The stirring verses of William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ were written in the first decade of the 19th century, and are still sung today at the Proms to the music added by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The last verse reads:
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
This stands in contrast to the contents of the second verse, in which Blake asks:
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
This jab at the grim reality of the damage being wrought upon the English countryside and populace by the industrial revolution has long been quoted as an early example of environmental sentiment.
In the 21st century it is possible to see one particular feat of design and engineering that has reversed some of the environmental damage of industrial processes and created a vibrant ecosystem that enhances the English landscape.
Near the tiny china-clay town of Bodelva in Cornwall a huge disused clay pit has been turned into the Eden Project, a colossal environmental endeavour that includes the largest greenhouse in the world, housing a rainforest in the middle of the distinctly un-tropical Cornwall. Opened to the public in 2001, the Eden Project now hosts huge numbers of visitors each year, as well as playing host to a series of rock concerts each summer.
I visited the site whilst staying with family friends Jack and Anna in Truro last week. Here’s some photos to give you an idea of the views. They won’t convey the temperature inside the greenhouse though – I was glad it wasn’t summertime, because it was quite steamy in there!
Inside the tropical biome
Left: inside the Mediterranean biome, right: the Seed, a 70-tonne granite carving.