Actors and artichokes

Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin in 1975

A is for that wonderful actor Alan Arkin, who turns 80 today. It is also for Amazon Street, Amen Corner, Askew Road, and Artichoke Hill, the name of which derives from an inn sign.

Artichokes were introduced to England in the 16th century, during the reign of Henry VIII, and as much as a century later they were still rare enough to command a high price.

The artichoke was adopted as a sign because of its comparative rarity and unusual shape, which lent itself well to artistic representation; it became a symbol for gardeners and was a common one for inns in garden areas.

artichokeThere is an Artichoke pub in Devon dating from the 13th century; it was purportedly used as a headquarters for the Crusaders who were thought to have brought an artichoke back with them.

[Other actors born on this day are James Caan and Leonard Nimoy.]

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