Tag Archives: Robert Hooke

The Royal Society (1660)

Bust of Wren, Wren Library, Triforium Gallery, St Paul's

Modern portrait of Robert Hooke.jpg

On this day in 1660 was founded the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, nowadays generally known simply as the Royal Society.  The purpose of the Society, according to its Charter, was and is “To improve the knowledge of all natural things, and all useful Arts, manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments – (not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar [or spelling, presumably], Rhetorick or Logick)”.

The founder members of the Society included Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Robert Moray, John Wilkins, and William, Viscount Brouncker.   Christopher Wren was an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth.  He was also an anatomist and astronomer (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and, in short, an archetypal (English) Renaissance Man.    Hooke was another architect, who worked alongside Wren on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666.  He was also a pioneer microscopist and polymath, although curmudgeonly as well as brilliant, and memorably described by  Samuel Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

The Society’s first meetings were held at Gresham College, founded by a bequest by the financier and philanthropist Thomas Gresham, on the site of his house on Bishopsgate (now occupied by Tower 42).   Available to it here was not only a  room for its meetings, but also a separate room for its anniversary elections, another for its Repository and Museum of Curiosities, a Gallery, and a Great Hall.  Meetings were temporarily suspended in 1665 on account of the outbreak of Plague, and then temporarily moved to Arundel House after the Great Fire of 1666, when  the business of Gresham’s Exchange (the Royal Exchange), which had been burnt down, was moved to Gresham College, which had survived.

The Society’s meeting place and headquarters was later at Crane Court, from 1710-1780, at Somerset House,  from 1780-1857, and at Burlington House, from 1857-1967, and  has been at Carlton House Terrace since 1967.

The site of Gresham College, where the Society’s first meetings were held,  is visited  on various of our walks, including the “Historic Shoreditch and Spitalfields” standard walk, and the“Tudor and Stuart London” themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

Robert Hooke and his “Microscopicall Observations” (Samuel Pepys, 1665)

flea-from-hookes-micrographia

On this day in 1665, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:

“Before I went to bed I sat up till  two o’clock in my chamber reading of Mr Hooke’s Microscopicall Observations [Micrographia], the most  ingenious book that ever I read in my life”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Robert Hooke was elsewhere memorably described by Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

st-benet-pauls-wharf

hookes-bethlehem-hospital-the-palace-beautiful

He was evidently a brilliant, but curmudgeonly, polymath: not only  a pioneer microscopist, but also one of the founder members of the Royal Society  in 1660, and an architect, who worked alongside Wren  on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666 (*).

hooke-monument

memorial-to-hooke-st-helen-bishopsgate

Monument, where there is a memorial to him, is visited on various of our walks, including the “Post-Medieval (Tudor and Stuart) London” and “Post-Medieval (Tudor and Stuart) City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

(*) Readers interested in further details of the life and works of this extraordinary man are referred to the biography entitled “The Curious Life of Robert Hooke … “ by the late Lisa Jardine, originally published by HarperCollins in 2003.

The Royal Society (1660)

On this day in 1660 was founded the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, nowadays generally known simply as the Royal Society.  The purpose of the Society, according to its Charter, was and is “To improve the knowledge of all natural things, and all useful Arts, manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments – (not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar [or spelling, presumably], Rhetorick or Logick)”.

The founder members of the Society included Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Robert Moray, John Wilkins, and William, Viscount Brouncker.

bust-of-wren-wren-library-triforium-gallery-st-pauls

Christopher Wren was an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth.  He was also an anatomist and astronomer (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and, in short, an archetypal (English) Renaissance Man.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hooke was another architect, who worked alongside Wren on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666.  He was also a pioneer microscopist and polymath, although curmudgeonly as well as brilliant, and memorably described by  Samuel Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

The Society’s first meetings were held at Gresham College, founded by a bequest by the financier and philanthropist Thomas Gresham, on the site now occupied by Tower 42 on Bishopsgate.   Available to it here was not only a  room for its meetings, but also a separate room for its anniversary elections, another for its Repository and Museum of Curiosities, a Gallery, and a Great Hall.  Meetings were temporarily suspended in 1665 on account of the outbreak of Plague, and then temporarily moved to Arundel House after the Great Fire of 1666, when  the business of Gresham’s Royal Exchange, which had been burnt down, was moved to Gresham College, which had survived.

The Society’s meeting place and headquarters was later at Crane Court, from 1710-1780, at Somerset House,  from 1780-1857, and at Burlington House, from 1857-1967, and  has been at Carlton House Terrace since 1967.

The Royal Society

November 28th –  On this day in 1660 was founded the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, nowadays generally known simply as the Royal Society.  The purpose of the Society, according to its Charter, was and is “To improve the knowledge of all natural things, and all useful Arts, manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments – (not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar [or spelling, presumably], Rhetorick or Logick)”.

Modern portrait of Robert Hooke

Modern portrait of Robert Hooke by Rita Greer

The founder members of the Society included Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Robert Moray, John Wilkins, and William, Viscount Brouncker.   Wren was an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth.  He was also an anatomist and astronomer (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and, in short, an archetypal (English) Renaissance Man.    Hooke was another architect, who worked alongside Wren on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666.  He was also a pioneer microscopist and polymath, although curmudgeonly as well as brilliant, and memorably  described by  Samuel Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

The Society’s first meetings were held at Gresham College, founded by a bequest by the financier and philanthropist Thomas Gresham, on the site now occupied by Tower 42 on Bishopsgate.    Available to it here was not only a  room for its meetings, but also a separate room for its anniversary elections, another for its Repository and Museum of Curiosities, a Gallery, and a Great Hall.  Meetings were temporarily suspended in 1665 on account of the outbreak of Plague, and then temporarily moved to Arundel House after the Great Fire of 1666, when  the business of Gresham’s Royal Exchange, which had been burnt down, was moved to Gresham College, which had survived.

The Society’s meeting place and headquarters was later at Crane Court, from 1710-1780, at Somerset House,  from 1780-1857, and at Burlington House, from 1857-1967, and  has been at Carlton House Terrace since 1967.

Bust of Sir Christopher Wren

Bust of Wren, in the Wren Library, St Paul’s Cathedral

Link to other related blog posts:

A Plaque dedicated to Hooke is featured in my Blog ‘Blue is the New Plaque’  here

The blog about my visit to the Wren Library in St Paul’s Cathedral – Open House London –   here

The Royal Society

Wren Library, Triforium Gallery, St Paul'sOn November 28th, 1660 was founded the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, nowadays generally known simply as the Royal Society.  The purpose of the Society, according to it’ Charter, was and is “To improve the knowledge of all natural things, and all useful Arts, manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments – (not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar [or spelling, presumably], Rhetorick or Logick)”.

Wren Library, Triforium Gallery, St Paul's

Bust of Wren, in the Wren Library, Triforium Gallery, St Paul’s

The founder members of the Society included Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Robert Moray, John Wilkins, and William, Viscount Brouncker.   Christopher Wren was an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth.  He was also an anatomist and astronomer (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and, in short, an archetypal (English) Renaissance Man.

Hooke was another architect, who worked alongside Wren on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666.  He was also a pioneer microscopist and polymath, although curmudgeonly as well as brilliant, and memorably  described by Samuel Pepys as  “the most, and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

Modern portrait of Robert Hooke by Rita Greer

Modern representation of Robert Hooke by Rita Greer

Gresham portrait

Portrait of Gresham in present Gresham College (Barnard’s Inn)

The Society’s first meetings were held at Gresham College, founded by a bequest by the financier and philanthropist Thomas Gresham (d. 1579), on the site now occupied by Tower 42 on Bishopsgate.  Available to it here was not only a room for its meetings, but also a separate room for its anniversary elections, another for its Repository and Museum of Curiosities, a Gallery, and a Great Hall.  Meetings were temporarily suspended in 1665 on account of the outbreak of Plague, and then temporarily moved to Arundel House after the Great Fire of 1666, when the business of Gresham’s Royal Exchange, which had been burnt down, was moved to Gresham College, which had survived.

The Society’s meeting place and headquarters was later at Crane Court, from 1710-1780, at Somerset House,  from 1780-1857, and at Burlington House, from 1857-1967, and  has been at Carlton House Terrace since 1967.

The Royal Society

November 28th –  On this day in 1660 was founded the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, nowadays generally known simply as the Royal Society.  The purpose of the Society, according to it’s Charter, was and is “To improve the knowledge of all natural things, and all useful Arts, manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines and Inventions by Experiments – (not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar [or spelling, presumably], Rhetorick or Logick)”.

The founder members of the Society included Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Robert Moray, John Wilkins, and William, Viscount Brouncker.   Christopher Wren was an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth.  He was also an anatomist and astronomer (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and, in short, an archetypal (English) Renaissance Man.    Hooke was another architect, who worked alongside Wren on the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire of 1666.  He was also a pioneer microscopist and polymath, although curmudgeonly as well as brilliant, and memorably  described by  Samuel Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”.

The Society’s first meetings were held at Gresham College, founded by a bequest by the financier and philanthropist Thomas Gresham, on the site now occupied by Tower 42 on Bishopsgate.    Available to it here was not only a  room for it’s meetings, but also a separate room for it’s anniversary elections, another for it’s Repository and Museum of Curiosities, a Gallery, and a Great Hall.  Meetings were temporarily suspended in 1665 on account of the outbreak of Plague, and then temporarily moved to Arundel House after the Great Fire of 1666, when  the business of Gresham’s Royal Exchange, which had been burnt down, was moved to Gresham College, which had survived.

The Society’s meeting place and headquarters was later at Crane Court, from 1710-1780, at Somerset House,  from 1780-1857, and at Burlington House, from 1857-1967, and  has been at Carlton House Terrace since 1967.

Bust of Sir Christopher Wren

Bust of Wren, in the Wren Library, St Paul’s Cathedral

Link to other related blog posts:

A Plaque dedicated to Hooke is featured in my Blog ‘Blue is the New Plaque’  here

The blog about my visit to the Wren Library in St Paul’s Cathedral – Open House London –   here

The Lost Wren Churches of London

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new themed walk on “The Lost Wren Churches of London”.
The walk will be a circular one, beginning and ending at St Paul’s tube station, and taking in all 21 of the “lost” Wren churches on the way, as well as passing a number of the surviving ones (see below).
It will be another of our specials, meaning that it can be taken at any time.
To book, please either e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com) or phone (020-8998-3051).
One of the Not-Quite-Lost Wren Churches, St Dunstan-in-the-East
Background (an extract from my book, The Lost City of London published in 2012 – see link for further details)
 
In the aftermath of the Great Fire of London of 1666, the question was asked, would the City ever be rebuilt, or be the same again?
Well, of course it would, not least because the prosperity of the City was essential not only to that of the country as a whole but also to that of powerful men with vested interests, watching anxiously from the sidelines as “day by day the City’s wealth flowed out of the gate” to other boroughs.
The Lord Mayor initiated the process essentially straight away, within weeks commissioning a detailed survey of the fire-damaged area of the City to assist with the assessment of compensation claims, and to use as a  template for reconstruction plans.  The survey was undertaken by the Bohemian Wencesla(u)s Hollar, who had travelled widely before eventually settling in London, and  earned a reputation as an engraver and print-maker of some skill, specialising in landscape scenes.  Other surveys were undertaken, and maps made, by Doornick, Leake, and Ogilby and Morgan.
A number of revolutionary reconstruction plans for the City were submitted, by, among others, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and John Evelyn, any one of which, if implemented, would have given it a radically new look and feel, much more like that of the great European cities of the day, and indeed of today, with their uniform architecture, broad boulevards and   open piazzas.  (Evelyn wrote that “In the disposure of the streets, due consideration should be had, what are the competent breadths for commerce and intercourse (!), cheerfulness and state”).  But these  plans were over-ambitious, apart from anything else, and were abandoned on the grounds of practicality in favour of  one requiring much less groundwork, and much more like the old one (although allowing of at least one concession to modernity, in the widening, and freeing  from encumbrance to the flow of traffic, of the streets).  The City that might have been never came to be, and  that that had been would come  to be again:  for the most part neither  particularly beautiful nor harmonious; but, rather, “lived in” and fractious; and yet, familiar and loved.
The man selected to oversee and implement the chosen reconstruction plan was the aforementioned Christopher Wren, an architect and a  member of an aristocratic family who had finally found favour in the Restoration, after years in the wilderness during the Protectorate and Commonwealth: his assistants, the aforementioned brilliant but curmudgeonly Robert Hooke, memorably described by  Pepys as  “the most,  and promises the least, of any man in the world that I ever saw”; and the young and prodigiously gifted Nicholas Hawksmoor.  Incidentally, Wren was an anatomist and astronomer as well as an architect (one wonders whether he, like Sartre’s autodidact, acquired his learning by reading an encyclopaedia, starting with the letter “A”); a follower of the “New Philosophy” of Francis Bacon; and a founder member of the Royal Society.  He was, in short, an archetypal (English)  Renaissance Man, and, most definitely, the right man, in the right place, at the right time – an unusually happy conjunction in the history of the City.
Wren and his  office set about their reconstruction work as hastily, or rather speedily,  as practicable, so as to provide  the City with the opportunity of re-establishing itself with the minimum of delay and loss.  In all, they rebuilt 51 parish churches within and immediately without the walls, that is, around half of those that had been destroyed in the Great Fire (*), together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and also rebuilt numerous other public and private buildings, many in the High (English) Renaissance or Early Baroque style – the cost of the entire enterprise being covered by a tax on coal.  The most glorious of Wren’s many glorious achievements was undoubtedly St Paul’s Cathedral.  The cathedral is faced in plain Portland Stone, wonderfully reflective of the City’s light and mood.  It is crowned with a glorious and iconic dome, making it unique among all the cathedrals of England.  Wren’s simple epitaph inside the cathedral reads “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”, meaning “Reader, should you seek his memorial, look about you”.   On the pediment above the south door is a stone bearing the image of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, and the inscription of the single word “Resurgam”, meaning “I shall rise again” (the inscription repeating  that on another stone found by one of Wren’s workmen among the debris of the  old, burnt-out cathedral – a positive portent if ever there was one).
And so, out of the ashes arose  a new London.  And England was re-born.
(*) Of  these 51 churches, 30 are still standing, together with St Paul’s Cathedral, and 21 are not.  Of  the 21 that are no longer standing, 17,  far more than one might have hoped, were demolished by our own over-zealous town planners and engineers in the pell-mell expansion of London following the Industrial Revolution – in some cases, at least marginally justifiably,  to  allow for development, but in many others simply because they were deemed, under the incomprehensibly philistine Union of Benifices Act of 1860, to be surplus to requirements!  Only 4, far fewer than one might have feared, were completely destroyed by German bombing during the Blitz of the Second World War.  However,  a number of others were also damaged to varying extents at this time, some of which were subsequently restored, and  some left as empty shells.   Two were destroyed,  and 8 damaged, on a single, fateful night, Sunday 29th December, 1940, when thousands of incendiaries were dropped on an essentially unguarded City.
At  least many of the  original plans of these recently lost churches still survive, as do some later paintings and photographs.