"In the Garden of L"

Art research by Guillaume Roos

Philip LeMarchand based the surface panels for this music box on a pair of architectural commissions he received from famed English politician and postmaster Sir Francis Dashwood, the founder of a secret society called The Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe, more popularly known as The Hellfire Club.

"Charity in the Cellar"
By Hellfire Club member William Hogarth, 1739

"Picture situated in a wine cellar, where a group of five men called the 'Hell-Fire Club' is occupied with heavy drinking. The men are grouped similar to the real statue of Charity, which is portrayed in miniature on a cask of wine."

Sir Francis Dashwood displaying "The Lion's Paw" hand sign
1753 - The year The Hellfire Caves were dug on his Wycombe estate

"Sir Francis was the Great Architect behind all the legends of wild orgies, pagan rituals, secret chambers, stolen stalactites, mystic gardens, wild parties, plots against the state and even a baboon dressed as the Devil.  He built the interior of a Church in the style of an Egyptian temple, dressed up prostitutes as nuns, influenced and maybe even controlled some of the most powerful men in British politics, quite likely seduced the Tsarina of Russia and rewrote the common Book of prayer with his close friend Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America."

Philip LeMarchand spent a summer at Dashwood's estate in West Wycombe, north of London, where he designed the floor plans for a outdoor hedge maze and underground tunnel system where The Hellfire Club would meet for ritualized services.

Dashwood had heard about LeMarchand’s growing reputation and talent, and he wished for him to plan "the most complicated labyrinth he could create." A few weeks later, LeMarchand came to the Dashwood’s estate with the map plan inscribed on a brass music box called "In the Garden of L."

"What does the L stand for?" Sir Francis asked.

LeMarchand answered "Only the one who reaches this box at the center of the labyrinth and finds their way out might know what that L means."

"Oh, a riddle? I love riddles!"

"Then, my Baronet, you might really enjoy this one."

El Faquir Dashwood Pasha toasting "The Harem."

It took a few months for the gardeners to create the labyrinth. On the day it was finished, Dashwood, so proud of this new toy, sent a convocation to all his relatives and friends for a gigantic garden party during which he promised a great amount of gold to the one who would be the first to find his way out of the labyrinth and tell him what the L stood for.

"Pleasure Garden with a Maze"
By Lodewijk Toeput, 1570's

Forty-seven persons entered the labyrinth. Only one man came out. The servants found him covered with blood, his clothes torn in pieces, unable to speak. The poor man, some cousin of the Dashwood’s, died only a few minutes after he was discovered.

He was holding in his left hand a little brass music box called since then "The Garden Configuration." His body mysteriously disappeared in the hours that followed. No one will ever know what became of him and the forty-six other guests.

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