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The Elephant in the Garden and other Beastly Encounters

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A talk by Dr David Marsh about the elephants that have been kept in gardens in Britain since at least 1255.

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Forget about the elephant in the room and think about the elephant in the garden instead …

Believe it or not there have been elephants in gardens in Britain since at least 1255. Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and James I also had pachyderms but kept them in a menagerie in the Tower of London. The Tower menagerie remained open until 1831 when the few remaining animals were moved to Regent Park. There was no elephant so the new zoo quickly bought two as an attraction.

Meanwhile from the mid-18thc menageries became a ‘must-have’ feature on many landed estates the length and breadth of the country, although elephants were still a rarity. Perhaps the best known example was at Chiswick House where the Duke of Devonshire was given Sadi the elephant by a friend in India, and kept her along with many other exotic animals, in the grounds. He even introduced her to the Tsar of Russia.

And if you thought it was a bit eccentric to keep an elephant in the garden how would feel about having a mechanical one [like the one in the photo above] instead?

This talk is about the real and the mechanical and is designed to both inform and amuse… you’ll never think of Jumbo in the same way again.

This lecture is free and Dr David Marsh is giving his time pro bono. We would welcome donations to the Gardens Trust's campaigning to protect historic parks and gardens. https://bit.ly/DonateGardensTrust

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