Recently I had the honour of becoming the first ever tourist to visit the Empire of Austenasia, which declared independence from the United Kingdom back in 2008 and is a small country of 75 residents. After crossing the border from the English town of Carshalton into Wrythe, capital of Austenasia I was greeted by Emperor Jonathan the First. First of all I was given a guided tour of the top sights of Wrythe, the nation’s capital and then I was offered the chance to tour the Protected State of Orly.
I had read on the internet about the Kingdom of Orly before, and while it’s definitely not a country in my eyes, it is a protected state that is recognised by the government of Austenasia. However the Kingdom of Orly is actually owned by the United Kingdom and is based in the town of Carshalton in south London. The Kingdom of Orly is a name given to the area by people who used to visit the area. There is no permanent population in Orly, nor are there any buildings with addresses that house people. The people of Carshalton and England know the area as the Grove Park. The name Orly has been masterminded by the Austenasian Government and the Kingdom of Orly is split into two separate, even smaller states, Kingdom of the Grove and the Kingdom of Copan. The Kingdom of Copan has a Queen currently.
Emperor Jonathan I gave me a guided tour of Orly and again I was the first ever tourist or backpacker to be given a tour of Orly. Here are my observations and top sights.
1. The Wisdom Tree and “Wisdom”, Orly
A spiritual tree once stood here, known as “The Wisdom Tree”, it has since been removed and now the area it once stood in is simply known as “Wisdom”.
2. Memphis, the capital of the Kingdom of the Grove, Orly
I did chuckle when Jonathan explained that the capital of the Grove is Memphis, little more than a few rocks in a grassy area. This is seriously the most bizarre “capital” I have ever been to! There is no shop, no street, no houses, no human residents.
3. The Copan Steps
Again I thought I was hearing things when I was told about the Copan Steps. In 2014 I had visited the actual town of Copan in Honduras, where they have a real Mayan ruins site, recognised by UNESCO and a popular tourist site. Here the Copan Steps are merely a set of steps destroyed by the overflowing of a river in the English town of Carshalton. It was some contrast!
4. The Welcome sign to the Kingdom of Copan
Honestly this is the most bizarre marker EVER for a kingdom or country. Inscribed onto the rocks by the Copan Steps is the writing (in a felt tip pen) “Welcome to the Kingdom of Copan”.
5. Honeywood Museum
Last year I bought my best mate Neil a book on “London’s Secret Places! and bizarrely the Honeywood Museum in Carshalton was on the list. Strictly speaking it’s nothing to do with Orly or Austenasia, but it is right opposite the Kingdom of the Grove.
The family-friendly museum re-opened in May 2012 after a complete refurbishment following a grant from the HLF. It has beautifully restored period details including the Edwardian Billiards Room, Drawing Room and Bathroom. There are exhibitions which tell the fascinating history of the house and the people who lived there, and an on-going diary of events which illuminate the history of Carshalton and the Borough of Sutton. – http://www.friendsofhoneywood.co.uk/
6. Anglican Church
Austenasia has a Christian majority yet it doesn’t describe itself as a religious state and they welcome all religions to become Austenasians. However on the edge of Orly is a fine Anglican Church.
7. “The British Embassy”
On our walk through the protected state of Orly, a significant building is described to me as “The British Embassy”. It looks like a derelict building but I learn that it is in fact used by the local council, but I also learn that no passports or visas can be issued here. It’s all part of the Austenasian dream though, and easily the most significant building in Orly.
8. Wilderness Island
An island in the wilderness, yet cool enough to be in London and just outside the nation of Orly. It was all a bit surreal. Like a Kingdom nobody has heard of, yet Austenasians know all about it.
And you’ll be wondering about the use of the name Orly, I’m sure of it. Those used to travel will know that the name of the budget airport in Paris is called Paris Orly, something I found out when looking at where to stay in Paris that time I came back for my mate’s wedding in 2011. But alas – the Orly here is different. It’s short for “Oh Really”! I kid you not. Well worth a look.
Here is a video from my guided tour of Orly, with thanks to Emperor Jonathan the First of Austenasia:
And a video of my arrival in the other Orly, the airport in Paris: