Monthly Archives: April 2016


To the auditorium of the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge (the amazingly heavy door of which was clearly not designed for the demographic of the Friends of Cambridge University Botanic Garden). However, we are stalwart types, and having overcome this obstacle, … Continue reading

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Pressing Matters

In my view, you can never have too much of a good thing if that thing involves the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, so I was delighted a few days ago to participate in a study session on J.S. Henslow’s influence … Continue reading

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Object of the Month: April

This enormous jug was made at the Coalport factory in Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge Gorge, which is usually thought of as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. It was acquired for the Fitzwilliam Museum by the Friends in 2014, at a sale … Continue reading

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Arsenic in the Arctic

It is perhaps surprising that one of the best known U.S. Arctic explorers first felt the Call of the North in land-locked Cincinnati, Ohio. Charles Francis Hall (1821–71) was born in Vermont, and apprenticed to a blacksmith in Rochester, New … Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: April

As a poet (rather than as an academic), A.E. Housman had the occasional lapse (who does not wince at the immortal lines, ‘The goal stands up, the keeper/Stands up to keep the goal’, in a stanza that Vaughan Williams refused … Continue reading

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The Maker of Devils

I was thinking of calling this piece ’36 Hours in s’ Hertogenbosch’, but some of those hours were spent sleeping, and anyway I then came across the fascinating information that Jeroen van Aken, aka Hieronymus Bosch, was also known as … Continue reading

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Maria Dundas/Graham/Callcott

Maria Dundas, later Graham, later Callcott, is another of the cohort of women (Fry, Coutts, Nightingale, Marcet, Caroline Herschel …) who give the lie to the nineteenth-century cliché about the angel in the house. Born on 19 July 1785 near … Continue reading

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St Lubbock And His Pet Wasp

A mostly self-taught polymath who knew everyone there was to known for two-thirds of the nineteenth century, banker, philanthropist, Member of Parliament, archaeologist, anthropologist, entomologist, geologist, best-selling author, slight eccentric (see pet wasp, and teaching poodle to read, below) and … Continue reading

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