“Come on Flora” by Lester Hillman (July 2020).
St James’s Park and the Mall (1745), British School 18th Century
Here in St James’s Park it is the Feast of St James. Looking southwards and towards the Thames the Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster stands tall against the evening sky. This year, 1745, the 25th July is a Sunday. Earlier, thoughts elevated, one or two may have squeezed into the pews of the Chapel Royal of St James nearby. But no one is directing their focus heavenward now.
Flora does not need to eavesdrop the snatches of German in the lively banter and Frederick Prince of Wales is not the only royalty in the Park tonight. It is 1745 and ‘ Flora’ is a subtle reminder of the ‘Prince Across the Water’. The name of the Park offers yet more reinforcement. A pair of kilted warriors pass by, adding to the Jacobite July drama.
Flora herself is of course undisputed royalty, acknowledged ‘gold topped cream’ she is at the very pinnacle of her own realm. Yes there are others, eighteenth century London numbers them in their thousands, but a welcome in the Park is the stuff of dreams for all but Flora. Her presence confirms her at the very apex.
As the light fades she wearies but her acute senses sustain her. She alone senses the river Tyburn buried under foot. Its faint refreshing gurgling offers a refreshing dialogue. The hidden waters waft up a faint aroma. Sweet moisture helps Flora summon up her last warm frothy white liquid. Her followers rejoice, toasting their loyal allegiance. Flora processes majestically out, taking a dignified leave and a last walk in the park.