Last will and wishing tree

While Denise and Tracey were stepping foot back in Brisbane, swearing they’d never fly with Etihad ever again, I was back at work.

I bequeath to my monkey, my dear and amusing Jacko, the sum of £10 sterling per annum, to be employed for his sole and exclusive use and benefit; to my faithful dog, Shock, and my well beloved cat Tib, a pension of £5 sterling; and I desire that, in case of the death of either of the three, the lapsed pension shall pass to the other two, between whom it is to be equally divided. On the death of all three, the sum appropriated to this purpose shall become the property of my daughter Gertrude, to whom I give this preference among my children because of the large family she has, and the difficulty she finds in bringing them up.

I accidentally came across the above clause in the 1828 will of a man called Garland. I was looking for information on Henry Wimshurst in the Illustrated London News but thought the clause far more interesting. It does make me wonder what ever happened to Jacko, though and whether Gertrude killed them all in order to get the money.

I did manage to find a few small bits and pieces about Henry (or ‘Old Man Wimshurst’ as Nick at Work calls him) but not as much as one would expect from the man who built the first ship with a screw propeller!

More interesting was the new tree at the V&A. It stands at the main, Cromwell Road, entrance.

Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree by Sahil and Sarthak Sengupta

Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree by Sahil and Sarthak Sengupta

The Kalpataru is an Indian mythological plant upon which you can make wishes and, if you’ve been good, they may be fulfilled. This piece is inspired by it and goes together with the current slew of Indian exhibitions at the V&A.

I have to say, it makes a lovely bright alternative to the usual Christmas tree.

Then, imagine my joy when I discovered this engraving after a Hogarth which features, among other things, Sadlers Wells! It’s the doorway on the left near the fashionable lady.

Image from V&A

Image from V&A

This is part of a series called The Four Times of the Day and depicts Evening. In 1783, when this represents, the blossoming middle classes would pop out of London to the favoured drinking hole that was Sadlers. It was started by a Mr Sadler who was a surveyor. He had recently opened a music house sometime around 1683 and then discovered a spa! What a bit of jolly good luck that was!

The place rapidly became littered with hypochondriacs hoping for a cure from the Wonder Waters of the Well. It became a bit of a farce with the smart people realising how stupid the stupid people were for believing it actually did more than make Mr Sadler wealthier than his surveying work could ever make him. This culminated in an actual farce being written by George Colman in 1776 featuring the well.

Even royalty visited in the early 18th century with Princesses Amelia and Caroline often spotted there in June, being nauseated by the bitter spa water.

There was a lot of non-curing going on and the place took on all the verve and zing of the famed Vauxhall Gardens. Sadly for the owners, this didn’t quite catch on to the same, lascivious degree of the south of the river venue. What did catch on, however, was the establishment of a theatre company close by to the well. At first performing in the open air, this eventually became the Sadlers Wells theatre we know today…and where we saw the Peking Opera on Thursday.

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One Response to Last will and wishing tree

  1. Mirinda says:

    Doesn’t look remotely like that today! And where’s all that opera caterwauling?

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