An Artist's Chelsea - Page 8



The Medal
The medal commemorates one of the best known adventures in Chelsea;
an attempt to break the French monopoly over silk by James I.
In 1718 John Appletree was granted a 60 year lease by William Sloane over an area
known as Chelsea Park to allow the establishment of a plantation of 2,000 Mulberry
trees, the sole food of the silk worm. The venture was listed in 1720 as the Raw Silk
Undertaking on the then rudimentary stock exchange with an authorised capital of
£1 million.
Whilst initially apparently successful by 1724 it had floundered and in May of that
year John Appletree was declared bankrupt. Nevertheless a few Mulberry trees can
still be found in Chelsea and Mulberry Walk in the heart of Chelsea remains a proud
testament to the failed venture.
The medal, designed by Kate Harrison, shows the leaves and fruit of the Mulberry
tree or Morus Nigra. The Chelsea variety comes from a tree reputedly planted by
James I in the Chelsea Physic Garden.





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