Tag Archives: england

196. Underneath the Lake

Witley Park lies in the county of Surrey, England. In 1889 it was founded by Whitaker Wright, a man who had made a fortune in the oil business. For himself he constructed a grand house with a theatre, ballroom and artificial lakes. In 1904 he took his own life and the estate changed hands.

In its current state some parts have been modernised and other left to disintegrate but certain fantastical parts of the park have stood the test of time.

There were two additional rooms on the estate, but they were less noticeable than one might expect. In one tree on the estate there is a door. Go through the door and navigate the sinking subterranean stairs. Next you commandeer a small boat and take a rowing trip. Then a large pair of doors appear, open them and see the majesty of a whole room, underground.

The glass a vivid yellow fills in the dome above. Covering it is a layer of algae obscuring the magnificent view of the artificial lake. It is ballroom and exists to this day. In fact the second room does as well. If one continues on through the ballroom you will reach a second room enshrined in glass, a conservatory. A place where guests could relax and watch fish swim by. Now that, too, is garnished in a fine layer of green grime.

Those lonely, lost, lake-laden rooms languish once more in obscurity. Witley Park used to be a place for courses and conferences, astounding many visitors but now it is now private property. This iconic and ethereal sight shall remain one man’s pleasure for a while longer. At least we have the photographs.

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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190. Putting the ‘ash’ in Cash

In 1991, the best-selling singles act in the world was ‘The KLF,’ a duo consisting of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. This UK-based group engaged in varied activities and made a point of both mocking the music industry as a whole and not earning a single thing. During their short careers neither one of the pair made any money, instead putting all of their earnings back into increasingly lavish productions. Through the early 90’s their popularity soared with the release of their number one hit ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’ which mashed together the Doctor Who theme with Rock and Roll (Part Two) and other popular songs of the era. The hit was slated by critics universally but still managed to reach the top ten in Australia and Norway.

The end of the peculiar ride came with an incendiary performance by The KLF at the Brit Awards. They joined up with the band Extreme Noise Terror and, on prime-time television and performed a thrash metal version of their popular song ‘ eternal.’ Bill Drummond was on crutches screaming the lyrics into the microphone. He then hobbled off stage and came back on with a large automatic machine gun and a cigar, for effect. He then fired blanks into the audience which panicked. At the end they left the stage and the announcer declared:

“The KLF have now left the music Industry.”

This turned out to be very prescient as later that year the pair retired swiftly and entirely. Then they had a problem. Over the next few months their music still was bringing them money, but they didn’t want to make a profit. By 1993 they had £1,000,000 between them, so they set up the ‘K – Foundation.’ It was initially a fund to help struggling artists but then, true to form they decided against it.

“We realised that struggling artists are supposed to struggle, that’s the whole point.”

Their first deed, nailing all of the money to a pine frame, but no galleries would exhibit it. They considered taking it to Russia by train but no company was willing to insure it. They were at a loss as to what to do when in 1994 they had an idea. In a café they were trying to decide what to spend the money on, then they scrapped that. They would burn it.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Articles


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55. Lies and Law

FACT: ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ is a phrase originating from the English judiciary system, it being the simplest way to ensure that people know that they cannot lie in court.

In fact there was no law against lying in court until the 1600’s in England, because they believed that the fear of god would be more than enough to stop anyone from lying in court.


Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Trivia


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43. Razzle Dazzle Navy

FACT: Military Vessels around the world are grey. Or black, or white, regardless the problem is that they are boring and plain, but it was not always this way. As the image shows the seas used to be better, brighter. Navy vessels were covered in these bright and contrasting series of shapes and interrupting lines, like seafaring cubism artworks. This was called ‘Dazzle camouflage’ by the British and the much more impressive title of ‘Razzle Dazzle‘ by the American. But now there is a question, why were ships painted so brightly?

The answer is oddly enough – camouflage. However counter-intuitive, this bright covering of lines was camouflage used in World War I by every naval vessel in the British, French and American Navies. The reason was that no camouflage was effective at hiding ships in all weathers so U-boats and submarines kept sinking ships. However they depended on people in the U-boats looking through telescopes and periscopes and guessing how far away and quickly traveling the ships were, so the bright lines on ships distracted their eyes making them miss the ships.

The British concluded that the camouflage was ineffective as their ships kept being sunk, however they kept the paint because it boosted the morale of the naval officers on board and it boosted the morale of everyone who saw the ships together, as the sight of hundreds of brightly coloured floating hulls of art was a sight that had never been seen before. Also, unfortunately, due to advances in range-finding technology after World War I, it was a sight that was never seen again. Slowly ships were sunk or repainted in their drab grey skins again and voyages became monochromatic excursions of tedium. The sea used to be so much better and brighter, but this is consigned to the past now.

The only place you can see the Razzle Dazzle now is on Austrian speed traps, which are painted so distractingly that motorists cannot tell how far away they are, meaning that they slow down much earlier. Clever Austrians.


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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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