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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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archeology

An important archaeological discovery in Pompeii

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After almost 2000 years a tomb of a freedman, Marcus Venerius, whose body rested semi embalmed was discovered this week.

To the east of the ancient city, at the necropolis of Porta Sarno, archaeologists found the intact burial of Marcus Venerius Secundio . A very special tomb, because at the time in the city the bodies were incinerated, while that of Marco Venerio is a tomb and his body is inside, lying in a corner, with the nape covered with white and semi-mummified hair. His body was kept inside a cell which allowed its preservation.

Marco Venerio, was over 60 when he died and was a freedman which means a former slave who had gained his freedom. He had been the guardian of the Temple of Venus, protector of the city of Pompeii, minister of the Augustals and then, after the liberation, Augustale, or member of a college of priests of the imperial cult. What is amazing of all this is the fact that a former slave could make enough money to buy himself a posh tomb.  Two cinerary urns were found externally in the tomb enclosure, one belonging to a woman named Novia Amabilis, probably  Marco Venerio’s wife. Specialists are also analysing what remains of the funeral tunic, which was made of asbestos, which may have contributed to the preservation of the body. Asbestos was often used for embalming

This new discovery is very important as it contains many details of life at the time while at the same time adding a few unanswered questions.

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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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