Many striking attractions are imminent at the famous
Sydenham Palace of Pleasure, among them the “Fairy Archipelago” on the lake of
the North Tower Gardens. It was officially opened on Easter Monday of last
year, but this, in racing phraseology was but a “preliminary canter.” However,
it was sufficiently indicative of future prodigality of pleasure-giving. The “Syndicate”
are quite satisfied with the progress they have made and are making, and
exhibit a reassuring composure as to their ability to be “all right on the
night.” It is one of those enterprises which depend largely upon climactic
conditions, and is practically a gamble with the weather. Therefore the real
success of the undertaking will arrive coincidentally with the advent of our
tropical suns and Italian skies. When the wind “bites shrewdly,” you cannot
expect people to disport themselves in the neighbourhood of an airy
archipelago. Those blessed with a fairly lively imagination can, even in the
teeth of an easterly wind and beneath the dome of a dull grey sky, easily
realise what a charming and novel spot this will be. Rocks – or a wonderfully
realistic counterfeit presentiment of them – water, and verdure on all hands :
a variety of stalls, all fashioned like rude huts, offering an abundance of
attractive articles at popular prices, are built over the water and into the
rocks; there are toys, confectionary, photographs, slot machines innumerable,
shooting-galleries, roasted peanuts and popcorn, and automatic musical
instruments which mingle the dulcet tones of “Dolly Grey” with the sweet strains of “The Honeysuckle and
the Bee.” On no account fail to take a trip in an electric launch ‘ it is a
real treat to glide over the surface of the water, through mysterious caves,
under rustic bridges, past elaborate pavilions gay with bunting, the envied of
all onlookers who are unable or too penurious to plunge a sixpence !
It would be equally inadvisable to fail to take a flying
trip down the chute (the longest in the world), or to valiantly shoot the
rapids. The latter is a new sensation, and may be highly recommended for
sluggish livers. You descend with the tide – in a boat, of course – on a
varying gradient, gathering velocity as you speed. Near the bottom you
encounter a sharp curve ; here you just leave yourself to Providence and the
boat and swish round the corner. When you come out of the trance, you find
yourself on level water.
Mr. Mann, who is at the head of the syndicate, points out
that the weather last year was about as bad as it could be for them, with the
natural result that they fared somewhat indifferently, but, at the same time,
he contends that “a Mann is a Mann for all that,” and promises many additional
attractions this year. In fact, it is to be a second and higher bid for
Par example, there is to be a spacious dancing-platform,
along the edge of Sydenham’s fair waters, upon which – the platform, not the
waters – terpsichorean couples may foot it to their hearts’ content, and the
sweet strains of a well-equipped band, at all times, and almost at any time.
There will also be some convenient alcoves, cool and pretty, where exhausted
dancers may dally, and “wall-fruit” cling ; and – list, ye thirsty ones ! – a fine
refreshment-bar. May it never know a Black List ! Right in the middle of the
lake, between the chute and the dancing-platform, there will be holden an Old
English Industrial Fair, where practical demonstrations of weaving,
clay-modelling, wood-carving, &c., will be given. It is expected that this
will be officially opened by a prominent Society Lady.
Located near the dancing platform – it would be seen that is
the general coign of vantage of the Archipelago, like Dan Leno’s step of the
refreshment-bar at the Tower – there will be a Biograph in good and constant
working order. Od side-shows there will be an abundance. You will be able to
make the acquaintance of the “Human Spider,” enter the “Haunted House” (in
which you will experience the strange sensation of standing on your head
without falling); the “Palace of Illusions” you will find it hard to resist or
dispel, and many other attractions will make you bless the moment when you
recklessly flung down your shilling at one of the Palace turnstiles.
There will also be “musical rides” in a thirty-foot ring. Anybody
who can mount a horse, and having mounted it, keep his seat, may ride to music
supplied by a band. Much fun of an exciting character may be expected in this
The whirling roundabout, and the flying swing will be in
evidence, and you may “Try a shot, sir,” at the “Niagara Ride Range,” where
many breathless contests take place for the greatest number of “bulls,” “magpies,”
and “outers,” with the accompanying honour of not paying for them.
All the elaborate and mammoth scenery has been painted by
Mr. John England, who has supplied the “settings” for many a notable Sydenham
production. He is an old pupil of Mr. T. E. Ryan.
All things considered, it must be admitted that the
approaching season in the North Tower gardens of the Crystal Palace promises to
be both entertaining and alluring.
The first device of this kind, "The Turk" was built in 1770, by Wolfgang von Kempelen.
It toured Europe and America, beating Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon
Bonaparte, before it was revealed in the 1820's to contain a human
operator. Embarassed by it's success Von Kempelen went on to work on
steam engines and ways of recreating human speech, inspiring Alexander
Graham Bell to create the telephone.
The Turk, after many changes of human "director" and owner,
disappeared in a fire on 5 July 1854 at the Chinese Museum in
Philadelphia, just over a month after the Crystal Palace opened in
The Turk Mk II, was "Ajeeb" Arabic for "strange or unexplainable"
built by Bristol cabinet maker Charles Hooper and first shown at the
Royal Polytechnical Institute in 1868. Again the secret was that he
contained a human operator, and was at the Crystal Palace until 1876,
when he moved to The Royal Aquarium in Westminster. Hooper then took him
to the U.S., where he appeared the the Musee Eden in New York. Hooper
returned to England in 1895, and most accounts report that Ajeeb
disappeared in a fire at Coney Island in 1929 where the collection moved
to when the Musee Eden closed in 1915.
This fascinating 1940's article from the New Yorker records that
Ajeeb still survived in parts, with his eccentric owner keeping the wax
head at home "smearing its eyelids with vaseline, massaging its cheeks
and combing its long beard."
Counsellor Agar" was William Agar
of Lincolns Inn, who purchased
the lease of the mansion house belonging to the Prebend of St. Pancras
the Fields near London called Kentish Town, from the executors of Henry
Newcombe, in 1810, together with the coachhouse, stable, yard and large
garden, pleasure grounds, plantation, the Lawn, East Field and Near
The freehold of the manor of St. Pancras belonged to the Prebendary of
St. Pancras in St. Paul's Cathedral, it was leased by the Prebendary
It was leased on 8th January, 1549, by John Weston, clerk,
Residentiary of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and Penitentiary
Prebendary of St. Pancras, To Richard Wylkes, citizen and merchant
of London for 40 years, and after his death this lease passed to Henry
citizen and innholder of London, who obtained an extension of the lease
for a further period of 31 years from the Prebendary (Rev. James
on 24th July, 1564.
Henry Kinge, D.D., Prebendary, leased it on 12th
October, 1641, to John Kinge of the Inner Temple, gentleman, for 21 years,
the area of the manor then amounting to 75 acres.
In 1734 it was in the
possession of Lady Millington (Ann Millington of St. George the Martyr)
whose brother, William Bourchier of Salisbury, Doctor of Physic, assigned the
lease to Henry Newcome of Hackney, LL.D., on 5th April, 1755.
to Henry Newcome was renewed in 1757, by the Prebendary (Rev. Fifield
Allen, D.D.) to his son Henry Newcome, and again leased 26th March,
1798, to Henry Newcome of Devonshire Place, for 21 years.
obtained a fresh lease for 21 years on 3rd April, 1805, and, on 2nd March,
1816, it was leased by the Prebendary (the Rev. William Beloe) to William
Agar, the son of William Agar of Dunnington Hall, York.
He was born in
1767, called to the Bar in 1791 and died 1838.
The last lessee was his son
William Talbot Agar of Milford House, Lymington, born 1814, died 1907.
When occupied by the Agar family this house was known as Elm Lodge.
Practically the whole of the Prebendal Manor of St. Pancras has since been
occupied by the Midland and Great Northern Railway Companies, now the
London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the London and North Eastern