Innocent Amusements

heath pitch in the hole.jpg
William Heath (1794/95-1840), Innocent Amusement. Pitch in the Hold, no date [1828]. Etching with hand coloring. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2011.00897

Louis XIV wasn’t the only monarch to build a country estate. In the 1820s, George IV, King of England (1762-1830) spent nearly 9,000 pounds on a fishing lodge, designed by Sir Jeffery Wyatville (1766-1840). The Chinoisery Fishing Temple, in the southern end of Windsor Great Park, became a retreat for the King and his mistress, Elizabeth Conyngham, Marchioness Conyngham (1769-1861).

Nearby was the royal menagerie where George kept his kangaroos, ostriches, and other exotic animals. His favorite was a giraffe, given to him by Muhammad Ali, Pasha of Egypt (1769-1849), which arrived in London on August 11, 1827.

According to the Windsor & Eton Express (August 1827) “On Monday morning the camelopard … was conveyed in a caravan prepared for the purpose, to the Royal Lodge, where it greatly excited the admiration of his Majesty, and distinguished visitors. It is a most superb animal, beautifully spotted, and of an amazing height. Three Arabs have accompanied it, who are totally unacquainted with our language. It is now temporarily accommodated at Cumberland Lodge, till a fit place be built for it at the royal menagerie, at Sandpit Gate.”

The giraffe died in August 1829 and George died ten months later.