Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Elephant and Castle

Many of you have written to inquire if, during my ancestral research, I have discovered whether a certain area of London was named after one of my forebears and why there are such a large number of wall decorations bearing the image of an elephant around the city.

It is a well documented fact that an elephant called Caesar ruled over a large swathe of the present capital of Britain - then known as HomeLudein from which London was derived.

In 55BC an upstart Roman (who had adopted the elephants name in an attempt to bask in his reflected glory) attempted to invade Britain and was quickly seen off by Caesar and his followers.

As Lucian wrote at the time “…A group of four or five elephants were sent against the cavalry on either flank, the remaining eight attacked the scythed and two-horse chariots… Neither the Romans themselves nor their horses had previously seen an elephant, and they were so confused by the unexpected sight, that while the beasts were still a long way off and they would only hear the trumpeting and see their tusks gleaming… they turned and fled in a disorderly route before they were within bowshot. Their infantry was trampled by their own frightened cavalry.”

Reminiscent, I think, of the Badfort Crowd's cowardly behaviour.

Some historians, rather rudely I feel, have quoted Caesar as 'enjoying what he calls, in his usual self-promoting style, his "accustomed success"'

Caesar had a vast castle that covered a large area of modern-day South London - even bigger, some say, than my own vast domain.

There have been many tributes to him in the area....

...even to this day.

One cannot say with certainty that he is an ancestor of mine - but it would seem likely, given his entrepreneurial spirit and determination to fight for good causes and upright citizenship.

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