Monday, August 24, 2009

The Restless Dead

In the tiny graveyard at St. Jude's there is a lamp-post with a light that has never gone out. The post was erected in 1874 after the gaslights were installed in the Royal Park and apart from the one day when the lamp was converted from gas to electricity it has been lit day and night ever since.

Even in the national blackouts of the second world war, the lamp was not extinguished but covered in heavy canvas. The electricity bill is a constant headache to the verger, who has tried in vain to either (a) persuade the local populace to turn their back on the tradition or (b) persuade the Hertfordshire and Norwich Electricity Board to give them a charitable discount. Neither plan has succeeded.

The tomb beneath the lamp-post contains the restless spirit of Sir Harold Lauder, engineer and designer of the Royal Park. Legend has it that if the lamp is ever extinguished, the man himself will rise to wreak destruction upon the town planners and architects who reduced his precious creation to its current state. His pride and joy, the glasshouses modelled after those hosting the Great Exhibition of 1851, were demolished in 1873 because the incumbent mayor's wife wanted a boating lake instead.

Sir Harold's spirit is indeed restless and vengeful – hardly surprising when the light' over his head has been left on for over a century.

Image: No More Leaning on Lamp-posts: Managing Uncertainty the Nick Charles Way


stephanie said...

I'd be restless, too!

Nice to see a return of this character. :)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Laverstone history :)

aims said...

True in more ways than one!

Leatherdykeuk said...