Last year I visited the Isle of Dogs a few times and checked out a few things on the alignment. For starters, I have got a much better photo of the steps leading up to the Omphalos, this time looking back down them towards the arch that leads into the field .
I have also updated my interactive map. One difference is purely technical in that the coordinates of the markers are now loaded from an external XML file as opposed to being hard coded into the HTML file. Visible differences include the removal of the line marking the Prime Meridian and the addition of a new map control (which can be hidden by clicking the small arrow in the bottom right corner). The only really significant difference though is the addition of a new marker at the location of a strange concrete obelisk just West of South Quay DLR station. I only learnt of its existence by spotting it's shadow on the satellite image while scanning along the line. I have since been to see it but didn't have a camera with me. There is no sign or inscription to indicate who put it there or why.
Stewart Home is a name that has cropped up a couple of times on this page. My attention was recently drawn to a couple of articles about him in Principia Dialectica:
In my first entry on this page I mentioned a room in a pub near the Omphalos which is apparently "consecrated to a covert Masonic lodge". I have not mentioned it since then, but it should be quite obvious that Freemasonry probably holds the key to much of the symbolism associated with the prime axis on which the Omphalos lies. I don't know much about Freemasonry but I was just reading a couple of articles on the subject. The first was The Impact of Freemasonry on Elizabethan Literature by Ron Heisler, which mentions John Dee a few times. The second was an anonymous article at MasonicWorld.com called St John Days which attempts to explain the significance of June 24 and December 27 in the Masonic diary.
Meanwhile, I have also read an Interview with John Connor by John Filiss. John Connor apparently became general editor of Green Anarchist in 1995. Remembering that Fabian Tompsett is the presumed author of "Nazi Occultists Sieze Omphalos", check out the Interview, paying particular attention to Connor's response to this:
While Green Anarchist was suffering the inevitable difficulties of the Gandalf Trial, and in particular need of a show of solidarity from all those concerned about freedom, you inexplicably came under attack by Stewart Home and Fabian Tompsett in what appeared to be a clear attempt to undermine your support. Perhaps you can give me some sketch of what occurred.
I have just been looking at GeoURL and decided to geolocate the zenatode website. I didn't want to locate it either at my house or the server room where it is hosted so I decided to locate it at the Omphalos.
I have just tweaked my interactive map a bit. First I centred it on the Omphalos, which seemed only fitting. Then I removed the short red line at zero longitude and replaced it by a longer one at -0.001491, chosen to make it coincide with the Prime Meridian marked on the ground at the observatory.
I have updated my interactive map to use version 2 of the Google Maps API. There is still a bit of tweaking I should do but it is basically working fine. One advantage of the new API is that polylines now seem to display properly, which means I was able to use a single segment between the two end markers rather than splitting it into 100 subdivisions.
By the way, I did not make it to the radical history walk that I mentioned in my previous entry.
The radical history walk I mentioned in my previous article has been announced on a number of sites, for example on the Eroding Empire diary of events where it is listed for Friday July 28th. This contradicts the earlier announcement I saw, so I emailed Terry and he has confirmed to me that the walk is in fact on Saturday July 29th, meeting at 3pm at the Blackheath gate to Greenwich Park.
Someone called Terry seems to be planning a radical history walk of Greenwich and Deptford. People are being asked to meet at the Blackheath gate to Greenwich Park on Saturday July 29th at 3pm. I guess there is no significance to meeting on the Greenwich alignment but I might join the walk anyway.
I heard Matthew Pearl talking on BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week" today about his new book "The Poe Shadow". He talked about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Edgar Alan Poe's death, calling it one of the two biggest mysteries in literary history - alongside that of the death of Christopher Marlowe.
Time for me to summarise what I have learnt since my last entry almost a month ago. This research is low priority for me so I have not been able to pursue the various threads very far - I am hoping others might take up where I leave off.
A Google search for pages including both "John Dee" and "Christopher Marlowe" brings up 623 results of which 56 also include "Omphalos". Of those, 23 include "Isle of Dogs" and they all (apart from one which is just a word list) refer to the LPGA article that inspired me to write this page. Of the other 33 that do not include "Isle of Dogs" the only significant ones are all basically related to Christopher Marlowe and John Dee at Steampunk, from which:
We believe the Omphalos spell was cast by JD in late 1592 or early 1593 and that CM was present. Notice than JD and CM were both in Europe in 1584. Is this a coincidence or something more sinister? I suspect there was some common purpose to this.
Moving on now to the question of when the alignment was set, everything seems to point to Inigo Jones and the Queen's House. The best reference I have come across is an article by Laurence Shafe entitled Inigo Jones, Part 2, The Queen's House, Greenwich, from which:
The Queen's House, designed by Inigo Jones, was constructed on either side of the Deptford to Woolwich roadway on the site of an old gate-house. It became known as Jones 'curious devise' which later writers called the 'House of Delight'. It comprised 2 buildings united by a covered bridge of stone.
The foundations were laid in 1616 and as far as I can tell, everything else on the alignment was built more recently. I have so far failed to find any evidence that the alignment was considered significant earlier than this. A useful line of enquiry would be to investigate the connection between Inigo Jones and John Dee.
Finally, I have been looking at the question of the authorship of the LPGA article. It is listed in the "Seven by Nine Squares" print archive Fragmentary Index as:
ID 2LondonThomps London Psychogeographical Association Nazi Occultists Seize Omphalos Vol. 1, No. 0 (pamphlet) Alleged editor: London Psychogeographical Association Presumed editor: Fabian Thompson London, , 1993
I assume they really meant Fabian Tompsett, a name which is generally associated with the LPGA. Now things start to get interesting! In my 2004-11-24 entry on this page I mentioned that the LPGA article appeared in a 1997 collection by Stewart Home. Well it turns out that there is a fairly close connection between Stewart Home and Fabian Tompsett through both the LPGA and the Neoist Alliance. Google for both their names together and you will find some interesting stuff. Fabian Tompsett's name is also associated with the bizarrely named "West Essex Zapatista" aka "West India Zapatista", usually in conjunction with Asim Butt (aka evol). Another character who keeps cropping up is Space Bunny, who happens to run the Stewart Home Society website. Fabian and Asim are particularly controversial figures, having been excluded from LARC on 2004-12-02 as a result of what was seen to be disruptive and abusive behaviour.
I have been surfing the web again and have come up with some interesting leads. First there is a landscape walk from Blackheath to Victoria Park in East London which closely follows the alignment and is described on the London Landscape Web. The following paragraph is of particular interest:
The Greenwich Meridian line is set in the path below the observatory. Like other visitors you can have your picture taken with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one in the Western. It is worth noting another axis before leaving the Wolf Statue. The prime axis of the Park was set by the, unknown, landscape designer of c1660. It was extended northwards to St Anne's in Limehouse by Hawskmoor, and southwards across to Blackheath when the church was built in the nineteenth century. The Chief Architect and Planner of the London Docklands Development Corporation argued that it should be sustained through the Isle of Dogs in the l980s. He was over-ruled, and the northern extension of the axis was obliterated by the Canary Warf Development on the Isle of Dogs.
The description mentions "Le Notre" in connection with the early landscaping of Greenwich Park and this was clearly a reference to Andre Le Notre who is described as the greatest French garden and landscape designer. This lead me directly to the gardenvisit.com page about Greenwich Park which begins the description with:
The finest seventeenth century architecture/landscape composition in Britain. The land was imparked, for deer, in 1433 and walled in 1661. The Queen's House, by Inigo Jones, was built 1661-2 and later became the focal point for the park design. The Royal Naval College, by Christopher Wren 1696-1705, will be partly occupied by the University of Greenwich in 1999. The network of avenues was planted in 1661 by Charles II. Le Notre did not visit England but his design for the grass parterre was implemented in 1662. It is overlooked by the remains of the Giant Steps which rise up to the statue of James Woolfe, sited on the hilltop in 1930.
Interesting stuff, but how can this be? Inigo Jones died in 1652 and according to greatbuildings.com, The Queen's House was actually built 1616-1635. This implies that the prime axis of the park was set no later than 1616 - some 42 years earlier than is suggested by either of the above sources (both of which which spell James Wolfe's surname wrong, but in different ways).
I have been playing with the Google Maps API recently and as a little exercise I have created an interactive map to go with this page. The map has markers placed at a number of key points. Clicking on a marker pops up a box which zooms in on the marker. The most southerly marker is on the spire of All Saints, while the most northerly one is at the centre of The Octagon at the Mile End campus of Queen Mary.
The blue line is a GPolyline consisting of 100 equal segments with the intermediate points obtained by interpolating between the coordinates of the two end markers. It was necessary to use multiple segments due to Google flakiness when displaying segments whose endpoints lie far outside the view port. I have also included a short red line (GPolyline with a single segment) near the Royal Observatory. This line runs along the zero meridian but note that it is about 100m to the east of the historical line beloved by tourists. This is explained in a Wikipedia article on the Prime Meridian.
A friend has told me that he remembers seeing something about this on television. Does anyone know how I can find out when/where it was shown?
Over ten years ago (1994-08-31) I went on a mission to the Isle of Dogs to investigate a mysterious cobbled circle. The thing that set me off was an article in Festival Eye titled "Nazi Occultists Seize Omphalos". It seems the article was reproduced from an undated leaflet attributed to the London Psychogeographical Association and has since found its way into "Mind Invaders: A Reader in Psychic Warfare, Cultural Sabotage and Semiotic Terrorism" (Serpent's Tail, London 1997, edited by Stewart Home). There are a number of online copies of the article, including this one. Here is the paragraph which mentions the circle:
Many people believe that Greenwich is in fact the Omphalos or spiritual centre of the British Empire. However those with a deeper understanding of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of land divination, will recognise that the actual Omphalos must be on the Isle of Dogs, protected by water on all sides. Those who visit the Mudchute, a piece of park mysteriously built as an exact replica of an ancient hill fort will find a special staircase leading to a cobbled circle. This is the Omphalos, the spiritual centre, where the Magus John Dee conjured up the British Empire in the presence of Christopher Marlowe, four hundred years ago this year. However, using the leyline for such evil purposes necessitated the sacrifice of a human life. A psychic attack on Christopher Marlowe and his friends in a Deptford pub lead to a brawl in which the famous playwright died.
The article mentions the election of BNP Councillor Derek Beackon which occurred on 1993-09-17 and it can't have been written much later than that or it would not have made it into the 1994 edition of Festival Eye. Christopher Marlowe apparently died on 1593-05-30, which reinforces other indications that the leaflet was written in 1993.
A lot of stuff in the article seemed highly unlikely but the existence or otherwise of the circle would be easy to check - and to cut a long story short I did eventually find it. The article claims that the circle is on the line joining Queen Anne House and St. Anne's Limehouse. Not only did I confirm this but I found (and this was not mentioned) that the steps which lead up to the circle follow the same line. I just dug out some photographs I took on that day and scanned the one you see here - sorry about the poor quality. The view is towards Greenwich but although the circle is straight ahead of me it is not visible because it doesn't show up on film. Just kidding! It is a flat cobbled circle that is obscured by the long grass until you are almost upon it. I then headed up to Canary Wharf and walked around until I was looking directly up the line of the South West corner of the pyramidal roof of Canada Tower. Checking my position I was intrigued to find myself once more on the line - confirming another of the article's claims.
The circle is in the middle of a field with no apparent purpose other than symbolism. I don't know when it was built but it must be post-Victorian because it seems the land it stands on was only raised to its present level as a result of the construction or maintenance of the docks. It may well be on the site of a much earlier circle but the big question is who built it and why?
If you plan on visiting the circle it might be worth having a drink at The George on nearby Glengall Grove. I have not been there myself but apparently at the back of the pub there is an area that is "consecrated to a covert Masonic lodge".
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010