This week a story we’ve been following for several years appears to have come to fruition with the planning approval being awarded to Prinknash bird park in Gloucestershire to be able to build new animal welfare facilities and a visitor centre.
Over the years, on the paper, we’ve all become quite familiar with this vaguely bizarre story whereby a group of monks who own a large estate have objected to their tenant – the bird park – improving their facilities, on the grounds that the area has spiritual significance and the new facilities will create a theme park atmosphere!
I’ve visited both the bird park and the monastery on a couple of occasions and found the whole scenario fascinating. Based in a beautiful valley near Upton-St-Leonards, the monastery survived Henry the VIII’s wrath to continue to this day. Visiting the religious retreat is to step back in time to a period of superstition that while interesting, best belongs in a history textbook. I find it wholly incredible that there are human beings among us who still cling to ideas that were generated purely by our ignorance of the world we live in.
And poor old Melanie Meigh, the owner of Prinknash bird park, has had to deal with these strange fellows – her landlords – as they talk in terms more akin to the Spanish Inquisition than our modern age. Luckily the planning bods at Stroud district council have finally stepped in and put an end to the prolonged and increasingly bitter wrangle. The bird park is a wonderful resource for the people of the area and in no way impinges on the monastery, like the monks claim. As Melanie says: “It’s absolute twaddle and totally inappropriate to say that it is turning into a theme park. Let’s put things in perspective – Alton Towers is a theme park. Twenty-five toddlers sitting down having a tea party is not a theme park!”
Given the monks obvious detachment from the local community and to all intents and purposes – reality – a visit to a theme park might actually do them quite a lot of good. Anyway, I just thank my lucky stars I don’t have to live in an age when superstition had a lot more power than it has today.
Hasta la vista...