No. 1140: Church Hill, E17
St. Mary’s Churchyard, Church Hill, London, E17. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
Birds In London – W.H. Hudson, 1898:
Down to about 1826 [a] pair [of ravens] bred annually on one of the large elms in Hyde Park, until it entered into the head of one of the park keepers to pull down the nest containing young birds.
The old ravens, deprived of their young, forsook the park. One of the young birds was successfully reared by the keeper […]. He was allowed the fullest liberty, and as he passed a good deal of his time in the vicinity of the Row, he came to be very well known to all those who were accustomed to walk in Hyde Park at that time. He was fond of the society of the men then engaged in the construction of Rennie’s bridge over the Serpentine, and the workmen made a pet of him. His favourite amusement was to sidle cunningly up to some passer-by or idler, and, watching his chance, give him or her a sharp dig on the ankle with his beak. One day a fashionably dressed lady was walking near the bridge, when all at once catching sight of the bird at her feet, on feeling its sharp beak prodding her heel, she screamed and gave a great start, and in starting dropped a valuable gold bracelet from her wrist. No sooner did the jewel touch the ground than the raven snatched it up in his beak and flew away with it into Kensington Gardens, where it was searched for, but never found. It was believed that he made use of the hollow trees in the gardens as a hiding place for plunder of this kind. At length the raven disappeared – some one had stolen him; but after an absence of several weeks he reappeared in the park with clipped wings. His disposition, too, had suffered a change: he moped a good deal, and finally one morning was found dead in the Serpentine. It was surmised that he had drowned himself from grief at having been deprived of the power of flight.