London Miscellaneous


The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens includes statues of Alberti, Brunelleschi, Drer, Pythagoras, Da Vinci and Wren.

After the 1851 Great Exhibition, the Crystal Palace was moved to south London, where the area is still called Crystal Palace and was a popular venue until it burned in 1937. Among other exhibitions, Charles Edward Hoopers chess playing automaton, Ajeeb, was exhibited here in 1881-1886.

Hooke, Wren, etc. used to frequent Garaways and Jonathans Coffee Houses in Change Alley, where they would discuss problems.

Dial House, Riverside, Twickenham, adjacent to St. Mary the Virgin at the end of Church Street, has a handsome sundial of 1726, erected when Thomas Twining (the tea merchant) converted the building. A descendent presented Dial House to the church in 1890 for use as the Vicarage and it is still in use.

10 Downing Street is an unlikely place to look for scientific or mathematical interest. However there is a bust of Faraday in the Inner Hall, a portrait of Boyle in the Pillared Drawing-room and the Small Dining Room has representations of Eminent British Scientists : a bust of Newton and portraits of Priestley, Davy and Halley. Unfortunately, these are rarely viewable.

In the 17-18C, most of the scientific instrument makers were based in or near Fleet Street. The street was numbered in c1760.

There is a Trig Lane in the City of London, but sadly it has no connection with mathematics, having been named from a 13-14C family of fishmongers named Trygge.

In Waltham Abbey, on the northern outskirts of London, is the tomb of Robert Smith (1637-1697) a successful sea captain. The tomb is handsomely decorated with symbols of his profession, including accurate depictions of navigational instruments of the time: sounding lead, backstaff, astrolabe, dividers, compass, cross staff, hour glass. The Prime Meridian passes near the Abbey and is marked at several places.

Warren Street Station on the Victoria Line of the Underground has a handsome maze motif done in tiles on the walls of the platform and the floor of the station. It was designed by John Burrell in 1979. There is a brick pavement maze in the Warren Street childrens playground, which is a short distance down Whitfield Street.

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers has a number of historical horological items in their museum in the Guildhall Librarys Clock Room. It includes: the earliest known (1713) clock movement and dial by John Harrison, almost entirely of wood, signed and dated; an equation of time table in Harrisons hand, from his third clock of 1717; and several of Harrisons manuscripts. In 1753, a skilled London clockmaker named John Jefferys made a pocket watch for Harrison under his supervision and incorporating many of his ideas. The success of this inspired Harrisons H4. Sobel says the Jefferys watch is here. Also here is Harrisons chronometer H5 which was tested by Kew Observatory and by Demainbray in the 1770s. It was accurate to 1/3 of a second per day over a ten week period. Sobel also says that one of the long-case clocks made by John and James Harrison in 1725-1727 is here.


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An extract from The Mathematical Gazetteer of the British Isles created by David Singmaster

The original site is at THIS LINK