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from The Essential Paradise.

Doc. 1.63. Edit

Somerset (1995 pop.: 1303) is an incorporated township on Eden Island, in the British Paradise Islands, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

It is the home of numerous characters of the A Tale of Two Paradises fiction/fantasy arc, being the first specific municipality devised by Jonnie Comet.

See also Characters of Somerset society Edit

Basic information Edit

  • Official name: Somerset Township
  • Population: 1303 (1995)
  • Land area:
  • Governmental structure: Five-member councillor board
  • Head of government: Chairman of the Council
  • Settled 1913; incorporated as township, 1981

Map of Lower 'Old' Somerset

Map of Upper Somerset

Map of neighbouring Pirates' Cove

History & geography Edit

Originally delineated in 1913, early Somerset was only the small hamlet north of Devon Road, along the shore of Pirates' Bay. Queensway, the high street, was laid in 1928. This section is now known as Old Somerset, or Lower Somerset, since an early-1980s expansion into the raised Windcombe Valley. It was this rash of development, threatening to impinge on the island's natural rainforest ecosystem, that concerned American adventurer and yachtsman (now Sir) Paul Cavaliere when he and the crew of Starchase called here in 1983.

In 1986 Cavaliare's cousin, the entertainer and entrepreneur Jonathan Cavaliere, now Lord Paradise, acquired a heavily-wooded area east of Bayswater in Old Somerset, which remains essentially undeveloped, to serve as the Eden Island approach to Camelot, his estate on Treasurers' Cay, accessible via a causeway and drawbridge across Pirates' Bay. Through Cavaliere's land purchase and rezoning transaction was created the Baronet's Tract, representing over two-thirds of the section and remaining natural as a preserve. The transaction in turn originated the Paradise Code, a set of zoning regulations by which privately-held sections of land may be rezoned as permanent preserves in return for tax rebates and other incentives, thus preserving natural lands and wildlife habitats from the potential of redevelopment.

The city of Pirates' Cove (1995 pop.: 2728) lies over the western boundary of Somerset Township and serves as a regional port, industrial and business centre.

Spreading south from Devon Road into the Goose Hill range, the gently rolling Windcombe Valley is home to Upper Somerset, a largely residential section including a retail high street (Somerset Hill Road) and the Somerset Park public golf course. Upper Somerset exists as one of only three substantially-developed areas extending more than a kilometre or two into Eden Island's interior. Though dozens of freehold houses were built in this area during the 1980s, much regulatory legislation was passed in 1984-1990 effectively curtailing further disruption of the delicate natural environment.

The interior south of Somerset Township, mostly steep hillsides known as the Heart of Paradise, is noted for pristine tropical rainforest and as a protected habitat of Pacific egrets.

Starchase Hill rises to a height of 118 metres [387 feet] just south and west of the township. It was on these slopes that Paul Cavaliere discovered artifacts belonging to the HMS Branford indicating that the ship had stranded along the northern shore of Eden Island in 1778-79. Earlier reports had indicated the Branford had been lost in deep water after grounding on what is now known as the Camelot Shelf.

Upon his arrival at Eden Island in February 1773, Captain James Cook and the crew of Endeavour are believed to have landed within a few hundred metres of present-day Cook Landing, across the island from Somerset. The linking motorway, winding, two-lane Cook Landing Road, with its frequent switchbacks, is the oldest of only three vehicular roads over the mountainous interior of Eden Island.

Original Somerset, a nearby but remote borough of Pirates' Cove, was located in a safe lee shore of Eden Island, protected from prevailing weather from the east by the Goose Range and the mass of the whole island. This location, which has been spared substantial damage from storm wind and sea since it was first occupied in the 1910s, tends to be very hot, windless and humid, with an abundance of freshwater springs as well as frequent rains. January temperatures may range from 29º to 36º C [84.2º to 96.8º F], with 27º to 33º C [80.6º to 91.4º F] in July. Residents farther up the hill, such as in Upper Somerset, tend to enjoy cooler, airier weather than those in the older section of the township.

See also Climate of the British Paradise Islands Edit

Business & industry Edit

Predominantly a residential community, Somerset is known for its professional offices, lumber industry, furniture making and agricultural distribution. Several independent growers harvest tropical cedars, pitch pine and fir from purpose-built tree farms along the northern slopes of the Goose hills. Other businesses, primarily professional and merchantile, are based in the close quarters of Old Somerset's business district and the nearby harbourfront.

Numerous farms lie along high, rolling land east of Upper Somerset and the Baronet's Tract. Staple crops, mainly for territorial markets, include grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy products.

The township is home to a regional node for Paradise Telecom. The Royal Bank of Paradise and National Westminster Bank have branch offices in the township.

Queensway, the high street of Old Somerset, between Casino Circle and Borough Circle, is reminiscent of English country market towns and contains shops offering home goods, women's wear and groceries as well as popular pubs and fine restaurants.

The Knight's Head Inn, a fine-dining establishment , located up Borough Park Road within the township and owned and operated by Lord Paradise, specialises in Piedmontese Italian and Alpine/European cuisine.

Education system Edit

The township is served by two schools, Oxmead Primary in Old Somerset and Somerset Hill Elementary in Upper Somerset. Enrolment in 1998-1999 term was 49 in forms 0-2 and 76 in forms 1-4.

Somerset has a comprehensive public library and is home to the Somerset Artists’ Guild and the Royal Paradise Music Academy, a comprehensive studio for performing arts, especially musical instruments and voice.

Somerset students above elementary 4th form commute, typically by public Paradise Transport bus, to the regional North Eden High School, about 21 kilometres [13 miles] east in Devon Township. The 221 Somerset students in the secondary 1-6 forms represent the second-largest community student population in the district.

Academic-achievement levels in the township are above average for the territory.

Government Edit

Though historically referred-to as a borough, Somerset is incorporated as a township, which in the BPI is a mid-sized independent administrative division consisting of real estate with owners represented by a five-member township council, protected by a public constabulary and taxed according to property value. Councillors are elected to two-year terms; after each election the ranking member, or one elected by the council, is to preside as chairman.

Somerset is represented with two seats in Territorial Parliament. Though not formally of separate wards, those of Old (lower) Somerset tend to support Liberal-leaning Delegates whilst those of Upper Somerset tend to support Conservative-leaning Delegates.

Community services Edit

The only healthcare facility within the township is the Somerset Women’s Clinic, noted for providing examinations, prescriptions and surgery care to territorial females over age 13. The region is served by the nearby Central Island Medical Associates, a general practitioners' in Pirates' Cove.

The Roman Catholic Old Scots' Oratory and St Paul's Anglican Church serve the township's religious.

Places of interest Edit

Several public parks, as well as 193 hectares [477 acres] of environmental preserve, exist within the township. There is a lido along Pirates' Cove having public sea-bathing facilities. Renegade Park, to the west of Old Somerset, serves as the boundary between the township and the city of Pirates' Cove.

The Somerset Casino Arcade, in Bayswater, is an under-21 gaming arcade and banquetting hall founded by Lord Paradise and Sir David Holloway in 1993.

The Railway Modelling Society of Eden Island has headquarters in Somerset Hill Road, including working and static model railways, model-building classrooms, and exhibits of British and American railway history open to the public.

Somerset Exhibition Hall, in Bayswater, is an ampitheatre with frequent theatrical and fine-arts presentations.

The Somerset Museum of Art, in Somerset Avenue, features exhibits of 20th-C. American & Pacific Islands art.

Astro, in Somerset Avenue, is one of the few cinema amphitheatres in the territory.

The Old Pirates’ Inn dates from c.1789 and is one of the oldest extant structures in the territory. Though it is not known if pirates truly did frequent the inn, records indicate the place was used as a rendezvous where sailors found new assignments and captains and ship owners might replenish their crews. Historical documents, local artifacts and other archives are on exhibit on the premises.

Unique culture Edit

Local rumour holds that the territorial favourite party game Blind Freddie was first devised and developed in Upper Somerset. The game is a variation on Blind Man's Bluff, in which one player is blindfolded whilst the others dance. When the music is stopped, the others freeze in place and the blindfolded one (‘Blind Freddie’) must identify at least one other player by touch alone.

One of the territory's largest Strategy leagues operates in Somerset. Skirmishes are frequently held in the densely-forested Somerset Wood and Somerset Hill Park preserves. The 1994 rules revision by StratCon, the governing and rulesmaking body of the game, was ratified in the parish hall of St Paul's Anglican Church in Somerset Hill Road.

Notable residents Edit

Somerset is perhaps most well-known for being the principal home of Sir Jonathan Cavaliere, Lord Paradise, and his wife Jeanne, Lady Paradise, and their family, whose residence is the Camelot estate on the 13-sq.-km. [5 sq.-mi.] island called Treasurers' Cay, lying about three kilometres [1.86 miles] across Pirates' Bay. The Cavalieres have been regular residents of the British Paradise Islands since 1990. Their children all attend or have attended comprehensive schools on Eden Island.

Other well-known residents Edit

  • Sir Carleton Howe, KCBE governor-general, 1973-1988
  • Astrid Halder, fashion model, media presenter and local style icon - attended Somerset schools but lives in Hidden Valley

Appearances in Two Paradises story arcs Edit

Somerset is a principal setting of much of the episodes, novels and novellae featuring the Cavaliere family and Strategy-game operations in both the Paradise One and Paradise Two domains.

Lord Jonathan takes Gwendolyn Dahl shopping in Queensway during the events of Serendipity, in The Love of Gwendolyn Dahl.

La Strada, a fine-dining establishment in Queensway featuring Piedmontese Italian cuisine, is the site of Charlie and Janine's first date in Janine's First Date, within the Janine, of Paradise story arc. Janine's friend Clarice Howe often entertains friends at her Old Somerset home or in town.

Import on real-world matters Edit

Considerably after author Comet had devised the Paradise Code of land preservation, a similar plan was promoted by New Jersey, USA, state governor Christie Whitman in the 1990s, whereby private money was solicited to sponsor purchase of open lands, the development rights to which were permanently signed away, thus effectively creating privately-funded preserves. The policy was pursued in concert with a much more successful one serving to preserve the state's (then rapidly-vanishing) farmlands.

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Jonnie Comet Productions Ltd Edit

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