MICHAEL PORTILLO’S popular BBC television series ‘Great British Railway Journeys’…
THE VANITY OF DEVON’S FERAL PEACOCKS has been causing problems for car owners in the vicinity of Bishop’s Court Palace, Clyst St. Mary, one of the county’s most popular wedding venues.
According to some of the near neighbours of the ancient house and its 60-acre estate, the birds have been attacking parked cars as they spotted their own reflections in the paintwork. A spokesperson for Bishop’s Court told the Guardian newspaper:
“They absolutely do not originate with us. They are just wild. I don’t know where they come from. It is like asking where the robins or the foxes come from.”
King Edward I (aka Longshanks) and his court spent Christmas at the house in 1285. That he ate swans is a matter of record (See: The Feast of the Swans). It is more than likely that he also enjoyed the occasional peacock, feral or otherwise. Why? Because he could.
Most wild creatures in the UK are protected by law, even homeless, wandering Devon peacocks who peck and scratch at the paintwork of expensive motor cars. So don’t try this at home but that said, the following medieval recipe (which was a nightmare for our Spellchecker) might just come in handy one day, especially if you park a car near Clyst St. Mary.
(Vegetarians and peacock lovers, look away now)
Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and kutte his throte, And fle him, the skyn and the ffethurs togidre, and the hede still to the skyn of the nekke, And kepe the skyn and the ffethurs hole togiders; drawe him as an hen, And kepe the bone to the necke hole, and roste him, And set the bone of the necke above the broche, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve, And abowe the legges to the body, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve; And whan he is rosted ynowe, take him of, And lete him kele; And then wynde the skyn wit the fethurs and the taile abought the body, And serve him forthe as he were a-live; or elle pull him dry, And roste him, and serve him as thou doest a henne.