A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean region, or from other species, such as Bryonia alba, the English mandrake, which have similar properties.
But things get a bit strange
Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history.
According to the legend, when the root is dug up, it screams and kills all who hear it.
Apparently some clever folks found a way around this
A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.
The “mysterious practices” that mandrakes enabled must have been pretty amazing! And perhaps they were. It was said that mandrake root enabled witches to fly! Makes you wonder what might happen to you if you stuffed one in your pocket!
There you have it! With this sort of etymology, you might exercise some caution checking into a “Mandrake Hotel”. Apparently lots of people do it anyway. And from the photos, you can see why
I am especially fond of the living element! Nature indoors, so to speak. The Telegraph gives the Mandrake an excellent review, even though the staff under performed at the breakfast table. ES likes it as well — emphasizing that it is not “corporate”.
I might consider staying at the Mandrake, despite the name, but it is in Fitzrovia. This is an odd section of inner London. Why do I say so? Because many years ago, I used to live nearby and I never went there. Guilty as charged — offering a totally subjective and outdated assessment.
But what about that name – Fitzrovia. Just what is a fitzrovia? The area probably takes its name from a tavern called the Fitzroy, on the corner of Charlotte and Windmill Streets. As you can see, it is still there today
From the 1920s to the 1940s Charlotte Street was at the heart of bohemian London and the people who gathered at the Fitzroy Tavern included William Sickert, Augustus John, Aleister Crowley, Lawrence Durrell, Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Nina Hamnett and Jacob Epstein.
All well and good. We honor the great bohos in this blog space. But where did the tavern — the Fitzroy — get its name? Back to Wikipedia
… until the end of the 19th century the area which now includes Fitzrovia belonged to the Duke of Grafton and his family; their surname is Fitzroy ….
Aha! But dare I ask, what is a Fitzroy?
The name Fitzroy derives from the Norman-French for “son of the king”, although it usually implies the original holder was the bastard son of a king
Ooops! There you have it! Right in the center of London, the bastard son of a king has given birth to a mandrake!
That does get one’s attention!
While we are on the topic, Fizrovia has developed a nice array of destinations for intensive mastication. So much for my subjective and out of date assessment! Go for it dude!