William Harvey Statue

In Langhorne Gardens, a residential area near Folkestone seafront, an imposing stone figure gazes across the English Channel. The statue of William Harvey, often described as “the father of modern medicine”, is situated incongruously between a lively bar and several hotels, flanked by a busy car park and period buildings now converted into flats and bedsits. To Harvey’s right, the clifftop path offers a bracing walk along the windswept Leas to the historic Grand; to his left is concert and entertainment venue, the Leas Cliff Hall. On a fine day, it’s the perfect place to sit outside, watching the sea and reflecting on the natural world, while enjoying an espresso. Sharing the view with Harvey. Although he was 72 years old before coffee became a popular drink in England, he was already a caffeine aficionado, enthusiastically extolling its ability to stimulate the brain.

A classically educated physician, anatomist, scientist and clinical experimenter, William Harvey was born in 1578 in a different Folkestone to the present day. Best known now as home of the channel tunnel, in the sixteenth century, Folkestone was an important and prosperous seaport, and Harvey’s father was a prominent citizen, becoming mayor several times.

The Harvey statue (copyright Jane Seaman 2013, all rights reserved)

After attending Kings School in Canterbury, William Harvey went on to study medicine at Padua, then the most famous medical University in Europe. His anatomy teacher was the celebrated Girolamo Fabricius (1537-1619), who, in 1574, discovered the valves in the veins, which permit blood to flow in only one direction.

Upon returning to England, Harvey set up in medical practice in London, and in 1607, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. By 1618, he was physician to King James and in 1629, Harvey published his famous “Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus” (Anatomical Disquisition on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals).

In this work, Harvey proposed, and demonstrated by meticulously documented observation and experiments, that blood circulated around the body; a revolutionary theory which was contrary to the teachings of Galen, the second century Greco-Roman physician, who had claimed blood flowed in a back and forth motion, like the ebb and flow of a tide. Galenic ideas had influenced accepted medical knowledge for over a thousand years. Although Ibn al-Nafis, a Syrian physician, described the process of pulmonary transit as early as the thirteenth century, Harvey had discovered, in the process of his research into the workings of the heart, that this was what pumped the blood and circulated it; effectively revealing that the cardiovascular system was hydraulic.

Significantly, this was a time when mathematical practitioners and experimentalists in England were exploring the mechanics of pumps and valves, in a country excited by novel developments in science, navigation, technology, commerce and agriculture.

Looking up at the Harvey statue, made by A.B. Joy in 1881 and erected the same year, it is easy to forget how much medical science owes to his discovery. The statue’s supporting pillar reads simply:

William Harvey

Discoverer of the circulation of the blood

Born in Folkestone April 1 1578

Died in London June 3 1657

Buried at Hempstead, Essex

Inscription on Harvey statue (copyright Jane Seaman 2013, all rights reserved)

In 1973, on behalf of the British Medical Association, an honorary plaque was added, in the presence of the Harveian society. Founded in 1831, members meet every June in Folkestone for the town’s Harvey Sunday parade.

Plaque on Harvey statue (copyright Jane Seaman 2013, all rights reserved)

Sadly, all of Harvey’s extensive research notes were lost when his house was burgled in 1642, and he died in 1657 at his brother Eliab’s house in Roehampton.

But his legacy lives on, with the Harvey Grammar School set up by Eliab after his brother’s death (there was no school in the town when William was a boy, a matter he remedied in his will), a popular pub called Harvey’s at the end of Langhorne Gardens, and the block of flats just a few doors away called Harvey Mansions, which was my home for a year.  And, fittingly, his name is given to the William Harvey hospital in nearby Ashford.

It seems serendipitous that Harvey’s statue gazes eternally at the ebb and flow of the waves – how blood was once perceived to behave – until his discovery changed the future of medicine forever.

Harvey’s view from the Leas (photo copyright Jane Seaman 2013, all rights reserved)

Address: Langhorne Gardens, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2EA. Walk down from the point indicated on the map towards the sea and the statue is found just before you reach the Leas Cliff Hall.

 

Further information

Books

Dear, Peter. 2001. Revolutionising the Sciences: European Knowledge and its ambitions, 1500-1700. Palgrave

Keynes, Geoffrey. 1966. The Life of William Harvey. Oxford University Press

Webster, Charles. 1979. William Harvey and the crisis of medicine in Jacobean England. In Bylebyl, Jerome J, ed. William Harvey and his age: The professional and social context of the discovery of the circulation. John Hopkins University Press

Bylebyl, Jerome J. 1979. The medical side of Harvey’s discovery: the normal and the abnormal. In Bylebyl, Jerome J, ed. William Harvey and his age: The professional and social context of the discovery of the circulation. John Hopkins University Press

Al-Khalili, Jim. 2010. Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science. Allen Lane

Websites

http://www.harveiansocietyoflondon.btck.co.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Harvey

http://www.historyofbiologyandmedicine.com/britain.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABTvNR59K5Q – a YouTube video which explains blood circulation

Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Edinburgh, Scotland

Surgeons Hall Museum, Edinburgh

Surgeons Hall Museum, Edinburgh, by I Like. Image licensed via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, near the University of Edinburgh’s Old College, is the Surgeons’ Hall Museums, a must-see collection of oddities and artefacts that collectively bear witness to how far we’ve come in our understanding of the human body and all that ails it.

The current museum building – a grand edifice with classical pillars – was built in 1832 by renowned architect William Playfair, but the idea for the museum dates back to 1699, when Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons made a collection of ‘natural and artificial’ curiosities available to the public. This description is still applicable.

The current museum features six permanent exhibitions: the pathology museum, which contains one of the largest collections of pathological anatomy in Europe; the history of surgery; the dental collection; ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes’, which focuses on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s friendship with Joseph Bell of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, who was the author’s inspiration for Holmes; ‘Sight for Scotland: 100 Years of Ophthalmology’; and ‘Skin Deep: The Restoration of Form and Function’, which examines the history of plastic surgery, a practice that amazingly dates back to 800BC.

Each exhibit at Surgeons’ Hall is impressive or surprising in its own way: the dental exhibit, for example, is one of the most significant in the UK and contains rare dental artefacts from around the world, in addition to some of the crudest historical dental tools imaginable. Meanwhile, the history of surgery takes visitors through some of the key medical developments of the last several hundred years, from pre-anaesthesia surgery (imagine that – or don’t) to the discovery of chloroform as an anaesthetic, to the development of antiseptic by Joseph Lister in Scotland.

One of the delightful things about Surgeons’ Hall is that the science is made accessible to the general public. Quirkiness is a prevailing virtue of this museum, from telling about a quack eye doctor who blinded hundreds of patients throughout Europe – potentially including Handel and Bach – on visits he’d make in his carriage that featured painted eyeballs, to all the skeletons and body parts you can handle.

Temporary exhibitions at Surgeons’ Hall often focus on individual contributors to science and medicine, usually ones who have an Edinburgh connection; in 2012, Surgeons’ Hall featured a large exhibition on Joseph Lister, while the year before it was Sir James Young Simpson, an Edinburgh medical pioneer who introduced the use of general anaesthesia during childbirth, among other developments. If your next holidays take you to Edinburgh, Surgeons’ Hall is a worthy stop for anyone, especially scientists, physicians and those interested in history.

Further information:

Surgeons’ Hall Museum
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Nicolson Street
Edinburgh
UK
EH8 9DW

Museum website

Medical Museion, Copenhagen

Medical Museion

Formerly known as the Medical History Museum, Medical Museion combines academic research and teaching with public outreach through our exhibitions, collections and social web media interaction.

In ancient greek Museion (Μουσειον) is a temple in which the muses who precided over arts and science, inspired perfomers and practioners of music, litterature, philosophy. The name Museion was chosen to illustrate how we are more than just a medical history museum. We are more than a university research department. We are both!

Genomic Enlightenment - an installation at Medical Museion

The exhibitions are currently available to visitors through guided tours only. Opening hours are Wednesday through Friday and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Guided tours start at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30pm and last for approximately one and a half hour.

For more details, visit the Medical Museion website.

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eastern State Penitentiary, 1829-1971

After the last prisoners left Eastern State Penitentiary in 1971, the cats moved in. In the early years after its closure the complex was used as storage by the city of Philadelphia, but as the prison walls cracked and crumbled around them, eventually the stray cats became its primary residents.

Eastern State Penitentiary Main Entrance

Eastern State Penitentiary. Photo by Sebastian Weigand and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Yet when it opened almost a century and a half earlier in 1829, Eastern State was billed as one of the largest and most expensive buildings of its time. Built at the top of a hill overlooking Philadelphia, the penitentiary was designed to look from the outside like a European castle. The turreted watch towers and arrow slits, however, were just for show — the original towers were never tall enough for a man to stand in, and the arrow slits don’t extend all of the way through the walls. The immediate work of the penitentiary was performed by its more modern technologies.

The State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Lithograph by P.S: Duval and Co., 1855

The State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Lithograph by P.S: Duval and Co., 1855. Photo by Mike Graham and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Eastern State was designed by John Haviland (the architect of a number of Pennsylvania civic institutions, asylums, hospitals, and jails) as a radial “hub-and-spoke,” with cell blocks fanning out from a central point. In theory, this design allowed a single person standing at the central point to see any activity occurring on the blocks. Each cell was planned to house only one inmate — this was the basis of the famous “Pennsylvania System” of solitary confinement, designed for Eastern State by prison activists and reformers. These reformers believed that the hours spent alone in their cells would provide inmates with the opportunity for contemplation and penance, and the isolation and surveillance provided by the building’s architecture would structurally enforce this penance.

Cells at the penitentiary were themselves technologically advanced for the time; tour guides love telling shocked visitors that penitents had access to a centralized heating system and indoor plumbing before those luxuries were available at the White House. But even these technologies, which today we view merely as modern conveniences, were seen by reformers as part of the technology of control and reform. Having private toilets and sinks in each cell enabled a more total solitary confinement, eliminating reasons for prisoners to leave them. What prison designers didn’t count on, however, was the way that the users of these technologies would alter their meaning — quite quickly, prisoners realized that they could use the pipes in their cells to communicate with each other, tapping out messages that would echo through the walls.

Reopening Eastern State as a Historic Site

By the late twentieth century, Eastern State’s outer walls had become enclosed on all sides by Philadelphia’s expanding population, and many of its internal structures were collapsing. At the time the prison closed, the Pennsylvania System had long been abandoned; in the twentieth century the prison population expanded too rapidly for prisoners to continue occupying solitary cells, and even earlier additional cell blocks were constructed that destroyed the radial surveillance plan. What remained at the end of its life as a prison was a more complicated — and more crowded — complex than originally intended.

Eastern State languished for decades as plans for its future use occasionally cropped up and then disappeared. It was saved from demolition by its designation as a National Historic Landmark (as well as the massive cost of tearing down those iconic stone walls), and eventually a task force proposed a plan to preserve and reopen Eastern State as a historic site. Rather than take on the enormous project of restoring Eastern State to some chosen point in its history, organizers decided on a more dynamic version of historic preservation and public education: a model of “preserved ruin.”

Preserving the site as a ruin serves both practical and pedagogical functions. Not only did it save the impossible expense of a complete renovation, but it has allowed visitors to imagine its history at multiple chronological points. Tour guides and signs describe century-spanning events: walking visitors through the first prisoner admittance in 1829; describing its international reputation and status as a nineteenth-century tourist attraction; recounting Al Capone’s sensational tenure as an inmate between 1929 and 1930; and pointing out locations used in movie shoots in the 1990s. Furthermore, it recognizes the power of the ruin itself to tell its historical narrative. As the Historic Structures Report describes,

The building complex remains supremely expressive, focusing attention on its central meanings dramatically, and as inescapably as it once confined its residents…it demonstrates the power of architecture as a socially ordering mechanism as almost no other building can; rarely is the public so aware of the penal policies that have been devised on its behalf…one vividly encounters issues specific to its past: the role of philanthropic action; the sequence of accommodations to other tides in Pennsylvania’s penal history, the evidence of emerging advances in building systems over time…insights into Philadelphia’s urban growth and diversification, into the changing state of medical knowledge, theories of social dysfunction, the treatment of minorities, and ultimately into human nature as exemplified in these populations under control and stress.

“Prisons make awkward landmarks”

Cabinet from "Specimens" Exhibition

Cabinet from “Specimens” Exhibition, which highlights and expands upon the amateur entomology collection of an inmate. Photo by Deanna Day.

As Herbert Muschamp observed, “prisons make awkward landmarks.” While other historic Philadelphia sites have more obvious narratives that they embody (such as freedom and self-governance at Independence Hall) Eastern State finds itself contending with far more troubling questions about the ways society deals with transgressors, how we engineer technologies to act on our bodies, and how we enable — and resist — certain kinds of expertise and power.

One of the ways that Eastern State tackles these questions is with a continuous series of art installations. By inviting contemporary artists to comment on what they find evocative about the prison, Eastern State encourages historical, political, and personal engagement from artists and visitors alike. Julie Courtney and Todd Gilens co-curated the exhibition “Prison Sentences: The Prison as Site/The Prison as Subject,” asking, “How are objects, places, and stories imbued with history? What is the relationship between imagination, human experience, and the objective world… Our working hypothesis for this project is that artworks make connections that are both objectively valid and emotionally resonant.”

Ghost Cat

Ghost Cat. Photo by Flickr user e_monk and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

One of Eastern State’s longest-running installations is a tribute to those emotionally resonant creatures who colonized Eastern State in the absence of other inhabitants. Amid the wild growth that took over the site, a colony of feral cats made Eastern State their home between 1971 and 1991. They were looked after by Philadelphia city caretaker Dan McCloud, who visited and fed the animals three times a week for nearly thirty years. McCloud and his cats were memorialized by Linda Brenner’s “Ghost Cats” exhibition, for which she placed 39 sculptures throughout the cell blocks and grounds. Designed to crumble away over time, as buildings and memories do, the ghost cats were a reminder of the necessity of intervention; neither cat colonies nor castles survive without someone’s choice to maintain or remember them.

Brenner described her exhibition as “a testimony to survival.” The last ghost cat faded away in 2011.

Location: 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
Website: easternstate.org
Don’t Miss: “The Voices of Eastern State” audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Al Capone’s jail cell; a series of History Exhibits and Artist Installations
Events: Bastille Day; The Searchlight Series; “Terror Behind the Walls”
Further Reading:
Eastern State Penitentiary Learning Resources
Julie Courtney and Todd Gilens (ed.), Prison sentences: the prison as site, the prison as subject, Philadelphia: Moore College of Art and Design, 1995.
Charles Dickens, American Notes, New York: The Modern Library, 1996.
Norman Johnston (ed.), Eastern State Penitentiary: Crucible of Good Intentions, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994
Marianna Thomas (ed.), “Eastern State Penitentiary: Historic Structures Report,” Philadelphia: Philadelphia Historical Commission, 2 vol., 1994.

The “Disturbingly Informative” Mütter Museum, Philadelphia

A view of the main Museum Gallery

A view of the main Museum Gallery. Photograph credit: George Widman, 2009, for the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Adorning the century-old Beaux Arts College of Physicians of Philadelphia is a large banner advertising the Mütter Museum as a “disturbingly informative” place. This prestigious historical building — now a national landmark as “the Birthplace of American Medicine” — embodies the historical medical legacy of Philadelphia and its numerous firsts: first medical school, first hospital, first school of optometry, first medical college for women, first school of pharmacy, first children’s hospital, first hospital dedicated to the eye, and more. The College hosts two collections, the Historical Medical Library and the Mütter Museum, the latter having become a cultural landmark for an audience that extends well beyond the medical cognoscenti.

The College has grown with the nation. Founded in 1787 by physicians including a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, MD, the College aimed to raise the competence and standing of physicians and to relieve human suffering. The fellows, accomplished physicians who are elected to fellowship by their peers, remain at the core of the College and now number over 1400. One fellow, Thomas Dent Mütter, MD, a popular lecturer and successful physician in private practice, donated a pathological anatomy collection that opened as the namesake museum in 1863. Although the museum’s collections have been used for teaching and research throughout the museum’s history, public visitors began arrive in ever-increasing numbers from the early 1980s and now over 130,000 come yearly. At the museum people see what they cannot see elsewhere: they can explore intimately and viscerally what it means to be human.

Less conspicuous to casual visitors, the Historical Medical Library has been known internationally as one of the largest history-of-medicine collections in the United States with over 325,000 volumes including monographs, journals, manuscripts, archives, prints and photographs, pamphlets and incunabula (books printed before 1501). The library functioned as Philadelphia’s central medical library from the 1850s to the 1970s, serving its medical schools, hospitals, physicians, and other health professionals. Now, the library is conducting strategic planning to reinvent itself as a 21st-century special collections library. Administratively, the College is combining library and museum collections to elicit wider research interest and to use all collections for exhibits, web-based projects, and other initiatives. Most important, the library participates as an active member of the Medical Heritage Library, a digital consortium of east-coast libraries with substantial medical history collections (see: http://www.medicalheritage.org/).

To reckon with the new reality of electronic access and research, the Historical Medical Library has embraced the “humanities” epithet to recognize its interest in courting new audiences and to situate itself within a broader intellectual territory. Even the “Historical Medical” moniker is a re-invention to reflect a changing status. Informally, we describe the library and museum collections jointly as the Center for Medical Humanities. Our web-based outreach speaks to this humanities approach: the College collections inform our award-winning History of Vaccines website and our popular YouTube programs, What’s on the Curator’s Desk, the Mütter Minute, and No Bones about It (see: http://www.collphyphil.org/Site/mutter_museum.html). History of Vaccines speaks to the manner in which the College aims to use medical history to inform public health. In effect, the College has created its own television channel with social media and web-based programs. Additionally, happenings at the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library are followed through Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

The Hyrtl Skull wall

The Hyrtl Skull wall. Photograph credit: George Widman, 2009, for the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

The museum, on the other hand, contains about 25,000 specimens and artifacts with well-defined collecting foci; approximately 12% of the collection is on display. An unusual institutional survivor, the museum features its displays in 19th century vitrines and cabinets, contributing to an ambiance that visitors find attractive. To some degree, then, the Mütter is a museum of itself although its collections remain vital for historic and scientific research. The permanent exhibit contains specimens that many people return to visit as old acquaintances. The tallest skeleton in North America (7’6″) stands alongside Mary Ashberry, an achondroplastic dwarf; the conjoined livers of the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, reside underneath a plaster cast of the twins, produced post-autopsy; and a display on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln includes tissue removed from assassin John Wilkes Booth. Over a hundred skulls of the Hyrtl Skull Collection face the viewer, and on each skull anatomist Josef Hyrtl, MD wrote the data of scientific interest in the 1850s: name, occupation, cause of death, age, birthplace, and religion, data constituting brief and poignant life histories. Facing a collection of teratology (“monstrous births”), the tools of pioneer bronchoesophagologist Chevalier Jackson surmount drawers and drawers of swallowed objects recovered without surgery, hundreds of specimens that enthrall many visitors as unusual medical curiosities. In a corner nearby stands the skeleton of Harry Eastlack, the only complete skeleton on display in North America that shows his disease, fibrodisplasia ossificans progressiva, a rare disease in which the connective tissue ossifies, eventually suffocating the victim. Although a rare phenomenon, the key to understanding this disease is the key to understanding bone growth.

The Mütter American Giant

The Mütter American Giant. Photograph credit: George Widman, 2009, for the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Exhibits and collections as rich and varied as these specimens attract researchers. Recently, a Canadian team removed samples of 19th century cholera tissues in a search for viable cholera DNA. The research aims to map cholera epidemics world-wide over two centuries and to date no pickled 19th century specimen has yielded viable DNA—until now. One sample produced the sought result. The Hyrtl skulls have always attracted researchers: following the end of civil war in former Yugoslavia, war crimes investigators studied Croat skulls in the collection to help identify anonymous victims of mass murder. Some recent exhibits have highlighted public health challenges. In response to a (funded) request from the City of Philadelphia to complement its public health program to reduce lead poisoning, the museum created The Devouring Element: Lead’s Impact on Health which featured library and museum collections to explore our love-hate relationship with lead since antiquity.

In 2013, the 150th anniversary both of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Mütter Museum, the College will open a permanent exhibit on the medical dimension of the war, Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia. The exhibit will focus on the body, affording an intimate look at a white soldier, black soldier, and white female nurse. It asks visitors to consider the health of the soldiers and nurse, expectations for health care and mortality, and their relationship to physicians. The exhibit argues that during the war, injury, recovery, and death were managed in new ways and the war changed soldiers’ relationships with their own minds and bodies.

The College has developed a close relationship with the visual arts, most recently by commissioning internationally-renowned film artists, the Quay Brothers, whose meditation on the collections resulted in the film, Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos and Afterbreezes from the Mütter Museum), funded by the Philadelphia Exhibits Initiative of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. More information can be found here: http://www.pcah.us/the-center/newsroom/center-spotlight-september-2011/. The Museum of Modern Art curated a small exhibit on the making of the film, now on view at the College, and the film is shown throughout the day.

Our resources related to the history of science are abundant, even if a little disturbing. We invite visits or communications from historians of science. We also have a small travel grant program available to researchers: http://www.collphyphil.org/Site/travelgrants.html. Contact the Director, Dr Robert Hicks, at rhicks@collegeofphysicians.org.

Semmelweiss Museum, Budapest

"Anatomical Venus" Wax model at the Semmelweiss Medical Museum

"Anatomical Venus" Wax model at the Semmelweiss Medical Museum by Curious Expeditions. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

The museum to commemorate Ignaz Semmelweiss – in the house in which he was born – is in Buda at 1 Aprod Street. It is actually an excellent general medical history museum with only a little space devoted to Semmelweiss himself. It goes back to early man, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and then, more broadly, from medieval to relatively modem Europe. A fine collection of early surgical and obstetrical instruments is especially noteworthy, and there is a reconstructed pharmacy with lovely porcelain jars and bottles.

The room devoted to Semmelweiss memorabilia contains his desk, portraits of the family, and so forth. One cabinet has a copy of his book and open letters he published to refute his detractors. There is an interesting copy of a German textbook that Semmelweiss used as a student in Vienna in which his notes are written in Magyar-more testimony to the fact that he was Hungarian, not German. Semmelweiss’s remains are interred in the courtyard of the house and their history reflects the slow appreciation of the man’s worth. He died in Vienna in 1865 and was originally buried there. Thirty years later his bones were transferred to Budapest’s honour cemetery; finally, in 1965, they were moved here to the house where he was born and is remembered.

Another monument to Semmelweiss is a statue of the good doctor, with a mother and babies sitting at his feet, placed in front of the old St. Roch Hospital in Pest, which is where he practised medicine. This used to be the site of isolation barracks in the old days because it was outside the city. There is a pretty little church (St. Roch Chapel) next door.

Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala by WixPix. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

Linnaeus Garden. Linnaeus was appointed Professor of Medicine at the University of Uppsala in 1741, after some rather undignified infighting among several candidates for the position. Botany was academically a part of medicine at the time because plant extracts were the most common form of medication, and renovation of the university’s neglected botanical garden (originally founded in 1655) was one of the new professor’s assigned tasks. A house adjacent to the garden came with the appointment and served as Linnaeus’s residence. Classically proportioned, with a red brick facade, it now serves as the garden museum, laid out and furnished much as it must have been in Linnaeus’s day.

The garden area itself has been beautifully restored-the layout is nearly the same as the original, modeled according to the prevailing style, with narrow parallel formal beds and three pools and an orangery at the back. Two symmetrical sections (parterres) contain beds for perennial and annual (or biennial) plants, respectively. Arrangement within the perennial parterre is strictly in the order of the Linnaeus classification, but there are 44 beds for the 24 classes, allowing more than one bed for some classes. The annual plants are also grouped together by class, but the order varies from year to year. The path between the two sections is bordered by showy ornamental plants, and the pools beyond have water plants. The orangery used to be divided into frigidarium, caldarium, and tepidarium, to provide for a range of indoor environments, but it is less elaborate aeus in Lapland costume, from a 1737 painting. The flower fastened to his tunic is the twin flower, Linnaea borealis, shown here in a separate photograph. It blooms only briefly, close to midsummer, so you may not see it in the garden when you visit. today. Parts of it now have non-botanical uses, such as choir practice for a local group. Two little shelters on top of high poles near the entrance used to house chained monkeys. Linnaeus was very fond of the monkeys and is reported as having been unashamedly grieved when one of his favourites died.

Linnaeus died at his garden residence and was buried in Uppsala Cathedral. There is a monument with a medallion portrait in a chapel off the north aisle. The tomb slab itself is in the floor, a little closer to the main entrance. The cathedral is the largest church in Scandinavia and parts of it date back to the thirteenth century.

In the outskirts of Uppsala we have Linnes Hammarby (6 miles [10 km] southeast), Linnaeus’s former summer residence, now a small state park. Linnaeus sometimes lectured here to students and large crowds of visitors. A little further out, toward the southwest, is Wiks Slott (Wik Castle), a fifteenth-century fortress with a fine park at the edge of a lake. Svante Arrhenius was born here in 1859, his father having been overseer of the estate at the same time as he was working for the university. (The university salary improved a year later, and the family was able to move into the city.) Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), just north of the modem city, is also worth a visit. It was the royal capital of the Svea kingdom 1,500 years ago and contains burial mounds and other antiquities.

Granada, Spain

The Alhambra, Granada - Spain

The Alhambra, Granada - Spain, by kevinpoh. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

Cordoba was taken by the Christians in 1236, but Granada remained in Moorish hands until 1492, a refuge for artists and others who had been driven out of Cordoba, Seville, and elsewhere. Granada contains the most brilliant of all the products of Moorish architecture, the elaborate, intricately decorated Alhambra, with its gardens, courtyards, galleries, and statues-one of the artistic wonders of Europe. At one time Granada also had an acclaimed medical center and, at the time of the great plague, emissaries came here from all over Europe to consult (unsuccessfully) with local physicians. Where was the former medical center and have any of its buildings survived? There are no plaques or signs to tell us.

The Island of Kos, Greece

The Castle of Kos (Neratzia)

The Castle of Kos (Neratzia) by bazylek100. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

The island of Kos was the home of the famous physician, Hippocrates. It is a popular area  because of its mild climate and sandy beaches, but has been badly scarred by intemperate eagerness to cater to mass tourism. Roads, hotels, and discos spring up without much regard for how they affect their environment.

 After the death of Hippocrates (around 360 B.C.), a temple/sanitarium was built on Kos, dedicated to the god of healing, Asklepios. People came from all over the Mediterranean to seek help by prayer or to be treated by Hippocratic doctors. They continued to come for nearly a thousand years, until a terrible earthquake and subsequent ravages by the Saracens all but destroyed the place. The remains have been excavated and some columns have been re-erected, to create an impressive memorial from which we can get a good picture of what it must have been like in its heyday.

 The Asklepieion, as the temple is called, lies in open country on a limestone fold of a hill and is remarkable for its spacious design-three terraces, one above the other, joined by broad stone staircases. Patients were presumably treated by physicians on the lowest level, in “shops” lining a large, open rectangular space. They then went on to pray to their gods on the middle and topmost levels. The remains there reflect the continuity of use. The most prominent group of columns, for example, seven in number on the middle level dates from Roman times, outlining a temple dedicated to Apollo; two thicker Ionic columns on the same level are much earlier. We know from the writer Strabo (who lived in the age of Augustus) that all the temples were filled With artistic treasures, many brought as offerings by the patients themselves. And it is interesting that tributes to Hippocrates continue to this day. The ceremony of the Hippocratic oath is sometimes held here. An International Hippocratic Foundation is housed in modern buildings adjacent to the archaeological area. It serves as a center for professional congresses.

The city of Kos itself has an archaeological museum with a statue of Hippocrates and a mosaic from the second or third century A.D. depicting the physician welcoming the god Asklepios. There is also the so-called Plane Tree of Hippocrates standing next to the medieval fortress overlooking the city’s harbor. According to legend, the physician taught and wrote in the shade of this tree, whose outer shell is now more than 30 feet in diameter. Lawrence Durrell once visited this place: “I slept under the tree for two nights,” he wrote, “hoping that the spirit of the old god-physician might confer some of his healing powers upon me, but it was winter and all I achieved was a touch of rheumatism.”

Exeter’s Underground Passageways, England

Exeter's underground tunnels

Exeter's underground tunnels, by Malcolm Etherington. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Dating from the 14th century, Exeter’s medieval underground passages were built to house the lead pipes that brought fresh water from natural springs in fields outside the city wall into the city centre. The passages lie between 4 and 6 metres underground stretching 425 metres across the city centre. Amazingly 80% of the tunnel network survives and much of it can be explored with a travel guide. The pipes often sprang leaks and repairs could only be carried out by digging down. The solution was a vaulted network lined with stone which was big enough for workers to climb underground to carry out repairs. The first passage was built between 1346 and 1349 to serve the city’s cathedral. The water pipes ended at a fountain in Cathedral Close that supplied clean water to Exeter’s clergy.

Exeter was becoming quite wealthy and the cathedral was built in response to Salisbury Cathedral. The stonemasons who had been working on the cathedral were set the task of constructing the underground passages. The supply of clean water was inadequate for the city population and this resulted in the construction of a second tunnel between 1492 and 1497 – known as The City Passage. As the woollen trade developed, a number of wealthy merchants decided they wanted their own water supply. There were always political divisions between the city and the cathedral, and the merchants wanted to ensure they had a separate supply they could rely on. Only the wealthiest residents could afford to have the water piped directly to their homes.

For everyone else, water was dispensed through an ornate public fountain, called The Great Conduit, at the junction of South Street and the High Street. Sadly the fountain itself was demolished in the 18th Century. In the 1640s a section of The City Passage was blocked off during the English Civil War to prevent the tunnel being used as an entry point into the city. The lead pipes were removed for casting into bullets and the passage filled with rubble. However, the passage was repaired and the water supply restored after the war ended.

Historians of medicine will be interested in the fact that further changes were made following an outbreak of cholera in 1832 when a more healthy water supply was developed – fed from a treatment works at Pynes Hill. The Board of Health commissioned the engineer James Golsworthy to make some changes to the passages. He replaced the lead pipes with cast iron ones and lowered the floor level to improve the water flow. This meant that the pipes sprang leaks less often because the floor was more level. The passages continued to supply water to the city until 1857 when one of the wells was damaged by the building of a new railway cutting. By 1901 the passages had been virtually forgotten. During the Second World War part of the tunnel network was used as a shelter from German bombing raids – a place of safety for 300 city residents.

Guided tours have taken place since 1933. Originally there was no lighting and the tours were no more than a scramble through conduits that stretch out below the streets. The visitor experience has improved since then and a new interpretation centre, opened in 2007, tells the story of the passages, their innovative use of water and explores medieval life in the city. To book your tour contact 01392 665 887

Further information

Underground Passages Leaflet [pdf, 3.4Mb]