Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Murder of Mary Bax

After yesterdays Owl photo session I stopped to catch the sunset at Mary Bax.

On 25 August 1782 Mary Bax was walking along the Ancient Highway from Deal to Sandwich carrying a parcel. She was 800 metres beyond the Chequers Inn when she was apprehended by a Swedish sailor, Martin Lash, who demanded the parcel. She refused, and in the struggle Mary Bax was struck many times and murdered; her body concealed in a ditch.

The murder was witnessed by a young boy, described as the son of 'a looker in the Marshes' (a looker was a shepherd). The boy ran back to Deal to raise the alarm.

Martin Lash was eventually apprehended in Folkestone asleep at the foot of one of the tombstones in the parish churchyard, still in possession of the stolen parcel. It transpired he had deserted his ship while it was in the Downs. He was taken to Maidstone Gaol, tried and executed.

The bleak lonely site of the murder is marked by Mary Bax's Stone. The notice reads "On this spot August the 25th 1782 Mary Bax, spinster, aged 23 years was murdered by Martin Lash, foreigner who was executed for the same."

This evening I went to Maidstone for the monthly KOS meeting. Tonight's talk was "Sichuan - The Hard Way" by Gordon Allison (RSPB warden in North Kent).

Gordon gets ready to continue the talk after the tea break, while in the background one member describes the size of the fish he saw the Green Heron eat at Hythe.

I couldn't resist copying this picture of Gordon's. I've long forecast an Olive-backed Pipit in the garden of Ship House on Kingsdown Lees, and this could just about pass for that occurrence.

The secret forests of South-West Sichuan are in trouble as modern life encroaches further and further into these isolated hills, where the values of Tibetan Buddhism have helped to protect the unique biodiversity for centuries. Gordon's talk illustrated the work carried out in conjunction with Beijing Forest University and the World Pheasant Association during a sabbatical visit in October 2007, to raise public awareness of the plight of the "King of the Forest" - the White-eared Pheasant - and the fragmented habitat where it lives. Gordon finished off with some photos of Giant Pandas in a breeding project. It was in Sichuan that much of the Pandas natural habitat was damaged by the earthquake that killed 10,000 people in May 2008.

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