Dr Trelawney's Cabinet of Historical Curiosities: This Month's Subject: The Holly & the Ivy

Article excerpt

The severed head of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales (c. 1228-82), killed as a rebel against Edward I, was sent to London where it was crowned with ivy and set on a pole at the Tower.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) would carry a hatchet with him on his walks around his estate at Hughenden so he could remove ivy from his favourite trees.

The magazine Holly Leaves, the Christmas edition of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, published early works by W.S. Gilbert, Agatha Christie and Brain Stoker and included some of the finest illustrations created by William Heath Robinson. It was published annually from 1880 to 1969.

Censor Sir Roger L'Estrange, (1616-1704), operated from an office above Henry Brome's bookshop in Ivy Lane, London, from where he sent out spies to report on the activities of London presses. During his career he claimed to have suppressed 600 seditious pamphlets

On Thursday October 22nd, 1730 Benjamin Franklin, (1706-90) published a hoax account entitled 'A Witch Trial at Mount Holly' in which he claimed a man and a woman were accused of 'making their Neighbours Sheep dance in an uncommon Manner'. To answer the charge they were supposedly weighed against a great Bible and then ducked.

The term 'Ivy' was first applied to a group of US colleges by Stanley Woodward, writing about the American football season in the New York Times on October 14th, 1935. The phrase he used was 'Ivy Colleges'.

Poet Emily Jane Pfeiffer's (1827-90) first published work was The Holly Branch, an Album for 1843. Her later collected essays Women and Work (1887) countered theories on women's unsuitability for work, leading the Spectator to comment that 'few men could have stated it more ably.'

William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536) published his The Practyse of Prelates in 1530 in which he likened the Papacy to 'ivy choking a tree and making a seat and a nest for all unclean birds'. …