Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 15

Five Minutes Peace: a garden to sit in, a poem to read, and a prompt to write to … No 15. (Find out more about what this is all about here.)

BLOOMSBURY SQUARE

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OK, so this isn’t the prettiest London square, and when I sat there a lot of people seemed to be using it mostly as a cut-through, but …. shhhh…. stop a little …

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..if only to remember April 1694 when Edward ‘Beau’ Wilson was killed in a duel to the death with the Scottish economist John Law – who eventually escaped prison to found the Mississippi Company. Maybe they fought on this spot…

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Anyway, one of my favourite things about this little square is the story that it used to be one of London’s private gardens but then the iron railings were melted down during the Second World War and it was left open for the riff-raff to enjoy, like me…

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In fact, it used to be very private. It was originally the forecourt to the 4th Earl of Southampton‘s London home!

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 Another thing I love is how this statue of Charles James Fox is looking directly at the statue of Francis Russell, Fifth Duke of Bedford in Russell Square. What kind of conversation could they be enjoying? At least they agreed with each other’s politics.

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But this is good too – school planting in action.

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And of course, one of my very  favourite cafes just near enough to get a take-away coffee and bring it back – still hot enough – to fuel the writing.

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I read somewhere that the second movement of Symphony No 2 by Vaugham WIlliams respresents ‘Bloomsbury Square on a November Afternoon.’ I hadn’t listened to it before but enjoyed doing so thinking of this little garden. Here’s the music if you click on this link.

Thinking about the duel in the garden makes me think of the emotional maps we draw of gardens. They become less the ‘you are here’ plan and more the ‘once this happened here’ map. This deceptively simple poem by Hilaire Belloc sums it up perfectly for me:

The Elm

Hilare Belloc

This is the place where Dorothea smiled.

I did not know the reason, nor did she.

But there she stood, and turned, and smiled at me:

A sudden glory had bewitched the child.

The corn at harvest, and a single tree.

This is the place where Dorothea smiled.

And I invite you to write your own garden map today.

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