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Written by David Singmaster (zingmast@sbu.ac.uk ). Links to relevant external websites are being added occasionally to this gazetteer but the BSHM has no control over the availability or contents of these links. Please inform the BSHM Webster (A.Mann@gre.ac.uk) of any broken links.

[When the gazetteer was edited for serial publication in the BSHM Newsletter, references were omitted since the bibliography was too substantial to be included. Publication on the web permits references to be included for material now being added to the website, but they are still absent from material originally prepared for the Newsletter - TM, August 2002]


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Paignton, Devon

Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925) lived at 6 Palace Avenue, in 1889-1897 with his parents. See under London for his work and his earlier life and also qv Newton Abbot and Torquay. His mother died in 1894. In 1894, Fitzgerald, Lodge and Perry tried to get him to accept a grant from the RS Relief Fund but he would not accept it. However, in 1896, the same friends, supported by Rayleigh and Kelvin, got a Civil List Pension of £120 per year for him. His father died in 1896. In 1897, he moved to Newton Abbot and in 1908 to Torquay, where he died. He is buried in Paignton Cemetery. [Stanier, p.85; Greenwood (2), p.177; Whittaker (3).]

See also Marldon, above.


Paisley, Renfrewshire

Lewis Fry Richardson was Principal of Paisley Technical College from 1929, living in the Principal's House. He continued his work in mathematical psychology but changed to war and peace studies in about 1935. In 1940, he retired, but was allowed to remain living in the Principal's House until 1943.


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Parknasilla, Co. Kerry

The Parknasilla Hotel, near Sneem, west of Kenmare, Co. Kerry, is in the grounds formerly owned by Charles Graves (1812-1899), Professor of Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin in 1843-1862, then Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe in 1866-1869. Graves' house was the original hotel for a few years from 1895 and was then used as a staff house. It was renovated in 1990 and is again in use as a staff house. It is called the Bishop's House and is about 100 yards along the small road just to the right of the entrance to the hotel. There is a plaque on the wall by the road. [K.C. Bailey, p.72. DBS.]


Parsonstown, King's County

This is now Birr, Co. Offaly, qv.


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Parton, Galloway

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) lived at 'Glenlair', four miles NE of Parton, Galloway (now Dumfries & Galloway), about 20 miles west of Dumfries, particularly during his retirement from academic life in 1865-1871, when he rebuilt the house. A special post-box had to be installed near the house to deal with his voluminous correspondence [Smith-Rose, p.9]. In a letter to Tait on 11 December 1867, he first suggests 'Maxwell's Demon', a name coined by Kelvin [Maxwell Foundation, pp.74-75]. The house burned in 1929, but the brick shell remains. This now lies in the Parish of Corsock, where the present church has a memorial window and plaque. He died in Cambridge and was buried in the family grave alongside his parents and wife in Parton churchyard. The Parton postmaster is trying to raise funds to erect a plaque. [Hartwick, Letter from Hartwick; Anon., The Clerk Maxwell Route]

The family name is actually Clerk, a distinguished family based at Penicuik - his great-great-great-grandfather was the first Baronet. [His great-great-grandfather was Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, judge and antiquary, a signatory to the Treaty and Act of Union of 1707: I recommend the CD of his cantatas, which feature masonic number-symbolism, performed by Catherine Bott and Concerto Caledonia (Hyperion CDA67007, 1998) - TM]. His great-grandfather inherited the Maxwell estates from his wife, adopting the name Maxwell, and these were then inherited as secondary estates, i.e. they could not be held in common with the main Clerk title and estates, but passed to the second son, provided the holder adopted the name Maxwell. Secondary inheritance can get quite confusing, but the Maxwell situation is only mildly confusing. His great-grandfatherwas a second son, but his elder brother died without issue and so the great-grandfather inherited the title - but what happened to the Maxwell estate then is not shown in my source. Maxwell's grandfather was a second son and adopted the name Maxwell. He died before his elder brother, a Clerk, who died without heir, so the title passed to Maxwell's father's elder brother, Sir George Clerk (1787-1867), FRS, FRSE. Sir George was a successful MP and politician, becoming Master of the Mint in 1845 and President of the (London) Zoological Society in 1862. He appears to have had only one son, so the Maxwell estates descended to our man. [Forfar] [The DNB states that our man was the grandnephew of Sir George Clerk FRS FRSE - TM]


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Peebles, Peeblesshire

The Caledonian Railway Tunnel, near Peebles, Scottish Borders, is where C.T.R. Wilson confirmed the existence of cosmic rays with his cloud chamber, c1911 [Larsen, pp.42-43].


Peel, Isle of Man

At Peel Castle there is a meridian line comprising a groove in an 8 ft high slab. At noon, the shadow of the southwest wall falls on it. [Peter Ransom; Sundial corner no 9; BSHM Newsletter 31 (Spring 1966) 22-24.]


Penkhull, Staffordshire

The Institute of Physics has erected a plaque to Oliver Lodge in Penkhull (not in my atlas).


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Penrhyndeudraeth, Caernarfonshire & Merionethshire

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) moved to Plas Penrhyn, Penrhyndeudraeth, near Penrhyn Castle, in 1955 and lived there until his death [Eastman, p.304]. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over the hills.


Penzance, Cornwall

Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) was born here: there is a statue of him in the main street [F. Greenaway, Chemistry Background Book: Humphrey Davy, Nuffield Foundation, London, 1966; p.2 is a photo].


Perth, Perth & Kinross

William Wallace (1768-1843) was assistant teacher of mathematics at Perth Academy, Perth, in 1794-1803 [Craik (2)].


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Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

In Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, parts of the clock are thought to date from c1450, or possibly even c1350. "Prior to 1950, when a new clock was installed, the striking train of gears was known to be the oldest clock working mechanism in the world." [Michael Lee, The Ancient Clocks and Old and New Bells of Peterborough Cathedral - The Job Completed; Peterborough Cathedral, nd [late 1980s, obtained in 1992]]

Elton Hall is a nearby stately home. It has a picture by Bernardino Luini (c1470 - after 1533), variously called A Boy with a Toy or Putto with a Game of Patience showing a cherub with a 'Chinese Wallet' or 'flick-flack'. See Hampton Court Place, London, for another depiction, probably later.


Petworth, West Sussex

Petworth House, was once a seat of the Percys, Earls of Northumberland. Henry Percy, the ninth Earl (1564-1632), was the patron of Dee, Raleigh and Harriot and was known as the 'Wizard Earl' because of his interests in science and alchemy - see entries for Harriot and Dee under London. There are two portraits of the Earl (one by Van Dyck) and a portrait of Prince Rupert (qv under Westminster Abbey, London, and under Oxford). In the North Gallery is a large terrestrial globe by Emery Molyneux in 1592. Molyneux was the first maker of globes in England and this is believed to be the oldest example of his work. Tradition relates that it was presented to the 'Wizard Earl' by Raleigh at the time they were both imprisoned in the Tower of London and this is considered a fairly reliable tradition. There is also a smaller globe of 1750 showing Anson's voyage around the world in 1740-1744 (see Royal Observatory under London). The guide book does not indicate that Raleigh or Harriot ever visited Petworth. [Gervase Jackson-Stopes, Petworth House Sussex, The National Trust, 1973, pp.4, 16, 21, 38.]


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Pilton, Devon

The church has an hourglass attached to the pulpit [Mary Gray, Devon's Churches, James Pike Ltd, St. Ives, 1974, p.7].


Plas-yn-Yale, Denbighshire

This was the ancestral residence of the Yale family and Elihu Yale's father was born here. It is not on maps, but the guide books locate it on the right side of the A5104, 2½ miles southwest of the intersection with the A525, about 2 miles before Bryneglwys. There is a Yale Chapel in the church of Bryneglwys. Cf Wrexham.


Playford, Suffolk

See Ipswich


Plealy, Shropshire

See Shrewsbury.


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Plymouth, Devon

Francis Drake (c1540-1596) set out from Plymouth, on 6 Apr (or 13 Dec) 1577 and returned on 26 Sep 1580 as the first English captain to circumnavigate the earth. (He may even have been second only to Magellan (1519-1522)??) Statue on Plymouth Hoe, with a globe beside him. He was a notable citizen and benefactor of the town, being mayor and MP and built a water channel from Dartmoor to the city - this is still extant and known as Drake's Leat. Numerous other voyages of exploration and settlement set out from or called at Plymouth and are commemorated with plaques on the pier of Sutton Harbour in the Barbican area. Captain Cook stopped here as his last English port of call before each of his voyages and the pub called the Barbican Revival has a plaque saying he had dinner there before setting out on his first voyage.

On the back of the Guildhall are large figures representing various arts including one of geometry (or architecture?) and one of astronomy.

Thomas Holloway (1800-1883), founder of Royal Holloway College outside London, was born in his father's Robin Hood and Little John inn in Plymouth Dock (now Devonport, a suburb of Plymouth).

A.M. Worthington was Professor of Physics at the Royal Naval Engineering College in Devonport and studied splash phenomena, leading to his A Study of Splashes in 1908 [Darius, pp.54-55].

In the suburb of Marsh Mills, off the A38, a new Sainsbury's has a walkway covered with tensioned fabric sections in the form of sails, which are probably pieces of hyperboloids??

See also Buckland Abbey and Saltash.


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Poldhu Point, Cornwall

At Poldhu Point,Poldhu Cove, near Mullion, on the Lizard peninsula, is a monument on the site of Marconi's wireless station which transmitted the first transatlantic signal at 12:30 pm on 12 December 1901. In 1901 (or 1900) Marconi had tested his ideas by successfully transmitting from the Isle of Wight to the Lizard, probably to this same station. His station here had a ring of masts 200 ft high and they were blown over in a gale. By November 1901 this station was ready but the station at Cape Cod was blown over! Marconi then sailed for Newfoundland and established a station there at St. John's, using first a balloon to suspend the aerial, but found it too difficult to use and replaced it with a kite which adequately supported a 500 ft aerial. Rayleigh, Poincaré, Love and others were unable to explain why transatlantic radio worked. Heaviside and Kennelly suggested what is now called the Heaviside layer in the atmosphere which reflects radio signals - Appleton verified such a layer in 1924. The station was demolished in 1933. The apparatus is in a museum in Rome. [Eastman, pp.209 & 345; Storer, pp.82-84.]


Porlock, Somerset

Near Porlock is Ashley Combe, formerly the summer seat of the Lovelaces [Gavin Gibbons; North Devon & Exmoor; Geographia, London, nd [c1968], p.76].


Porthcurno, Cornwall

Carn Vole, Porthcurno, was the summer home of Bertrand and Dora Russell in 1924-1927 [Eastman, p.218].


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Portsmouth, Hampshire

Henry VIII's great warship, the Mary Rose, sank just off Portsmouth in 1545 and was rediscovered by Alexander McKee about 1970. It was subsequently excavated and raised and is on exhibit in the Royal Dockyard. A separate building houses a display of some of the material found in the wreck, which gives a remarkable view of Tudor life. In particular there are compasses, a log reel, a protractor, dividers, sand glasses among other navigational items and there are several game boards and dice, including a fine inlaid folding backgammon board.

The channel between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight is called Spithead and was a traditional anchorage for naval vessels. Commodore Anson's circumnavigation in 1740-1744 started and ended here - cf entry for Royal Observatory, under London.

John Robertson (1712-1776) was master of the Royal Naval Academy, Portsmouth. He then became Clerk, and later Librarian, of the Royal Society. He was the first to show that stereographic projection is conformal. In 1775, he produced the first slide rule with a runner attached [Thompson, p.7].

A Napier descendent, General Sir Charles James Napier (1782-1853), the conqueror of Sind and half cousin to Admiral Sir Charles, is buried outside the west entrance of the Royal Garrison Church, Portsmouth [Greenwood, pp.114-118; Greenwood (2), p.113].

Henry Moseley studied at a naval school in Portsmouth, c1818, and wrote his first paper here, "On measuring the depth of the cavities seen on the surface of the moon".

Donald Watts Davies (1924-2000) lived in Portsmouth from the age of a few months until he went to Imperial College.

In 1979, a large sculpture by John Robinson, Bonds of Friendship, was erected at Sallyport, Portsmouth, the point of embarkation of the First Fleet of settlers for Australia in 1787. The sculpture consists of two interlocked tori, each just fitting through the opening of the other. It was unveiled by the Queen. An identical sculpture is at the point of disembarkation at Sydney Cove, Australia.


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Preston, Lancashire,

There is a Horrocks (cf under Hoole) Observatory in a park at Preston, though it has no historical connection with Horrocks [email from Richard Crossley].



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Written by David Singmaster. Last updated on 28th February 2003 by TM (A.Mann@gre.ac.uk). Copyright © BSHM and David Singmaster 1998 - 2003. All rights reserved.


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