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

The Monument, London

Inside the Monument, London

Inside the Monument, London, by Nick Garrod. Image licensed via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

The Monument is an undeniable exhibition of architecture merged with seventeenth century science. It offers spectacular views of London and was built to preserve the memory of the devastation caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666. This outstanding two hundred and two feet high Doric column with cantilevered stone staircase of three hundred and eleven steps leads to a viewing platform. It was stipulated in the London Building Act of 1667 for a column or pillar made of brass or stone to celebrate the rebuilding of London. Hence, Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor General to King Charles II was commissioned to design and build the structure.

As the Surveyor of the Kings Works, Christopher Wren was in charge of the Royal Commission for Rebuilding London including the City Churches, the most notable being St Paul’s Cathedral. Hence, it is through no fault of his that he was initially credited for the design of the Monument. The general attribution changed after the publication of the diary of Dr Robert Hooke, a close friend and colleague of Wren, which had numerous references on its construction.

Hooke and Wren had known each other since their days at Oxford where they began collaborating in scientific experiments. Their friendship continued in the newly formed Royal Society where both were active members and Hooke had been appointed Curator of Experiments in 1662.

Illustrated drawing of the Monument

Illustrated drawing of the Monument. Image available in public domain.

Wren submitted the first proposed model of the Monument for consideration but the one that closely resembles the Monument was the design submitted by Robert Hooke. He recorded in his diary saying ‘perfected module of Pillar’ (as he often called it) and ‘At the Pillar in height 250 steps’. This shows how involved Robert Hooked was with the planning and construction of the column.

He also noted some structures which he thought should go on top of the Monument; from a large Ball of metal gilt to a large statue of the King. He went on to even propose a ball of copper and a phoenix which he had made and attached to a wooden model of the pillar. He later rejected it after he felt it would be expensive, misunderstood and dangerous if the wings were detached by wind. But what sits at the top of the Doric column is a flaming brass urn and whose idea of it is unknown.

A lesser known fact about the Monument is that it was purposely designed to serve two functions: as a memorial landmark and as a scientific instrument. Fuelled by their interests in astronomy and microscopy, Hooke and Wren decided to build a structure that would serve as a giant, vertical zenith telescope. A place where the movement of the earth round the sun can be observed for an extensive period of time and an opportunity to continuously observe the night sky.

Their effort is something to be greatly admired as they went on to build an underground laboratory (twenty feet deep with openings that allows access to air) which was intended to be used by the experimenter for experiments and to store his equipment. It is directly beneath the vertical shaft and the spiral staircase, and is offered a clear view of sky through the ornamental urn with a hinged lid. It is here that Wren and Hooke believed they would comfortable measure the tiny shifts in the position of the stars in the sky from their zenith telescope which they had failed to do in two previous attempts.

To veer ones thoughts away from the challenge of climbing three-hundred and eleven steps, you can imagine Robert Hooke climbing these steps to perform experiments, from measuring the pressure at different points (while climbing down the steps), to determining the height of the Monument (the distance from the upper platform to the floor of the underground laboratory). The latter would allow him to resume the pendulum and Torricellian experiments that were halted by the Great Fire. He also noted performing other experiments in his diary saying ‘At Fish Street Pillar (Monument) tried mercury barometer experiment … it descended at the top about one-third inch’. He was even known to have conducted several experiments at the Monument for the Royal Society including continuing an experiment previously started by Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle that later led to him developing a wheel barometer.

As I cast my gaze towards the rest of London at the top of the Monument, I cannot help but revel in the majestic yet complex nature of this seventeenth century structure. It is hard not to be impressed by the intricate use of science in creating a unique monument that unquestionable had become very important in Robert Hooke’s life. To move experiments from Gresham College (home of the Royal Society) to the Monument showed his belief in his vision. Hence, it must have been disappointing when the Monument failed to fulfil its intended function as a zenith telescope. They were never able to prove the movement of the earth around the sun as the vertical shaft was not stable enough to allow the level of accuracy needed for the measurements.

The Monument, London

The Monument, London, by Roland Turner. Image licensed via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Today, the Monument remains a popular tourist attraction with an extensive view of the London Skyline with the underground laboratory empty and closed off from the public. It has undergone restorations and repairs including the addition of a computer-controlled digital camera that provides live images and views from the top of the Monument for visitors including those that are not able climb the steps.

It is sad to know that their hope of utilising it as a large-scale scientific instrument was never fully achieved; however, the Monument allowed the vision of both Wren and Hooke to come to life and celebrates their innovations and contribution to the history of science.

Further Information:

Lisa Jardine, On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Career of Sir Christopher Wren (Harper Collins, 2002)

http://www.themonument.info/history/default.asp

Andrews Geyser, Old Fort, North Carolina

From Souvenir of Asheville or the Sky-Land, undated, D.H. Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville.

Andrews Geyser is a man-made fountain near Old Fort, NC.  The fountain is named for Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews, a North Carolina native who was the Vice President of the Southern Railway Company and one of the men responsible for the construction of the railroad between Old Fort and Asheville, North Carolina, in the late 19th century.  Originally constructed in 1885 as a feature of the Round Knob Hotel and as a tribute to the men who died constructing this stretch of railroad, the fountain has had a checkered history.  In 1903, the hotel burned to the ground and the fountain fell into disrepair.  In 1911, the fountain was moved to its current position and restored.  It was at this time that Old Fort was given rights to the fountain, including the basin and pipe that supplies it.  Also, it was at this time that the fountain was officially named Andrews Geyser.  Again in the 1970s, the fountain underwent restoration and was rededicated on May 6, 1976. Today, the area around Andrews Geyser is a public park containing several large stone benches and a picnic area. It also has access to Mill Creek and a view of passing trains.

Andrews Geyser during the Summer of 2010. (Photo by Thad Parsons)

Andrews Geyser reaches heights of over 80 feet without mechanical aids.  Its water supply is a pond located nearly two miles away at the Inn on Mill Creek.  The Inn’s property contains the dam built in the late 19th century by the railroad and the Long Branch of Mill Creek feeds the pond.  A 6-inch-diameter (150 mm) cast iron pipe runs downhill to the basin, where it exits a half-inch nozzle.  The combination of a 500-foot change in elevation and the nozzle’s restriction powers the fountain.

During the winter, a cone of ice, with spray exiting its top, up to 50 feet tall can form and a permanent rainbow can generally be found on the fountain’s south side.