Friday, October 29, 2010

Fydell House, an armillary sphere and doggerel

click photo to enlarge
Lincolnshire is justifiably proud of the explorers that it sent out into the world during the eighteenth and early  nineteenth centuries. In earlier posts I have mentioned the discoveries made by George Bass, Matthew Flinders and Sir John Franklin. The other day, during a brief visit to the eighteenth century Fydell House in Boston, a building that to the credit of the town is open to all at no charge, I came across a memorial of sorts to another Lincolnshire man who sailed uncharted waters and set foot where no "Old World" traveller had trodden before.

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), was a landowner with an estate at Revesby in Lincolnshire. He accompanied James Cook, as a naturalist, on that explorer's first circumnavigation, and collected many plants new to science, especially from Australia and the Pacific region. The armillary sphere on a plinth near the end of the garden at Fydell House has a plaque showing that it was unveiled by the High Commissioner for Australia in 1997. This is all absolutely fine - a model of the celestial globe in an eighteenth century garden among the box parterres, classical statues and chinoiserie gate is quite in keeping, and its connection with this famous Lincolnshire man is very apt. Unfortunately, whoever had it put there also added a poem to Banks (by A.M. Cook) that is one of the finest pieces of doggerel to be found this side of William McGonagall. I won't inflict all four verses on you; the first sets the tone perfectly:

In Mr Fydell's garden
Sir Joseph sat at ease
And talked of many travels,
Of ships and Southern seas,
Of coral reefs and wattle,
Of palms and wallabies.

I've photographed this garden before, but never captured anything I was particularly pleased with. The image above isn't perfect by any means, but it's the best I've done. Perhaps it's the composition I like, maybe it's the autumnal trees, or it could be the very satisfying way the little LX3 camera seems to take high dynamic range scenes such as this in its stride with minimal post processing needed.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen