I intend to follow up my ‘Prehistoric Pining’blog post about 'Dinosaur World' Colwyn Bay with one devoted to the Crystal Place dinosaurs (incidentally check out this site and see the amazing work that Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are doing in restoring these magnificent Victorian sculptures to their former glory). But today I would like to direct you to a relatively new statue, since 1961 a marble statue of a gorilla has stood in Crystal Palace Park. Sculpted by David Wynne OBE (1926 –2014) the Gorilla in question was the late Guy the Gorilla (1946–1978) London Zoo's famous resident western lowland gorilla and up to his death he was one of the Zoo’s main stars. Although Guy can still be seen by the public at the Natural History Museum he has been commemorated by two statues in London, one bronze statue by William Timym (the artist responsible for Blue Peter's Petra the dog statue) at London Zoo and this one at Crystal Palace Park.
This former petrol station situated in Beckenham in the London Borough of Bromley was built in 1928 to a design by Edmund B. Clarke in the style of a Japanese pagoda built purely on a whim! Although actually called Langley Park Garage this Grade II listed building soon became know to the locals as “The Chinese Garage”. Now a Peugeot car dealership they no longer sell petrol and it was voted the most unusual garage in England in 2001.
This grade I Listed building is former family home of world-renowned naturalist and hero of mine Charles Darwin. It was in this very house and garden that Darwin worked on his theories of evolution by natural selection. English Heritage acquired Down House in 1996 and is open daily to the public and it was truly inspiring standing in his actual study, beautifully restored with original furniture his writing board and books. We happened to visit on a quiet day and had a pleasant stroll around the garden looking for pinecones (souvenirs) stopping only for conveniently placed benches to take it all in. If you haven’t been yet, make the effort.
I shall assume you all know what this was used for… C.1650 and located in William III’s State Apartments we find King William III (1650–1702)’s ‘other’ throne complete with red velvet and brass fittings. What was once a private facility used by king and attended to by his senior courtier known as “the Groom of the Stool” is now gawked at by smirking tourists.
The Great Vine at Hampton Court is over 240 years old and according to Guinness World Records has a circumference of 3.8m (12ft 5in) and branches typically measuring up to 33m (108 ft) long. The longest measures 75m (246ft) long as of January 2005. The Vine fills a purpose-built glasshouse erected around the original 1900’s structure and its roots occupy the outside surrounding area. Is still bears fruit too, the grapes are ripe after August Bank Holiday and are sold during the first three weeks of September (providing incentive to go back!).
There you go, I hope those were of interest! A very Happy New Year to all my friends out there old and new, a special ‘shout out’ to Mim, Kid, TwoHeadedBoy and Moira for regularly commenting on my posts/assuring me that at least 4 people are actually reading these posts (and I seriously recommend that you visit their blogs too! links provided). My sincerest of thanks to all that supported my work over the past year be it a commission or kind word (or both!) I look forward to catching up with you all in 2016!
© Arfon Jones 2015. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.