General Description of our 2006 Scientific/Historical Traveling
Trip to England (London, Bath, and the Cotswolds) and Counties Waterford and
Glen and Kitty Rodgers
For more information on trips of this nature please see http://travelingatom.com/
In May 2006, we traveled first to London where we were hosted at the Goodenough Club located in Mecklenburgh Square. This is a possible housing site for future traveling groups we might lead. We then visited the Royal Society where we were hosted by Rupert Baker (the librarian of the RS) and Prof. Michael Hunter, a member of the faculty of Birkbeck College and an expert on Robert Boyle. After showing us the many general books in the RS on Robert Boyle and other scientists, Michael treated us to looking over several of the 46 volumes of original Boyle manuscripts. He also pointed out that St. Martins-in-the-Fields was built during the time that Boyle lived in London but was not his parish church, which was St. James. Boyle and his sister were buried in St. Martins upon their deaths in 1691 but when it was torn down and rebuilt on the same site (1721 - 1726) all the grave bones were collected together and reburied. It is not clear if they these remains are still located on the St. Martins site. After this visit to the Royal Society we visited St. James and also the Handel House Museum.
The next day we visited Westminster Abbey. This was our third visit. [See Scientists at the Heart of Westminster Abbey for an account of our second trip there in 2002 as leaders of a travel seminar entitled "Traveling with the Atom: London and Paris" and sponsored by Allegheny College. In 2002 our group had visited the full graves (G), sites of internment of ashes (A) and memorials (M) to scientists such as J.J. Thomson (A), Ernest Rutherford (A), P.M.C. Dirac (M), Lord Kelvin (G), Michael Faraday (M), George Green (M), James Clerk Maxwell (M), William Herschel (M), Johannes Herschel (G), Charles Darwin (G), and Isaac Newton(G)]. For this our third visit to the Abbey we had done even more research on the scientists buried or memorialized in the Abbey. Dr. Peter Morris of The Science Museum accompanied us. Before our visit we had corresponded extensively with Christine Reynolds, Assistant Keeper of the Muniments at The Library, Westminster Abbey. As a result of these consultations we were able to find the memorials or graves of the following scientists in the following locations:
In St. Andrews Chapel located in the north transept, east aisle: John W. Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (M), Humphry Davy (M), Thomas Young (M), James Simpson (M), and Thomas Telford (G). These located on the back wall of the chapel beyond the grave of Lord Henry Norris. This area is roped off and access to the stones is only available by asking a verger to let you in.
In the lantern area directly in front of the steps (on the left hand side) leading to the high altar is a memorial stone to Robert Hooke. This is the only place where a German bomb came down into the Abbey and exploded. One can still see the pock marks in the southwest columns (about 10 to 15 feet up) where the shell damaged the interior.
We revisted the everyday altar area (at the front of the nave) that is roped off and contains the markers for Rutherford (A) and Thomson (A). As in our 2002 visit the Rutherford diamond stone is under the corner of the altar table and one has to lift the heavy purple and gold cloth to see it. The Thomson diamond is even more difficult to see being almost hidden beneath the table. These diamonds are about two feet on each side and have an apex in common.
Christine Reynolds pointed out that German visitors often look at G. F. Handel's marker (found in the south transept of the Abbey) and think that the English have made an error in his date of birth. However, these discrepancies are caused by the adjustment between the Continental and English calendars. The same is true for the Newton dates. She also pointed out that Lord Kelvin was buried in a full-sized coffin although there is only the usual sized diamond covering the grave. Peter Morris pointed out that there is an article by James Moore that describes how and why Charles Darwin came to be buried in the Abbey.
In the north choir aisle (what Christine Reynolds called "Musician's Aisle"), which is the last part of the Abbey a visitor would get to in the usual walk around the church, we find a memorial bust to George Stokes and markers to James Prescott Joule (M), John Hooker (M), Sir Walter Ramsay (M), Sir John Adams (M), Joseph Lister (M), Alfred Wallace (M), and a second marker to Charles Darwin (M). These markers are to the left and above a large memorial to John Thynnes. Peter Morris pointed out that Thynnes died just before Darwin. He commented that if the order of death of Thynnes and Darwin had been reversed, Darwin might have had a more elaborate monument in his honor.
We also had the occasion to have dinner with Peter Morris at Rules restaurant, London's oldest restaurant at Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Just a few steps down Maiden Lane is the Corpus Christi Catholic Church that now occupies the site of a laboratory and phosphorus factory run by Robert Boyle's technological assistant, Ambrose Godfrey Hanckwitz. See The London of Robert Boyle by Thorburn Burns for an account of the placements of the various sections of the factory relative to the rooms of the present-day church.
We traveled on to Bath, England and toured the Roman Baths. Some items related to chemistry were evident in the baths. First, these mineral hot springs contain iron salts so the characteristic orange-red iron deposits show the post-Roman water levels very clearly. Second, tin was brought in from the mines in Cornwall for casting pewter objects. Third, lead (also most likely from Cornwall) was used to make the plumbing fixtures. Some of these lead pipes still in place are quite thick so water could be piped under pressure to fashion fountains in the baths.
Once in southern Ireland we first traveled to Lismore, County Waterford, the birthplace of Robert Boyle. Boyle was born in Lismore Castle the 7th son (and 14th and last child) of Richard Boyle, the 1st Earl of Cork, 1st Viscount Dungarvan, 1st Baron Boyle of Youghal, Lord High Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland! This castle is still the most grandiose castle in all of Ireland. It was purchased by Richard Boyle from Sir Walter Raleigh. The gardens are open to the public but the castle itself is a private residence and only available to larger parties to rent while the Duke is away. The best view of the castle is from the road that enters Lismore from Clogheen to the north. We also visited The Robert Boyle Science Room in the Lismore Heritage Center directly across the street from the beautiful Millennium Park in the heart of town. We met here with Mary Hoolihan who is the principal creator of the Boyle Science Room. The room is new (2004) and has a timeline of science with an appropriate emphasis on Irish scientists. This room is the site of a variety of hands-on science activities for children (ages 5 to 12) brought in from the surrounding schools. Robert Boyle would thoroughly approve of these activities as they draw the children into the excitement of scientific exploration and application and to explain through doing how the world works. Lismore Castle eventually passed into the hands of the Dukes of Cavendish who are of the same line as Henry Cavendish and also William Cavendish who founded the Cavendish Physics Laboratory in Cambridge. There is also an American connection to Lismore. It seems that Lord Charles Cavendish married Adele Astaire. Adele and Fred Astaire were frequent visitors to Lismore and they are reputed to enjoy dancing together on the bridge quite near to where we stayed in Lismore, the Pine Tree House B&B.
We drove to Youghal (pronounced Yawl) to visit Richard Boyle's memorial in St. Mary's Collegiate Church. (See the photograph in the Richard Boyle website listed above.) Richard wanted his memorial to be very near the main altar of the church but the archbishop objected saying, in effect, that if the memorial was right next to the altar the townspeople would not know if they were worshipping God or the 1st Earl of Cork! The main street and gate of Youghal are both colorful and pleasant.