Thursday 23rd October 2014

Threshing Chestnuts

As I've cycled to and fro' through Greenwich Park in recent weeks I've noticed the gatherers of chestnuts gathered with their backs bent, peering intently at the ground, their plastic bags bulging with prickly shells. 'Twas ever thus, but with this difference: according to the text of this illustration entitled, "THRESHING CHESTNUT TREES IN GREENWICH PARK", published by the Illustrated Times on 24 October 1857, the activity was once far more ruled and regulated by the powers that were ...

 

One of the greatest days of the year for the youthful inhabitants of Greenwich has passed away. The Chesnut-trees in the Park have received a sound threshing, according to the annual custom, and, also according to custom, wept chestnuts by the cart load. All Greenwich is husky; and more than one lad has been carried home plethoric. For three weeks past the park-keepers had hard work to keep the park, for legions of boys poured in daily, desperately seizing every opportunity of filling their pockets. The risk was great, but how great the temptation! At the moment when the accompanying sketch was taken, we saw one misguided young fellow perfectly fascinated by a choice bunch of nuts depending just within his reach. His gaze was long and intently fixed upon them. He was drawn irresistibly toward them. He was lost! For, his appetite stimulated to a pitch which rendered him utterly regardless of consequences, he made a sudden dash at the bough, and got the chestnuts and keepers cane at the same moment.

These stately Chesnut-trees, with the equally magnificent Elms, were planted by Evelyn, after Le Notre had, at the command of Charles the Second, "tasteful laid out" the 200 acres of hill and dale which James the First have previously walled in.

 

Spare the rod, spoil the child. Nuts!

 
 
 

 

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