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Miscellaneous Newtonian sites in London
The Houses of Parliament
Newton was twice elected to the House of Commons as one of the two Members
of Parliament for Cambridge University: first to the Convention Parliament
of 1689-1690 and then to the parliament of 1701-1702. He
failed in the election of 1705 despite
receiving a knighthood.
The Palace of Westminster as it is officially known, was a royal residence
from at least the eleventh century and subsequently became the permanent
meeting place for the houses of Commons and Lords. However, almost all of
the present buildings date from after a large fire in 1834. In Newton's
day the Commons met in St. Stephen's Chapel, but only the crypt survived the
National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
is on the north side of Trafalgar Square next
to the National Gallery. The collection is intended to illustrate British
history, arts and sciences with portraits of eminent men and women. Newton
is portrayed by the
1702 Kneller portrait.
Many of his contemporaries are
shown nearby, including Kenelm Digby, Thomas Hobbes, Judge Jeffreys,
Chrisopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Locke, Samuel Pepys, Alexander Pope,
Jonathan Swift, and a self portrait by Kneller in 1685. (Most of these
are in the NPG's Room 5 -
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is one of the group of
museums in South Kensington which owe their existence to the Great Exhibition
of 1851 and Prince Albert's vision. The Museum is often claimed to be the
largest science museum in the world and includes an impressive technology
collection: from the oldest steam locomotive (1813) to the Apollo 10
There is no exhibit about Newton as such (the Museum is organised around
subjects rather than periods or individual scientists) but several displays
are relevant to Newton.
- George III Gallery
- The gallery has a large amount of eighteenth century apparatus
which are mostly demonstrations of Newtonian science. At the right
hand side of the entrance is a bust of Newton after Rysbrack. Of
great importance is an ``Air pump by Francis Hauksbee'' c.1705,
accession number 1974-24, from the Royal Society. This may have been
used for Hauksbee's demonstrations before the Royal Society which
Newton, as President, instigated.
- This gallery has a reconstruction of a sixteenth century assayer's
laboratory and various pieces of early chemical glassware, similar
to those used by Newton in his alchemical studies.
- Picture Gallery
- In 1996 this small room showed a rather good copy of the
1689 Kneller portrait,
made c.1860 (including a copy of Kneller's signature.)
- Optics Gallery
- There are several displays about seventeenth century optics,
including pictures and diagrams of Newton's optical experiments.
There is also a glass prism from this period and a replicas of
telescopes and Hooke's microscope.
Old Royal Observatory at Greenwich
This stands in Greenwich Park and was founded by King Charles II in 1675 for
John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal. It is now a museum with many
important telescopes and clocks on display, and reconstructions of some
rooms as they would have been in Flamsteed's time.
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