18 Nov 2008 • 1,086 views
Horse chestnutAesculus hippocastanum
These fruits are usually known as conkers, the subject of international competitions. Yes, they are, -look here-
I can't imagine anything was further from John Tradescant's mind when he brought the first seeds/nuts to this country from south eastern Europe in the early 17th century.
Having mentioned John Tradescant, it is his
collection of "curiosities" that was the first cultural museum in England. He built his "cabinet of curiosities" in Lambeth. This collection of artefacts, brought home from all around the world while he was plant hunting for the King, was in Lambeth and opened to the public in 1677. Both his home and the museum became known as "The Ark"
and was a popular place to visit. He charged 6d a visit - this was half a shilling, and is equal to 2 1/2 pence in today's money.
I don't know if Philippa Gregory gets it exactly right in her book about John Tradescant Junior
or not, but it's certainly documented that The Ark and the curiosities, were meant to go to his widow, however Elias Ashmole ended up with the lot, by deed of gift. He later donated this to Oxford University, founding The Ashmolean Museum
. which was opened in 1783..