Britain has a long and distinguished history in many areas of human endeavor, but none is more impressive than their achievements in science. From the basic sciences in general, the names of Roger Bacon (1214-1294), Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), John Dalton (1766-1844), Michael Faraday (1791-1867), and Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) rank among the greats of all time. It is no less the case in the fields of biology and medicine, where we will have much to say about people such as William Harvey (1578-1657), Stephen Hales (1677-1761), William (1718-1783) and John (1728-1793) Hunter, Edward Jenner (1749-1823), Sir William Hooker (1785-1865), Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870), Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1912), Joseph Lord Lister (1827-1912), and many more.
The places associated with these men and women are inevitably scattered, and many more historical associations survive of some than of others. In recent British history, there have been two events in which great physical destruction took place. The first of these was their Civil War in the first half of the seventeenth century, and the second was in World War II (1939-1945). Regrettably, the history of biology and medicine did not escape these two disasters, and in addition, time and change have taken their toll. We must also note that it is only in very recent times that it was even thought desirable to preserve scientific monuments. Nevertheless, Britain is very richly endowed with such monuments.
Roads in Britain are generally good, and British Rail offers excellent service to most places. There are also many bus services. All road directions we give are from London, unless otherwise noted.
Location-35 miles southwest of London
Train-From London (Waterloo)
Road-Take the M3 or A30 towards Basingstoke. Near Camberley, turn off along the A321 to Aldershot.
Aldershot is the “military town” of England, where soldiers have been trained for over a century. However, there are also three excellent historical museums: dental, medical and nursing.
Royal Army Dental Corps Museum
H.Q. and Training Centre
Royal Army Dental Corps
Phone: (0252)-24431 and ask for the Royal Army Dental Corps Training Center
Opening hours: Upon request at the main desk of the training center. No charge for admission.
Fortunately, the founders of this museum concentrated on dental history rather than military history, and the layout of the museum is chronological starting about 1660 and continuing to the present day. The whole museum is a remarkable documentary display of the advance of dentistry for over 300 years. Some of it is pretty grim! In addition to the various, and very interesting instruments, apparatus, etc., the visitor is reminded of the many problems and events which have affected dentistry directly and indirectly. For example, as early as the 17th century, military surgeons were required to preserve the soldiers’ front teeth so that they could bite through the cartridge when loading their flintlock muskets. With the advance of weaponry, and biting through the cartridge no longer necessary, the surgeon specialized in the preservation of the molars so that the soldiers could chew their food properly, and the front teeth were no longer considered essential! Vivid displays depict jaw and facial wounds so common in war (particularly in WW I with its trench warfare), and these involved the dentist in their repair. Quite contrary to popular belief, some remarkable “plastic surgery” was done in WW I, rather than having to wait for WW II, and much of this was done by surgeons and dentists working together. The leader in this area was the New Zealander, Sir Harold Delf Gillies (1882-1960). Of great interest also is a comparison of field dental units of WW II from British, American and German armies. One is struck at once by the enormous technical superiority of the German unit. In our opinion, this museum is a “little gem”.
Royal Army Medical Corps Historical Museum
Phone: (0252)-24431, Ext. Keogh 212
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9.00-16.00
No charge for admission.
One of the earliest recorded references to army medical doctors is found in the Greek poet Homer’s account of the siege of Troy (1190 BC), and certainly from that time onwards almost all armies have supplied some kind of medical care for their soldiers. This museum displays the development of that care, and consequently, is of great interest for the history of medicine in general.
The museum is relatively new, having been opened in 1981, but it is based on a much older one. Fortunately, it is being kept up to date under the able leadership of Lt. Colonel Roy Eyelons, who is the curator (1986), and there are even plans for expansion.
The displays are a blend of medical and military history, and are arranged chronologically in ten sections. The first section is from the earliest times to 1660, and the last from 1945 to the present. Some of the displays are very realistic and there is no attempt to hide the horrors of war, but great emphasis is placed on what the medical services can do to alleviate suffering. Some of the more spectacular items on view include the following: Hanoverian Army medical instruments from 1715, Napoleon’s dental instruments, water color drawings of the wounded at Waterloo (1815), a bullet extractor using electricity for detection, branding instruments used on deserters, iron lungs, mobile field anesthesia apparatus and a mobile surgery table with a mock casualty. All in all, an important museum in the history of medicine, and a good place to learn the important contributions made to medicine under the pressures of war.
Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps
Phone: (0252)-24431, Ext. 315 or 301
Opening hours: By appointment only, and it is necessary to phone in advance.
No charge for admission.
Within this training center for army nurses is a small museum devoted to the history of army nursing, and in fact, it supplies a history of nursing in general. A small pamphlet, as a guide, is available, and an excellent history of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps may be bought, and we recommend this.
This museum is a blend of military and nursing history, and tends to be photographic except for the displays of nurses’ uniforms. However, they have various artifacts of the nursing profession and some priceless objects such as the carriage used by Florence Nightingale (see under East Wellow, Middle Claydon and London, St. Thomas’ Hospital) in the Crimea. The displays are arranged chronologically, and at present, the museum is being redesigned and will, in due course, exhibit many new items from their un-displayed collections. This is the only Nursing Museum we are aware of, and is well worth a visit.
Before leaving Aldershot, the visitor will no doubt wish to see many other things there of historical interest. These are explained in a pamphlet entitled “Aldershot Military Town Trail”, which contains directions for seeing such diverse items as a Dakota preserved from WWII and a military horse cemetery!
Location – 35 miles South of London
Train – From London (Victoria) to Haywards Heath, and then by bus or taxi to Ardingly.
Road – Take the A23 going south from central London and join the M23 towards Brighton. Just past Crawley join the A23 again as far as Handcross. Then turn left (east) onto B2110 towards Balcombe, and follow this across the reservoir. At Ardingly turn left (north) onto B2028 to Wakehurst Place Gardens.
Wakehurst Place Gardens
Summer daily 10.00-19.00
Winter daily 10.00-16.00
Small charge for admission.
Wakehurst Place is a National Trust property leased to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as an addition to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (see under Kew). This supplies Kew with a much greater variety of growing conditions for various plants, and much larger facilities for botanic research. The gardens consist of 462 acres, most of which is natural woodland, in which the visitor can roam freely. This is an ideal place to see various species of trees, shrubs, etc., and their ecology in the natural woodlands of the area. Also there are extensive formal gardens, where there are large numbers of imported species – – all beautifully maintained.
It is here at Wakehurst that the Royal Botanic Gardens perform all their plant physiological research. They are particularly concerned with the physiology of seeds, seed germination and storage. They maintain a seed bank for many different types of people, including conservationists. They are concerned to find out how long various seeds can be stored and still remain viable. There is enormous variation between species, but most can probably be stored from 50-100 years.
Inscribed on the sundial within the gardens are the following lines by the American poet John Whittier (1807-1892), which expresses the attitude of those who love plants:
Give fools their gold and knaves their power
Let fortune’s bubbles rise and fall
Who sows a field, or trains a flower
Or plants a tree, is more than all.
Although the primary function of Wakehurst Place is scientific botany, it is also a very beautiful place and should not be missed.
Location-50 miles southeast of London.
Train-From London (Charing Cross)
Road-Take the A20 to the south, and follow this (or the M20) through Maldstone to Ashford.
Ashford, Kent, is not known to have been directly associated with William Harvey (see also under Folkestone, Canterbury and Hempsted), the man who discovered and proved the phenomenon of blood circulation. But the country of Kent is “Harvey Country”, so to speak, for it was here that he was born and brought up, and there are two things in Ashford which commemorate the memory of this giant of medicine.
Willesborough is a suburb of Ashford, which has a nice pub called “The William Harvey”. However, more important is the fact that in the garden of the pub, there is a fine statue of William Harvey. It has an interesting history. About 160 years ago it was sculptured by Henry Weekes, and stood outside the Royal College of Physicians in London. During WWII, the college was badly bombed and the statue damaged. While the debris was being cleaned up, and in some way, no one knows how, the statue found its way to the garden of this pub where it is today! It is well looked after and interesting to see. Also in Willesborough is the new William Harvey Hospital and outside the main entrance is a copy of the William Harvey statue at Folkestone. It is very impressive.
Location-105 miles west of London and 12 miles south of Gloucester.
Train-From London (Paddington) to Gloucester, and then by bus or taxi to Berkeley.
Road-Take the M4 to the west as far as exit 20 (which is where it crosses the M5). Take the M5 north to exit 14 and then join the A38 north to Stone. At Stone, take the B4509 (left) to Berkeley.
Berkeley (pronounced Barkeley) will remain celebrated for all time as the birthplace and home of one of mankind’s greatest benefactors, Edward Jenner (1749-1823), whose monumental work first brought under control the dread disease of smallpox, and which it would not appear has been eradicated from the earth- – we may hope forever.
The Jenner Museum
Opening hours: April 1-September 30, every day, 11.00-17.30
October-Sundays only, 11.00-17.30
Small charge for admission.
In a world now devoid of this disease, it is really very difficult for us to understand the terrible scourge of smallpox. It was highly contagious, and many a doctor contracted it while trying to treat a patient. It killed thousands (particularly children) and left other thousands visibly and badly scarred for life. The disease was probably of eastern origin and was brought to Europe by returning crusaders in the 11th and 12th centuries. From there, in due course, it spread throughout the world. It was a major factor in the virtual extermination of the North American Indian.
Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley, where his father was vicar, but at the age of five, both his mother and father died leaving him an orphan under the care of his elder brother Stephen, another clergyman. At the early age of twelve, Edward was apprenticed to a surgeon, David Ludlow, under whom he worked for nine years. Then at the age of twenty-one, he went to London to study anatomy and surgery under the most famous doctor of his day, John Hunter (see under London and East Kilbride) with whom he corresponded until the latter’s death in 1793. In 1773, Jenner returned to Berkeley, established himself in medical practice there, and in due course, married Catherine Kingscote. Upon marriage, they moved into Chantry Cottage, where they lived (with only short absences) for the rest of their lives.
Jenner, following the accepted practice of his day, inoculated many of his patients against smallpox (using fluid from a smallpox pustule) but soon found that some patients were resistant to the disease, and learned further that these patients had apparently all had a disease contracted from cows, known as cowpox. This is a relatively rare and mild disease, though prevalent in Western England at the time, and Jenner found that amongst milkmaids and others having close contact with cows, it is generally believed that contraction of cowpox gave protection, if not complete immunity, against smallpox. Thus it occurred to Jenner that if patients were inoculated with the fluid of a pustule of cowpox, from which they would contract cowpox (hopefully in mild form), that this might confer immunity to smallpox. Furthermore, and most important, Jenner hoped to create a reservoir of cowpox by transferring the disease via inoculation from human to human. This indeed proved possible, and it also proved possible to artificially store and ship the fluid obtained from a pustule of cowpox.
Jenner was reluctant to try the crucial experiment, but finally on May 14, 1796 (perhaps remembering the famous advice of his former teacher, John Hunter, “But why think? Why not try the experiment?”), Jenner inoculated an eight year old boy, James Phipps, with the fluid from a cowpox pustule obtained from a milkmaid who had the disease. James contracted cowpox, but recovered within a few days. Then on July 1, the same year, Jenner inoculated him with smallpox and to everyone’s delight, the boy did not contract smallpox.
Jenner understood the importance and potential of his discovery, and in the following year, 1797, he sent a short paper on the subject to the President (Sir Joseph Banks) of the Royal Society. His paper was rejected! However, in 1798, he published, at his own expense, a short book describing the nature of cowpox and the immunity (not permanent) it confers against smallpox. The book was entitled: “An inquiry into the Causes and Effects of Variolae Vaccinae, a disease discovered in some of the Western Counties of Cowpox”. It was the result of enormous perseverance and careful reasoning, and is one of the great works in medical history. With its publication, Jenner may be considered the founder of immunology with all the blessings which since have followed from it. He also coined the word virus (Latin=poison or slimy liquid). The process of inoculation with cowpox quickly became known as vaccination (Latin: vacca=cow), and soon spread far and wide.
Mary, Countess of Berkeley (1767-1844), a very influential local woman, persuaded Jenner to vaccinate her large family of children, and through her, Jenner also vaccinated the royal children of George III. This helped enormously to spread and popularize vaccination. By 1801, it was being used extensively in the Persian Gulf and India, and Jenner personally sent vaccine to President Thomas Jefferson of the United States, who vaccinated his family and friends at Monticello.
Fame, honors, but little fortune were poured upon Edward Jenner after his discovery. Yet it is nice to record that despite this, he remained a simple country doctor in his native Berkeley. The British Parliament voted him a grant of money, which made life easier for him, and in 1804, although Britain and France were at war, Napoleon Bonaparte had a medal struck in his honor, and in 1805, made vaccination compulsory in the French Army. Also at Jenner’s personal request, Napoleon released some British prisoners, and in so doing is said to have remarked: “We can refuse nothing to that man”. Such was Jenner’s prestige.
Jenner’s wife, Catherine, died in 1815, and he later died of a stroke in 1823. Despite the fact that he could have been buried in Westminster Abby, he preferred Berkeley Church where his body lies today.
The Chantry (formerly Edward Jenner’s house) was bought by the Jenner Trust and the British Society of Immunology, and opened as the Jenner Museum in May 1985. There was previously a small museum in a little house on Church Lane.
The rooms comprising the museum are as follows:
1. Entrance Hall, with various items for sale and pictures depicting various events in Jenner’s life.
2. The Jenner Room, with cases of articles belonging to Jenner, including some of his instruments, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, prints, publications, family letters and his original handwritten will of 34 pages.
3. The Smallpox Vaccination Room, with pictures of people with cowpox and smallpox, cases of instruments used in vaccination, and cases of honors bestowed on Jenner.
4. The Study. Jenner’s original study, with his furniture, instruments, books, etc., all beautifully restored and displayed behind glass.
5. The WHO room. The World Health Organization Room, with displays depicting the work of WHO.
6. The Immunology Room, showing the history of immunology from a historical perspective.
7. There are also administrative offices and a conference room
Adjacent to the Chantry is the Jenner Hut or Temple of Vaccinia, where Jenner vaccinated the poor from far and wide, and also the village church where he and his immediate family are buried. His grave is near the altar. Jenner was born in what is now the town post office.
No visitor to Berkeley will want to miss Berkeley Castle, which adjoins the churchyard on the outskirts of the town. This is the private residence of the Berkeley family, but is periodically open to the public by the Berkeley’s permission. Incidentally, the Berkeley family goes back 800 years in a direct male line! Of great interest, also is that the Berkeley family has always been concerned with the support of potentially great men and their achievements, for not only did they sponsor Edward Jenner, but William Harvey as well. Of further interest is the fact that it was a member of the Berkeley family who gave his library to start the now famous University of California at Berkeley.
In addition to all these interesting things to see at Berkeley, we would recommend that visitors also take the opportunity to see the magnificent Jenner statue in Gloucester Cathedral, and the nearby and fascinating Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge.
Location – 110 miles southwest of London, near Bournemouth.
Train – From London (Waterloo) to Bournemouth, then by taxi to Broadstone.
Road – From London take the M3 or the A30 to beyond
Basingstoke, and fork onto the A33 to Winchester. Follow the A33 around Winchester and then fork on to the M27 towards Cadnam. At Cadnam join the A31 to Ringwood and Wimborne Minster. At Wimborne Minster take the A349 towards Poole, but before reaching Poole take the small marked road to Broadstone.
Broadstone Cemetary is the final resting place of the great biologist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Wallace died in a house he owned nearby, but it has now been completely demolished.
Alfred Russel Wallace was born in Usk, Monmouthshire, on the north side of the Severn in Wales. (The house in which he was born still stands, but it is privately occupied.) His family suffered periodic economic setbacks, but he appears to have had a happy childhood though a minimum of formal schooling. Wallace is an excellent example of a self-educated man. He never attended university, but by wide reading from the earliest age onwards he became a very knowledgeable person. For several years he worked with his brother, William, as a surveyor, but in 1848, at the age of 25, he set out on the first of his many travels to far away lands. From 1848-1852, he explored the Amazon basin, and collected and studied prodigious amounts of natural material which he took with him on the return voyage to England. However, disaster overtook the ship on which he was traveling. It caught fire and sank, and Wallace barely escaped with his life. All of his specimens were lost. Despite this, in the following year, 1853, he published his fascinating book “A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro.” The evidence is clear that from this time, perhaps before, Wallace was interested in organic evolution, and the mechanism of “speciation.” In 1854 Wallace set out for the Malay Archipelago, and for the next 8 years he explored and collected in the general region of what is now known as Indonesia. One of his specific aims was to study the geographical distribution of animals, with the hope of uncovering their evolutionary origins. He was eminently successful in his quest! In 1858, while Charles Darwin (see under Downe) was at work on his book, which was eventually to become “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” Wallace wrote to Darwin and Wallace, and thus Wallace may rightly be described as the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection. However, it was left to Darwin to put the theory forth in understandable terms, to document it with his overwhelming amount of evidence, and to explain its scientific implications. In 1862, Wallace returned to England, hailed as a great naturalist, and rightly so. In 1869 his experiences in Malay were put forth in his book “The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan, and the Bird of Paradise. A Narrative of Travel with Studies of Man and Nature.” It is one of the best natural history books ever written. More important still, from a scientific point of view, was his work. “The Geographical Distribution of Animals” (1876). With this he founded the science of animal geography and it is still read by professional students of the subject today. It explains the mechanisms, on a worldwide basis, by which animals have evolved in their present habitats. Wallace wrote a great deal more in his long life of 90 years, and in some of these his curious religious views are intermingles with his scientific though. But it is for those works already mentioned, and his great theory of evolution by natural selection, that he will be remembered as a evolution by natural selection, that he will be remembered as a naturalist and scientist of the highest rank.
To find Wallace’s grave in Broadstone Cemetary, enter by the main gate and follow down the walkway. Less than 100 yards on the right, and near the walkway, you will see a large simulated tree trunk on top of his grave. He and his wife, Annie, are buried side by side here, and there are two simples’ plaques on the tomb giving their names, birth and death dates. It is a pleasant thought that the great, and widely traveled naturalist lies in such a beautiful place.
Location-55 miles north of London.
Train-From London (Liverpool Street)
Road-Take the A11 which leads into the M11 at Wanstead. Follow the M11 until it again joins the A11 until just beyond Great Chesterford, then take the left fork onto the A130, which leads via A10 into Cambridge.
The history of Cambridge goes back to Roman times, when there was a Roman camp. However, when the Domesday Book was compiled 1000 years later in 1086 AD, there were still only 400 houses in Cambridge. Today, its frame rests on its university, one of the truly great educational centers of the world. It is younger than Oxford, and it is probable that its history is a “community of scholars” goes back to 1209, when some scholars from Oxford settled there after being forced to leave Oxford because of “trouble with the townspeople”! But by the middle of the century, it could rightly claim to be a university. In 1284 the university’s first college, Peterhouse, was founded, and many more have been founded over the centuries. At present, there are 31 different colleges.
The university is basically a federal structure, in which the colleges are semi-autonomous, and all students must belong to a college. However, it is the university which imposes minimum entrance requirements, is responsible for formal instruction, conducts examinations, and confers degrees.
Cambridge is an exciting, dynamic, and very pleasant place, and for “first-time” visitors, we cannot recommend too strongly that as soon as possible they visit the Tourist Information Center. It is in Wheeler Street, an extension of Benet Street, which in turn runs off King’s Parade. It is open Monday-Friday, 9.30-17.30, Saturdays 9.00-17.00, closed Sundays. Not only is the Information Center a mine of information on all things the visitor needs, but in addition it conducts guided “Walking Tours of the Colleges”. These are normally at 11.00 and 14.00, Monday-Saturday, and last about 1 ½ hours. They are popular and limited to 20 persons each. Thus it is best to buy your ticket well in advance if possible. This tour will give you a marvelous introduction and orientation to Cambridge and its university. One of the many nice things about Cambridge is that it is still small enough and concentrated enough, that virtually everything the visitor may want to see can be reached on foot, and that is certainly the way to see it. The main life of the city is on either side of the central street of St. Johns- -Trinity- -King’s Parade- -Trumpington.
In contrast to Oxford University, Cambridge has always encouraged the sciences, and has produced such men as William Harvey, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hales, Charles Darwin and Francis Crick, all of whom had an enormous impact on the development of biology and medicine. Within the various colleges, laboratories, museums, etc., science has flourished, and the visitor to Cambridge can see some of the places associated with the great development of biology which has taken place there. We must stress, however, that Cambridge University and its colleges are active educational and research institutions, and the visitor should respect this fact and not expect to be able to see everything on demand. The porters’ offices at the entrance to colleges, are however, generally cooperative, and will tell you what is open to the public and what is not.
Gonville and Caius College
It was here that William Harvey was a student between 1593-1599. His life,
discoveries and work are described under Folkestone. It is regrettable, however, that virtually nothing survives at the college that is known to have been associated with Harvey. It is not even known which rooms he occupied, but nevertheless, it is exciting to realize that Harvey once walked the courtyards and corridors to this college. There is a so- called “Harvey Court”, but it is modern and simply named in Harvey’s honor. Of particular
interest is their magnificent historical library with a fine collection of 16th and 17th century medical works from Padua, and there is little doubt that Harvey was aware of these, which in due course, led him to study at Padua, then the foremost medical school in the world.
The college library is not open to the public, but one may request to see it.
This was the college of Sir Isaac Newton who was a student here between 1661- 1665. However, he stayed on at Cambridge as a professor until 1701. Newton was of course not principally famous for biological discoveries, but his work in physics and mathematics was so great that it influenced all science, and it would be inappropriate to ignore him while we were describing historical scientific associations in Cambridge. The rooms that Newton occupied, while at Trinity College, are known. They are at ground level and the exterior aspect is usually pointed out by the guide in one of the “Walking Tours of the Colleges”. Of further interest is the fact that in the entrance hall of the Trinity College Chapel (usually open), there is a magnificent statue of Newton as a young man.
Corpus Christi College
This is where Stephen Hales was a student. He is often referred to as the founder of plant physiology. His work is described under Teddington. Stephen Hales’ days as a student at Corpus Christi were from 1696-1700, but like Newton he stayed on at Cambridge, in his case until 1709. The only part of the College that survives from Hales’ days in the Old Court, which dates from 1350. The rest of the college is later than the 17th century. Stephen Hales unquestionably occupied rooms somewhere around the Old Court, but it is not known which ones. The Old Court can be found through an arch way to the left of the present Main Court. For those with more than passing interest in Stephen Hales, it is possible to purchase (for £1) at the college office, an excellent biography of him by the late Dr. A.E. Clark-Kennedy.
St. Andrews Street
This was the college of Charles Darwin. His life and work are described under Downe. Darwin was a student at Christ’s from 1827-1831, and his major field of study was theology. However, it was during his days here that his biological interests were established, mainly due to the influence of Professor John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861), a very distinguished botanist, with whom he became a close friend. They are off the main quad to the right, up a small flight of stairs, and they are referred to as G4. One may see the location, but the rooms are privately occupied. In the main dining room, which can usually be seen if not in actual use, is a magnificent portrait of Darwin by W.W. Ouless, alongside other portraits of Christ’s importance also at Christ’s is their superb historical library, which is the same library Darwin knew and used. They have, among other things, over 100 letters, written by Darwin, while he was a student at Christ’s. The library is not open to the public, but permission to see it can be requested.
This college is of recent origin and is located in a lovely old house which belonged to one of the sons of Charles Darwin. Of great interest is the fact that it was here that Gwen Raverat (née Darwin, and Charles’ granddaughter) was brought up, and it was the setting for her classic work “Period Piece”.
Department of Zoology and Museum
Opening hours: Monday-Friday only, 14. 15-16.45.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.
No charge for admission.
The department has had a long and distinguished history in the development of modern zoology. It is a research and teaching department, but they have a very fine Museum of Zoology as well. It is not intended as a Natural History Museum. All the main groups of animals are arranged systematically, and it emphasizes taxonomy, anatomy and ecology. It Is very modern, and the exhibits superbly displayed. The curator is Mr. R.D. Norman, and if he is not busy (unlikely!), you may ask to see same of their very special
collections, which include fish and birds (including some Galapagos Finches) collected by Charles Darwin. They also have slides of the appendages of Darwin’s famous collection of barnacles, which he used as the basic material for these two volumes on living barnacles, and two on fossil barnacles. The zoological museum is a fascinating place for those with an interest in biology and its history.
The Botany Department
Opening hours: Normal academic hours.
No charge for admission.
Historically this may be described as one of the homes of modern botany, for it is here for over two hundred years that botany has been pursued as a science rather than simply as an aid to medicine or as horticulture. This is an active department of teaching and research, but the visitor may ask to see their superb botanic library, and above all, their unique herbarium. Within this herbarium are the Galapagos plant specimens collected 150 years ago by Charles Darwin himself, and which played such a large role in helping him to unravel his theories on evolution. The “line of descent”, so to speak, for this collection was from Darwin to Professor John Henslow, to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker to the Botany Department. Amazingly enough the collection is still not yet fully studied and documented. Within the library are some very fine busts of famous botanists which the visitor can see.
The Old Cavendish Laboratory
Free School Lane
It was here between 1951 and 1953 that Francis Crick and James Watson unraveled the structure of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA), the basic material of life, and this was certainly the most important biological discovery of this century. In addition to Crick and Watson, Ernest Rutherford, J. J. Thomson and James Clerk Maxwell all worked within the walls of the Old Cavendish Laboratory. Crick and Watson actually worked in the Austin
Wing (clearly marked), and on the wall outside the main entrance is a plaque
commemorating the distinguished scientific history of the institute. Of interest also is the little house where Francis Crick lived while working on the structure of DNA. It is at 19- 20 Portugal Place, and has a “golden helix” hung above the front door! It is a private residence but visitors can see the outside. Francis Crick was born in Northampton in 1916 of middle class business-minded parents, and he was the only member of the family to exhibit an interest and indeed passion for science. In due course (1937) he received a B.SC. Degree in physics from University College, London, and afterwards worked as a research student until the coming of World War II in 1939 when he became a physicist with the British Admiralty. It was here in the Mine Design Department that he demonstrated his ability to go straight to the central core of a particular problem. However, it was not until 1947 that he went to Cambridge and turned his attention to biology, as distinct from physics. He joined the Cavendish Laboratory and was admitted as a Ph.D. student, in 1949, working on x-ray diffraction of protein. Here in 1951 he became associated with a young visiting American biologist, James Watson, and together for two years they worked “on and off” on the structure of DNA. They were successful beyond their wildest dreams. James Dewey Watson’s career, up to this time, had been less spectacular than Crick’s, but he was regarded as a very able young biologist. Born in Chicago in 1928, he received, in due course, his B.S. from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. from the University of Indiana, and at the time he met and worked with Crick as a “visiting fellow” in various places in Europe.
On April 25, 1953, Crick and Watson published the British journal Nature, their classic one page article “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids”. In it they gave a diagram of what has become famous as the “double helix”, and in addition made a superb understatement, “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material”. Their theoretical structure and postulation proved to be correct, and with it a new era of genetic and molecular research, with all its implications, was ushered in. In 1962, Crick and Watson were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work, but it is important to point out that their achievements did not occur “in vacuo”, for the Nobel Prize also went to Maurice Wilkins, John Kendrew and Max Perutz, all of Whom contributed to this discovery. Many people have regretted that the prize was not also awarded to their co-worker, Rosalind Franklin, who died so tragically soon after this great event. Francis Crick and James Watson have both gone on to distinguished biological careers.
The Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Free School Lane
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 14.00-16.00
No charge for admission.
This is part of the University’s Department of the History and Philosophy of Science. Here in this museum are superb historical collections of microscopes, telescopes, mathematical instruments and apparatus of great variety, much of it used directly in medicine. There is also a library devoted to the history of science.
The University Botanic Garden
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 8.00-17.00
No charge for admission.
This botanic garden is under the direction of the botany department. Its main functions are research and education, as has been the case since its inception, but it is a very beautiful place as well, and a haven of peace and quiet- -reinforced by the signs which read “no dogs, no games, no bicycles, no transistors”! Founded in 1760, it moved to its present site of 40 acres in 1831 . At this time Professor John Stevens Henslow (see previously) was Professor of Botany. He was a very dynamic and farsighted young man, and set the tone for the whole development of the garden, which still goes on today. The research function of the garden has tended to concentrate on taxonomy, but much plant genetic work has also been done there, included that of Sir William Bateson. In recent years the research function has increased, and they also train very high quality horticulturalists. In addition to the many special gardens and glass houses, there is a systematic garden with over 80 families of plants represented, and the trees surrounding the outer edge of the eastern half are planted in taxonomic groupings. A systematic garden is one in which the plants are placed and grown in their natural and evolutionary relationships. Being primarily a research botanic garden, it naturally has an extensive library which is particularly strong in the history of horticulture of the 17th and 18th centuries. There are also many unique and valuable general holdings going back to pre- Linnean times. There is also an extensive collection of botanical serials, monographs, maps, etc., some extinct journals and very interesting floras. All in all, the University Botanic Garden is one of the best and most distinguished in the world, and continues to play a large role in the development of scientific botany.
The Cambridge University Main Library
Opening hours: Not open to the public except by special permission, but from Monday- Friday at 15.00, the public can be shown around the library.
This is a vast modern complex dating from 1934. It was designed by the architect Sir Gilbert Scott. However, the origins of the University Library go back to the 14th century, and it was well established by the beginning of the 15th century. Since then it has had a checkered history, but today is certainly one of the great libraries of the world, and is particularly strong in the natural sciences. It is one of five copyright libraries in Britain, and as such, is entitled to a free copy of every book published in Britain. Its historical collections in the natural sciences are probably unrivaled anywhere. A very interesting historical sketch booklet of the library is available, and for lovers of biology, there is also published a “Handlist of Darwin Papers” in the possession of the library. The university library is the main depository for the Darwinian papers and books. Some of these are at times on special display, but normally are not available to the public except by special permission for scholarly purposes. The Cambridge University Library played, and continues to play, a huge role in the ongoing development of the science of biology.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10.00-17.00
Sunday 14. 15-17.00
Small charge for admission.
In addition to the foregoing places of biological interest, no visitor to Cambridge will want to miss the Fitzwilliam Museum. Unfortunately, this marvelous museum is having such financial troubles that they have had to close some of the galleries on alternate days- -very distressing for the short term visitor. This is not a museum of science, but a great art and antiquities museum.
Location-SS miles southeast of London
Train-From London (Victoria) direct.
Road-Pick up the A2 at Greenwich and follow this southeast through Rochester,
Gillingham, Sittingborne and on to Canterbury.
Canterbury, Kent, is famous for its Cathedral, and the fact that it is considered “the home” of Protestant religions. However, Canterbury has another claim to fame, namely that William Harvey (see also under Ashford, Folkestone and Hempstead) attended the King’s School as a young student. The King’s School adjoins the Cathedral and is closely associated with it.
The King’s School is a choir school, whose origins are lost in antiquity but certainly go back well over 1000 years. The main entrance to the school is through the 13th century gate off Broad Street, which leads into the Green Court, and the buildings of the school surround this. There are many other walking entrances, including some from the gardens of the Cathedral. There is even an older entrance gate dating from the 11th century, but it is now bricked over, though still easily seen.
In 1588, at the age of 10, Harvey entered the King’s School, and remained there for 5 years. He was not a King’s scholar, but a day pupil, and probably lived in Hawks Lane, which still survives, though the actual house he lived in is not known. All the memorabilia associated with Harvey which the school possessed have been scattered since Harvey was there. However, it is a fascinating place to visit and realize that William Harvey studied and walked in these same building and grounds four centuries ago. He is by far their most distinguished pupil! Of course, the visitor to King’s School will also wish to see the adjoining Cathedral, which is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and has a very long and interesting history.
Location – 15 miles south of London
Train – From London (Victoria) to Bromley South, then by taxi or bus #146 (infrequent) to the village of Downe.
Road – From Londo, take the A21 south at Lewisham and follow this through Bromley and on to Bromley Common (near Hayes) and then take the right fork onto the A233. Follow this for about 2 miles where there is a left turn on a small country road to the village of Downe.
Here in this village at Down House, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) lived and worked for the last 40 years of his life. The house is now a museum and is owned and operated by the Royal College of Surgeons.
Phone – Farnborough 59119
Daily 13.00 – 18.00
Closed Monday and Friday, also for the month of February.
Small charge for admission.
It has often been said that Darwin’s work, “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”, published in 1859, has had more effect on the way people thing than any other book ever written. Be that as it may, it certainly revolutionized the natural sciences, and biology in particular, and it is interesting to discover what sort of man brought about this revolution.
Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury (see under Shrewsbury) in 1809. His father was Robert Waring Darwin, a well-to-do country doctor, and his mother’s maiden name was Susannah Wedgwood, one of the daughters of Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the famous pottery and china firm. Charles’ mother died when he was only weight, but apart from this he had a happy, though uninspiring childhood. He was no scholar, and because of this was often at odds with his father. However in 1825, at the age of 16, Charles accompanied his elder brother to Edinburgh University to study medicine. This only lasted two years, mainly due to his revulsion at operation performed without anesthetics. He left Edinburgh, and from 1827-1831, he attended Christ’s College, himself for the clergy. However, while at Cambridge, he became a close friend of a brilliant young botany professor, John Stevens Henslow, and it can be said that Henslow altered the course of Darwin’s life by instilling in him a deep interest in botany and natural science. Shortly after Darwin left Cambridge, with a poor degree, Professor Henslow recommended him for the post of naturalist on a naval ship about to undertake a long and difficult voyage. Charles was offered and accepted this position, and from 1831-1836, he sailed around the world in H.M.S. Beagle. The voyage of this ship, and the consequences for Darwin, has recently been told in the magnificent seven part B.B.C. production “The Voyage of Charles Darwin”. If it is possible to see it, we cannot recommend it too strongly. Certainly anyone who has seen it will want to see Downe. This voyage was the most important event in Charles’ life, for it was this that developed him into a mature and critical scientist, and gave rise to all his future theories.
After returning to England (which he never left again) in 1836 he wrote a great deal about his experiences as a naturalist during the voyage, particularly on zoology, botany and geology, and he quickly became known as one of the leading naturalist of his day. In 1839 he married his cousin Emma Wedgwood, and three years later they moved into Down House, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Here on this small estate they raised a family of 10 children (only 7 of whom survived to maturity), and here Darwin, who suffered from chronic ill health, found the peace and solitude he needed to study, to work and to write. It is appropriate to note that the world owes as much to his wife, Emma, as to Darwin himself. For it was she who nursed him for over 40 years and gave him the encouragement, peace and quiet to pursue his work. It is not generally realized that Darwin wrote over 20 books in his lifetime, and over 100 scientific articles. He was a meticulous and thorough worker, to whom time was of little importance in the development of his ideas. In 1837, one year after his return from the voyage of the Beagle, he started a notebook concerning his ideas on “The Transmutation of Species,” which later evolved into “The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.” In 1842 and 1844 he wrote out complete sketches of his theories. These manuscripts survive, but they were never published in his day, he was far too cautious. Finally in 1858, while he was work on his book concerning evolution, and after receiving the famous letter from Alfred Russel Wallace (see under Broadstone), he and Wallace had a joint paper on the subject read before the Linnean Society of London. It was entitled “On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Means of Selection.” The reading, and subsequent publication of this paper, caused little interest, but when in the following year, 1859, “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” was published the reaction was quite different. The world was in fact never been the same since, for it transformed not only all of biology and became its central theory, but it also transformed man’s way of thinking and looking at himself, often described as his place in nature. Darwin quickly became world famous, and although a great deal of abuse was showered upon rejected by the old. However they have stood the test of time, and all modern biology is founded on them. Despite his world-wide fame, Darwin died, and despite all the controversy that had surrounded him, so high had his esteem become that he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where the visitor today may see his tombstone.
Down House is preserved much as Darwin left it. The whole ground floor is open to the public (the upper floors are privately occupied) and comprises six rooms, the Hall, the New Study, the Drawing Room, the Charles Darwin Room, the Erasmus Darwin Room and the Old Study. The contents of each room are well marked, explained and beautifully displayed. They contain a wealth of information about the life and work of Charles and his family. Most of the furniture is original, including his desk and chair and his family. Most of the furniture is original, including his desk and chair at which he wrote many of his works, including “The Origin.” The Old Study is much as he would have known it each day as he went in to work, including its spittoon and sitzbath! Some of his personal library is still there. The ground floor of the house is truly a thrilling place, but after it has been seen, the visitor should not neglect to walk down to the bottom of the garden and around the Sand Walk, where Darwin used to walk almost every day, and which he called his “Thinking Path.” Down House is, so to speak, the “Mecca” of biologists, and will not disappoint anyone interested in the history of biology or even the larger of human history in general. Our enthusiasm for Down House was also shared by the Darwin family themselves, for in her “Period Piece,” Mrs. Gwen Raverat , a granddaughter of Charles Darwin, wrote: “For us, everything at Down was perfect. That was axiom. And by us I mean, not only the children, but all the uncles and aunts who belonged there —everything there was different. And better.”
Downe is full of stories about Charles Darwin, and there are other associations which the visitor will hear about, but it is worthwhile mentioning that despite the general hostility of the church and clergy towards Darwin and his theories, there is, on the side of the Church of St.Mary the Virgin, overlooking a sundial and the village square of Downe, the following inscription:
This Sundial is in memory of
Who lived and worked in Downe
For 40 years
He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Have lunch at the George and Dragon Pub (where Darwin himself drank his ale) and then walk along Luxted Road to Down House!
The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Phone – 01-405-3474
Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
Children are not admitted.
The Royal College of Surgeons, which incorporates the Hunterian Museum, was established in its modern form in 1800. It was based then, as now, on the humanitarianism, educational concepts and professionalism which John Hunter (1728-1793) established as the blueprint for medical training, and which became established as the blueprint for medical training, and which became the subsequent pattern followed by medical schools in both Britian and the United States. The major function of the Royal College of Surgeons can be summed up by saying that it is to maintain and improved the standards of surgery in all their varied aspects and it has played an enormous and world wide role in these respects. It is an entirely autonomous body, all of their funds coming from their Fellows and public subscriptions, but none from the government.
It is important to note that the college, including its magnificent Hunterian Museum, is an active working organization, and is not open to the general public. However, it is open to members of scientific societies. Other individuals and groups must make application is neither a natural history museum, nor a museum of medical history. Visitors require some basic knowledge of biology to appreciate it. It is not suitable for children and they are not allowed. Having said all this, we will add that the curator and the porter in charge at the front desk are generally cooperative. But they have responsibilities to the institution they serve, and the public must respect these.
John Hunter (see also under East Kilbride) can figuratively be described as the “Patron-Saint” of the Royal College of Surgeons. Just as his famous brother William Hunter (see under East Kilbride) established obstetrics as a medical science, so also did John put surgery into a scientific category rather than a “butchery procedure” practiced largely by barbers and other untrained people. He eventually became surgeon-extraordinary to King George III and in 1783 established his own medical school in what is now Leicester Square. Here the student had to undergo rigorous training, study animal and human specimens, attend lectures and practical classes, and do research. All the things we now take for granted in medical training. Honors poured in upon him, and over 1000 of his students spread his ideas and methods throughout the modern world. He died 1793 established his own medical school in what is now Leicester Square. Here the student had to undergo rigorous training, study animal and human specimens, attend lectures and practical classes, and do research. All the things we now take for granted in medical training. Honors poured in upon him, and over 1000 of his students spread his ideas and methods throughout the modern world. He died in 1793, probably from syphilis, with which he inoculated himself in order to distinguish it from gonorrhea. Dedication!—but unfortunately the experiment failed into the bargain! He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
By far the most important exhibit at the Royal College of Surgeons is the Hunterian Museum. Originally, Hunter’s collection comprised about 14,000 specimens, but time, and above all the World War II bombing of the college have reduced the number considerably. Nevertheless, there are still many thousands left and they are magnificently displayed in this lovely and fascinating museum. All the more, remarkable when one realizes that most of it is the work of one man and the specimens are 200 years old! Within the displays are dissections illustrating all the main basic structures and functions of the animal form. These include the endoskeleton, joints, and muscular systems, and nervous systems, organs of special sense, integumentary system, organs of locomotion, the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive systems, as well as ductless glands. One is immediately struck by the incredible skill of the dissections. Guide books to the museum are available, and there are also many other interesting publications on sale. The staff is dedicated, enthusiastic and helpful. All in all, a visit to the Hunterian Museum is a thrilling experience.
The Royal College of Surgeons also has a superb collection of the medical instruments of Joseph Lord Lister (see under Glasgow), many of which are on display in the lobby and can easily be seen. There is also a large statue of John Hunter which dominates the lobby, and there are lovely original portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and others. The library of the college (which can only be seen by special permission) is one of the great medical libraries of the world, with priceless holdings, including all Hunter’s publications, and most of his case books. Regrettably, his manuscripts are mostly lost.
Finally let us point out that in the central party of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, on the Kingsway side near where Sardinia Street enters, there is a new and lovely mounted bust of John Hunter.
EAST KILBRIDE (Lanarkshire), Scotland
Location-About 400 miles north and slightly west of London, and 10 miles east of Glasgow.
Train-From London (Euston) to Glasgow (Central) and then by taxi or bus to East Kilbride.
Road-There are two main routes from London to Glasgow:
1. Take the M1 north to Leeds, then join the A65 to Skipton and on to entrance 36 to the M6. Go north on the M6 around Carlisle and join the A74 which will join the M74. Take exit 6 which leads along the A74. Take exit 6 which leads along the A74 into Glasgow.
2. Take the Al to Scotch Corner and turn left along the A6 to entrance 40 on the M6. Follow the M6 north and join the A74, which will in turn join the M74. Take exit 6 which leads along the A74 into Glasgow.
To reach East Kilbride from Glasgow by car, take the A749 through Rutherglen to East Kilbride. Upon entering the latter, take the Calderwood turning, where there is a sign pointing to the Hunter Museum on Maxwellton Road.
Hunter Museum (or Hunter House)
Phone: -East Kilbride 23993 or East Kilbride 41111
Opening hours: There are no regular opening hours, but it is only necessary to phone in advance for an appointment. There is a Hunter Trust which administers the museum under the patronage of the Royal College of Surgeons and the University of Glasgow.
Small charge for admission.
Seldom have two such brilliant men come from the same family as William. (1718-1783) and John (1728-1793) Hunter, both of whom distinguished themselves as doctors, and left lasting contributions to medicine. Both were born in the little house, now referred to as Hunter House. For an account of John Hunter, see under The Royal College of Surgeons, London, but a brief account of William will be given here.
As a boy, William Hunter attended grammar school in East Kilbride, and at 13, he entered the University of Glasgow where he studied the humanities and the classics. After four years at the university, he was apprenticed as a medical student to a Dr. William Cullen in Hamilton. It is important to realize that in the 18th century, there were still no medical schools as we know them today, and a student of medicine simply picked up as best he could the knowledge of the day, which was not only very little but often wrong as
well. Dr. Cullen had a great influence on William, and as a result of this, he went on to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, as well as in London and Paris. He was very impressed with the manner in which anatomy was taught in Paris, by dissection, and on returning to London in 1746, he set up his own anatomy school which was, for its day, of such high quality and so successful that it lasted until his death in 1783. As part of his
school, he set up one of the first anatomy museums in the world so that students could study the specimens, both normal and pathological on a year-round basis. In London, William went from medical honor to medical honor, and finally became obstetrician to the Queen, whom he attended during her first pregnancy in 1762, and it was in obstetrics that he made his greatest and lasting contributions. Prior to this time, obstetrics was based on a vast array of ignorance and superstition and was in the hands of quacks and untrained midwives. Hunter led the way in putting it on a scientific basis.
In 1774, after 25 years of study and collecting scientific information, he published his classic work “The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus”. It was by far the best book on the pregnant uterus every published, and with it, obstetrics as a science was ushered in. It contained 24 magnificent engravings of the pregnant uterus by the artist Jan van Rymsdyck, and was dedicated to the King (George III). The original copy of this with text
both in Latin and English, together with the hand-done illustrations of the artist are housed in the Special Collections Department of the main library of the University of Glasgow on University Avenue. It may be seen by permission of the librarian, and it is worth the effort!
During his lifetime, and in addition to his museum specimens, William amassed valuable and extensive collections of books, pictures and coins, all of which he left to the University of Glasgow, where they can be seen today (see under Glasgow), and are very impressive. He died in London in 1783, but medicine, and obstetrics in particular, owes an eternal debt of gratitude to William Hunter.
On the outside of the Hunter House is a plaque which reads as follows:
The Birthplace of Two Great Scotsmen
William Hunter and John Hunter
Born 23 May 1718 Born 13 Feb 1728
Died 30 March 1783 Died 26 Oct 1793
Pre-eminent in Medicine and in Surgery.
The house, including the barn and garden, is much as it was in the Hunters’ day and has been nicely preserved, despite a modern development all around it. On the ground floor is a one room museum, with a wealth of interesting Hunterian material as well as various items of medial interest from the 18th century. The visitor can also see, by request, the tiny first floor room where both William and John Hunter were born. Hunter House is in a somewhat out of the way place, but the effort of going to see the birthplace of these two great Scotsmen is well worth it.
EAST WELLOW (Hampshire)
Location-85 miles southwest of London, near Romsey.
Train-London (Waterloo) to Romsey, and then by taxi.
Road-Take the M3 or A30 from London to beyond Basingstoke and join the A33 around Winchester. Then fork right along the A32 to Romsey. At Romsey, take the A27 towards Salisbury, but after about 2 miles, turn left to “The Wellows” and follow signs to East Wellow.
Church of St. Margaret of Antioch
It is in this churchyard that Florence Nightingale (see under St. Thomas’ Hospital, London) is buried. One might have imagined that so great a benefactor of mankind as Florence Nightingale, would have been buried in Westminster Abbey, but during her long life, she always spurned publicity and honors, and was no different in death. She is buried in a common grave alongside other members of her family. The grave is easily found, being only a few yards from the main entrance to the church, and has a prominent spire
above the tombstone with inscriptions on it of the family buried there. Florence Nightingale is inscribed simply as F.N. with her birth and death dates. Inside the church is a plaque dedicated to her, and on the porch is one of her famous lamps, which here family gave to the church. The reason Florence Nightingale is buried at East Wellow, is that nearby, her family owned a large house, Embley Park. It is now a school (Embley Park School), but the outside of the main building is much the same as in the 19th century, and still in the beautiful setting that Florence Nightingale knew. It is located on the south side of the A27, between The Wellows sign and where the road joins A31 near Romsey. The house is clearly marked at the main gate. There is no harm in driving in to see the exterior and its setting, hut the building itself is private.
EDINBURGH (Lothian), Scotland
Location-375 mites north of London
Train-From London (King’s Cross) to Edinburgh (Waverly). From Glasgow (Queens) to Edinburgh (Waverly). Road-Take the M1 or Al to Scotch Corner, and then fork right to Durham and Newcastle. At Newcastle, join the A696 to Ponteland, and at Otterburn, this joins the A68 to Dalkeith and Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is one of the most ancient and beautiful cities in Britain, which in addition to many cultural and political aspects, has a famous scientific history centered in its great university. During the 18th and 19th centuries, it had one of the most distinguished medical schools in the world.
Sir James Young Simpson Museum
52 Queen Street
Opening hours: Normal business hours. The museum is maintained by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, but the house is used as a shelter by the Church of Scotland.
No charge for admission.
Sir James Young Simpson has a permanent place in the history of medicine, not only for his great contributions to obstetrics, but above all for his discovery in 1847 of the anesthetic properties of chloroform. This became the worldwide standard anesthetic for nearly 100 years, and has only been generally superseded in very recent times. Simpson was born at Bathgate, the son of a baker, David Simpson. It is said that his mother, who died tragically when be was only nine, decided very early on that young James should be the scholar of the family. He did not disappoint her! While in his early teens, he attended arts classes in Edinburgh, but very soon switched to medicine, and at the early age of 19, became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Soon after he was practicing medicine in Edinburgh, with a specialty of obstetrics at which he spend most of his life. It is of great interest that Charles Darwin and James Young Simpson were both medical students at Edinburgh at the same time. However, it is of even greater interest that they were both revolted by operations performed without anesthetics. Because of this, Darwin gave up medicine and went on to other things, but fortunately, Simpson decided to try to do something about it. It is worthwhile recording in this respect the actual operation which had such an influence on Simpson, because it will help the modern reader to understand how surgery has changed over the past 150 years. The operation was an amputation of the breast of a woman, and was performed by Robert Liston, one of the most famous surgeons of his day. The normal procedure for this was simply to lift up the soft tissue of the breast with an instrument resembling a hook, thus enabling the surgeon to sweep around the mass with his knife, hopefully in two clean cuts! Simpson, like other medical students (all males in those days), had seen other operations and was keen to see this one. However, as Liston picked up his knife, Simpson observed the horrified look of terror on the woman’s face and turned away leaving the room. In those days, one of the major attributes of a surgeon was the speed of which he could perform the operation. Operations had to be performed in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes, otherwise the patient would almost certainly die of shock. Liston was a master of the art, of whom Simpson himself remarked that “‘he amputated with such speed that the sound of sawing seemed to succeed immediately the first flash of the knife”.
From that moment onward, Simpson determined to try to do something to relieve the pain suffered in operations and since he specialized in obstetrics, he also quickly became concerned to try to relieve the pain suffered by women in childbirth. Doctors at that time had to be somewhat indifferent to the pain suffered by their patients for they could do nothing about it, but Simpson set himself the task of trying to reverse this, and was indeed successful beyond his wildest hopes. In the first half of the 19th century, mesmerism was popular as a pain reliever. Simpson tried this in 1837, and also other methods as they became available but all were very unsatisfactory.
In 1845, there were no safe or reliable methods of testing new drugs, but Simpson and his two assistants, Dr. George Keith and Dr. Matthew Duncan, undertook to test a whole variety of available drugs on themselves. Their method was simple, almost to the point of absurdity! After dinner at night, Simpson and his two assistants sat around the dining table, poured out a sample of a drug into a saucer, and proceed to smell it and describe its effects. They had same horrible experiences, needless to say, and on more than one occasion, Simpson nearly died from the effects of the drugs. However, they pressed on their quest, and after dinner on the 4th of November 1847, they all inhaled a sample of chloroform. Very rapidly they became unconscious and slipped under the table. Upon recovery, Simpson knew at once that he had discovered something important and hoped it would be the answer to his search. Within a week, he lectured on it at the university, within two weeks, it was used in an operation at the Royal Infirmary, and within a month, Simpson had used it on his female patients in childbirth. It must be pointed out that this was not really the first operation at which an anesthetic was used. The credit for this is usually given to the two American dentists Morton and Wells (see under Boston and Washington, U.S.A.) who used ether and nitrous oxide. As a result of their discovery (just prior to the discovery of chloroform)
Simpson also tried either in childbirth, but it proved dangerous and very unsatisfactory, while chloroform was quite the reverse, and proved to be very reliable One might have thought that Simpson would immediately have been hailed as a great human benefactor, but that was not the case. Many surgeons opposed the use of chloroform in operations, because they thought that the pain suffered during these was good for the patient’s character and “moral fibre”! However, it was for its use in childbirth that the worse abuse was hurled at Simpson Was he not flying in the face of Providence?- -for did not the Bible decree”- – in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;-“ (Genesis ~:16). Needless to say, there were those (mostly men) who believed passionately that the pain of childbirth were also good for the woman’s character! Fortunately, Simpson himself was a devout Christian, and he patiently but firmly answered abuse by the critics, and the opposition gradually faded. The final “seal of approval” was given in 1853 when no less a person than (Queen Victoria (the titular head of the Church of England) accepted chloroform at the birth of her eighth child. In so doing, she did all women a great service.
The use of chloroform quickly spread around the world, a new era of surgery was ushered in, because speed was no longer a criterion, and women were relieved of the worst pangs of childbirth. But more than this, Simpson’s discovery and humanitarian attitude as an obstetrician, raised the status of women above that of some kind of “second class” human being. Unfortunately, Simpson’s fight is still not completely won. For his services to humanity, James Young Simpson was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1866 and when he died in 1870, the city of Edinburgh gave him a funeral the likes of which the city had never seen before nor since. It was hoped by many that he would be buried in Westminster Abbey, but his widow, remaining true to the nature of her husband as a simple man, declined the offer.
At 52, Queen Street in Edinburgh stands the house where Simpson lied for the last 25 years or his life, and where also he died in 1870. In his day, it was much more than a family residence. Here he and his assistants dealt with a constant stream of patients, and bedrooms were provided for those who came from a distance. There was also a constant influx or visitors, including medical men seeking advice. The outside of the house is marked with a plaque which reads as follows:
Sir James Young Simpson
lived in this house from1845 to 1870
and in 1847 discovered
the anesthetic power of
Most of the inside of the house is generally unaltered, but is now used for the purposes of the Church of Scotland. However, on the ground floor is Simpson’s dining room, in which the anesthetic properties of chloroform were discovered. It survives intact and is known as “The Discovery Room”. You can ask permission of the person on duty for the Church of Scotland to see the room, and they will also give you a pamphlet on the life of Simpson.
To us this room is an absolute gem in human and medical history, and still remains much as Simpson and his family would have known it. His huge dining table is still there, together with the cabinets and other furniture that he used while testing the drugs. On the mantle piece are his wood foetal stethoscopes, his crucifix which he used as a knife, his pill box, Lady Simpson’s bible, and his brandy decanter, into which he poured the chloroform on the evening of November 4, 1847. This can only be described as “true dedication”! In addition to this memorial to Simpson, the city of Edinburgh has erected a fine statue of him. It is considerably larger than life, and is located on the south side of Princes Street near the corner of South Charlotte Street. He is always depicted smiling, and this surely has some meaning!
University of Edinburgh
Old College South Bridge
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
The origins of the University of Edinburgh go back beyond 1583, but in that year, the first students in Arts and Divinity were formally enrolled and from that time onwards, it has had a distinguished history, particularly in medicine in the 19th century. Joseph Lister (see under Glasgow) was in Edinburgh both before and after his stay in Glasgow (1860-1869), which was where be did his monumental work on antiseptic therapy. He was in Edinburgh from 1854-1860 as a young assistant to a famous surgeon of his day, James Syme, and returned to Edinburgh again in 1869 as Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery at the university, remaining there until 1877. The house in which he lived during this time is a 9 Charlotte Square (north side) and is marked by a plaque, but it is privately owned. Lister always felt it was the University of Edinburgh that gave him his start in a distinguished medical career, and in gratitude he left all his many honors to the University at Edinburgh. These are located within the Quad of the Old College and are
displayed in a large case at the head of the main staircase leading to a beautiful Library Hall. They can be seen with the permission of the Bedellus of the university. It is a truly remarkable display, and gives some indication of the esteem in which Lister was held in his day, as well as what we of later generations owe to him. Above the case is a portrait of Lister by J.H. Lorirner. The Library Hall (built 1827) should also be seen, with its array of busts of all the famous professors of the university, as well as such interesting things as the library table of Sir Waiter Scott, and Napoleon’s table from his study on the Island of St. Helena. There are a host of other historical associations of the University of Edinburgh, and it was here that Charles Darwin (see under Downe) and his elder brother Erasmus attended medical school. In fact, they both lived just around the corner from the Old College at 11 Lothian Street. Their house is now unfortunately completely gone, a victim of redevelopment.
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
This is the modern Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which is a huge complex of
hospitals, dating from 1870. In addition to his professorship at the university, Lister had an appointment here during his second stay in Edinburgh, and he lectured in the so-called Lister Theatre. Also as part of the Royal Infirmary, is a James Young Simpson Maternity Wing, and inside the main rotunda is a large and striking portrait of Simpson by Norman Macbeth.
The Old Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Surgeons Hall
12 High School Wynd (corner of Infirmary Street)
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
These two buildings were originally a high school, then became the surgical hospital of the Royal Infirmary, and are now the Geography Department of the university. Both Lister and Syme worked here in the surgical wards and extended the use of antiseptic therapy which Lister had developed earlier in Glasgow. The interiors of these buildings have been much altered since Lister’s day but the exteriors are almost the same. It is a tragedy that the fine old lecture theater that Lister used has been altered almost beyond recognition. The fact that Lister and Syme both worked here is commemorated by a nice plaque at the front entrance which reads as follows:
James Syme (1833-1869)
Joseph Lister (1869-1877)
While Regius Professors of Clinical
Surgery in the University of Edinburgh
had charge of the wards in this building
then the Old Surgical Hospital
and part of
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Erected by Surgeons of Toronto-Canada 1957.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is the Scottish counterpart of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and is primarily responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the standards of surgery in Scotland. In this regard, the college has played a long and distinguished role in surgical history. Both Lister and Syme, as well as Simpson, were Fellows of the college. Like most of these colleges, it is large and imposing both outside and in, and has a fine collection of portraits of its distinguished Fellows.
There is a very valuable and extensive medical library going back five centuries. The library also has a small number of Lister’ s letters, notes, testimonials etc., but a much larger collection of materials relating to the work of Simpson, which includes many letters and other correspondence referring to anesthesia as well as his lecture notes. The library is not open to the public, but permission to see it may be requested. One may also ask to
see the very interesting museum on the top floor of the building. This is mostly pathology, but there are also some very interesting historical rooms as well. In these rooms are a Lister case with various items which belonged to him, including some of his carbolic acid machines making carbolic bandages, carbolic acid sprays, various instruments and photographs of his surgical wards. There is also a Simpson case with many items of great interest, and a Benjamin Bell (1749-1806) case. Dr. Benjamin Bell is rightly famous for enormously advancing our knowledge of venereal disease. There are other displays, including one on Robert Listen (1794-1847), who was referred to earlier, and was known popularly as “the fastest man with a knife!” All in all, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is a very interesting place.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh
22 George Street
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
This is the “younger brother” of the Royal Society of London. Founded in 1783, it has done a great deal to maintain and lift the quality of scientific development in Scotland. The building in which it is currently housed, is very imposing inside with beautiful architecture, and portraits of famous Scots who have been Fellows of the society. The library, which is the utmost importance in its historical holdings, is unfortunately hopelessly overcrowded. Nevertheless, it is a marvelous sight to see, and the secretary is happy to give you a short tour of the premises.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
9 Queen Street
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
The founding of this organization goes back to 1681, and since then, its functions have not changed. They are to promote and advance the quality of medicine in Scotland. In this capacity, they maintain and improve standards, promote research, organize meetings, etc., and maintain one of the best medical libraries in the world. As well as their modern working library, they have a total of 200,000 volumes going back hundreds of years, and hold virtually every important work in the history of medicine. The college is closely associated with Sir James Young Simpson, who was its President from 1850-1852, and the library holds most of Simpson’s own library, his casebooks, lecture notes, letters, etc., a priceless collection. Throughout the building there are huge portraits of famous Scottish physicians, including one of Simpson by Norman Macbeth. The college is not normally open to the public, but interested visitors can ask to be shown over it, and we found those in charge very cooperative.
The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 9.00-sunset.
Small charge for admission.
The main entrance is the west gate on Arboretum Road. The library and herbarium are on Inverleith Row near the east gate. The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh is second only to Kew in Britain, is one of the great botanic gardens of the world. It is a National Garden funded mainly by the Scottish office of the British Government, and its primary function is research in the taxonomy of plants. Like so many other botanic gardens, it started out as a physic garden in 1670, but has steadily evolved to play a large role in the development of scientific botany. It also fills great educational and informational needs. In addition to the gardens themselves with their numerous array of plants, there is a modern herbarium with nearly two million plant specimens from all over the world, and one of the best botanical libraries in existence. The library holdings to back to a 1486 herbal, and there are over 3000 pre-Linnean manuscripts and books. Many of the works of Linnaeus are in their original editions and there is also an extensive collection of the great floras of the 18th and 19th centuries. The library may be viewed by the public, but can only be used by permission of the librarian.
Location-63 miles southeast of London.
Train-From London (Victoria).
Road-Take the A20 in south London and follow this, or the M20, to Maidstone, Ashford and on to Folkestone.
Folkestone is a seaport on the southeast coast of England, and is one of the traditional gateways to the continent. As such, it has a long and interesting history, but to us none of it is more interesting than the fact that this was the birthplace of William Harvey (1578- 1657). (See also under Ashford, Hempstead and Padua, Italy). At the end of the 16th century, peoples’ knowledge of animal physiology was not only primitive, but full of misconceptions. It was known that blood probably had a nutritional function, but our modern concept of blood as a tissue with many vital functions such as nutritional, respiratory, waste disposal, transport of hormones, etc., was not understood. The ideas concerning blood and its functions were derived primarily from the Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), and the Greco-Roman physician, Galen (d.200 A.D.), who besides being a very able observer and theorist, was also personal physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180). Unfortunately it takes a good deal of anatomical knowledge to understand how Aristotle and Galen thought of the way in which blood functions, and it is not appropriate to attempt that here. Suffice it to say that neither of them had any concept of blood circulation, and without this, an understanding of its functions is impossible. Galen’s view that blood flowed in a back and forth motion, like the ebb and flow of a tide, generally prevailed, and for nearly fourteen centuries his theories went almost unquestioned. It was the young Englishman, William Harvey, who was not only to question them, but to make the revolutionary discovery of blood circulation, and thus lead the way to our present understanding of all the varied functions of this vital tissue. As a result of the discovery, Harvey is often described as “the father of modern medicine”. Be that as it may, he is certainly the last of the “old” and a giant of the “new”.
William Harvey came from yeoman farmer stock, and was the oldest of seven sons. His father was a prominent citizen of Folkestone and became mayor several times. In due course, young William attended King’s School, Canterbury and later Gonville and Calus College, Cambridge, where he studied arts and medicine. Upon graduating from Cambridge, Harvey attended the University of Padua, Italy (see under Padua), where he received a doctorate in medicine in 1602. One may ask, why did Harvey go to Padua? The reason is simple. At that time, the University of Padua was the leading center of medicine in the world. Amongst Harvey’s many famous teachers there was Girolamo Fabricius (1537-1619), who, in 1574, discovered the valves in the veins, which permit blood to flow in only one direction. With such discoveries as this at hand, and the stimulating
atmosphere of research and inquiry, there can be no doubt that the University of Padua had a profound effect on the development of Harvey’s thought. Upon returning to England, Harvey set up in medical practice in London. In 1604, he married Elizabeth Browne, but the marriage, although happy, never produced any children. In 1607, Harvey was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, where he frequently lectured to students, and was closely associated with the college for the rest of his life. In 1609, he was also appointed physician to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, but even more important, in 1618, he became a physician to King James I, a position which was carried on with the accession of Charles I in 1625, and whom he followed throughout the Civil War. Unfortunately, Harvey never had a permanent home of his own, Most of his life he lived at a house in Whitehall, but in 1642, it was vandalized and many of his notes, manuscripts, etc., were lost. An even worse disaster overtook his personal library, as this
and all his other papers and lecture notes were burnt when the Royal College of Physicians perished in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Thus we are left with very few original documents emanating from the pen of William Harvey. What a tragedy!
As early as 1616, Harvey was conducting original investigations into the motions of the heart, and many other aspects of animal physiology. It was the former that attracted his attention most, and in 1628, his masterwork was published in Frankfurt, Germany. This was written in Latin and entitled “Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus” (Anatomical Disquisition on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals). Medicine and biology have never been the same since! In this work, not only did Harvey clearly put forth the theory that blood circulated within the body of animals, but as a result of careful observation and experimentation, he demonstrated this to be a fact beyond reasonable doubt. However, new ideas seldom have a smooth passage, and a contemporary of Harvey’s, John Aubrey, describes from Harvey’ s own words the fate of his great discovery, “I have heard him say, that after the Booke of the Circulation of Blood came out, that he fell mightily in his Practice, and that ’twas believed by the vulgar that he was crack-brained; and all the Physicians were against his Opinion, and envied him; many wrote against him. With much adoe at last, in about 20 or 30 years times, it was received in all the Universities in the world”. Harvey was a giant of medicine, a master observer, theorist and experimenter, and it is on his work and methods that modern medicine rests today. Harvey died in 1657 at his brother Eliab’s house in Roehampton (now a suburb of London), and is buried at Hempstead, Essex (see under Hempstead). Anyone going to Folkestone to see Harveyian history should try to contact Mr. Walter Montcrieff, who runs an excellent men’s tailors and outfitters store in Sandgate (town center). Mr. Montcrieff, a former mayor of Folkestone, and alter an alderman, is very knowledgeable about matters “Harveyian” in general. He has done an enormous amount to foster Folkestone’s relationship with Harvey. Mr. Montcrieff is very enthusiastic, cooperative and full of information. It is known exactly where Harvey was born in Folkestone, but the house no longer stands. However, there is a plaque there commemorating the event. It is on the side of a building on Church Street, near the corner of Rendezvous Road, and reads as follows:
Near this spot was born on 1st April 1578
The world renowned scientist and discoverer of the circulation of the blood.
His father and mother attended the nearby parish church and his father was mayor of Folkestone in the years 1586, 1599, 1601 and 1611.
In the nearby parish church, there is also a plaque in remembrance of the family. Folkestone has also honored her famous son by erecting a very fine statue of him. It was sculptured by A.B. Joy in 1881 and erected the same year. The statue stands in The Leas (the very lovely promenade) near the bandstand, with Harvey looking out across the sea towards the continent. It is beautifully preserved and cared for, and every year on Harvey’s birthday, there is a “flower laying” ceremony commemorating this event.
GLASGOW (Lanarkshire), Scotland
Location-400 miles north and slightly west of London.
Train-From London (Euston) to Glasgow (Central). From Edinburgh (Waverly) to Glasgow (Queens).
Road-There are two main routes from London:
1. Take the MI north to Leeds, then join the A65 to Skipton and join the M6 at entrance 36. Continue on the M6 around Carlisle and join the A74 which will in turn join the M74. Take exit 6 to Glasgow along the A74.
2. Take the Al to Scotch Comer, and fork left along the A66 to entrance 40 on the M-6). Continue on the M6 and join the A74, which in turn joins the M74. Take exit 6 along the A74 to Glasgow.
Glasgow is by far the largest city in Scotland. Lying astride the river Clyde on the west coast, its history is lost in time, but the name is derived from a Celtic word meaning: “dear green spot”, and this well expresses the feelings that its modern citizens have for their city. Like Edinburgh, Glasgow has many places of great interest in the history of biology and medicine.
The Glasgow Royal Infirmary
82-84 Castle Street
Opening hours: Normal business hours
No charge for admission
It was here in the Royal Infirmary between 1861 and 1869 that Joseph Lister (1827- 1912)-see also under Edinburgh and London-worked out the basic techniques of antiseptic surgery and first applied them. It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the importance of this event. in the history of biology, medicine and human welfare. Joseph Lister was born in 1827 at Upton, Essex, the second son of Joseph Jackson Lister, a brilliant designer of microscopes, to whom we owe the modern perfection of the objective lens system, which led to the production of the achromatic microscope. Both his father and his mother, Isabella, supplied young Joseph with a happy and intellectually stimulating home, in which, from the very earliest age, he was encouraged to observe, explore and investigate for himself. He attended local schools, where he was a good student, and in 1844 at the age of 17 entered University College, London, receiving a BA degree in 1847. He immediately entered medical school, but his studies were considerably delayed because he contracted smallpox, and did not receive his medical degree until 1852. At the same time, he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. The following year, however, he was appointed an assistant to James Syme, the famous professor of clinical surgery at Edinburgh.
Here Lister established himself as a brilliant and original investigator, an able surgeon and an excellent teacher. He also married Agnes Syme, “the boss’ daughter” (a good thing to do then and now!), who was his devoted wife for nearly 40 years. Anesthesia, introduced some years before, was now used regularly at operations, and it is interesting to note that Lister, while a student, may have been present in 1846 at University College Hospital, London, when the first operation in England using ether was performed by Robert Liston (see under Edinburgh). The introduction of anesthesia for operations was undoubtedly the greatest advance in surgery in all its history, but there remained one overriding problem. Before operations could be considered reasonably safe, there was the problem of infection, the overall death rate which ran as high as 40%. Lister, a very sensitive man, was appalled at this, and determined to do something about it. His extraordinary abilities were recognized when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1860, and the same year was appointed Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow, and a year later was appointed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
It was here at the Royal Infirmary that his inventive mind was put to work on what we now know as antiseptic surgery. As early as 1861 and again in 1864 Louis Pasteur (see under Paris, Arbois and Dale, France) had published some remarkable work which gave the clue to possible “germ theory” of infection. Lister quickly became aware of this, and realized that germs might be the cause of operative infections. In 1865, he performed the first successful treatment using a carbolic acid dressing as an antiseptic agent. As his techniques improved, the results were almost miraculous, and the death rate from infection dropped dramatically. Lister described his results in a series of papers, the first of which was published in Lancet in 1867. It was entitled “On a new Method of treating Compound Fracture, Abscess, etc.
With Observations on the Conditions of Suppuration” (suppuration means the formation of pus or festering). It is one of the great works of medicine, and paved the way for a whole new era in surgery and antiseptic therapy of all kinds. Lister’s ideas involved much opposition and skepticism, and his techniques spread only slowly around the world, being gradually improved upon. In 1869, Lister returned to the University of Edinburgh for eight years, then to King’s College, .London, until 1893. In that year, his wife, Agnes, died, a blow from which she really never recovered. Nevertheless, he carried on with his major responsibilities, and honors continued to be showered upon him, including a peerage from Queen Victoria in 1897. He was the first surgeon to ever receive such an honor. He died in 1912 at Walmer, Kent, and although it was universally hoped, he would be buried in Westminster Abbey, he himself declined the honor preferring to be buried beside his wife in Hampstead Cemetery (see under London). Most of the present buildings of the Royal Infirmary date from about 1905-1915 (there has been constant new construction), and despite great efforts on the part of many people, nothing survives of the wards where Lister actually did his work. However, his great achievements, not only in antiseptic treatment, but also in early and successful attempts in plastic surgery, are commemorated by two plaques. The first is on the outside wall of the infirmary, and can be seen from Castle Street. It reads as follows:
On this site stood the Surgical
Wards in which from 1861-1869
Surgeon to the Royal Infirmary
and Regius Professor of Surgery
in the University of Glasgow
initiated the method of antiseptic treatment.
The second plaque, along with various busts, is inside the lobby of the main entrance, and reads:
From 1861-1869, Surgeon to this Infirmary where he originated
the antiseptic system of surgical treatment.
Presented to the Infirmary by the past and present members of the staff 1908.
Some idea of the dramatic success of Lister’s antiseptic surgical treatment is
important. When he initiated it in 1865, casualties from operations dropped almost overnight by about two-thirds. Yet there were may who for a long time not only doubted the validity of his methods, but positively despised him and considered him a quack. When Lister died, much of his library was dispersed and sold at auction, but thanks to Professor John Hammond Teacher, some of it was bought in 1913 from the London book dealer Henry Sotheran for the then “horrendous” sum of £29.16.0! and these books are now in a small museum located in the Pathology Department. Actually, the major part of this museum comprises the pathological specimens of William Hunter (see under East Kilbride), but there are two cases of Lister relics and more may be added when the current renovation of the museum is completed. In addition to Lister’ s books and manuscripts, there are some of his very interesting and early carbolic acid sprays, a set of his bougies, fermentation tubes and various other instruments. Also preserved is his operating stool and a model of his operating table. The Pathology Department Museum is not open to the public on a regular basis, but permission to see it may usually be obtained by interested visitors.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
234-242 St. Vincent Street
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow was founded by Maister Peter Lowe in 1599 under a charter granted by James VI of Scotland. Peter Lowe had spent most of his life up until the age of 50 in the service of the King of France, and was a contemporary of Ambroise Pari: (1509-1590) whom he probably knew. It seems likely that he trained in the school at Orleans, and he certainly became a member of the Faculté de Chirurgerie in Paris. In any case, he set the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on a sound footing, which it has maintained ever since, and the college has done an enormous amount over the centuries to advance the cause of medicine. Since the college has had such a long and continuous history, its library contains a copy of virtually every major work published in the field of medicine, and with 300,000 volumes, it is one of the great medical libraries in the world. It is interesting that in addition to its priceless medical collections, the library also contains such items as a first edition of Audubon’s “Birds of America”. For the interest of collectors, a copy of this work was recently sold at Sotheby’s London for over one million dollars! Joseph Lister was a Fellow of the college, and within the college is a case containing very interesting medical instruments belonging originally to him. They include carbolic acid sprays, a cupping set and microscopes, There is also a so-called “Lister Room” which contains the fireplace from the Lister Ward in the Royal Infirmary- -a reminder of the main means of heating gates is the Hunter Memorial commemorating the two great Scotsmen William and John Hunter (see also under East Kilbride and London). For our purposes, however, there are two important people closely associated with the University of Glasgow. These are Joseph Lister (see also under Edinburgh and London) and William Hunter. Lister was Regius Professor of Surgery at the university from 1860-1869, and his important work during these years has been described (above) under the Royal Infirmary. It is remarkable, however, that this great man has left so little trace at the university he served with such distinction. They did have some of his instruments, manuscripts and notes, but even these have been transferred to the Science Museum in London, for incorporation in the “Lister Room” of the new medical science wing (see under -London). Fortunately, it is quite a different story with William Hunter. He attended Glasgow University as a student, but never taught there. However, he always felt that he owed a lot to the university, and when he died, he bequeathed to it his huge collections of books and manuscripts, anatomical, pathological and zoological dissections, as well as other items such as minerals and coins. Some of these are housed in the Hunterian Museum. His art collection is in the Art. Gallery, His pathological dissections are in the Royal Infirmary, referred to earlier, but his zoological dissections are in the museum of the Zoology Department of the university, and may be seen upon request at the Zoology Department office. His anatomical dissections are in the Anatomy Museum of the Department of Anatomy, and may be seen upon request at the Anatomy Department office. These anatomy dissections are superb, and are housed in a beautifully well kept “period piece” museum. Finally, William Hunter’ s books and manuscripts are housed in the Special Collections Department of the Main Library, which is just University Avenue. These may be seen by permission of the librarian in charge. Perhaps their most valued item is not only an original edition of Hunter’s “The Anatomy of the Gravid Uterus” (referred to earlier), but also a description of the time of year the specimens were obtained which was vital to their preservation! The Special Collections Department contains many other priceless medical and biological books, which is consistent with the university long and distinguished history.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Queen Margaret Drive and Great Western Road
Opening hours: Gardens, 7.00-dusk
No charge for admission.
The Glasgow Botanic Gardens started in 1801 as a Physic Garden attached to the Medical School of the university. In 1818, it obtained a Royal Charter and the gardens became the Royal Botanical institute. In 1820, Sir William Hooker became its director. For the next 20 years under Hooker’ s direction the garden prospered, and became one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Then, as now, Glasgow was a flourishing sea port, and plants from all over the world poured into the Royal Botanical Institute. In 1840, Hooker went to London as director of Kew Gardens, and at the same time, the gardens were moved to their present location in Kelvinside. It is a pity that in due course, the Royal Botanical Institute lost its Royal Charter and came under the control of the City of Glasgow. This inevitably meant that its research and scientific botanical functions declined, and it now has mainly educational functions, specializing in orchids, begonias, economic plants and the breading of plants. They also have a marvelous historical botanic library. Perhaps their past is greater than their present, but the gardens are still well worth a visit. Glasgow is a city not normally on the main tourist route, but it is of great interest for biological and medical history. There are also a host of other cultural aspects. If we may make a suggestion, don’t miss a pleasure trip down the river Clyde to “The Isles”!
Location-70 miles southwest of London, on the west side of Portsmouth Harbour.
Train-From London (Waterloo) to Portsmouth and then by taxi or ferry to Gosport.
Road-Take the A3 from London through Guildford and at Petersfield, turn right onto the A272 and follow this to where it joins the A32. On the A32, take the left turn to Wickham, Fareham and Gosport.
Gosport is a naval town, and was a major embarkation point for hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers on and after D-day in 1944, and has been a Royal Navy base for hundreds of years.
The Medical Museum Royal Naval Hospital
Opening hours: By phoning in advance to the Commanding Officer.
Children are not admitted.
No charge for admission.
The Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, is on a spit of land at the southeast tip of Gosport, and as part of the hospital there is a very good medical museum. The hospital and museum were bombed in 1941 and there was much damage. However, everything has been repaired and restored and the medial museum is very interesting. It has three aspects which cannot easily be separated :
1. The purely historical medical aspect.
2. The natural history aspect, which derives from the great Royal Navy voyages of discovery in the 18th and 19th centuries.
3. The superb historical library of about 6,000 volumes.
Some of the priceless books include:
1. “Birds of Australia”, 7 volumes, John Gould.
2. “Of the cure of the scurvy”, James Lind. 1st edition, 1753, 2nd edition 1757. In which he performed one of the first “controlled experiments”
3. “A Voyage to Jamaica”, Hans Sloane, 1707.
4. “History of the World”, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1677. This also contains a history of his life and trial.
There are many collections of medical instruments used by naval surgeons. We mention some of them–they are quite extensive:
1. Ophthalmic instruments of 1930-1939, which all battleships carried.
2. Superb collections of medical instruments from the English German and Japanese navies of WWI and WWII, with others going back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
3. There are also many pathology specimens, and displays of tattooing and its dangers. Also some excellent natural history and fossil collections.
Everything in the museum is immaculate, and lovingly cared for by Mr. Tom Parsons, a former Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. The museum is of great interest, and Mr. Parsons very knowledgeable. He will tell you many interesting historical facts–some with a sigh, such as the abolition in 1970 of the Royal Navy’s daily “rum ration”! This was due to the “exacting demands” of the “technical navy”
Location-38 miles north of London, and about 20 miles south of Cambridge.
Train-From London (Liverpool Street) to Saffron Waldon, and then by taxi to Hempstead.
Road-Take the Al towards Cambridge, but turn right on the A1063 to Saffron Waldon. At Saffron Waldon, take the B1053 to Radwinter and Hempstead.
Hempstead, Essex, is a small village in lovely countryside, but of particular interest, because it is here that William Harvey (see also under Folkestone, London and Padua, Italy) is buried, and the village has a long association with the Harvey family. The importance of William Harvey has been described under Folkestone, his birthplace, so suffice it to say that it is here in Hempstead that his body lies in the very old Parish Church of St. Andrew. The reason for this is that Harvey had no permanent home, but often visited his broth Eliab’s home, Wincelow Hall, about a mile from the church. Wincelow Hall was burned to the ground in the 19th century, only the servants’ quarters surviving, and a new house has been built on the site of the old.
In any case, Harvey’s tomb is in the Harvey Chapel of St. Andrews’s Church, and is in very good condition, having recently been restored by the Royal College of Physicians, with which Harvey was so closely associated most of his life. Harvey lies in the center of the chapel in a large sarcophagus made from a single block of Carrara marble. It is very impressive and a fitting resting place for this distinguished man. In a vault beneath the church there lie 49 of Harvey’s relatives in plain lead coffins. The vault can only be seen by permission of the vicar, but if the church is open, there is no difficulty seeing the Harvey Chapel.
Location – 10 miles west and slightly south of London.
Train – Take the London Underground’s District Line (towards Richmond) from Victoria or Earl’s Court and get off at Kew Gardens.
Road – From London take the A4 to the west and turn off along the A307 to Kew (just where the A4 joins the M4). In the summer it is also possible to go from London to Kew by riverboat on the Thames.
Kew, Surrey, is the home of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which may be said, without any exaggeration, to be the foremost botanical gardens in the world.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
Phone – 01-940-1171
Gardens, 10.00 – dusk
Glasshouses, 11.00 – dusk
Small charge for admission
Extensive literature available at the “Orangery”
No nation in the western world has such a long and continuous gardening tradition as Britain. Going back 2000 years to Roman times, advances in gardening have been virtually unbroken, and it is a pleasure to record that from the great Royal Palaces and country estates of the nobility, to the smallest cottage and urban house, British gardening is still alive and flourishing! For over two centuries, no place has had more importance in the development of modern gardening, scientific botany, and all the glories that derive from them, than the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (commonly referred to as “Kew Gardens”). Just as Down House in Kent is the “Mecca” for all biologists, so also is Kew the “Mecca” for all gardeners and botanists.
The origins of the gardens go back to the beginning of the 18th century, when the land on which they are now situated was part of the Richmond and Kew estates of King George II and Queen Caroline. Their son Frederick, Prince of Wales, lived on a part of the estate which now comprises Kew Green. He died in 1751, but in 1759 his widow, Augusta, the mother of King George III, started a small botanic garden within the area of the present gardens. On the death of George II, and later Princess Augusta, the entire estate became the property of George III. In a farsighted act, the King put the supervision of the gardens under the brilliant and much traveled botanist, Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), and it was Sir Joseph who set the high standards and determined the future scientific nature of the gardens. Sir Joseph was also very influential in having plants collected from all over the world and brought back to Kew. On his death, the gardens went into a period of decline, but in 1841 they became the property of the state, and are now under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. At the same time they were handed over to the state, Sir William Jackson Hooker (see later) became their first director, and he not only revived them but expanded their scientific functions far beyond what Sir Joseph Banks had envisioned. In due course more land and facilities were given to the gardens by Queen Victoria and Edward VII, and at present they comprise an area of about 300 acres. To maintain this and provide services for the many functions of Kew, there is a scientific staff of about 150, and a total staff of over 600. Also in 1965 the Wakehurst Place estate of over 400 acres at Ardingly, Sussex (see under Ardingly) came under the direction of Kew. On his death in 1865, Sir William Jackson Hooker was succeeded as director by his son, Sir Joseph Dalton hooker (see later), and this brilliant botanical father and son were responsible for the modern preeminence of the gardens. It is pertinent therefore that we give here a short biography of each of these outstanding botanists.
William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) was born at Norwich, and received a good education, which included drawing, so necessary to botanists. Very early in life he exhibited an intense interest in animals and plants, and before he was twenty he had discovered a new British moss. Soon afterwards he was illustrating some of the major botanical books of the day. In 1809 he went on an expedition to Iceland, where he botanized extensively. However, on the way home his ship caught fire, and Hooker barely escaped with his life. But all his specimens were lost! (Some years later the same fate was to overtake (Alfred Russel Wallace.) Nevertheless, Hooker managed to publish his journal of the expedition in 1811. Through the influence of a friend and patron, Dawson Turner, Hooker bought an interest in the Turner family brewery, which gave him a secure income so that he could devote his full time to botany, and in 1815 married Maria Turner, his patron’s eldest daughter. However, the brewery did not prosper as well as expected, and in 1815 married Maria Turner, his patron’s eldest daughter. However, the brewery did not prosper as well as expected, and in 1820 Hooker took up the post of Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University (see under Glasgow). There he had a very productive 20 years, during which he wrote many botanic gardens. So conspicuous were his services to botany that he was knighted in 1836, and in 1841 was appointed director of Kew. It was made clear that the object of this appointment was for Hooker to turn the embryonic and decaying gardens into a national botanic garden of the first rank. In fact, he far exceeded every expectation. It is not necessary to elaborate here all the innovations and expansions he made, suffice it to say that all the major research functions of the gardens were established under him, as well as a library, herbarium (the nucleus of which was his own extensive herbarium) and the Museum of Economic Botany. As a result of his prestige, enthusiasm and influence in high places, plants from all over the world flowed into Kew. Despite his enormous administrative duties he still continued to write and illustrate botanical books. In 1855 his son Joseph Dalton Hooker became his assistant, and upon Sir William’s death at Kew in 1865, his son succeeded him as a director.
Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) was born at Halesworth, Suffolk, the second child of Sir William Jackson Hooker (see above). From the earliest age of his father’s influence on his upbringing, education and indeed his whole life was predominant, and above all else was his interest in botany. At 18 he published his first botanical paper and at age 22 he received his MD degree from Glasgow University, where his father was a Professor of Botany. In the same year (1839), and not long after Charles Darwin had returned from his voyage in H.M.S. Beagle, young Joseph Hooker received an appointment as assistant surgeon and naturalist on H.M.S. Erebus, sailing under the command of Captain James Ross on a four year voyage to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia. During his voyage of discovery (Hooker was to go on many more), he was an ardent botanizer, much of it on virgin ground, and in due course his work was published in six huge volumes under the title “The Botany of The Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror.” With this he at once became one of the leading botanists of the world. On his return from the voyage of the Erebus in 1843, Joseph established himself at Kew, where his father had become director, and also established his lifelong friendship with Charles Darwin. The subsequent careers of the two men were closely intertwined; indeed they became each other’s mentors, and “testing grounds” for the ideas and theories which their active minds poured forth.
In 1847 Hooker set off again on a long voyage of discovery this time to India, and later to the Himalayas, Sikkim and Nepal. His botanizing on this journey, was if anything, more productive than previous ones, and in due course his work was published in many volumes. It is of great interest that it was during this journey that Hooker collected so many species of Himalayan rhododendrons, which were sent back to Kew and have since been propagated all over the world. It is also of great interest that his “Himalayan Journals” (dedicated to Charles Darwin) are one of the classics of travel books, and can be enjoyed by all. On a personal note, Hooker was married in 1851 to Frances Harriet Henslow, the daughter of the Cambridge botanist, the Reverend John Stevens Henslow, who had such an influence on Charles Darwin. She died in 1874, and two years later he was married again to Hyacinth Symonds. Both marriages were extremely happy and there were many children.
In 1855 he became assistant director to his father at Kew, and succeeded him as director in 1865. Under his directorship, Kew became the modern, research oriented, botanical institute that it is today, serving botanists on a world-wide basis. Despite his day to day responsibilities at Kew, Hooker undertook many more botanizing travels to such places as Syria and Palestine, Morocco, the Canary Islands and North America. With all this, his books and monographs continued to grow in number. He became the foremost botanist of his time, and was duly knighted by Queen Victoria for his abundant services. He died in 1911, at the age of 94.
It will be obvious to our readers that Kew and the Hookers are almost synonymous, but we will now describe in more detail some of the fascinating and vitally important scientific aspects of Kew, which derive in large part from one of the other of the Hookers.
The most obvious part of Kew Gardens is of course the extensive living collections within the 300 acres. While the sheer beauty and size of the gardens may overwhelm the visitor (and there is always something in bloom at Kew!), we must never forget that their primary function is not to serve as a public park, but as a scientific institution dedicated to the advancement of botany in all its varied aspects. Behind the beauty, and the obvious meticulous care of the living collections, botanical research is the overriding concern. To give an idea of the extensiveness and variety of the living collections, we will simply list some of the main ones: grass and bamboo gardens; rose and iris gardens; birch, poplar, willow, oak, alder, ash, conifer, Rosaceae, walnut, mulberry and Leguminoseae collections; rhododendron, azalea, magnolia, liliac, wisteria and forsythia gardens; winter-flowering shrubs of many kinds; aquatic gardens; rock gardens and many more. In addition, there are the numerous glasshouses specializing in tropical rain forest plants, ferns, succulents, alpine plants, palms, tropical water lilies, Australian plants and many others. Suffice it to say that the interested visitor can spend many days, preferably spaced over different times of the year, simply savoring the glories of the living collections.
The herbarium is situated just a few yards outside the main gate and across the square behind some rather fine iron railings. The herbarium is not open to the public on a regular basis, but you can ask permission to see it, and if an appropriate person is available they are usually obliging. It can only be used by outside persons with special permission. At present it comprises a complex of four wings surrounding a courtyard, except for a “break” to permit entry of fire engines! The library (see later) is also housed in this complex. The herbarium was founded in 1852 on a small scale, but in 1854 and 1867 the extensive private herbaria of George Bentham and Sir William Hooker were added, and these formed the basis of the modern herbarium which now comprises over 5,000,000 specimens, and is certainly one of the largest and most important in the world. The two “old” (19th century) wings are really very beautiful “period pieces” of architecture, with their balconies, superb open spiral staircases and glass skylights. In each, there is a ground floor and two upper balcony floors. The cabinets are all made of white pine (Pinus strobus), which would be prohibitive in cost today! The two newer wings are of 20th century origin and reflect a more utilitarian attitude.
The functions of the herbarium are based on the “Hooker days” when they prepared floras of the British Empire. Today it is a research herbarium for world flora, and also serves botanists throughout the world. The specialize in the flora of Britian, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Tropical Africa, the West Indies and South America. They are constantly engaged in preparing floras of these and other places throughout the world. Much of it is done on contract for the newer nations. Their special collections include those of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, and his original drawings (botanists and herbarium people in particular must be good artists –it is part of careful observing!), John Lindley’s orchid herbarium, many collections of early African explorers, and even some specimens collected from the famous (or infamous?) voyage of the Bounty. The herbarium has many other functions, but we will just mention on more, and that is to publish, in cooperation with the library, the “Index Kewensis”. This was the idea of Charles Darwin and Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, and consists of nothing less than a listing and description of all flowering plants ever discovered throughout the world! Needless to say it is constantly updated as new plants are discovered, and old ones reclassified. In closing this short description of the herbarium and its functions, we can only say that no words of praise, for the past and present, are too great for this unsurpassed scientific botanical institute.
The library of Kew (located in the herbarium complex) is both historically and functionally closely associated with the herbarium. It is not open to the public, but the visitor may ask to see it and like the herbarium staff they are obliging if someone’s time is available. The library can only be used by obtaining special permission from the librarian. Founded in 1852, it became a major botanical library, with the acquisition in 1854 of George Bentham’s library and in 1867 Sir William Hooker’s library. Since then it has constantly expanded, and now contains over 150.000 volumes, being particularly rich in pre-Linnean botanical works, and floras of the world. Many of their historical items are unique and priceless. The function of the library is to serve the research staff at Kew and botanists throughout the world.
The library is housed in a new wing and consists of three sections:
1. The Archives Room, which is a magnificent long gallery, where the main working collections are house.
2. The Travels and Maps Room which houses the records of many of the early botanizers throughout the world
3. The Kewensia Room. This houses all the various papers, letters, drawings, notes, etc. of Sir William and Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker.
The library also contains many other interesting items too numerous to mention.
It is pleasant to record that it is today in the hands of a very knowledgeable and dedicated staff.
The Jodrell Laboratory (just inside the Jodrell Gate off Kew Road) is Kew’s principle laboratory of basic research into the way in which plants function and have evolved. Founded in 1876 by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (with funds provided by his friend Thomas Phillips-Jodrell), it quickly became one of the leading botanical research institutes in the world and remains so today. With over 100 years of active research, and the publication of that research, its record can be described as constanly being in the forefront of botanical research, with great contributions to botany. Today it specializes in plant anatomy, biochemistry, biochemical systematics and cytogenetics. The plant physiology section has recently been moved Wakehurst Place (see under Ardingly).
Opposite the front entrance of the Jodrell Laboratory is a large systematic garden of herbaceous plants. Arranged in easily comparable families, there are over 2000 species represented in this garden. This supplies marvelous facilities for evolutionists, and also helps students and the public to understand the range of variation among herbaceous plants. These are wild plants, not cultivated for decoration. In addition, this garden is rapidly becoming a major place for the preservation of endangered species. The systematic garden with its carefully with its carefully labeled plants is a gold mine of interest for the botanically minded. One may wander freely (for hours!) around the garden, but the staff request that you touch nothing – there is no need for it anyway.
In addition to all this, there are several botanical museums at Kew, which are fascinating and very instructive.
The General Museum (open to the public), which is opposite the Palm House at the other end of “The Pond,” is basically a museum of economic botany, and after seeing it one cannot help being impressed more than ever by our utter dependence on plants. Some of the displays vividly illustrate the history of agriculture and gardening, the origins of crop plants, the cultivation of domestic plants, and the breeding of domestic plants, the use of wood in buildings, furniture and art, including musical instruments, the making of paper and many more. This is a marvelous aesthetic and educational museum.
The Wood Museum, located between the main gate and the Jodrell Laboratory, is also open to the public, and displays a variety of woods and their uses, also craftsmanship in wood. Many people today appreciate the beauty of wood, and this is an excellent place to see many of its uses.
The Marianne North Gallery (open to the public) is located opposite the Temperature House near Kew Road, halfway between the Lion and Victorian Gates. Marianne North (1830-1890) was born in Hastings, the daughter of a middle-class family (her father was MP for Hastings), and from the earliest age she exhibited a talent for art. This did not deter her, and managing in one way or another to escape the inhibiting social restraints placed on a woman of the Victorian age, she traveled alone all over the world, painting flowers in their natural habitat. Among the places she visited for this purpose were North America, Jamaica, Brazil, Japan, the East Indies, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Her output was enormous, and 848 of her paintings are preserved and on display in the Marianne North Gallery. It is a remarkable collection.
The Orangery is slightly to the left off the Broad Walk upon entering at the main gates. It is the information center for Kew, but in addition it houses a small art gallery, temporary exhibits of current interest, and a pictorial exhibit of the history and functions of Kew. There are also excellent bookstalls specializing in works on botany and horticulture.
In addition to all we have mentioned here, there are many unseen functions performed by the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. These include the quarantining of plants for introduction from and to foreign lands, the training of horticulturalists (a degree from Kew is much prized!), conserving endangered species, and perhaps most important of all the giving of expert professional advice on all matters botanical to governments and institutions all over the world.
There is one last thing we must mention at Kew, and that is the Parish Church of St. Anne, located on Kew Green a short distance before reaching the main gates of the gardens. This is a fascinating old church, where over the years some very famous people have worshipped, including five Queens of Englad, Victoria, Alexandria (wife of Edward VII), Mary (wife of George V) Elizabeth (wife of George VI) and Elizabeth II. This is commemorated by specially hand embroidered kneeling cushions in the front pew. However, just as interesting to us, is that the botanic trio, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir William Jackson Hooker and Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker were all members of the church and worshipped there. This is commemorated in the church and worshipped there. This is commemorated in the church by plaques in their memory and also the handmade kneeling cushions. There is also one of the latter in memory of Marianne North. Both Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker are buried in the churchyard. This church might be described as “the botanists’ church”. The Parish Church of St. Anne is only open at certain times (due to the danger of vandalism), but it is worth the effort to try to see it.
In concluding our section on the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, we can only say that the visitor is not likely to be disappointed. Furthermore, there is always something new in botany at Kew.
London, situated astride the Thames near its mouth, is one of the major cities of the world and the capital of the United Kingdom. Its history goes back well beyond Roman times (it was known to the latter as Londinium), and today it consists of a vast complex of boroughs and towns all incorporated into what is known as Greater London. This is the place where almost all visitors to Britain will quickly establish themselves for longer or shorter periods, as it is not only the transportation hub of the country, but the variety of events and things to see, both social and cultural, as well as those of historical interest are, in our opinion, unsurpassed in the world. In no sense can we attempt to give a selection of these, all we can advise is that visitors read a good guide book, get a good map, and try to familiarize themselves as quickly as possible with the excellent public transportation, underground trains (commonly known as “the tube” or “the underground”), buses and taxis. Of course, none of these beat walking if you really want to know and see London! It will perhaps be of help to say that almost everything the visitor is likely to want to see is north of the Thames or immediately on the south bank. From the biological and medical perspective, London has long been the major center for these in Britain and thus there is a great deal to see.
British Museum of Natural History
Cromwell Road (Corner of Exhibition Road)
London, SW7 2DD
Phone – 01-589-6323
Closed on some national holidays.
No charge for admission.
Underground – South Kensington
This is one of the finest natural history museums of the world, and while it is administered by the main Bristish Museum in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury (see under British Library), and its location is quite different. It is convenient and useful to mention here the fact that there are three other major museums in the immediate area of the Natural History Museum. The first of these is the Victoria and Albert Museum (open the same times as the Natural History Museum, but closed on Fridays). Located on the opposite corner to the Natural History Museum, with entrance on Cromwell Road, it is one of the great art (both fine and applied) museums of the world, and in addition it often has special exhibits of great interest. Secondly, there is the Science Museum (see below) on Exhibition Road, and next door to it the Geological Museum (see below).
In its present form the Natural History Museum dates from 1860 when it was decided to split off the natural history section of the British Museum, was not opened until 1881. Even today the building is impressive for its architecture and size. In 1975 a huge new wing was added to house their 7,000,000 specimens of fossils.
The primary functions of the museum are both education and research, and its main funding comes from the British Government. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of the Natural History Museum in the development of our knowledge and understanding of all living things. The size of the operation alone tells part of the story, for they employ 300 scientists and possess over 40,000,000 specimens! Some of these come from the famous voyages of Captain Cook, the voyage of Charles Darwin in the Beagle, and many others, but most from much more recent expeditions. The main aspect of the museums research is taxonomic, that is, the identification and classification of all animals and plants, and it is a main reference point for biologists all over the world.
Magnificent statues of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) in the north hall of the main rotunda set the tone for the whole thrust of the museum’s research and displays. This is the basic idea that all life on this earth has evolved by means of natural selection, and the public galleries reflect this theme. The museum has five subdivisions, Zoology, Botany, Palaeontolgy, and Anthropology (combined) Entomology and Mineralogy. There is also a section of Ornithology, but this is located at Tring, Hertfordshire (see under Tring). All the subdivisions are well represented in the public displays in the galleries. These galleries are rapidly being renovated from there are rapidly being renovated from their basic Victorian designs, to reflect the more modern aspects of biology such as ecology, diversity, behavior and life processes. One of these new exhibitions, entitled “Human Biology—An Exhibition of Ourselves” was opened in 1977, and others have History Museum has no intention of losing its paramount role and position in biology.
As one would expect of such an institution, it has a library to match its huge operations. The library is only open to the public by special permission of the librarian. There are in fact five libraries which reflect and serve the functions of the main subdivisions of the museum. We need hardly add that their collections are extensive and priceless.
The Linnean Society of London
Phone – 01-734-1040
Normal business hours
Admission by appointment only
Children are not admitted
Underground – Green Park
The Linnean Society of London was founded in 1788 with the primary function of promoting natural history throughout the world. In its 200 years of existence it has remained true to that goal, and has played an enormous role in the development of our knowledge of natural history. During the time since its inception almost all great British naturalist (and many non-British ones also) have been elected Fellow, and include such names as Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Of great interest also is the fact that it was at a meeting of the Linnean Society in 1858 that the original paper on evolutionary theory by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace was read.
The society of course derives its name from the great Swedish botanist, Carl Linnean (1707-1778), whose importance to scientific botany can scarcely be overrated and we will give a short biography of him under Uppsala, Sweden (see Uppsala, Sweden). Here we will stick to the society itself, which is famous not only for its achievements in natural history, but also for the fact that it has come to be the resting place of most of Carl Linnaeus’ collections of plants, animals, manuscripts, correspondence, books, etc., and these are still a major reference source for biologists throughout the world. It is of great interest as to how the collections came into the hands of the Linnean Society. When Linnaeus died in Uppsala in 1778, his son Carl inherited his father’s library and his collections, except for his priceless herbarium. This went to his widow Sara, and unfortunately was not well cared for. Young Carl died in 1783, just 5 years after his father, and all his father’s collections then went to his mother. Linnaeus had warned his wife before his death that his collections would increase in value with time. However, in 1783 she needed money, and unable to find a Swedish buyer she sold them for about £1000 to an English medical student and naturalist, James Edward Smith. In the following year 1784, he shipped them to London. Needless to say the Swedes were very upset about this, but in a sense they had no one but themselves to blame. The collections remained in Smith’s hands until his death, when they passed to Smith’s wife, but in 1829 the Linnean Society bought them from her a little over £3000, with the express purpose in mind that they should be permanently available to scientific workers. The collections today are more or less intact as from the time of purchase, except for Linnaeus’ medical books, which were returned to Sweden in 1892. This has perhaps been offset by the subsequent addition of many valuable botanical works.
The Linnean collections are housed in a special strong room, where temperature and humidity are carefully controlled, and it is a pleasure to record the excellent condition they are in, as well as the professional care they are accorded. It is not treated as a museum, but as a research collection, and scholars from all over the world come to study and consult it. In addition to this, there is the historical library. With over 100,000 volumes, it is one of the major biological libraries of the world. It can only be used by the society’s 1500 Fellows, and by scholars who have the permission of the librarian. Other priceless possessions include the herbarium of Sir James Edward Smith (the founder naturalists, Fellows, etc., including the original and huge portrait of Charles Darwin by John Collier.
On the far side of the courtyard behind Burlington House are the premises of the National Academy of Art, and it was here in the right hand wing (facing the building) that the famous Darwin/Wallace paper was first read in 1858.
We can only describe the Linnean Society as a “biological gem” particularly from a historical point of view.
Opening hours: Weekdays 10.00-18.00
Closed on some national holidays.
No charge for admission.
Underground: South Kensington.
The Science Museum is primarily a museum of the physical sciences and technology, but in 1981, there was added the Wellcome Museum of the History of Medicine. The museum contains a superb collection of optical instruments, including a microscope (c. 1675) said to have belonged to Robert Hooke (1635-1703), a pioneer in microscopy, and the first person to describe a plant cell. There are doubts about this however, but it is not one of Hooke’s, it is certainly a replica of one, and came from the royal collection of George III. George III was a prolific collector, and most of his collections have in due course found their way into various British museums. It was always somewhat amazing to us that a country like Britain, with its long tradition of excellence in medicine and also so historically oriented, did not have a good medical museum. But with the establishment of the Wellcome Museum of the History of Medicine this is fortunately no longer the case. We hesitate to say this medical museum is the best in the world, because they are ail different, but it is certainly the largest, and second to none. The Wellcome Museum occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the Science Museum, and consists of 43 huge dioramas and reconstructions on the fourth floor, depicting the history of medicine from neolithic times to the present, while on the fifth floor are over 500 display cases, all in chronological order, on virtually ever aspect of the history of medicine. They are beautifully displayed and explained. Almost all this vast collection comes from Sir Henry Wellcome F.R.S. (1853-1936), one of the founders of the pharmaceutical house of Burrows and Wellcome. Sir Henry was born in the United States, but as a young man, he took out British citizenship and in due course, became very wealthy and devoted 40 years of his life to collecting. In addition to his collections in the science museum, he also founded the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine. Certainly no one has ever done more for the history of medicine. We simply cannot imagine anyone, with an interest in the history of medicine, going to London and not taking time to see the Wellcome Museum of the History of Medicine. Allow at least 3 hours!
The Royal College of Physicians of London
11 St. Andrew Place
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10.99-17.00
No charge for admission
Underground: Great Portland Street
The Royal College of Physicians of London is over 400 years old. It has engaged in a whole variety of activities in its long history, and as such has had, and continues to have, an enormous influence on British medicine. It was founded in 1518 by charter from King Henry VIII. At this time, it became obvious that the medical standards of physicians in England were well below those on the continent, particularly those of Italy, and Henry VIII’s charter was an attempt to remedy this situation. Since that time, the college has played a major role in British medicine, which has spread to much of the rest of the world. One of its early Fellows was no less a person than William Harvey (see under Folkestone and Hempstead) who added enormous prestige to the college. Today the Royal College of Physicians of London is chiefly responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the standards of physicians in Britain. Of main interest to the visitor is their historical medical library, which while not open to the public, nevertheless has a “main reading room”, and this is open to the public. From time to time in this room, there are magnificent displays of early medical works. In the college also are a series of fine portraits of their famous fellows, including one of William Harvey.
The John Snow Public House
39 Broadwick Street (corner of Lexington Street)
Opening hours: Normal Pub hours.
No charge for admission.
Underground: Piccadilly Circus
There is no more pleasant place in London for the medical historian than the John Snow Pub! Why is the John Snow Pub of historical significance? The answer is that a great medical discovery took place near where the pub now stands, and it was Dr. John Snow who was responsible for it. John Snow (1813-1858) should, in our opinion, have greater status in the history of medicine than is normally accorded to him, because he made major contributions in both anaesthesiology and epidemiology. Born in York, (see under York), the son of a farmer, he is said to have been a good student, and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a surgeon. In his teenage years he became a temperance advocate and for the rest of his life, he practiced this himself. It is perhaps ironic that he should be commemorated by a pub!
Also, very early in life he had to cope with cholera epidemics, on which he became very knowledgeable. In 1836, he migrated to .London, and in 1844 received a medical degree from the University of London. When the anaesthetic, ether, was introduced from the United States in 1846, Snow at once recognized it potential, and within one year he had invented a reliable apparatus for its administration, and published a book on it entitled “On Ether”. In the same year, 1847, James Young Simpson (see under Edinburgh) introduce chloroform, and Snow embraced this also, but recognized the difference between this and ether. He quickly became the leading authority on anaesthesia, so much so, that he was chosen to administer chloroform to Queen Victoria in 1853 at the birth of Prince Leopold. He later (1858) published another book entitled “On Chloroform”. However, in the meantime he had not lost interest in cholera and its means of spreading. This was, of course, long before the theory of the microbial origins of disease, as put forth by Pasteur (see under France). As early as 1849 Snow believed and publicly said so, that cholera was “water borne” but, it was not until 1854 that he was able to prove this. In that year there was a terrible outbreak of cholera in Soho, which was the area in which Snow himself lived. So severe was the outbreak, that over 200 people died within 3 days. Suspecting that the disease was “water borne”, Snow did a study of the incidence of the disease in relation to a public well on Broadwick Street, and noticed that the closer people lived to the well, the greater the incidence of cholera. He also noticed that a sewer pipe passed within a few feet of the well, and believed that this was the source of contamination of the well water.
Accordingly, Snow advised the authorities to “remove the handle from the pump!” Despite much protest, this was in due course done, and the cholera stopped at once. While the microbial origin of the disease was not understood for many years to come, the “water borne” nature of it was, and with the sanitation reforms which quickly followed, cholera virtually disappeared from the British scene. Furthermore, the understanding of the value of clean water in general gave rise to enormous improvements in health.
Dr. John Snow never married and died at the early age of 45. Nevertheless, his contributions to medicine and human welfare remain secure for all time. After Snow’s death in 1858, London expanded rapidly. In due course a public house was built on or near the site of the former well. Some 20 years ago, a group of historically-minded London doctors asked the brewing company (Watneys), who owned the pub, if they could put up a plaque on the pub commemorating Dr. John Snow and his great discovery. Watneys was delighted, and at the same time renamed the pub the “John Snow”, and there it stands today as a reminded of this great man. Inside the pub are a variety of framed photographs and documents commemorating Snow’s great discovery. It is popular with the local people and a nice “cosy place” to have a drink (or a “pub lunch”), and to toast Dr. John Snow!
The Royal Society of London
6 Carlton House Terrace
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
Not suitable for children.
Underground: Charing Cross or Piccadilly Circus.
The Royal Society is one of the oldest scientific institutions in the world, with origins as far back as 1645, but in 1662, King Charles II, who had previously become a member, granted the first charter. Thus, it has been in existence for well over three centuries, and has played an enormous role in the advancement of science. In its original charter granted by Charles II, the purpose of the society is stated to be “the promotion of natural knowledge”. Using modern English, we would describe this today as the promotion of the natural sciences, and throughout its history, the society has remained true to this end. Today it accomplishes this by a variety of means. These include the maintenance of the highest scientific standards in the electing of its Fellows, the awarding of medals, lectureships, and research grants, the publishing of newly discovered knowledge, promoting cooperative scientific research throughout the world, the giving of scientific advice to the government and other bodies, and finally maintaining the historical scientific library. The society also maintains a remarkable collection of paintings and busts of its former Fellows, whose names include Robert Boyle, William Harvey, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Joseph Blake, John Hunter, Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Joseph Lord Lister, and many more. In fact, virtually ever truly great British scientist has been a fellow of the society since the latter part of the seventeenth century. The Royal Society is, of course, an active working organization, and is not generally open to the public. However, they are remarkably cooperative with really interesting people, and will show them around as an appropriate guide is available. In addition, their scientific meetings are held on Thursdays from November to June, and these are open to the public. If a visitor is fortunate enough to get a tour of the premises, he should, in our opinion, ask particularly to see three things: the library, the portraits and busts of the Fellows, and the Council Room. The library, which is such a major part of the Royal Society, has a historical collection of scientific books almost beyond praise! The preservation of such works by the Society is considered a vital part of our culture. The library also preserves their own publications and those of their Fellows. Their collections or portraits and busts are scattered in various rooms and hallways of the premises, but most can be seen with the help of a guide. Finally, of special interest, in the Council Room, where they not only have portraits of their distinguished Fellows, but some huge and magnificent tapestries woven by the Zulu Tribes of Africa.
The Royal Society of London is a remarkable institution and its influence on the development of all science has been, and continues to be, enormous.
Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine
183 Euston Road
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
Underground: Euston Square.
The Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine has probably done more to preserve our medical heritage than any other organization. Its origins go back to the pharmaceutical company of Burroughs and Wellcome, which in 1895, became the sole property to Henry Wellcome (1853-1936). Henry Wellcome, a very wealthy man, had wide interests in such things as archaeology, medical education, medical research and most important for us, the history of medicine. He made enormous collections in the latter area during his lifetime, and these are now housed in the Science Museum (see previously). When Sir Henry Wellcome died in 1936, his will set up the Wellcome Trust, a part of which is the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine. This is centered at 183 Euston Road, and comprises an Academic Unit which is associated with the University of London, a superb historical library, and a museum of various aspects of the history of medicine. Still at Wellcome House (and there are no plans to move it), is the Museum of Medical Science. It is a technical medical museum, with heavy emphasis on tropical medicine. In the building also are old apothecary shops, reassembled intact, and a fine art collection. These may be seen upon request at the director’s office.
In addition to all this, the academic staff of the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine is an active research unit, whose function is to promote the history of medicine in a whole variety of ways.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
Children are not admitted.
The Royal College of Surgeons, which incorporates the Hunterian Museum, was established in its modern form in 1800. It was based then, as now, on the humanitarianism, educational concepts and professionalism which John Hunter (1728-1793) established as the blueprint for medical training, and which became the subsequent pattern followed by medical schools in both Britain and the United States. The major function of the Royal College of Surgeons can be summed up by saying that it is to maintain and improve the standards of surgery in all their varied aspects and it has played an enormous and world wide role in these respects. It is an entirely autonomous body, all of their funds coming from their Fellows and public subscriptions, but none from the government. It is important to note that the college, including its magnificent Hunterian Museum, is an active working organization, and is not open to the general public.
However, it is open to members of the medical and allied professions, medical students and members of scientific societies. Other individuals and groups must make application to the curator of the Hunterian Museum. The Hunterian Museum is neither a natural history museum, nor a museum of medical history. Visitors require some basic knowledge of biology to appreciate it. It is not suitable for children and they are not allowed. Having said all this, we will add that the curator and the porter in charge at the front desk are generally cooperative. But they have responsibilities to the institution they serve, and the public must respect these.
John Hunter (see also under East Kilbride) can figuratively be described as the “Patron-Saint” of the Royal College of Surgeons. Just as his famous brother William Hunter (see under East Kilbride) established obstetrics as a medical science, so also did John put surgery into a scientific category rather than a “butchery procedure” practiced largely by barbers and other untrained people. He eventually became surgeon- extraordinary to King George III and in 1783 established his own medical school in what is now Leicester Square. Here the student had to undergo rigorous training, study animal and human specimens, attend lectures and practice classes, and do research. All the things we now take for granted in medical training. Honor poured in upon him, and over 1000 of his students spread his ideas and methods throughout the modern world. He died in 1793, probably from syphilis, with which he inoculated himself in order to distinguish it from gonorrhea. Dedication!- -but unfortunately the experiment failed into the bargain! He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
By far the most important exhibit at the Royal College of Surgeons in the Hunterian Museum. Originally, Hunter’s collection comprised about 14,000 specimens, but time, and above all World War II bombing the college have reduced the number considerably. Nevertheless, there are still many thousands left and they are magnificently displayed in this lovely and fascinating museum. All the more remarkable when one realizes that most of it is the work of one man and the specimens are 200 years old! Within the displays are dissections illustrating all the main basic structures and functions of the animal form. These include the endoskeleton, joints, muscular systems, nervous system, organs of special sense, integumentary system, organs of locomotion, the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, excretory and reproductive systems, as well as ductless glands. One is immediately struck by the incredible skill of the dissections. Guide books to the museum are available, and there are also many other interesting publications on sale. The staff is dedicated, enthusiastic, and helpful. All in all, a visit to the Hunterian Museum is a thrilling experience.
The Royal College of Surgeons also has a superb collection of the medical instruments of Joseph Lord Lister (see under Glasgow), many of which are on display in the lobby and can easily be seen. There is also a large statue of John Hunter which dominates the lobby, and there are lovely original portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and others. The library of the college (which can only be seen by special permission) is one of the great medical libraries of the world, with priceless holdings, including all Hunter’s publications, and most of his case books. Regrettably, his manuscripts are mostly lost. Finally, let us point out that in the central part of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, on the Kingsway side near where Sardinia Street enters, there is a new and lovely mounted bust of John Hunter.
St. Thomas’ Hospital
Lambeth Palace Road
London SE 1
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
St. Thomas’ Hospital is one of many major hospitals in London, but from our point of view, it has the distinction of being indelibly associated with Florence Nightingale (1820- 1910) (see also under Middle Claydon, East Wellow, Aldershot, and Kaiserswerth, Germany) who did so much to found the modern profession of nursing. The origins of St. Thomas’ go back to the 13th century, but it has only been in its present location since 1871, and is now a vast and ever expanding hospital. With all its varied history and contributions, no aspect has proven more far reaching than the founding in 1860 at St. Thomas’ of the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. With its foundation, modern nursing may be said to have begun. It is difficult for us today to realize that right down to the middle of the 19th century, to be a nurse was a social disgrace. It was in fact tantamount to being a prostitute, and many women combined the two professions. However, a new course was set by Florence Nightingale. Most of the early probationers (called “Nightingales” then as now!) scattered to all parts of the earth and spread their knowledge, expertise and dedication. Thus modern nursing was born, and is today vital and indispensable part of medicine- -something rather easily overlooked by many people, including doctors themselves.
The background of Florence Nightingale is not only of interest, but has great historical importance from which we can all learn. She was born in Florence, Italy (hence her name) in 1820. Her English parents, both wealthy and upper class, were at the time of her birth, living in Italy. However, at the age of one, she accompanied her parents back to England to live at the family home of Embley Park (see under East Wellow), and it was there that she spent most of her childhood. By all accounts, she was a highly intelligent and motivated child, and loved to learn. She received the education thought suitable for an upper class woman of her day, designed to make her a wife and mother, but very little else. As she grew, her family expected her to lead a glittering social life, but she was in great conflict with this. Her early inclinations were clear when she was only 20. At that time, there was a famine in the area where she lived, and she immediately plunged herself into social work. Here happiness at doing something constructive was obvious to all, and at the same time, she announced her intention of becoming a nurse. Her parents were horrified, and ordered her to give up the whole idea, but their remonstrations proved useless. However, it was to be another 13 years before she actually broke the parental bonds and left home.
In later life, she came to have nothing but contempt for her mother and sister. “They have nothing to do” she said “but tell each other not to get tired putting flowers into water!” In the meantime, she traveled to Rome, and there she met Sydney Herbert, who was destined to become a very influential British politician, and was responsible for getting a lot of Florence Nightingale’s ideas put into practice. On returning to England, she had a love affair with a certain Richard Monckton Mines but it did not last, and in fact, she never married. She also visited the Institute of Lutheran Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany. Here she spent six months studying their methods of nursing. She was impressed with the organization of the hospital, but thought little of their sanitation and nursing care. From Kaiserswerth, she went to Paris and studied in the hospitals under the authority of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. On her return to England again, her parents were more adamant than ever against her desire for a career in nursing, but finally in 1843 at the age of 33, she left home and started to work at the Governesses’ Sanatorium on Harley Street, London. This did not last long, as events simply overtook her.
In 1853 the Crimea War started. Britain and France supposedly went to protect Turkey against Russian attack. Things went badly for Britain from a military point of view, and the London Times reporter on the spot dispatched home articles criticizing the incompetencies and indifference of the generals and other authorities to the suffering of soldiers, particularly those sick or wounded in the hospital. This had a profound and far reaching effect in England. Sydney Herbert was at this time Minister at War, and in due course, Florence Nightingale and about 20 nurses were sent out to Scutari in Turkey, where the main hospital was located. The authorities were hostile! But by her patience, high standards, organizational ability and leadership, she eventually reconciled the army to nurses. In a short time, there were heavy casualties, and the doctors and generals in desperation turned to her for help, and her moment of triumph had arrived. Her degree of dedication and leadership soon spread far and wide. She never asked her nurses to do anything she didn’t do herself. For example, during one winter at the Scutari Hospital, she personally was present at the death of over 2000 soldiers.
In 1855 the situation got even worse, and at one point, there were more soldiers in the hospital (12,000) than in the trenches (11,000). The death rate was appalling, and eventually a sanitary commission was sent out from London. Florence Nightingale became personally responsible for implementing their reports, and in a short time, the death rate dropped from 40% to 2%! Somewhat inevitably, however, she got ill herself, but did not return to England until 1857 after the end of the war. England had prepared a great welcome for her, but she would accept no personal acclaim, and immediately started a campaign, for reform in sanitation, health care, hospital care and nursing, which included the founding of the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’. The rest of her long life was devoted to these ends. During these later years of her life, she also wrote a great deal on nursing, hospital design and sanitation. Her “Notes on Nursing” published in 1859 (the same year as Darwin’s Origin of Species!) Is considered a classic on the subject, and there were many more.
All biographers of Florence Nightingale agree that “she was not an easy person to get along with”- reformers seldom are! However, her influence was enormous. Basically she brought about three revolutions. The first of these was in the profession of nursing itself, which she raised from a very low status to one of high social if not monetary) regard. Secondly, she brought about a revolution in hospital administration and design. But thirdly, and perhaps the most important of all, was her social revolution. She, more than anyone else, broke the Victorian tradition that the only thing young, well-educated women could do was to become homemakers and have children. Thus, she was a great social liberator, whose impact is still with us today. She died at her London home on South Street in 1910 at the age of ninety. Prior to her death, and true to her nature, she refused a national funeral and burial in Westminister Abbey. Instead, she was buried in the family grave within the churchyard of East Wellow, Hampshire (see under East Wellow).
At the present time, there is no central place in St. Thomas’ (or anywhere else), where the belongings of Florence Nightingale are assembled. However, as part of a current extension to one of their buildings it is hoped that there will be a “Florence Nightingale Museum”, where most of her surviving things will be properly displayed (a drive for funds is already underway). In the meantime, we must recognize that her former possessions are scattered and in order to see them, we will have to rely on the cooperation and courtesy of those responsible for their preservation. First of all, there is a very impressive statue of Florence Nightingale on the east balcony, not of the original cast, because the latter was stolen some years ago and has never been traced. However, the firm who did the casting in the 19th century was traced, and by good fortune, they still had the original mold! So the present statue is as near to the original as possible. It may be seen by an interested visitor.
In the office complex of the District Nursing Officer, there is a variety of furniture which formerly belonged to Florence Nightingale. These include her piano, desk and several chairs. There are also small items, prints and even clothes. Similarly in the office complex of the Nursing Personnel Officer there are such items as Florence Nightingale’s medicine and needlework chests, another desk, books, etc. There is also a lamp of the type used by nurses in the Crimea, but it probably did not belong to Florence Nightingale. All these things can only be seen by the permission of the appropriate Nursing Officer. They are busy people, but one can ask, and they are helpful. The Nightingale Training School for Nurses adjoins St. Thomas’ Hospital on the east side. It is a modern building, but of particular interest to us is the fact that in their library are many of the books from Miss Nightingale’ s own library, including her Bible- -she was incidentally a devoutly religious woman, and like St. Joan of Arc, believed she had a mystical experience as a young woman. The library also has copies of all the books she wrote. However, her private papers are held by the Archives Department of the Greater London Council, which is right next door to St. Thomas’. The library holdings of the Nightingale Training School may be seen with the permission of the librarian. In addition to all these interesting aspects of St. Thomas’, it is convenient to note here that during the years, Florence Nightingale was associated with the hospital, she lived in a house on South Street. The house itself no longer survives, but there is a ceramic plaque put up by the London County underground to Green Park and then walk up Park Lane beyond the Dorchester Hotel to South Street and turn right. Her house was at what is now 8-10 South Street, and the plaque reads:
In a house on this site Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) lived and died A simple tribute to this great human benefactor.
Old St. Thomas’ Hospital Operating Theatre
c/o The Chapter House, Guy’s Hospital
St. Thomas Street
Opening hours: Variable-phone for information
Small charge for admission
Underground: London Bridge
This is the second oldest surviving operating theater in the world. It dates from. 1822, and was originally the women’s operating theater of St. Thomas’ Hospital, but is now part of Guy’s Hospital and is maintained as a museum. It is a remarkable, though somewhat “grim” place, but at the same time, a historical “gem”, and we cannot recommend too highly a visit here to see what the “realities: of surgery were only 150 years ago. When we were last there (1985) the responsible officer in charge was Mr. M. Fellows-Freeman (ext. 3149) and the curator was Mrs. Jean Miller. Literature is available at the entrance desk. The origins of this operating theater go back to the 18th century, when the loft of the church was used by the apothecary of St. Thomas’ Hospital, for drying, storing and preparing the medicinal plants used by the hospital. For this reason, it was actually called “the herb garret”. In 1822, a new women’ s operating theater was built in the garret, as part of the space occupied by the apothecary and his herbs. The theater was in use for 40 years until 1862, when St. Thomas’ Hospital sold its property to the railway company using nearby London Bridge Station, and in 1865, the hospital moved from the area altogether.
The Operating Theatre, although abandoned, was fortunately bricked-up and this no doubt saved it from complete decay. It remained that way until 1956 when, in the course of renovations, it was discovered and fortunately its value recognized. It took many years of careful work to restore it to its original condition, but with funds provided mainly by St. Thomas’ and Guy’s Hospitals and the Wolfson and Wellcome Foundations, the work was completed, and it and the adjoining herb garret were opened to the public in 1962.
On entering the theater, one is struck by the fact that virtually everything was made of wood, in contrast to the stainless steel in a modern operating theater. But to us at least, the most striking thing of all is to realize that “these walls must have seen and heard some terrible things” When it opened in 1822, anesthesia was unknown, and it was not until 1847 that anesthesia was first used here. Secondly, throughout its entire 40 years of use, no techniques of antisepsis were in use. It was entirely pre-Listerian (see under Glasgow). This is attested to by the fact that in one corner of the room is a china basin and jug used by the surgeon to wash up after the operation! In fact, the contents and whole atmosphere remind one dramatically of three necessary preliminaries before modern surgery became possible. These are the placing of surgery on a scientific basis, mainly by John Hunter (see under the Royal College of Surgeons) in the later 18th century, the introduction of anesthesia in the late 1860’s, and also asepsis. Thus, this Old Operating Theatre is a vivid and very educational reminder of the history of this part of medicine. The herb garret adjoining the theater is now a historical museum, thanks largely to the work of the late Mr. R.J. Scott, who for many years lovingly cared for everything as curator. There are very interesting displays in the herb garret, including some of the original poppy seed used to supply opium. In concluding this section on the Old St. Thomas’ Hospital Operating Theatre and Herb Garret, we feel obliged to say that a visit to them should be “a must” for anyone interested in medical or human history.
St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School
Praed Street (corner of Norfolk Place)
Opening hours: Normal business hours.
No charge for admission.
St. Mary’s Hospital is relatively new in comparison to other London hospitals, having only opened its doors in 1851, and the Medical School attached to it was founded in 1854. However, its frame has rapidly become second to none, because it was here in 1928 that Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) first observed the antibacterial properties of the mold, Penicillium notatum, though it was many years after this before the active agent “penicillin” was extracted, purified and became clinically available. Nevertheless, we may correctly say that with Fleming’s discovery the “antibiotic age” was born, and it is no exaggeration to say that it has proved to be the greater therapeutic advance in all the history of medicine. It is safe to say also that without penicillin and subsequent antibiotics, one third of the people in the work today would not be alive. Alexander Fleming was a Scotsman, having been born in Lockfield, Ayrshire in 1881. He was brought up on the family farm receiving an average education for a rural community, and by the time he was 13, he was already in London where he worked at a variety of jobs. An important turning point in his life came when at the age of 20, he inherited a small amount of money and decided to use it to study medicine.
Accordingly, he entered St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, and apart from a stint in the Army in the first World War, he remained with St. Mary’s for the rest of his working life. Early in his career, Fleming became interested in the study of the antibacterial mechanisms of the body, and also antibacterial agents, but he never attempted any massive survey of potential antibacterial agents as did Paul Ehrlich (see under Frankfurt, Germany). In fact, it was really a chance event which led him to what is now called penicillin therapy. In 1928, while working in his laboratory at St. Mary’s, he noticed that some colonies of staphylococci on a culture plate had been destroyed by an accidental contamination of a mold which had literally floated in through the window of his laboratory! Fortunately, Fleming had “a prepared mind” and recognized the significance of this event. The mold, subsequently identified as Penicillium notatum, was found to inhibit the growth of many other species of pathogenic bacteria. In the following year, 1929, he reported his findings to the London Medical Society, and also published a short paper entitled “On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium”, and suggested its use for antibacterial therapy. However, at that time, chemical techniques were very inadequate, and extracts of the active substance (penicillin) were impure and their effects unpredictable. Despite his efforts, and those he enlisted for help, the problem could not be solved, but Fleming never lost hope that sometime in the future, the problem of extracting a pure sample of penicillin would become a reality. This indeed occurred in Oxford in 1940 when Ernst Chain (1906-1979) and Howard Florey (1898-1968) (see under Oxford) accomplished this. The following year, 1941, the first clinical trial was made on an Oxford policeman, who was dying of a severe bone disease due to an infection. The infection was immediately arrested and the patient started to improve at once.
Unfortunately, there was only enough penicillin available for five days of treatment, and after this, the infection took over again and the patient died. This was an unhappy beginning, but subsequent trial confirmed that the results of penicillin therapy could be almost miraculous. Fleming himself was overjoyed at this turn of events. In 1941, England bad long been at war, and was shortly to be joined by the United States. Fortunately, the authorities in both countries were persuaded of the importance of this discovery, and the highest priority was given to the difficult task of the extraction of penicillin in meaningful amounts. Spurred on by ever increasing war casualties, the problem was in fact solved in a remarkably short period of time, thus a new era of medical therapy was ushered in. At first penicillin was only available to the allied armed services, but with the coming of peace in 1945, its use quickly spread throughout the world, and its originator, Alexander Fleming, was hailed far and wide as a hero. Honors poured in upon him from all over the earth. He was knighted by King George VI in 1944 (as were Florey and Chain), and he, Florey and Chain, all received the Nobel Prize in 1945.
Fleming’s first wife, Sarah Marion McElroy, died in 1949 leaving him a lonely man. In 1953, he was married for the second time to Dr. Amalia Coutsouris-Voureka, a Greek scientist who was working at St. Mary’s. Tragically, they were only to have two years of married life, for Sir Alexander died suddenly in 1955. His body was cremated, but his ashes are preserved in St. Paul’s Cathedral (see under St. Paul’s Cathedral).
In concluding this short biography of Sir Alexander Fleming, it is perhaps, in the interest of accuracy, to say that many scientists and historians of medicine find fault with Fleming for “not doing the right experiments” after his first observations in 1928, and also for lack of perseverance. Be that as it may, and remembering the old saying that “hindsight is easy”, the fact remains that it was Fleming’s careful observations and deductions that were instrumental in bringing about this enormous advance in medicine.
Unfortunately, the authorities at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School have not seen fit to preserve much of the associations of Sir Alexander Fleming. His laboratory has been so altered and put to new uses, that for practical purposes, it no longer exists and is now an office complex. In spite of this, there are two things worthwhile seeing. The first of these is a very nice plaque on the side of the Medical School building just to the left of the main entrance on Praed Street. It reads as follows:
Sir Alexander Fleming
Discovered Penicillin in the second story room above this plaque
It is an interesting experience to look up at the second story window above the plaque, and realize it was here that antibiotic therapy, which is such a major aspect of medicine today, had its beginnings. Secondly, there is the library and conference room on the third floor of the Wright-Fleming Institute (part of the Medical School). This is not open to the public, but the visitor may ask permission to see it from the librarian of the Medical School. Some of Fleming’s personal library is in this room, and it was the library he used in his day. In this room. also is a nice portrait of him and a bust. Most of Fleming’s library, his notes and records, laboratory equipment, etc. are scattered and generally inaccessible except to professionals, and even then it is difficult! The house in Chelsea in which Sir Alexander Fleming lived for many years still stands. It is at 20 Danvers Street. To reach it, take the underground to Sloane Square, and then walk down Kings Road to Paultons Square (it is quite a step!), and turn left. This then leads into Danvers Street. The house is privately occupied, and is not marked in any way. We find it a pity that more of the materials and associations of this great human benefactor are not preserved and available for viewing by the public. Perhaps in the future there may be a “Fleming Museum”- – we hope so.
London SW 1
Opening hours: Open to the public most days, so long as there is no service or special event in progress.
Photography in the Abbey is forbidden except by special permission.
No charge for admission.
Westminster Abbey is more to Britain than simply a church. It is in fact a national shrine where, throughout the ages, many of her great sons and daughters have been buried or commemorated, and these include biologists and doctors. There are many things in Westminster Abbey of great historical interest and beauty, but we strongly recommend some knowledge of British history before a visit there, as well as the use of the official guide book. We will confine ourselves here to memorials of the great scientists. There is a booklet available entitled “The Abbey Scientists”, which we recommend. On entering the Abbey by the West Door, the Nave is straight ahead, and almost immediately in the center of this is the memorial to Sir Winston Churchill and the tomb of Britain’s Unknown Soldier. To the left of this is the North Aisle, and within the floor of this aisle are the tombs of John Hunter and Charles Darwin. Nearby are the tombs of Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875), the geologist and close friend of Charles Darwin, and the great physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and others. Further on in the North Transept is the memorial to Sir lames Young Simpson, and in the South Transept, as part of”poet’s corner”, is the memorial to Stephen Hales. Westminister Abbey is a fascinating place, where the visitor can spend many enjoyable hours, but none of them better than seeing the memorials to famous British scientists.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Opening hours: Open to the public most days, so long as there is no service or special event in progress. No charge for admission.
Underground: St. Paul’s
St. Paul’s Cathedral, like Westminister Abbey, is somewhat of a national shrine, and it is here that the ashes of Sir Alexander Fleming are interred. They are in the crypt underneath the main floor, and are located in a wall not far from the tomb of the Duke of Wellington. There is a plaque on the wail indicating the location of his ashes. It is worth a visit by those interested in the contribution of this great man to medicine and human welfare.
Opening hours: Daily 9:00-dusk.
No charge for admission.
Underground: West Brompton
Here in this cemetery, Dr. John Snow (see under The John Snow Public House) is buried. To find the grave, go through the entrance off Old Brompton Road. Turn left at the first cross walkway inside the cemetery, and the grave is about 30 yards along on the right. It is easily seen. The burial register number is 18588, and it is officially described as being on North Walk, Compartment E, Location 52. It is inscribed:
To John Snow, M.D.
Born at York
March 15th, 1813
Died in London
June 16th, 1858
In remembrance of his great labors in science and of the excellence of his private life and character, this monument with the assent of Dr. William Snow has been erected over his grave by his professional brethren and friends. Restored in 1895 by Sir Benjamin W. Richard F.R.S. and a few surviving friends. The grave has been restored three times: Firstly in 1895 by Sir Benjamin W. Richardson. Secondly in 1938 by anaesthetists from Britain and the United States. It was destroyed by a German bomb in April 1941- -but restored for the third time in 1951 by the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, who now maintain it.
The British Library
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
Opening hours: Weekdays, 10.00-17.00
No charge for admission.
Underground-Tottenham Court Road.
The British Library is one of the truly great libraries of the world, and has played an incalculable role in the development of all human knowledge. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1973, and can now be described as the National Library of Britain. At the present time it is in a state of transition, with three main operation divisions. These are the Reference Division, the Lending Division, and Bibliographic Services. It is the Reference Division with which we will be concerned here, because it comprises the former library departments of the British Museum, including the Science Reference Library, which are still housed there. The origins of the British Museum are of great interest. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1753, with the object of bringing together the enormous collections of Sir Robert Colton, as well as those of the First and Second Earls of Oxford and those of Sir Hans Sloane. Included in the Act were specific provisions for a library, and the money to buy these collections was raised by a government -sponsored lottery!
Fortunately, it worked well. Just four years later in 1757 the library was greatly enhanced by the presentation of the entire Royal Library of King George II (1683-1760), which contained the collections of every British King since Edward IV (1442-1483). It was certainly then, and fortunately still is, one of the most priceless collections to survive the ravages of time. The collections were enhanced again in 1823, when King George IV (1762-1830) presented to the Museum the library of his father King George III (1738-1820). Thus in its early years, the library was greatly helped by gifts from Royalty. At its foundation, the British Museum Library was established as a “copyright library.” which under the law (going back to the Press Licensing Act of 1662) entitles it to a free copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. Its holdings are now well over 10,000,000 and include historically important manuscripts, documents, maps, letters, etc.
The Reference Division of the British Library (formerly the British Museum Library) is not a library for the general public or for causal use. Nevertheless, qualified scholars may obtain permission from the librarian to use it, if their need is considered justified. However, any visitor may see the famous “Reading Room” and we can assure you it is worth a visit. This magnificent and huge domed room, with it surrounding bookstacks, was designed by the architect Sydney Smirke and opened in 1857. It has been in continuous use ever since, and its value to the advancement of scientific knowledge is incalculable. The dome of the building was damaged by a bomb in the early days of World War II, but fortunately, no serious or permanent damage resulted. To visit the Reading Room, it is only necessary to ask permission at the main entrance desk. However, visitors are only admitted every hour, on the hour, from 10.00- 16.00. They cannot accommodate anyone between hours. In addition to the Reading Room there is of course the rest of the museum with its magnificent heritage of cultural exhibits.
The Freud Museum
20 Maresfield Gardens
London, NW3 5SX
Opening hours: Weekdays, 10.00-17.00
Closed: Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s days.
Small charge for admission.
Underground: Finchley Road.
On leaving the station, cross Finchley Road and walk south to Trinity Walk and turn up this to Maresfield Gardens.
This was the home of Sigmund Freud (see under Vienna, Austria) after having had to leave his native Austria because of Nazi persecution. He lived here for one year only from 1938 until his death in 1939. After he died the house became the property of his daughter, Dr. Anna Freud, who lived there until her death in 1982. Upon her death, the house and its contents came under the control of “The Sigmund Freud Archives”, and is now open as a museum. The house is easily recognized by a plaque on the outside erected by the London County Council, which reads:
Founder of Psychoanalysis
Lived here in 1938-1939
Within the museum, left much as Freud knew his house, is his furniture, including his “famous couch” which was brought from Vienna, his priceless anthropological and antiquarian collections, as well as his personal library which contains all his works in both the German and English editions. Also many other items associated with Freud and the history of psychoanalysis. In addition, the museum contains various meeting rooms, and carries on many educational and research activities.
Not far away, in the grounds of the Hampstead Public Library at 88 Avenue Road, (underground Swiss Cottage) is a very fine statue of Sigmund Freud sculptured by Oscar Nemon. Finally, the ashes of Sigmund Freud, his wife and their daughter, Dr. Anna Freud, are all the Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, Hampstead. The underground is Golders Green; and the crematorium is open daily 9.00-17.00. The office (phone 01-455- 2374) is open Monday-Friday 9.00-17.00.
Fortune Green Road
Opening hours: Daily, 9.00-dusk.
No admission charge.
Underground: West Hampstead.
This is the cemetery where Joseph Lord Lister (see under Glasgow & Edinburgh) is buried. It is sometimes referred to as the West Hampstead Cemetery, simply because it is located in West Hampstead, but there is in fact only one cemetery in Hampstead. The cemetery is about a 15 minute walk from the underground station (alternately one can take a taxi). Along this fifteen minute walk is a farrago of shops including at least fifteen places to eat. The grave of Lord Lister and his wife is in section WA, and the number is 432. If you enter the cemetery at the main gate, proceed down the main road to the chapel, take a left at the chapel and walk approximately 100 feet where you will see the Barrister Fletcher Memorial. Take a right at the intersection and Lord Lister’s grave is approximately 30 yards down this path on your left. You do not have to go off the walkway to find it; it borders the walkway. It is a simple grave for this great man and his wife. Note: If you feel rather peckish during this outing, included in these fifteen eating establishments, are at least five pizza places, including the ubiquitous Domino’s.
Location – 15 miles northwest of London, close to the town of Market Drayton.
Train – From London (Euston) to Stroke-on-Trent and then by taxi to Maer.
Road – From London take the M1 to the north, and transfer to the M6 just beyond Rugby. Follow the M6 around Birmingham as far as exit 12, and then follow the A5 to Shrewsbury. From Shrewsbury take the A49 north towards Newcastle – under – Lyme. About 7 miles out of Market Drayton take the A52 towards Stone, and within 1 mile along this road turn right to the village of Maer.
Maer, Strafforshire, is a small village set in the beautiful countryside of Western England, and what endears it to all biologists is that it was here in 1839 that Charles Darwin (see under Downe) married his beloved Emma Wedgwood. It was in this village that the Wedgwood family had their country residence, called Maer Hall. Here, as a young man, Charles Darwin came from his home in Shrewsbury to shoot game, to consult his uncle, JosiahWedgwood (Uncle Jos), and above all to court Josiah’s daughter, Emma. Eventually, Charles and Emma were married in Maer’s Parish Church of St. Peter in 1839. Fortunately both Maer Hall and the Parish Church still stand.
Maer Church is reached by climbing up a short but steep pathway. The interior of the church has undergone some renovations since Darwin and the Wedgwoods knew it, but the exterior is exactly the same, as also are the churchyard and the pathway up which Charles and Emma walked on their wedding day. Visitors may see inside the church with the permission of the Vicar, and there is available a nice historical guide to the church. The marriage of Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood is recorded in the Church Register on January 19, 1839. Charles Darwin’s signature is in a rather shaky hand, perhaps because it was a very cold day or that he was very nervous – – or perhaps both! Also recorded in the Baptismal Register is the fact that four of their children (William, Elizabeth, Henrietta and George) were baptized in the church. It is of interest that the birth, death and marriage register of the church goes back to 1558. In addition, the graves of Josiah Wedgwood and his wife Elizabeth are easily seen in the churchyard.
All in all Maer is a beautiful and fascinating little village to all biologists and those interested in biological history.
MIDDLE CLAYDON (Buckinghamshire)
Location-55 miles northwest of London.
Train-From London (Marylebone) to Aylesbury and then by bus or taxi to Middle Claydon.
Road-Take the A41 to Watford and Aylesbury. At Aylesbury, branch onto the A413 to Winslow and Buckingham. Then take the well marked side roads to Steeple Claydon and Middle Claydon.
Opening hours: April-October only.
Daily, 14.00-18.00; closed Mondays and Fridays.
Operated by the National Trust
Small charge for admission.
Claydon House has been the seat of the Verney family since 1620. During her life, Florence Nightingale (see under London) spent a great deal of time here. In 1858, Sir Harry Verney (the 2nd Baronet) was married to Miss Parthenope Nightingale, who became Lady Verney and the mistress of Claydon House. She was Florence Nightingale’s eldest sister, and for many years after the marriage, Florence was a frequent visitor to Claydon. She had her own bedroom now called Miss Nightingale’s room, and it is beautifully preserved. Many of her personal belongings are here. These include some of her letters, her plans for hospitals, part of her library, prints, nursing badges and some of her own furniture. There is also a portrait of her by W.B. Richmond which hangs over the fireplace, and also photographs of her. Throughout the house, there are other reminders of Florence Nightingale’s association with it. Claydon House, with its surrounding beautiful park land, is a thrilling place to visit, and the association with it of Florence Nightingale makes it even more so.
Location-60 miles northwest of London
Train-From London (Paddington)
Road-Take the A40 to the north, which joins the M40 at Denham and this leads straight into Oxford via Headington.
The city’s name is derived from the two words “ox” and “ford”, and it is located in a valley between the Thames and Cherwell rivers. There was apparently no Roman settlement there, though a Roman road ran nearby. There were certainly settlements by the 8th century A.D., and in 872, King Alfred (849-901) founded three seats of learning at Oxford, and there formed the nucleus of what was to become Oxford University. By the end f the 12th century, the university was well established, and in 1248 University College was founded. Through the centuries, many more have been added, and there are, at present, 34. Like Cambridge University (see Cambridge), Oxford is a federal structure, and all undergraduate students must belong to a college. Oxford is not as rich as Cambridge (which was an offshoot from Oxford) in its scientific heritage, having been more clerically oriented, and there was always considerable opposition to science at Oxford. Nevertheless, in recent times, science has flourished there, and there are places of considerable scientific interest.
The Main Botanic Garden
High Street- Oxford
Opening hours: May-September-Weekdays, 8.30-17.00
Sundays, 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00
October-April-Daily, 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.30
No charge for admission.
This was originally founded as a Physic Garden in 1621 and is the oldest in
England. Today it is a major center of biological research. However, at the entrance to the Rose Garden, a very important medical discovery is commemorated. It was in Oxford, at a whole variety of places, that the very necessary work of extraction and purification of penicillin was accomplished before it could be used in a therapeutic way (see under St. Mary’s Hospital, London). This was done between 1939-1943, and the event is recorded on a stone slab. It was given by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation of New York, and the names of those responsible for this great achievement are carved on the stone. They are:
E.P. Abraham E. Chain
C.M. Fletcher H.W. Florey
U.E. Forey A.D. Gardner
N.G. Heatley M.A. Jennings
J. Orr-Ewing A.G. Sanders
This botanic garden is a great place for the biologically oriented.
The Museum of the History of Science Broad Street
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 10.30-13.00 and 14.30-16.00
Small charge for admission.
The Museum is housed in the Old Ashmolean Building and was established in 1925. It contains an unrivaled collection of early astronomical and mathematical instruments. Also, instruments of physics, clocks and watches, chemical apparatus, etc. Of particular interest for biologists, is their extensive collection of early microscopes including a reconstruction of Robert Hooke’s compound microscope built before 1665. Hooke’s original microscope apparently does not survive, but this reconstruction is based on Hooke’s own description in the book, Micrographia, published in 1665. There are also fine collections of early surgical and dental instruments, and many things relating to the history of pharmacy. Also on display is some of the apparatus used in the original extraction of pure penicillin, which was done in Oxford (see earlier). The museum has a magnificent historical library in science, and its staff is actively engaged in research into the history of science. All in all it is a great museum for the history of science.
The Genetic Garden
Science Area Laboratories
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9.00-13.00 and 14.00-17.00
No charge for admission.
The Genetic Garden is part of the Botany School of the university and is primarily a research garden, but the public are admitted at the above times only. It is located on the northern edge of the Science Areas Laboratories, which is the southern edge of the University Parks. It may be reached by walking along Keble Road, which leads off the Banbury Road, and then taking the footpath through the University Parks to the northern edge of the Science Area Laboratories. It is located between the Physiology / Biochemistry Building and the Astrophysics Building. Alternately, it can be reached by entering the Science Area Laboratories from South Parks Road where it is joined by Mansfield Road. Then walk through the laboratory area to the gardens on the south edge of the University Parks. The Genetic Garden was founded in 1954, and although only an acre in size, it demonstrates the processes of evolution in flowering plants. It also demonstrates the mutations of chromosomes and genes, plastids and plasmageries, and hence the origin or hybrids, chimaeras and the causes of variegation. It also shows the causes and consequences of fertility and sterility, the nature of breeding, systems with sex and heterostyly and the action of viruses. Finally, it provides the evidence for the origins of cultivated domestic plants and of new species in nature. The botanically minded visitor will not be disappointed in the Genetic Garden- -it’s a “gem”.
The Oxford University Museum
Parks Road at South Parks Road
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 10.00-16.00
Small charge for admission.
The Oxford University Museum is an active teaching and research unit in the areas of zoology, entomology, geology and mineralogy, and it houses large collections in all these areas. The building was erected in 1855 and 1860, as an expression of the growing awareness of the natural sciences as an important area of learning. However, this was done over considerable opposition from many members of the university! The building itself is very imposing, and the main court, which houses their huge collection of vertebrate fossils, is a remarkable sight. Right around this court is a gallery with many other displays. It is of particular interest that it was in the Upper West Gallery on June 30, 1860, that the “great debate” took place between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Henry Huxley on the newly published “Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin. That debate had a profound effect on the future development of biology, and the fact that it was held here is commemorated by a plaque outside the area where it occurred. The exact room has been considerably altered since the debate, and now houses part of the ornithology collections. The Oxford Museum is a lovely place, with great interest for biologists and those concerned with the history of biology.
There are many other places of great interest in Oxford, which the guide books explain, but we would like to recommend just two. The superb Ashmolean Museum (Beaumont Street) with its extensive collections of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Near East and Chinese antiquities. Also the world famous Blackwell’s Book Store on Broad Street. In the basement, it has a room the size of a tennis court!-devoted to academic subjects.
Location – 150 miles northwest of London on the borders of Wales.
Train – From London (Euston) direct
Road – From London take the M1 to the north and transfer to the M6 just beyond Rugby. Follow the M6 around Birmingham as far as exit 12, and then follow the A5 to Shrewsbury. On this route the traffic is very heavy, as it goes through the industrialized areas, and in our opinion should be avoided if possible. We recommend taking the M40 towards Oxford and then joining the A40 just before Oxford. Follow this around Oxford on to Cheltenham, Gloucester and Ross-on-Wye. At Ross-on Wye bear right onto the A49 to Hereford, and follow this north to Leominster, Ludlow and Shrewsbury. This is a lovely and interesting route.
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, has a history going back well over 1000 years, much of it being a story of conflict between the English and Welsh. It is located in a horseshoe bend of the Severn river, and today is a lovely and prosperous old town. However, for us its chief importance is the fact that Charles Darwin (see under Downe) was born here on February 12, 1809, and spent all his childhood in the vicinity. He is by far Shrewsbury’s most famous son, something that the townspeople are happy to acknowledge and remind you of!
Charles Darwin’s father, Dr. Robert Waring Darwin, came to Shrewsbury in 1786 to set up his medical practice. Within 10 years he was so prosperous that he bought the land and built the house, now known as the Mount. This became the family home and it was here that Charles Darwin was born and brought up. Fortunately the Mount still stands within its own grounds. The Mount is located over the Welsh Bridge on the north side of a road called the Mount, which joins the A458 towards Welshpool. The gate into the grounds of the Mount has two plaques, one stating that it was the birthplace of Charles Darwin, the second stating that it is now the Ministry of the Environment and leased to the Inland Revenue Service. It is perfectly alright to go through the gate and look around the grounds and the exterior of the house, which has not been altered since Darwin’s day. It is indeed a thrilling experience to realize that here young Charles played with his sisters and brothers (there were 6 in the family) and it was from here that he set out in due course for Edinburgh University and later Cambridge University. Also it was to this home that he came in 1831, at the age of 22, to say goodbye to his family before setting out on the Voyage of the Beagle.
In 1817 at the age of 8, Charles was sent to a day school run by a Unitarian Minister, the Rev. G. Case, at 13 Claremont Hill. This building, now a private residence, still stands and is only a short walk from “The Square” of the town. The following year Charles went to the famous Shrewsbury School, founded in 1551 by King Edward VI. It was in Charles’ day, under the direction of Dr. Samuel Butler. The school is still in existence, but has now moved outside of Shrewsbury. The exterior is much the same, but the interior greatly altered. It is located in Castle street (opposite the Castle), and an easy walk from the Old Market Hall in “The Square.” Outside what was the main entrance to the school, now approached through a lovely small park, is a magnificent statue of Charles Darwin, which is inscribed at the base with the words: “Erected by the Shropshire Horticulture Society, 1987.” Charles remained at Shrewsbury School until the age of 16, when he went to Edinburgh University.
There are all kinds of fascinating stories that the natives of Shrewsbury will tell you about Charles Darwin. He certainly was interested in natural things from a very early age, and certain Mr. Cotton introduced young Charles to the mysteries of geology, and in particular to a well known unusual boulder in Shrewsbury known as “The Bellstone”. This boulder is of glacial origin and had a profound effect on Charles’ mind when he realized it had been transported there by an “iceberg”! The stone may still be seen. It is inside the entrance to Morris Hall, which is just off the Square. There are many other interesting things in the lovely old town of Shrewsbury, but fortunately the citizens have placed the memory of Charles Darwin at the top of their list.
Location-Southwest of central London near Kingston-on-Thames, but it is now part of Greater London.
Train-From London (Waterloo) by suburban train.
Road-Complicated, and we would not recommend the visitor to drive.
Teddington is the last resting place of Stephen Hales (1677-1761), who was a very important person in the history of medicine and botany. He was the minister of the Parish Church of St. Mary in Teddington for 51 years, and during this time performed brilliant experiments in both animal and plant physiology. Stephen Hales was born at Bekesbourne, Kent, of an old and prosperous Kentish family, but practically nothing is known of his childhood. In 1696, at the age of 19, he entered what is now Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and in one capacity or another, remained there until 1709, when he was ordained, and went to Teddington as the parish minister. When Hales entered Cambridge, the university was “basking in the glory” of Sir Isaac Newton, who left Cambridge the same year that Hales entered. However, Hales was one of those greatly impressed by the deductive logic of Newton’s work, and as a result, he took the opportunity of learning some physics and mathematics, which was to stand him in good stead later on. He also learned some natural history and did some early experiments on animals and plants. Amazingly enough, although his major was yet to come, he was well enough thought of to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1717.
When Stephen Hales arrived in Teddington, he started his experiments on animals again. However, he soon gave it up, to use his own words “being discouraged by the disagreeableness of anatomical Dissections”. He wished he could apply the same techniques to the study of sap in plants, but despaired of ever succeeding. Nevertheless, he persevered, and in due course, his efforts were awarded. To use his own words again “Having, after other means proved ineffectual, tied a piece of bladder over the transverse cut of the stem, I found the force of the Sap did greatly extend the bladder; whence I concluded, that if a long glass Tube were fixed there in the same manner, as I had before done to the arteries of several living Animals, I should thereby obtain the real ascending force of the Sap in the Stem”. So was born the science of plant physiology! Hales took a long time to publish the classic work, but this was finally achieved in 1727 under the title “Statical Essays containing Vegetable Staticks: Or an Account of some Statical Experiments on the Sap of Vegetables”. Having finally been successful with his experiments on plants, he turned back again to animals, where he succeeded in cannulating both the arteries and veins of several animals (sheep, horses and dogs), and accurately measured their respective blood pressures.
This work was published more rapidly and appeared in 1731-33 under the title “Haemastatiks or an Account of some Hydraulick and Hydrostatical Experiments made on the Blood pressure was ever recorded. Of course during this time, his primary duties to his parish came first, and the records clearly indicate that he did not neglect them. In 1720, at the age of 43, he married Mary Newce, a parson’s daughter, but the marriage ended a year later when she died, probably in childbirth. Stephen Hales was left a lonely man, and he never married again. He had an inquiring mind and was an indefatigable worker. Amongst his other achievements was the measurement of water loss by plants, and he related this to the water present in a given area of soil. He also measured the rate of growth of leaves and shoots, and investigated the influence of light on plants, and was the first to recognize that plants took in carbon dioxide from the air. In addition to measuring the blood pressure of animals, he computed the velocity of blood in the arteries, veins and capillaries, and made the very important discovery that the latter were subject to dilation and constriction, thus greatly affecting blood flow.
His contributions to respiratory physiology were impressive, for he distinguished between free gases and the chemically combined forms, measured the size of the alveoli and calculated the surface area of the interior of the lung. He also invented the U tube manometer and measured intrathoracic pressures during normal and forced breathing. He was also a pioneer of public health, and developed a method of distilling fresh water from seawater, and for the preservation of meat and water on long voyages.
In Hales’ later years, his enormous achievements were recognized, and honors poured in upon him from all over the world. However, he still remained the minister of Teddington until his death in 1761. It is pleasant to record these honors were not confined to his lifetime, for even today the American Society of Plant Physiologists remembers him by making its annual “Stephen Hales Award”. He also has a tree named after him, Halesia, a native of Georgia, with which Hales had close connections. The Parish Church of St. Mary is recorded in the Doomsday Book, but it has been rebuilt and modified many times since then, and in the nineteen twenties, underwent a complete internal renovation. It is hard to realize that in Hales’ day Teddington was a lovely small village, and that he lived the life of a country parson. The church is open at varying times, depending on functions, but is locked most of the time due to the danger of vandalism. However, arrangements can usually be made to see it by applying (preferably in advance) to the vicar. Stephen Hales is buried at the base of the tower within the church. The inscription on his gravestone is almost completely obliterated with the inevitable wear and tear of over two centuries. However, at present (1986) it is being restored. Right above the grave on the wall of the tower is a plaque erected in 1911, which contains the words of the original inscription. It reads as follows:
Beneath is the grave of Stephen Hales
The epitaph now partly obliterated but recovered from a record of 1795 is here inscribed by the piety of certain botanists. A.D. 1911
Here is interred the Body of STEPHEN HALES D.D.
Clerk of the Closet to the Princess of Wales, who was the Minister of this Parish 51 years.
He died the 4th of January 1761 in the 84th year of his age.
Behind the altar of the church are three beautiful stained glass windows, and one of these is dedicated to Hales with the inscription
Stephen Hales D.D. F.R.S. who was minister of this parish 51 years he died the 4th of January 1761 age 81
In the records of the church are preserved some entries in the original handwriting of Hales. It is really a very pleasant experience to visit this lovely old church, with which Stephen Hales was so closely associated, and we recommend it to all.
TRING ( Hertfordshire)
Location – 33 miles northwest of London
Train – There is no railway station in Tring but there are frequent buses from London
Road – From London take the A1 as far Mill Hill, and then fork on to the A41 which leads through Berkhamstead to Tring.
Tring, Hertfordshire, is a pleasant country town, but in addition it is home of the Tring Zoological Museum, which is primarily an ornithological museum (but with many other animals as well), and comes under the direction of the British Museum of Natural History (see under London)
Tring Zoological Museum
No charge for admission
The Tring Zoological Museum derives from the private collections of Lionel Walter, second Baron Rothschild. Born in 1868, Lord Rothschild was the eldest son of the famous banking family, and thus a very wealthy man. From the earliest age, he had a passion for natural history, and soon established his private museum at Tring. He employed professional curators, and was able to send out collectors to all parts of the earth. However, Lord Rothschild was no recluse with his collections, and in 1892 the museum was opened to the public. To give some idea of the size and importance of his operations, during the first 50 years of the museum’s existence, its staff published 1700 scientific books and papers, and described more than 5000 new species of animals. They also established a vast library devoted to zoology. The quality of their work was such that the institution became world famous.
In 1932 some of Lord Rothschild’s bird skins were sold to the American Museum of Natural History (see under New York). These supplied the nucleus of that institution’s ornithologicial collections. Lord Rothschild died at Tring in 1937, and in his will he left all his collections and museum become an annex of the British Museum of Natural History and remain a center of zoological research, which in this case is mainly bird anatomy, behavior, ecology and bird songs.
Lord Rothschild was probably one of the foremost patrons of natural history, and a visit to “his museum” at Tring is a thrilling experience for all those interested in biology and its history. It is also pleasant to realize that its contributions to biology and its history. It is also enormous, and that this tradition is still carried on today in the form of active high quality research.
Location-25 miles southwest of London
Train-There is no station at Wisley. Take a bus from London to Ripley, and then a taxi to Wisley.
Road-From London take the A3, and turn off near Ripley at the clearly visible signs pointing to the gardens at Wisley.
Royal Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Wisley
Small charge for admission
From a biological point of view the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley are second in importance only to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew (see under Kew).
There were substantial gardens at Wisley long before the present site came into the hands of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1903. In that year the owner of the land, Sir Thomas Handbury, gave it in trust to the society for “the Society to use and occupy the Wisley Estate or such portion thereof as the Society may require the purpose of an experimental Garden and the Encouragement and the Improvement of Scientific and Practical Horticulture in all its branches.” Since that time the society has remained true to the charge of Sir Thomas Hanbury. In fact Wisley is a story of phenomenal success and the gardens are at present popular and thriving. Today they consist of over 200 acres beautifully planned and cared for by its staff of about 170. There is an incredible array of garden flowers and shrubs, and there is always something in bloom. Also carried on at Wisley are trials of new varieties of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and basic research in horticulture and botany. They also train professional horticulturalists, and a diploma from Wisley is much prized.
The library at Wisley is basically a small working library for their staff, but in addition they have a priceless collection of “old floras”. These can be seen by requesting the permission of the librarian.
It is difficult to exaggerate the contributions to horticulture (so vital to us all), of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Wisley. Visitors are always welcome, and will not be disappointed. We can only hope the gardens continue to prosper!
Location-225 miles north of London
Train-From London (King’s Cross)
Road-Take the M1 or A1 north to York.
York is one of the oldest towns in England, famous for its Cathedral, and it is the seat of the Archbishop of York. But for us, more important still is that York was the birthplace of Dr. John Snow (see under London- -the John Snow Public House). The event is commemorated by a plaque on the north wall of the new Viking Hotel in North Street on the bank of the river Ouse, which Snow would have known so well. The plaque reads:
To the memory of JOHN SNOW 1813-1858
Pioneer Anaesthetist and Epidemiologist Born near here
Also in York is the very interesting “Cholera Burial Ground” dating from 1832, and a grim reminder of the realities of life when Snow was a young man. It is located immediately opposite the entrance to the British Rail Station and the Royal York Hotel.