Viewpoints from your doorstep: 6. Farnham Park
Welcome to the fifth in a series of pictorial guides showcasing Warden Mike’s top ten favourite viewpoints, all selected from our ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’ directory.
Number 6: Farnham Park in Surrey
December at Farnham Park sets the scene for a mediaeval tale of festive greed and over-indulgence that resulted in the first recorded case of animal genocide and extinction in England.
But before I reveal the full horrors of these woeful excesses, let us first sooth our soon-to-be shattered nerves with several viewpoints of the meadows in Farnham Park.
And now a motion picture of Farnham Park’s famous avenue of lime and beech in autumn…
It is Christmas Day in the year 1260. Farnham Castle, situated within a mediaeval deer park, is presently occupied by the Bishop of Winchester. His huntsmen have been exceptionally busy of late in preparation for the Christmas feast at which the reigning monarch of the realm, King Henry III, is to be guest of honour. (King Henry III is the son of King John who had signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1214.)
In the great hall, the minstrels in the gallery look down upon the smiling faces of the king, the bishop, and the lords and ladies about to become the unwitting participants in the first officially recorded act of animal genocide. Processions of servants carrying pewter plates scurry back and forth to set out the Christmas dinner feast upon the tables. Arranged upon those plates, daintified with sprigs of parsley, hyssop and a dusting of paprika from the Orient, is what, until recently, represented the wildlife population of Merry Olde England:
200 wild boars
And a partridge in a pear tree
The case for the prosecution
Members of the jury, I put it to you that those 200 wild boars were from the last remaining UK population in the Forest of Dean. Soon afterwards, they became extinct. I further put it to you, that King Henry III, the Bishop of Winchester and all the nobles present on this night of infamy are guilty of animal genocide and extinction – the first case in recorded history.
I rest my case.
The case for the defence
There isn’t one. If you think there is, then to settle the matter, I hereby challenge you to a jousting tournament. The place: Farnham Park. The time: Christmas Day 😉