Through the entrance gates of the Chelsea Physick Garden.
From Wikipedia: The Chelsea Physic Garden was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden in London, England, in 1673. This physic garden is the second oldest botanical garden in Britain, after the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, which was founded in 1621.
The location was chosen as the proximity to the river created a warmer microclimate allowing the survival of many non-native plants – such as the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain – and more importantly, to allow plants to survive harsh British winters. The river was also important as a transport route that linked the garden to other open spaces such as Putney Heath, facilitating easy movements of both plants and botanists. In fact the garden has always sought to achieve good communications with others working in the same field: by the 1700’s it had initiated an international botanic garden seed exchange system, which continues to this day.
Dr. Hans Sloane, after whom the nearby locations of Sloane Square and Sloane Street were named, purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne. This purchase of about 4 acres was leased to the Society of Apothecaries for £5 a year in perpetuity.
Environments for supporting different types of plants were built, including the pond rock garden, constructed from a variety of rock types, namely stones from the Tower of London, Icelandic lava (brought to the garden by Sir Joseph Banks in 1772 on a ship named St. Lawrence), fused bricks and flint.
In 1876 the Garden enlarged its educational aspirations by deciding to run a lecture course for young women who were training as botany teachers. At the end of the 19th century the trustees of the City Parochial Foundation agreed to take over the running of the Garden from the Society of Apothecaries. In 1983 The Garden became a registered charity and open to the general public for the first time.
After a spot of lunch at the Gardens, we headed back to Sloane Square.
The day had gone exactly as planned and we had glorious weather throughout.
However, not all things go as planned, as evidenced when actor Nigel Havers walked
past me in Sloane Square on his way into a florist shop.
“That’s Nigel Havers!” I cried, grabbing Beth’s arm.
“Where? Where’s Nigel Havers?”
“There! In the florists!”
“Are you sure it’s him?”
“It has to be. It looked just like him. Nigel Havers!”
“I’ll go and ask him if he is, shall I?”
I looked at her agog. “You’re going to speak to Nigel Havers?”
Instead of answering me, Beth strode purposefully towards the shop. Diane and I watched increduously as we heard Beth ask, “Excuse me, but are you Nigel Havers?”
“Only sometimes,” Nigel Havers responded.
“It’s him! Quick, snap a picture!” I ordered Diane. I was incapable of doing much besides thinking `Nigel Havers!’
Nigel Havers! Chariots of Fire! Downton Abbey! Lots of other notable roles!
“My friend would love to meet you,” I heard Beth say to Nigel Havers.
And before I knew it, Nigel Havers was standing beside me.
We shook hands and I heard myself say, “I just watched you in the stately home documentary.”
“Oh, yes?” Nigel Havers responded, visibly confused. I couldn’t blame him, I was visibly confused. Why had I mentioned the documentary? I had just watched it, it was true, but of all the things to refer to in his entire body of work!
For God’s sake, why hadn’t I mentioned Coronation Street instead? His character Lewis had won Villain of the Year when he was on the show. I watch Corrie religiously. And I go and mention a country house documentary! Come back, Nigel Havers! Lewis! But Nigel Havers and his recently purchased flowers were already halfway down the sidewalk.
“You met Nigel Havers!” Beth said brightly.
“Yes, and I never even mentioned Coronation Street.”
“But you were right, it was Nigel Havers!”
“And it was all down to you, Beth,” said Diane. “I can’t believe you had the nerve to ask him if he was Nigel Havers.”
Beth and Diane turned to me with bright smiles on their faces, “Nigel Havers!” they cried in unison.
“Yes, Nigel bloody Havers. What an idiot I am. Lewis. Coronation Street. For God’s sake . . . . oooh, I just saw you in a stupid documentary, Lewis. I’m an idiot, I should have . . . . . . “
I can only conclude by saying that shortly afterwards I found myself in the Duke of Wellington pub, downing a much needed rum and coke, thanks to Diane steering me in the right direction. Honestly, I’m still not over the whole Nigel Havers thing . . . . .
Part Four Coming Soon!