Secret Evergreen Grotto

A long, long time ago, two brothers called Thomas and James Backhouse were asked to create a garden for the local Museum with plants and paths for people to walk down to see the creatures in the Museum’s Zoo – A wild stoat, a swan, a porpoise, a python, a golden eagle, several monkeys, an owl and the Zoo’s Big Bear. The Big Bear silently watched the men arrive each day, work in the garden and go home, which made him sad because he could not go home and he missed Mummy Bear and Baby Bear. The Big Bear became mischievous, pulling rude faces, sticking his tongue out and chasing people, so the Museum decided a different Zoo might cheer him up and in 1831 London Zoo agreed to take the Big Bear and travel arrangements were made to transport him to London by stagecoach.

From the Zool. Soc. London, Dec. 26th 1831

Sirs,

We shall feel much pleased in taking your bear on the terms proposed in your letter of 21st.

The best mode I can conceive of forwarding him to us is by one of the York coaches, you booking him on as an outside Passenger, and promising the Guard a recompense on his delivering him safe in London. Be so good as to send us a line to inform us of the Coach by which the animal is to travel and the place and probable time of his arrival in town. You will also oblige me by stating to whom we shall pay the price of the animal.

Surprisingly there were no reports from any of the passengers, nor the stagecoach company of travelling with a bear, nor is there a record of a bear arriving in London, mischievous or otherwise that day……………..

Daddy Bear escaped and caught the first stagecoach to Scotland where he knew his family were living happily somewhere in a garden also made by the Backhouse Family with plants and pathways overlooking the Lomond Hills in Fife.

……. Come and discover the end of this enchanting bear story and the secret evergreen grotto!