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Pyramid in the Park

Situated in parkland that contains Cobham Woods, Darnley Mausoleum is a striking surprise when you’ve never seen it before. Now owned by the National Trust, this building was designed by James Wyatt for the Forth Earl of Darnley of Cobham Hall in Kent, as detailed in precise instructions of his predecessor, the Third Earl of Darnley. Surprisingly, this structure has never been used for its intended purpose of interments.

Using the architectural style of a grand classical temple of Roman Doric Order, most recognisable by the simple circular capitals at the top of the columns, this isn’t what struck me when Dave took me here recently.


Darnley Mausleum (pictured looking out from woodland)

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Symbolism emits from every part of this incredible building that stands in the middle of the countryside, and anyone that's read my novels might know that I understand it . Most notable is the pyramid (a symbol for strength a duration) atop of it which then made me look for other signs: nine steps lead up to the entrance; nine vents in the form of flowers, each with eight petals, that allow air flow through three windows.

Let’s talk numbers—Masonic numbers. The number three was celebrated among ancient sages, the sum three times three (nine) has no less celebrity. Representing each of the elements which constitutes our bodies—water, earth and fire—are thus tripled. The flowers each have eight petals: eight was esteemed by Pythagoreans as the first cube being formed by the multiplication two by two by two. It signifies friendship, prudence, council and justice. Reduplication of the first even number it was made to refer to the primitive law of nature, supposing all men to be equal. Christian numerical symbologists consider the number eight the number for resurrection—here goes—Jesus rose on the seventh day. In Greek numerals, corresponding to its Greek letters this is represented as 10, 8, 200, 70, 400, 200. These numbers added is 888, the Dominical Number. (Number source: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry).

Unfortunately, the building was locked so it wasn’t possible to gain entry, but I’m now intrigued as to what symbolism might lay within it.

Returning home with questions as to who might have wanted this important structure built in the first place, I got to researching who the Third Duke of Darnley might have been and the family connections he had were remarkable! Esmè Stewart, 3rd Duke of Lennox (1579-30 July 1624) KG, Lord of the Manor of Cobham, Kent, a Scottish nobleman and second cousin of King James VI of Scotland and I of England was also 3rd Duke of Darnley. Interestingly, his son, the 4th Duke of Darnley, served as Lord Warden of the Clique Ports based in Dover Castle (also in Kent).

Further research has revealed that both King James VI of Scotland (later I of England and Esmè Steward were Freemasons, which explains the elaborate design of Darnley Mausoleum and the rarity of it being placed in vast wooded parkland.

James I will also feature next week as we delve into November, and plots of treason against him.



By Donna Siggers with David Last

Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife!

Starting the campaign, Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife around six months ago, Ben Spann built upon foundations for what has turned out to be the fastest growing knife campaign group in the UK. Gaining support from members and many reformed high-profile ex criminals willing to get the message out there, people like Terry Ellis (who was our first ever feature on this blog), Vinny Bradish and Chris Lambrianou have created a strong message that is here to stay.


To join the Facebook group "Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife"
PRESS HERE

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Ben says, “we are the group that represents the people: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles but most of all every child in the U.K. Our campaign values are simple Prevent, Rehabilitate and Educate.”

Fully committed to the ongoing work that’s involved, the team are aware how much work is required to get them to where they want to be. Ben conveys that with “the support from every parent and grandparent to give us the voice we need. To be able to stand up for what is right our future generations shouldn’t feel the need to have to carry a blade as a necessity like a phone or watch.”

Campaigners: Romail Essex, Vinny Bradish, Tony Turner, Ben Spann,

Chris Lambrianou, Kimberly Ann Overton, Jim Lamianou, and Terry Ellis

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Knife crime effects every part of our country and if you’re blinded to that, please take a long, hard look at your community. Unfortunately, it’s become part of culture. It’s a known fact that if you are carrying there’s a greater likelihood of you using rather than not if the opportunity arises—if you carry consider leaving it behind.

Ben speaks for the group, Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife when he says that they “do not tolerate our kids being groomed into gangs, nor will they tolerate them being the victims or the perpetrators of knife crime. Enough is enough. We are doing great things but as you can imagine there is no overnight fix.”

Ben states that working within communities is one of the important aspects of what they are about and it’s been a great pleasure to have had a close association with Leamington Amateur Boxing Club, ran by Ollie O’Neil who are doing fantastic work with our youth, as are Aces Boxing Club, ran by Harmi Singh. Now in the process of becoming the proud [main] sponsors of Coventry City Supporter’s Club, the distinctive logo for the group will soon be displayed on their new kits.

Ben Spann handing over a donation to Leamington Spa Boxing Club

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Acutely aware that not all youth are sport minded the group have also been working closely with Hills FM, a Coventry based radio station and also with the homeless and youth services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services within the area.

As a group, Ben and his team, are looking to carry out educational talks in schools and youth facilities all over the UK, once the Covid-19 situation allows. In the meantime, they will be seeking ways in which our future generations can be occupied, since funding for youth facilities has been cut year upon year. Ben ensures us that their campaign is “enrolling new schemes on a weekly basis as well as being affiliated with many sport facilities locally and across the UK.”

He goes on the say “Thanks for the support of our members and we look forward to all new members who have the same views on this subject.”


by Donna Siggers and David Last

Sweet Misery

Looks sweet and innocent enough, doesn’t it, the jelly baby, but this unassuming treat has a dark past. What we want to know is do you have a sinister mastication to the method in which you eat them? Are you the type that goes straight in for the kill by chopping of the head, Henry VIII style? Or do you nibble off the arms and legs to leave a helpless torso? Perhaps you place the whole thing into your mouth and allow it to melt as if it’s in an acid bath! Pseudo-cannibalism may not have crossed you mind until now but allow us to take you through the history of this sweetie and all will be revealed!

Invented by an Austrian immigrant confectioner working at Fryers of Lancashire in 1864, the mold produced for what was supposed to be jelly bears looked more like new-born infants. Subsequently the sweets were given the macabre name, unclaimed babies. Unclaimed babies were part of life in Victorian Britain, with newborn babies being left on church steps regularly—Tim Richardson, author of Sweets: A History of Temptation claims that Victorian people would have found the name “amusing”.

This name was short-lived. In celebration of peace, after WWI, Bassett’s of Sheffield began producing the sweet in 1918 as Peace Babies but production was halted during WWII due to a shortage of raw materials. Once production restarted in 1953, they were relaunched as Jelly Babies and their popularity took off. They even have names as well as their individual flavour! “Brilliant” (red: strawberry); “Bubbles” (yellow: lemon); “Baby Bonny” (pink: raspberry); “Boofuls” (green: lime); “Bigheart” (purple: blackcurrant); and “Bumper” (orange).

There is a little more to their cute faces than meets the eye too—have you ever looked at them? Their faces illustrate sin and the darkness of the human heart. So here is the list for you to wrap your head around:- Pink: This one is an actual baby—awww! Red: Displaying a large B, representing blood sacrifice; Green: This baby is crying indicating human misery.

Doctor Who ate them, he pretended they were weapons against an enemy too in the popular cult TV show. Rowan Atkinson carried them in Johnny English Strikes Again, as disguised explosives. The Beatles were pelted with jelly babies, but most importantly Basil Brush considered them his favourite sweetie snack—and who could argue with a sitcom puppet fox?

by Donna Siggers and David Last

Rising to Become a Warrior: Levi Perry

Medication is supposed to help you mend from illness but for Levi Perry a prescription of antibiotics left her fighting for her life. Now with a floxed body, the painful and long-lasting side effects she now lives with have held her music career back for long enough. With renewed vigour she returned to the music scene with her album “The Power of Music” which won many music awards. Honoured to have befriended this beautiful soul online she trusted me, among others, to listen to her new album before its release but prior to discussing the music and lyrics themselves here’s a little background on the production side of matters. Levi is hugely talented and writes from her heart about events that have affected her life. Within her new album, “Warrior” she shares aspects of love, loss, illness, contentment, and various other emotions. With regards to the music itself, this is produced via a complex method of how she feels the tempo and pitch of notes need to sound in comparison to her voice with the help of a third party actually on the instruments. Levi is very much in control of the whole production process herself from writing the words to producing the finished product and this is a process she completes without financial backing. Moreover, her new album was produced during lockdown under the added pressures of a worldwide pandemic and she is reflective of this in her final track.


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Vocally, there is a uniqueness about Ms Perri that captures the very essence of who she is. Not only does her pain emit through the words but so does her beauty and ability to glow. Feeding from emotions and using creativity at its best, Levi has produced what I consider to be another winning album that will lift your heart and soul that begins with “You’re Gonna Rise”, with upbeat lyrics that raise you ‘like a phoenix’ in readiness to rock out to her second song. “Warrior”, the third track, I believe was the first of Levi’s songs I ever heard—which was some months ago now—conveying the fighter within her, the inner strength that she has needed to fight back from her illness. Ultimately, my favourite track is number seven, mainly due to the fact that the vocals made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle the first time I heard them. Incidentally, they have done this each time I’ve listened since (and I’ve listened to the track several times over the past few weeks). Having the ability to fight back from such extreme circumstances is one thing but to do so with the determination to succeed in an industry where money talks [without any backing] is quite something. Levi, my amazingly talented and beautiful friend, I commend this determination of yours and wish you every success with “Warrior” for you
deserve to rise.

Vocally, there is a uniqueness about Ms Perri that captures the very essence of who she is. Not only does her pain emit through the words but so does her beauty and ability to glow. Feeding from emotions and using creativity at its best, Levi has produced what I consider to be another winning album that will lift your heart and soul that begins with “You’re Gonna Rise”, with upbeat lyrics that raise you ‘like a phoenix’ in readiness to rock out to her second song. “Warrior”, the third track, I believe was the first of Levi’s songs I ever heard—which was some months ago now—conveying the fighter within her, the inner strength that she has needed to fight back from her illness. Ultimately, my favourite track is number seven, mainly due to the fact that the vocals made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle the first time I heard them. Incidentally, they have done this each time I’ve listened since (and I’ve listened to the track several times over the past few weeks). Having the ability to fight back from such extreme circumstances is one thing but to do so with the determination to succeed in an industry where money talks [without any backing] is quite something. Levi, my amazingly talented and beautiful friend, I commend this determination of yours and wish you every success with “Warrior” for you
deserve to rise.

by Donna Siggers

Abandoned Addictions

Abandoned buildings became a healthy addiction approximately five years ago, seeing me trawl google earth at every given opportunity. A visit to the Isle of Anglesey, gave me the perfect opportunity to visit some relics in the North East but nothing as interesting what I would stumble across.

After an hour’s map search this, find wasn’t an if but a when. Luckily, I found information that assisted me on google regarding a visit from a fellow explorer—he’d been chased from the park by a member of the Bulkeley family who lives nearby. From here I learnt the Baron Hill Estate had been owned by and had been the family seat to the influential Bulkeley family, explained his annoyance as the family lost their fortunes to death duties.

Undeterred, I arrive in Beaumaris and given on-line reports of former angry encounters left a digital footprint of my whereabouts before setting out on my adventure towards the gate house. I have to admit, adrenaline was pumping but there was no alternative but to volt a four foot wall in order for me to be out of view—I’m not sure who was more startled, myself or the pheasant I disturbed!

Making my way I was in awe at the view of the south of the island and the Beaumaris Castle coming into view, an amazing sight, but I was soon bought back into reality as a tractor came towards me. On high alert once more, I quickened my pace and made my way back into the wooded area for coverage. After all, I was trespassing.

After a few more steps through undergrowth I stumbled upon what I was looking for—an incredible sight, decaying among the trees that was difficult to photograph. The true scale of the building impossible to capture due to the density of the plants growing around and withing it. Floors had given way, and stairways were impassable, but it was still possible to gauge the enormity and grandeur existence.


Baron Hill Mansion: Abandoned After Polish Soldiers moved out in WWII

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HISTORY

The Baron Hill Estate was stablished in 1618 with the original mansion being built the same year by Sir Richard Bulkeley. During the English Civil War, Richard Bulkeley’s successor Colonel Thomas Bulkeley was said to invite King Charles I to take possession of the house in order to set up his court there. In the early eighteenth century the house was the seat of Richard Bulkeley 4th Viscount Bulkeley who maintained Jacobite sympathies.


King Edward VII enjoying tea in the garden of Baron Hill Estate
(Seated fourth at table--with the Bulkeley family)

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In 1776 the house was reconstructed by architect Samuel Wyatt to a much similar design that is still evident in its ruined state today. In the nineteenth century the Bulkeleys remained the most dominant land owners on the island and other parts of Wales. During WWI the death duties had wiped the family’s fortunes and they were unable to maintain the estate. During the war Royal Engineers were stationed at the house. In 1939 when WWII broke out the mansion was taken over by the government and used as temporary housing for Polish soldiers, who in protest to the cold conditions, started a fire and destroyed much of the interior so they would be moved to new housing accommodation. The mansion was abandoned and still is to this day.

The park is a designated site of special scientific interest due to the large area that has been undisturbed for many years. I believe the building itself is now listed and there was a planning application in 2008 to restore and convert into flats.

by David Last