Cleopatra’s needle, which stands on the banks of the River Thames is one of a pair that was erected in 1500BC, and stood in front of the temple of Heliopolis in Egypt, where Moses was born. It was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to the British people in 1819 as ‘a worthy memorial of our distinguished countrymen Nelson and Abercromby’, after Nelson’s victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Due to an unfortunate chain of events, it took 70 years for it to finally arrive in London and sadly gained the distinction of being the first London monument to be hit in an air attack in World War I. A bomb exploded near the plinth and one of the lions suffered shrapnel damage (which you can still see today).
But this monument holds a historic secret …. in its plinth is a time capsule which holds items such as Imperial weights and measures, four Bibles in different languages, a railway guide with timetables of the day and copies of newspapers from 1879, which was the year it was erected on the Embankment. It is also said to contain cigars, a gentleman’s lounge suit, the complete outfit a fashionable lady of the day would’ve worn, magazines of the day, popular childrens’ toys, a razor, twelve photographs of the most beautiful famous women of the time and a complete set of currency used throughout the Commonwealth ranging from a farthing to five pounds.
I often wonder what we would put in a time capsule to tell future genrations what we were about….!