Extraordinary evidence has come to light about the original function of the famous Octagon Room, part of Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham as a primitive device for celestial communications.
During research for the Heritage Lottery-funded £1.8m renovation project, in which original drawings and documents have been sourced in an effort to revert the décor to its true 1720s state, artists and technicians were stunned to discover a previously undiscovered stash of diagrams by its architect James Gibbs showing the unique, cylindrical building as a vast acoustic earpiece with various ingenious sound enhancers and transcribing machinery, all beneath a giant retractable roof.
James Gibbs (1682-1754) has long been known for his interest in extra-terrestrial activity having witnessed as a young man “many curious fire globes o’er Thames at Richmond”. Several of his other building designs have alluded to astronomy but this is the only known example of his obsession being put directly into practice, most likely with the generous financial assistance of wealthy Twickenham resident James Johnson (1655-1737), notable for sharing Gibbs’ fascination having “experienc’d a divinely sensuous other-worldly abduction”.
Richmond Council officers have long been mystified since discovering that the original footprint of the house and gardens, of which the Octagon Room is the only section remaining intact, mimics exactly the constellation of Orion with the Octagon sitting in place of dominating star, de Mairan’s Nebula. Most remarkably reams of transcripts discovered within the documents appear to depict abstract wave patterns with a stunning similarity to those of NASA’s Keppler spacecraft purporting to show unusual, unexplained activity way beyond our own solar system. These have now been passed on to the British Astronomical Society for deciphering.
There is now evidence that much of the machinery stayed in place relaying “an abundance of communications” until the arrival of King Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans in the early 1800s who, as a deeply religious man and a representative of the Catholic Church, saw it as a “dark art”, ordering its immediate removal and destruction. It is assumed that the documents were somehow rescued by Louis Philippe’s wife Maria Amalia after her husband’s death as they have been in the possession of her family, ancestors of King Ferdinand IV of Naples, stored in an impenetrable safebox, ever since. There they would have stayed had the safe’s mechanism not inexplicably given out last month revealing the contents for the first time in over 200 years.
* LBRuT: Celestial Communications at Orleans House
Gibbs had a strong interest in the extra terrestrial
[Contributed by our special correspondent Avril de Furst]
In January we did something of a bumper High Street Update as it had been many months since our last shops-related confession. But that was January and this is now and there’s more to tell. Things have happened. In telling you this tale we’re going to go with the theme of brevity and we hope you’re going to buy into it because we really need you with us on this journey. Let us begin…
Food Sanctuary, new on York Street
Marc Jason’s Shoeworld, purveyors of cheap footwear to the TWs is closing down. To be fair, with its endless sales and discount banners it has always looked as if it’s been on the brink of closing but the words ‘closing down’ in the window do seem to be a big, big clue as to its current state. We don’t know if Marc Jason has other ‘worlds’ beyond Shoeworld but it does seem to be the end of the line for this particular Heath Road outlet. The shop has lasted longer than you might think although we do say this without any insights as to how your brain actually works. So, how long do you think it’s been open? Two years? Three? And the answer is…. almost four and a half years. Plenty of other places have come and gone in that time. Continue reading
Many of you will have had that familiar feeling when the mail comes through the letterbox and you just know it’s not going to be you — again. Another opportunity missed. Another chance to prove yourself among peers gone. Maybe next year. Maybe.
Or maybe this year. For those who like me, were rejected again by RideLondon (WHY ME?!?), there is still hope, and not only hope but the promise of helping others as well as testing yourself against the fastest.
It’s a ‘no’. But it doesn’t have to be
Local homelessness charity SPEAR have RideLondon places for cyclists willing to raise sponsorship for them. For an initial registration fee of just £30, you can secure a place to ride the 100 miles from the Olympic Park to the Surrey Hills before heading back to a spectacular finish on The Mall.
If you’re not aware of what SPEAR does, it’s been going for almost 30 years. Set up by local resident Penny Wade after two homeless people died in 1986 when sleeping rough in Richmond, SPEAR helps people from homelessness to independence. Initially a night shelter was started, but this became permanent accommodation on Kew Road in Richmond, now known as Penny Wade House, able to provide 14 people at a time with the chance to make a fresh start away from the streets. SPEAR now operates across south and west London. Its head office is on Heath Road, Twickenham. Continue reading
Just over a month ago LBRuT published the results of its consultation on the design plans for Twickenham riverside and the elusive town square. Despite the positive spin put on the report it was clear that feedback on the concept was – and how shall we put this delicately – strongly negative. Actually that’s not fair. If you discard the absence of any real ‘town square’, a dislike of the regency styling which has little in common with its immediate surroundings, the failure to open up the town to the river via Water Lane, the scale of the development and the inclusion of up to 40 flats, the plan went down pretty well. Some aspects did receive a positive response, especially the parts focused on developing public gardens next to the river and reducing the dominance of cars and car parking on that part of the site. For others, the fact that it was not a plan for a new lido was also a major disappointment. Jump back to the present and we now have a new action group, a public meeting and the appearance of TWIKKID, Twickenham’s very own online satirical cartoonist.
Twickenham riverside site from Embankment
As we pointed out, of the 754 responses received just 93 comments said the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s a meagre 12%. Sure, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s easier and more natural to oppose development than to support it but that’s still a very low figure given that almost all of Twickenham is in favour of developing the site in some way. Continue reading
There’s bad news on the local jobs and business front today. Greggs, purveyors of bread, pies and pasties to the nation, has announced that it is to close three of its UK bakeries as part of a corporate re-organisation. The three facing closure are in Edinburgh, Lincolnshire and in Gould Road right here in Twickenham. The company expects to lose 355 jobs as part of the process which is designed to shift focus away from being a traditional baker and more towards selling ‘food-on-the-go’ products. Yes, and these can even include salads. At the same time, the company has said it intends to upgrade its Enfield bakery in north London.
What does this all mean for the large Greggs site tucked away in the side streets between the Green and the River Crane? It’s too early to speculate… but we will anyway. Would a business of similar scale move in there? Seems unlikely so perhaps it’s time to start a book on whether it gets divided up into industrial units, turned into a school or, let’s hazard a wild guess here, gets snapped up for extensive residential development.
So, no more bakery trucks clattering through the narrow roads but it’s bad news for business, bad news for jobs and bad news for those who enjoy the smell of doughnuts wafting through the TW2 evening air.
Greggs Bakery, Gould Road, Twickenham
* BBC News
Massive, great long sagas about school sites. We can only assume these do actually form part of official national policy when it comes to the provision of school places. We just can’t get enough of them can we? Time for an update on sites for much needed local school places? Yep. Then let us begin. And put your smartphone away and pay attention at the back!
East-side: Remember the new Richmond Bridge primary school that was going to be in East Twickenham but then wasn’t and then announced that it was going to be called something else and based at London House on the A316 near East Sheen but then opened in 2016 in temporary accommodation at Richmond Adult College in Parkshot in Richmond? You do? That’s great because you’ve saved us the job of trying to explain it all. Deer Park School it’s called. Anyway, that school has just announced it’s found a permanent home which isn’t London House after all but is in fact Ryde House in East Twickenham. You’d be forgiven for wondering if that wasn’t one of the early suggestions for the school site… because you’d be right. But Lidl (off of cheap food) bought it and that seemed to scupper that. But wait! Hot news arrives from East Twickenham that Ryde House is now set to become a ‘mixed retail and school development’. It’s an interesting idea. It could work. But will it work? We don’t know (obviously) but you might. Shopping and schooling on the same site could make for a very busy little corner of the borough.
The last few days have seen some very high tides in Twickenham complete with the usual array of flooded cars on Embankment. We especially liked this photo from near St Mary’s Church taken by @twickerman and posted on Twitter. Not bad, eh?
Eel Pie Island, High Tide (Feb 2016)
Photo credit: @twickerman
Take care out there… and park wisely!
* Government Flood Warnings Map
* Environment Agency Flood Alerts
Twelve months ago we reported how the Twickenham ‘country retreat’ of artist JMW Turner had received Heritage Lottery funding to carry out essential restoration work and put in facilities to open it up to the public. It was a good news story to kick off 2015. However, it now seems that the funds raised so far aren’t going to be quite enough to finish the job so now the Turner’s House Trust is looking to make up the difference from crowdsourced funding. (That’s the like of you lot, btw). A £25,000 target has been set.
Turner’s House, Twickenham
The Grade II listed house, Sandycombe Lodge, was designed by Turner in 1813 and used by him until he sold it in 1826. Heritage Lottery funding and other grants and donations have contributed to the majority of the £2.4m project costs but a last push to close the funding gap is now running until early March.
According to a BBC News report ‘inflation and building costs’ have meant the original estimates for the work had to be revised upwards. Donors are being offered inducements such as preview tours ahead of public opening and a printmaking workshop led by artist Sasa Marinkov. Time to dig deep for this piece of local history?
In the meantime, if anyone has ever met a builder who’s looked at a half-finished job, folded their arms across their chest, nodded solemnly and said, “Great news, this project is actually going to come in under budget!” we suggest you put them in touch with Turners House Trust asap. In fact, why not tell all of us.
Oh dear. That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? And yet, at the same time, it was all so predictable. The results of the El Brute consultation on its Twickenham riverside and town square proposals have been published and it seems that the locals are not hugely impressed. So much for ‘design competitions’, pop up shops and positive spin from York House, the regency style scheme featuring amphitheatre, colonnade, shops and up to 40 flats does not seem to have wowed the twickerati (that’s you lot by the way).
The results have been analysed by ‘customer feedback solutions’ gurus Snap Surveys who probably know more about this kind of thing than you do and it’s pretty clear that the negative responses far outweigh the positive ones. The accompanying LBRuT press release says, “The Council and the architects will now carry out a detailed review of the ideas and comments put forward by the public before coming forward with ideas for development”. It goes on to say that the Council ‘understands’ it needs to reconsider its approach to a number of areas. It certainly does.
Twickenham Embankment from Eel Pie Bridge
Although like any survey the results are open to interpretation, some things stand out very clearly in the themes that Snap Surveys focused on. Of 754 responses received there were just 93 comments that felt the plans met the needs of the local community. That’s 12%. Not great, especially when the purpose of the plan was (and we hope still is) to regenerate the site and open up the town centre to the river. Twenty comments in the 754 were positive about the architecture. That’s 3% which, in case you’re not too good at maths, is not great either. As for the amphitheatre, 35 comments liked that. It’s true that calculating percentages out of themed responses isn’t exactly scientific even if it is fun, so do start taking pinches of salt when you get your calculator out. Continue reading