On Tresco (one of the Isles of Scilly) the air is so pure and the mild climate so conducive to growth that lichen and plants root themselves quite happily in the dry stone walls.
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It is rare, on the Isles of Scilly, to meet someone who is visiting for the first time – and if you do, it is likely the ‘first timer’ will return again and again. The islands are a Designated Area of Natural Beauty and in an age of hustle and bustle their tranquility provides a magical release, a ‘massaging of the soul’. The picture below (together with several of my posts in recent weeks) explains something of the lure of the Isles.
A walk along the main path in Tresco Abbey gardens takes us through an archway between trees and eventually up gentle steps, past the fountain, to a small garden house on the upper terrace. This is the Shell House. It takes its name from the interior murals which comprise imaginative pictures and patterns constructed with care and skill using shells found on the Isles of Scilly. (See also my previous post, Tresco Abbey Gardens)
The world famous gardens at Tresco Abbey on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, are bisected by a long straight path culminating in a flight of granite steps leading up to an imposing classical head. The steps are known as Neptune’s Steps and seem to confirm a classical connection, but there is a double deception here. Despite appearances, the head is not a stone sculpture but is made from wood, and the subject is not of classical origin but represents Father Thames. It is, in fact, the salvaged figurehead of the SS Thames, a 500 ton paddle steamer that sank on the Western Rocks (just off the coast of St Agnes) in 1841.
The story of the loss of the Thames is tragic and is an example of the hardship and dangers experienced by seafaring communities in the 18th and 19th centuries. The event was fully recorded by the minister of St Agnes at the time, the Rev George Woodley, and can be read on http://www.tresco.co.uk/what-to-do/abbey-garden/valhalla_thames.aspx
In a corner of the Abbey Gardens there is a museum of other figureheads from vessels wrecked in the waters around the Isles of Scilly. It is known as Valhalla and I have written about it in a previous post (see https://lagill6.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/shipwrecks-and-valhalla/)