Monthly Archives: June 2013

Is Humpty-Dumpty from Colchester?

Colchester (5)Colchester is the oldest recorded town in Britain. It is built on the spot of the ancient capital of the Roman colony at the time in Britain named Camulodunum. Before the Romans it was the center of the Celtic tribes of Trinovantes whose leader was Cunobelin (described by Shakespeare as Cymbeline). The Roman novelist Pliny the Elder who died in AD 79 and the Roman historian Thucydides mention the city of Camulodunum in their writings. You can still find bits of Roman wall and some remains of Colchester (9)ancient buildings in parts of the town. There was a temple to the Deified Claudius in Roman Colchester, built in 43 AD, because the Roman emperor was at the same time revered as a priest, an atheist and a God and thanks to him the borders of the Roman Empire were considerably extended. Colchester (11)In 61 AD the town was heavily destroyed after Bodicia’s rebellion against the Romans, so the capital of Roman Britain was transferred to a new place and the name changed to Londinium, now London. Dr. John Morris the English historian in 1973 suggested that the name “Camelot” of Arthurian legend has some connection to Camulodunum. Camelot was a castle of the legendary Celtic King Arthur, with his Knights of the Round Table. Different writers placed the Round table in different places, like Winchester in Hampshire and Caerleon in Wales. Will this new assumption have any truth in future? Colchester (3)The name Colchester occurs from the Latin word “castrum” meaning the fortified place. Another legend says that the town was named after the folkloric hero Old King Cole, a legendary ancient king of Britain. In etymology the name Colchester means “the Cole’s Castle“. Helena the daughter of King Cole married a Roman senator. They say that Helena’s son was the Emperor Constantine I. Helena was canonised as Saint Helena of Constantinople and is today’s patron saint of Colchester. Colchester (7)Colchester (6)The town was granted its royal charter in 1189 by King Richard I. Colchester developed as the center of the woolen clothes industry and became known all over Europe for its homespun woolen fabrics of a redish-brown color. In 1550 a large number of weavers from Flanders immigrated to Colchester; there is still a Dutch Quarter and many Tudor buildings in the town. Once upon a time Daniel Defoe, journalist, spy, writer and author of “Robinson Crusoe” lived there. He wrote in one of his books that Colchester lost 5259 inhabitants during the plague epidemic of 1665. Colchester (10)The medieval Colchester castle was built by Normans in theColchester (1) 11th century on the foundations of a Roman temple. It has a long history and was once a Royal castle, then a prison, where suspected witches were imprisoned in 1645 and in 1648 leaders of the English revolution were executed there. In 1650 the castle was sold for 5 pounds and in 1683 the new owner tried to pull it down and use the stones as building material, fortunately this did not happen. The castle was eventually restored in the 18th century and is now having further restorations which will take till spring 2014 to complete. Humpty DumptyWhile historians continue to excavate artifacts and relics in various ancient settlements, literary critics are investigating a story about one of poetry’s hero. The much loved story of Humpty-Dumpty who looks like a humanoid egg portrayed in children’s rhymes and fairy tales, was in fact born in Colchester. There are a lot of theories and versions relating to the history of Humpty-Dumpty. Katherine Elwes Thomas in 1930 assumed that its prototype was King Richard III, who was humpbacked, and was defeated at Bosworth Field in 1485. There are many other versions as to where this name came from. In 1996 a history appeared about events in 1648 during the English revolution. Humpy-Dumpty was a very big cannon and named so because it was very fat and heavy. The cannon was placed on top of a wall by Royalists at St Mary’s Church in Colchester. A Parliamentary cannon blasted the wall and Humpty-Dumpty fell off the wall. So the rhyme goes “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”. In 2008 the author Albert Jack wrote in his book that he found verses in a very old book in some dusty library, that the analyses of these verses come to the same conclusion. Whether true or not, makes no difference today, but it’s a beautiful and amusing story. By Colchester (4)some oddity Humpty-Dumpty turned into the fantastic character of many a children’s stories. Particularly in Lewis Carrol’s “Through the Looking-Glass” (1872) where Humpty appears as a wise man. The first rhymes about him became known at the end of the 18th century and then in “Mother’s Goose in Prose”. To this day all children in many countries adore funny fat Humpty. I believed in this history about Humpty-Dumpty from Colchester. Do you? Russian version Back to main page

The “virgin” lake surrounded by a landscaped park

 

VirginiyaVirginia Water, a lake in Surrey and the nearby village were named after Queen Elizabeth I, “The Virgin Queen”, daughter of Henry the VIII. The park surrounding the lake, is part of Windsor Great Park, also known as the deer park located next to Windsor Castle. From 1240 the park was used for hunting by members of royal family. Today Royals still use part of this park for Polo tournaments. Ancient mighty huge oaks and red cedars witnessed events over the past 700 years.

English landscaped gardenThe park around the lake was designed in the style of an English landscaped garden, similar to the Parks in Stowe, Stourhead, Petworth and Cliveden. There are no strict geometrical avenues here, no diamond-shaped or rectangular cut bushes normally found in French designs. VirginiyaThe natural balance and wonderful harmony is created by using existing the natural forest and balmy glades of blossoming groves all around the lake. In the spring the avenues crisscrossing the park are drowning in the violet, pink, yellow, and white flowers of the rhododendrons. Some parts have been so cleverly landscaped with valleys and shrubbery they take your breath away as they come into view during your walk.

Virginiya-Water (3)In the 17th century there was only a small stream in this Virginia Waterpark, then in 1746 the Duke of Cumberland, (Ranger of the park at the time), decided to create a lake, using Jacobean prisoners. Sometime later, the lake was eventually destroyed by a flood but was revived anew by the landscape designer Thomas Sandby, he designed it with a magnificent artificial waterfall and a cascade in the 1780s.

English landscaped gardenArtificial ruins are also a characteristic feature of the English English landscape garden in Virginia waterlandscaped garden. In 1826, a few 2000 year old Roman ruins from the ancient Libyan city of Leptis Magna were transported here and placed in one area of the park. Another interesting artifact in the park is a highly carved 100 foot totem Pole; this was a gift from the native Indians of British Columbia, (A province of Canada) to mark the centenary of this British colony.

Virginiya-Water (1)The picturesque avenues of the park not only do they Virginia Water's landscape gardenattract fans of nature but also amateur photographers and film companies. Scenes of movies about Harry Potter and Robin Hood were made in the vicinity of this fantastic lake. Having immersed myself into a small part of history in this park, beheld natural glades and a beautiful nature, I am sure you will also, in your thoughts and feelings fall in love with this bewitching place.

 

 

 

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Beautiful English natural gardens designed by man

 

StoweIn springtime nature wakes up with bright colours of green yellow and white, the beginning of new life is being heralded, so it is the right time to enjoy the virgin green grass and the budding of trees in all our parks.

Today I invite you to look at a photo gallery of an English landscaped garden.

The English landscaped garden was invented in the 1700s; this style of gardening imitates Stoweviews of nature. Compare to the “French style” garden with its geometric designs and structures, imposing an order over nature, the English landscape garden emphasize the beauty of nature, most times you cannot tell if it was a natural look or a human creation.

StowI have already written about the gardens of Stourhead, Cliveden and Petworth but the park at Stowe House is one of the first landscaped gardens which imitates nature to appear between 1730 and 1738 replacing the early baroque gardens with their French type parterres. Three great landscape architects Lancelot “Capability” Brown, Charles Bridgman, and William Kent all worked here at the same time.

The long straight road through the three-arched Oxford Bridge leads to the Manor house thatStowe landscape garden belonged to the Temple family who had made a fortune in sheep farming. In the 18 and 19th centuries this magnificent park attracted visitors from all over Europe. British and foreign aristocrats like Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, John Adams, president of the United States, Stanislaw, the King of Poland, the Kings of Sweden and Denmark, the King of France, Louis the XVIII and the Russian Tsar, Alexander the 1st, as well as many other types of nobility have stayed in Stowe House.

Stowe ManorToday it is being used as a private school but on certain days, the house is open to visitors. The landscaped gardens are now managed by the National trust and all year round, you can visit and enjoy the beautiful views, artificial lakes, streams, dams, bridges, temples, pavilions, grottoes and artificial ruins, all these features are designed by man to create the illusion of a natural landscape. You cannot help but stop and admire how attractive and naturally beautiful it looks.

StoweThe Palladian Bridge across the artificial lake is one of five similar Stowebridges erected around England. The exact copy was established in Tsarskoye Selo for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

Some buildings in neo-gothic style have been constructed Stowealong a promenade.

One of them has an inscription above the door from the French poet Pierre Corneille stating “I thank the gods I am not a Roman”.

StoweIn the Temple of Ancient Virtue, constructed in 1737 by William Kent, there are four sculptures: a politician from Ancient Greece Epaminondas, a lawmaker Lycurgus, the poet Homer and the philosopher Socrates.

The temple of British worthies with a curving wall containsStowe 16 niches with statues of British celebrities, eight people famous for their activities, like King Alfred the Great, and eight famous scientists, like Isaac Newton.

StoweThe temple of Venus was the first building to be erected in the park; it was originally decorated with erotic frescos and a naked Venus on the ceiling. All paintings were eventually removed as some well known visitors described them as “lewd”.

StoweThe Rotondo temple, the circular temple, has recently had a gilded statue of Venus replaced in the center.

The Grotto has a marble statue of Venus rising from the bath and is located near the river that flows through the Elysian Fields.

 

Stowe

There are statues of seven Saxon deities, named after the days of the week, like the god of Sunna being the god for Sunday. These sculptures are the work of John Michael Rysbrack.

The Temple of Concord and Victory built in 1760s was converted into a monument to the victory of Britain in the Seven Years War.Stowe

Photo galleries of more beautiful landscape gardens like Virginia Water, Claremont, and Kew Gardens will be on here soon in the near future.

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