Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Zoological Gardens Regents Park.  Notice the Clock Tower (weather vane on top) on the right.

The London Zoo appears on many pieces of 19th century transferware,  so I decided to visit the zoo when I was in London for the annual meeting of the Transferware Collectors Club.  (A brief history of the zoo can be seen in my post "Transferware Zoo Patterns #1").  A few of the original buildings not only exist, but are still in use.  Unfortunately, these buildings are not well represented on the zoo patterns.  That said, I needed to look carefully at the zoo patterns in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the TCC.  It was a bit like "find the hidden picture" game I enjoyed so much as a child.

The Clock Tower (1828), designed by Decimus Burton, the zoo's first architect,* appears on many lithographs of the early zoo.  It was built to house llamas or camels, but now is used as a first aid station.  Almost all of the early 19th century animal houses are considered much too small for animals of any kind today.

The Clock Tower was designed in 1828 by the early zoo architect,  Decimus Burton. The clock was added in 1831.  According to the ZSL website,* the building was rebuilt in 1844 as a Gothic house for llamas, and was rebuilt again in 1898.

An early lithograph of the Clock Tower by George Scharf (1788-1860), an illustrator for the ZSL, is complete with llamas (although they look like camels to me).  Notice the Gothic trim on the side of the building.

The Clock Tower is near the bear pit in the center of this print.

The Clock Tower is described here as housing camels.  Camels are in the same family as llamas, but the London Zoo website says llamas were housed in the clock tower building.

Robinson, Wood & Brownfield (1837-1837) "Zoological" soup tureen showing the Clock Tower on the left.  Notice the same Gothic trim that is seen in the prints above.  (click to make the photo larger)

The Ravens' Cage (1829) was also designed by Decimus Burton.  According to the sign, it was originally used as a summer residence for macaws, and it later housed ravens.  It was used recently as a feeding station for sparrows, but it is mainly of historical interest.  The cage suffered severe damage during the bombing of London during World War II, and was rebuilt.

Ravens' Cage, ca. 1829 was designed by Decimus Burton. 

Ravens' Cage sign

The right side of the sign shows an early image of the Ravens' cage (click to make the photo bigger).

Robinson, Wood & Brownfield (1837-1837) "Zoological" pepper pot printed with, perhaps, the ravens' cage.

Davenport (1794-1887) child's plate "Zoological Gardens, Beaver House Aviary &c."  Notice the Ravens' cage on the right behind the tree.  (This may not be the Ravens' cage, but wishful thinking got the better of me).

The East Tunnel (1829-30), designed by Decimus Burton,  linked the North and South parts of the zoo for the first time.  David and I walked through it in October.

The East Tunnel at the London Zoo

East Tunnel Zoo Sign (once again, I suggest you click on the photo to make it bigger).

George Scharf print of the monkey cages and the tunnel (see it on the left).

Ralph & James Clews  (1814-1834) "Zoological Gardens" 10 inch plate shows the monkey cages, the aviary and the tunnel (see it on the left).

Podmore, Walker & Co. (1834-1859) footed bowl.  The inside of the bowl shows the aviary, the monkey cages, and the tunnel.  The outside of the bowl features the otter cavern.

The outside of the "Zoological" footed bowl shows the otter cavern.

The giraffe house (1836-37) is still used for its original purpose; housing giraffes.  According to the ZSL, the zoo "received four giraffes in 1835; one female and three males.  Giraffes have occupied the house ever since.  Wings were added in 1849-50."  There was bomb damage in 1940, so the giraffe house was rebuilt in 1960-63.

Giraffe House at the London Zoo


Giraffe at the London Zoo

A newspaper print of the original giraffes at the London Zoo.  Notice that the pediment (triangular part above the door) has been removed from the present giraffe house.  It was possibly another Victorian addition, and not original to the building.

John Ridgway  (1830-1841) "Giraffe" 14 inch platter.  Read about this pattern in my post titled, not surprisingly, Giraffe.

I have shown you mainly zoo patterns that feature buildings that are still at the London Zoo; the Clock Tower, the Ravens' Cage, The Tunnel.  The Giraffe House only appears on a newspaper print,  but the print shows the same giraffes found on the platter above.  The platter is copied from a George Scharf  (early zoo artist) print, which is seen below.

George Scharf print of "The Giraffes..."

There are two series that feature many London Zoo patterns;  "Zoological" by Robinson, Wood & Brownfield and "Zoological Gardens" by Ralph & James Clews.  Not surprisingly, there are also many zoo patterns found on children's plates.   That, however, is a post for another day.

One more thing.  As I was leaving the zoo, I noticed posters that showed some of the endangered animals that are helped by the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) or, more simply, the London Zoo.   I always need to be reminded that zoos are not only for children's or adult's entertainment, but are societies that help preserve animals.  The ZSL was originally formed in 1826 to study animals, and it still does.  A good place to learn more about the ZSL is their website and their Facebook page.

The Asiatic lion is the one featured in the Bible!  Let's preserve him.

If you want to know more about the pangolin, the only mammal with scales, see my post on pangolins.
 *Information about the architecture at the zoo can be found here.

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