 4 represented as a Christian. Below are curved angels and shields with royal weapons and those of Ponthieu, Castile and Leon, all copied from still extant Eleanor Crosses who were at Waltham Cross and Northampton.

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archeology

What is special about King Tut’s brooch?

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King Tutankhamun was the last of his family to rule Egypt 1334 – 1325 BC. He is famous because of the discovery of his treasure, together with his mummy, in his tomb, by Howard Carter in 1922. On the breastplate  of the mummy, there was a winger scarab broach, fashioned from yellow glass. 
 
Scarab beetles were worshipped in Egypt, as symbols of death and rebirth. They are active at night, finding their way by the distant rays of light from the Milky Way, rather than by bright stars. The scarab broach, belonging to King Tut, has itself an amazing connection to the cosmos.
 
It was discovered that the glass used, could not have been produced at the time of his death. Investigation revealed that it is desert glass, that originated in the Sahara desert. It is formed from  the impact of a comet that fell to Earth, twenty eight million years ago! The discovery of the remains of a comet, a black pebble, found during excavations in the desert, was an astronomical first. Only dust fragments of comets, had been  found before then.
 
So King Tut’s brooch is indeed a very special broach, as it was made from glass formed by the impact of a comet that fell to earth millions of years ago, an  archaeological as well as an astronomical first.

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Food

Isabella Beeton – Author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

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Possibly some people today may not have heard of Mrs Beeton, who in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was a household name. She was well known for Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1859 – 61, which contained everything a prosperous  Victorian housewife, would need to know for running the home.  The public then and in the years that followed,  visualized her as a matronly cook, but nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Isabella Mary Mayson was born  14th March 1836, in Milk Lane, London. Her father died when she was young and her mother remarried, Henry Dorling, who worked as a clerk at Epsom racecourse. The family had lodgings there,  and Isabella was able to see at first hand, the organisation involved in running  kitchens, that catered for large numbers of people.
 
 On 10th July 1856 Isabella married Samuel Beeton, a publisher of books and magazines, and she started writing articles on cookery, to be included in his publications. Isabella lived a surprisingly modern married  life, commuting with her husband into the London office by train from Pinner. She also made annual trips to Paris, enabling her to write articles on fashion. At the same time, in the short space of eight years,
by Maull & Polyblank, hand-tinted albumen print, 1857
Isabella had numerous miscarriages and still births, giving birth to four sons, only two of which, survived to adulthood. These experiences were excessive even at a time of high infant mortality rate. Isabella died  in 1865 at the age of twenty eight following the birth of her youngest son. 
 
Isabella ‘s publishing success, while facing these health difficulties , was therefore a tremendous achievement. Her famous book on Household Management contained over 1,112 pages, with many coloured illustrations and nine hundred recipes. She taste tested these recipes in her kitchen and in the severe winter of 1858, handed out a nourishing beef and vegetable broth, to poor families for a penny a quart.
 
 Nevertheless, her skill was not in cooking, but in collecting and editing material for the book. In later years, the two sons who survived to reach adulthood, heard some mockery of the  scale of the ingredients in some of the recipes. However Mrs Beeton was writing for very large Victorian families, who would require dishes made, for example with twelve eggs!
 
Samuel Beeton, Isabella’s widower, continued to promote the image of her as a matronly cook, in order to publicise the book, and that is the image of her that has persisted throughout history.

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