Roger Bacon was born in Ilchester in
Somerset, England, possibly in 1213 or 1214 at the Ilchester
‘A goodlie, faire house’ was the description of Stalbridge Park when it was built by the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven in 1618. It was the fifth largest house in Dorset, notable for its soaring chimneys and its generous mullioned windows. Castlehaven was an Irish peerage and at that time many of the Irish aristocracy were seeking a mainland refuge from the increasing unrest in Ireland. It didn’t save the 2nd Earl, who was executed for ‘unnatural practices’ in 1631.
Five years later, Stalbridge Park and its estate were bought by another Irish peer, the Earl of Cork. As a young man, plain Richard Boyle had emigrated to Ireland with only £27 to his name, but through business acumen and a first marriage to a wealthy widow, he was to become the biggest landowner in Ireland, reputedly the richest English subject and Lord Treasurer of Ireland, as well as Earl of Cork. All of these achievements are nothing, however, compared with his fathering of Robert Boyle, one of the most significant figures in the history of science in Britain.
Robert was born in 1626, Richard’s seventh son and fourteenth child out of fifteen. His father may have reproduced prolifically, but he apparently did not want the results of his efforts around him since the sons at least were all fostered out to Irish country folk for the first five years of their lives. As a result, young Robert was as comfortable speaking Irish as English, but that no doubt changed when he was sent to Eton at the age of nine. He was identified as a student of enormous promise, but after four years, his father became concerned by the louche behaviour of many of Robert’s contemporaries at Eton and brought him home.
‘Home’ was by now Stalbridge Park, but initially Robert was boarded out with the parson, Mr Douch, with whom he continued his studies. He appears to have loved Stalbridge and ‘would spend four or five hours alone in the fields…and think at random.’
Stalbridge was to be his base for the next six years, interspersed with visits to London, Oxford and Ireland. During this time he was developing his passion for chemistry, although his initial experiments were closer to alchemy, the centuries-old search for a way to turn base metal into gold. His interests ranged widely, however, and he wrote to a former tutor: ‘As for my studies, I have had the opportunity to prosecute them but by fits and snatches, as my leisure and my occasions would give me leave. Divers little essays, both in verse and prose, I have taken pains to scribble upon several subjects…. The other humane studies I apply myself to are natural philosophy, the mechanics and husbandry.’
Not the least of his achievements during this time was to write a full-length, privately circulated book called The Martyrdom of Theodora and Didymus. It tells the story of Theodora being given the choice by the ruler of Antioch between acknowledging pagan gods and being sent to be a prostitute. She chooses the latter, but before her virtue can be assailed, she is rescued by her lover, Didymus. Alas, they are both caught and put to death. No less a judge than Samuel Johnson was to suggest that the book showed such promise that its author might have become a major literary figure.
Boyle was a Governor of the ‘Corporation for Propagating the Gospel in New England and the Parts adjacent to America’, and he paid from his own funds for translations of the Bible into Malay, Turkish, Welsh, Irish and several Native American dialects.
born at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight so just on the
fringes of this map
but was for a time Robert Boyle's instument maker
but a dizzying list of acheivements
StringfellowJohn 1799 - 13 December 1883)
Powered flight at Chard
Stringfellow did achieve the first powered flight, in 1848, in a disused lace factory inChard, with a 10-foot (3m), steam-driven flying machine.
Stringfellow was also a keen photographer in his spare time, having run his fathers photography business in Chard, of which Stringfellow was one of the first to produce a wet print of an image in his studios. The studio in Chard, and his home in Crewkerne is where some of his flying machines were photographed.
A bronze model of that first primitive aircraft stands in Fore Street in Chard. The town's museumhas a unique exhibition of flight before the advent of the internal combustion engine and before the manned powered flight made famous by the Wright Brothers.
Stringfellow also invented and patented compact electric batteries, which were used in early medical treatment.
|artifical limbs at Chard|
in the 18th century, started his medical training in
Chipping Sodbury, observing people catching cowpox and
then not catching smallpox.
The Church of St Peter at Hornblotton in the parish of West Bradley, Somerset
One of the features of the church is an early electric clock and the first in England to have a striking mechanism. It was controlled from a master clock in the nearby house. The clock mechanism was taken to the Science Museum in London for restoration in 1984. It was made by Charles Shepherd who also made the Shepherd gate clock mounted on the wall outside the gate of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.