Friday, 16 April 2010

Horse chestnuts in the park

Dear Reigate and Banstead Borough Council,

May I please bring to your attention the text on your leaflet obtainable from the Pavilion.

"Tree number 13: Horse Chestnut - Aesculus hippocastanum arrived in Britain in the 17th Century. The name derives from the inside of a conker shell that is shaped like a horses hoof."

Would you please let me have the source of that information and get it corrected.

As a biologist educated by the great tree expert, Professor Alan Gemmell, I cannot accept an explanation that a conker shell is shaped like a horse's hoof! Was this an April Fools joke or a Spot the Deliberate Mistake game?

Some accurate and logical explanations for children and adults alike are given here:
with references and photographs of the horseshoe leaf scars.

"The name refers to the nuts being fed by the Turks to ailing horses."

"As a primary school teacher, the explanation I have used most often is the shape of the leaf scar ..."

In view of the fact that Reigate Priory was home for centuries for numerous horses of the highest quality and their famous breeders, I am currently writing an article about this for publication on the internet and as a chapter for a book. So I look forward to hearing that you are going to amend the text and consider scrapping the remaining leaflets. I shall keep my copy as a souvenir however.

Thank you.

Grace Filby (Ms)
Former Head of Science and Head of Special Educational Needs at Reigate Priory Junior School.

All photos and text on this site are copyright Grace Filby 2009-2010 except where credited and referenced accordingly.

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