Crystal Palace Park

Well it’s not often you find monkeys in such quantities… so deserving of a post on their own. Agent Dragonblaze hard at work in her home patch of SE London had alerted us to two monkeys in Crystal Palace Park which we reported as SE5 and SE6 here. Very diligently Agent Dragonblaze has revisited the park, only to find not one more, but two more monkeys. Good work.

So as I had catalogued the first two as SE5 and SE6 it seemed only fair to call the next two SE7 and SE8 – which means a little bit of re-cataloguing as I had used those numbers for our arboricultural equivalent of a Millwall fan in Nelson Square, and the tree on the Bricklayer’s Arms roundabout. But I am going to give them new catalogue numbers so that the Crystal Palace Park monkeys can all be sequential.

The photographs from Crystal Palace Park have all been supplied by @Dragonblaze with her permission. Thank you.

This is the location of the park and where the monkeys are:

SE Crystal Palace Park location

This is a very interesting park, I had never heard of the amazing creatures that live there.

Iguanodons at Crystal Palace Park.

Iguanodons at Crystal Palace Park.

There is a collection of life-sized dinosaur models here which were made and erected in 1852 by sculptor and fossil expert Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, with advice from the founder of the National History Museum, Richard Owen. The iconic dinosaurs were the Victorians’ answer to Jurassic Park. They were the first artistic representations of dinosaurs of their size and have been enjoyed by both younger and older generations for over a century.

The park itself was created following the closure of the Great Exhibition, and Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, was bought and moved here, and the grounds were created and turned into a park. Must have been some park, as can be seen from this 1857 map – compared to the present day layout.

SE Crystal Palace park

In the original layout of the plan the Crystal Palace sits at the ‘top’ end of the park, which is the road now called Crystal Palace Parade. The gardens are formally laid out with enormous fountains and cascades. It must have been a sight to behold. There are some old photographs on this news report – here – of the palace, and the fire that destroyed it in 1936, and images of the steps that remain of the original building, but it’s almost impossible to image the scale of this building and the gardens with their immense water features.

As you can see from the present day map, the lakes in the park are from some of the remains of the original features.

Crystal Palace Park lake.

Crystal Palace Park lake.

Crystal Palace Park waterfall.

Crystal Palace Park waterfall.

This is the location of the first monkey:

SE5.

SE5.

An appropriate setting with the dinosaurs, as the monkey puzzle tree dates from somewhere in the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic Era is from 250 Million years ago to 65 Million years ago (the end of dinosaurs), and covers the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretanceous Periods.

The iguanodons pictured above are from the Jurassic and Cretaceous of Europe, so probably did exist along with monkey puzzle trees. The iguanodon is also interesting as to mark the launch of the models, Hawkins held a dinner on New Year’s Eve 1853 inside the mould of one of the iguanodon models.

1853, they did things on a grand scale then.

1853, they did things on a grand scale then.

The models were created on site in a workshop.

workshop

Hawkins’ workshop.

Although some of the models are now known to be anatomically incorrect, they are still an amazing feat of Victorian observation of the natural world, and it is equally amazing that they are still here to be admired today. There is a good history about them on The Victorian Web – here.

Plesiosaurus and ichtyodon.

Plesiosaurus and ichtyodon.

And of course, even more pleasing to me, is the fact that there are the monkey puzzle trees as well. The next three are all at the west end of the lake.

SE6.

SE6.

SE7.

SE7. A female, with a few cones.

SE8.

SE8.

So thanks to Agent Dragonblaze for showing us part of her place and for a glimpse into Crystal Palace Park. Agent Dragonblaze’s next assignment is to find a living dinosaur…

Update 1 February 2015:

Agent Dragonblaze has found a fifth tree in the park, located at the waterfalls and it is now catalogues as SE22:

SE22.

SE22.

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