BSHM Gazetteer -- S

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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]

  • Saffron Walden, Essex
  • St Albans, Hertfordshire
  • St. Andrews, Fife
  • St. David's, Pembrokeshire
  • St. Erth, Cornwall
  • St. Ives, Cornwall
  • St. Leonards (-on-Sea), East Sussex
  • Salford, Greater Manchester
  • Salisbury, Wiltshire
  • Saltash, Cornwall
  • Sandhurst, Berkshire
  • Sampford Courtenay, Devon
  • Sark, Channel Islands
  • Scarborough, North Yorkshire
  • Schiehallion, Perthshire
  • Scilly Isles
  • Seaham, Co. Durham
  • Seaton Ross, East Yorkshire
  • Seaview, Isle of Wight
  • Sedbergh, Yorkshire
  • Sellafield, Cumbria - see Windscale, below
  • Settle, North Yorkshire
  • Severn Bridge
  • Shalford, Surrey
  • Sharow, North Yorkshire
  • Sheerness, Kent
  • Sherborne, Dorset
  • Sherborne, Gloucestershire
  • Shotesham All Saints, Norfolk
  • Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  • Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire
  • Sidmouth, Devon
  • Skreen, Co. Sligo
  • Slough, Berkshire
  • Smethwick, West Midlands
  • Snowdon, Caernarfonshire & Merionethshire
  • Soham, Cambridgeshire
  • Solihull, West Midlands
  • South Shields, Tyne and Wear
  • South Trellech (or Trelleck), Monmouthshire - see Llandogo, above
  • Spreyton, Devon
  • Staithes, North Yorkshire
  • Stalbridge, Dorset
  • Stamford, Lincolnshire
  • Stanhope, Co. Durham
  • Stevenage, Hertfordshire
  • Steyning, West Sussex
  • Stockton, Wiltshire
  • Stoke Fleming, Devon
  • Stonehenge, Wiltshire
  • Stourton, Wiltshire
  • Stowe, Buckinghamshire - see Buckingham, above
  • Stradbroke, Suffolk
  • Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
  • Sunderland, Co. Durham
  • Swanage, Dorset

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    Saffron Walden, Essex

    Bridge End Gardens has probably the finest turf maze in England [Pennick, plate7; Fisher, p.154, with colour photos on pp.45 & 139]. There is a mention of it in the time of William III (c1690). It was replanted with yew in 1838-1840, but abandoned and lost by 1949, then restored in 1983. There is a second maze, an imitation of that at Hampton Court, on the Common. A bit west of Saffron Walden, at Audley End, is Audley End House, amongst whose treasures is a snuff box of Voltaire's. [Coster, pp.103 & 105. Charles Elliot,The Gap in the Hedge Dispatches from the Extraordinary World of British Gardening, The Lyons Press, New York, 1998, p.208.]


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    St Albans, Hertfordshire

    Richard of Wallingford (1292?-1336), the Father of English Trigonometry, came to St. Alban's Abbey in 1314 after his degree at Oxford. Deacon in 1316; Priest in 1317. In 1317, he returned to Oxford for further study. In 1327, the Abbot died and Richard returned to St. Alban's Abbey and was elected Abbot. In 1328, he began to show symptoms of a disease which was thought to be leprosy and which would have caused his banishment from normal life, but his abilities were so appreciated by the Church and the King, that he was allowed to continue as Abbot until his death. He started construction of a great astronomical clock which was completed about 20 years after his death by William of Walsham. It was the first clock to be clearly described, in his Tractatus Horologii Astronomici of 1327. He introduced a new and improved type of escapement, but it was too complex to ever be copied elsewhere, though Leonardo da Vinci re-invented a similar escapement. Sadly, the clock was destroyed during the Dissolution in 1539, but the book and other records are sufficiently detailed that Peter Haward, of Suffolk, was able to make a working reconstruction, now in the Time Museum at Rockford, Illinois. The case and face are not adequately recorded, but the reconstruction was based on a slightly later case in Durham Cathedral. [Gunther(3), pp.40-41;. J.V. Field & Wright, pp.16, 26, 47-48; George Henwood, Abbot Richard of Wallingford: Fourteenth Century Scholar Astronomer and Instrument Maker, Wallingford Museum, 1988] Henwood shows some illustrations from the fourteenth-century Gesta Abbatum Monasterii Sancti Albani which depict Richard and the clock - are these the earliest contemporary (or nearly so) pictures of a mathematician? Henwood also shows the reconstructed version.

    Incidentally, the Wallingford Screen in the Abbey is due to a 15C William of Wallingford.

    Gorhambury, about 2½ miles NW of St. Albans, was the country seat of Francis Bacon (1561-1626). His father built Old Gorhambury House in 1563-1568 and Francis lived here from 1568. He was a student at St. Alban's school. He inherited the old house in 1601, enlarged and rebuilt it and then built a summer house, Verulam House, about a mile away. After his fall from power in 1621, he retired here. A doorway and some walls of Old Gorhambury House survive, but nothing remains of Verulam House. His tomb (or monument) in St. Michael's Church has a figure of him. Some guidebooks say he is buried in the vault underneath. The present Gorhambury House was built by the Earl of Verulam, a collateral descendent, in 1784 and is occupied by the current Earl. It is open and displays various memorabilia. [Crosland, vol. 2, p 36; Glendinning, pp.51-53 with photo of the Old House between pp.116 & 117; Eastman, pp.184-185.]

    Lord Grimthorpe, designer of the clock at Parliament (cf under London), restored the west front of the Abbey in the late nineteenth century. His restoration work was not always well received, particularly here and at Lincoln's Inn, and 'to grimthorpe' was used for 'to do a rotten job of restoration' [Espy, p.111].

    H.T. Flather, the crystallographer who built the "very beautiful set of miniature models of all the fifty-nine [stellations of the icosahedron]" was living in St. Albans when he offered the models to the University of Cambridge and Coxeter came to see them. See Coxeter under Cambridge for more details, or [Coxeter, Du Val, Flather & Petrie, p.5-10].


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    St. Andrews, Fife

    The University of St. Andrews was founded by a papal bull in 1411 or 1413. It is the oldest in Scotland and has the only Regius (i.e. royally appointed) Professor of Mathematics in the UK. Before it was the Regius Chair, the first holder was James Gregory (1638-1675) in 1673-1674 (or 1669-1674). However, [Turnbull & Bushnell] say that the chair was established by Charles II at the instigation of Sir Robert Moray, apparently for Gregory, who was the first holder from 1668 to 1674. It is not known where Gregory lived, but he worked in the Upper Hall of the Library. The pendulum clock that he used is still here, though it has been converted from a wall clock to a free-standing one. On the east side of the second window from the west in the south wall is the bracket that supported his telescopes. His meridian line runs along the floor to this window and there is an iron alignment trident on the hill a mile away (now obscured by trees). He established the first British observatory here in 1673, but it is not clear if he built something by the library or if this refers to a small observatory which he may have started, but which is first recorded in 1713, near what is now the foot of West Burn Lane, in the roadway on the south side of Queen's Terrace, and which was demolished in 1736. [Gilbert; Turnbull & Bushnell] Recent writers are tending to use the form Gregorie.

    A nephew, Charles Gregory was professor of mathematics here to 1739 and was succeeded by his son David Gregory (1712-1765) [Turnbull & Bushnell].

    The Regius chair was held by Herbert Westren Turnbull (1921-1950), and E.T. Copson (1950-1969).

    Napier (1550-1617) was a student in 1563-1565 but didn't take a degree. Arbuthnot graduated in medicine in 1696. In 1753, the University awarded a degree to James Short, the noted telescope maker who had moved from Edinburgh to London in 1738. This was done at his request, though he was already an FRS for 15 years. [Wray].

    John Playfair (1748-1819) was a student.

    John West (1756-1817) entered as a student in 1769. He later became a teacher of mathematics, with James Ivory and John Leslie being among his students. His Elements of Mathematics of 1784 was popular in Scotland, but he found his income inadequate and emigrated to Jamaica in 1784. [Craik, pp.31-40]


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    David Brewster (1781-1868), inventor of the kaleidoscope (1814, patented 1817, but not adequately and he didn't make any money from it) and first biographer of Newton, was Principal of the United College of the University in 1838-1859. [FRS, 1813. The kaleidoscope certainly existed in some form before Brewster, but he described it in the Phil. Trans. in 1815, patented it in 1816(?) and popularized it through his Treatise on the Kaleidoscope in 1819. He studied polarization of light and received a Rumford medal for this in 1818.] He also was an inventor of the stereoscope - Wheatstone had a similar device and they are considered the joint inventors, though Huygens had described a similar device in 1659 - and of dioptic lenses for lighthouses. A founder of the BAAS. Kt. in 1831.

    John Stuart Mill was Lord Rector in 1866. [Crosland, vol. 2, p.116.] Chrystal was professor in 1877-1879. D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948), of On Growth and Form, was a professor here from 1917 and there was a bust and a display commemorating him and his work in the foyer of the Physics Building - it was not there in 1992. J.C. Adams was a Professor here before returning to Cambridge.

    The foyer of the Physics Building has an exhibition of scientific instruments, including a great astrolabe made and signed by Humphrey Cole, 1575, a mariner's astrolabe made and signed by Elias Allen in 1616 - the only example definitely known to be made in England - and an orrery by Benjamin Cole, c1750. One of the astrolabes was probably brought by James Gregory, c1673. There is also a wave model by Charles Wheatstone, c1840, of which only one other example is known - at the Royal Institution, London. A microscope of Brewster's is also on display [Wray]. However, Alex Craik ["British Libraries #7: The University of St. Andrews Library", BSHM Newsletter 29 (Summer 1995) 31] reports that the Cole and Allen astrolabes have been removed for safe keeping.

    In 1552, Cardan (1501-1576) was summoned to St. Andrews and successfully treated John Hamilton, Archbishop and brother of the Regent of Scotland, for asthma (and general dissipation) so severe that his life was feared for. [Guthrie, pp.162-163] says the consultations took place in Edinburgh and Monimail, Fife.


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    St. David's, Pembrokeshire

    William Laud was Bishop of St. David's in 1621-1626, after being President of St. John's College, Oxford - see also under London (the Tower), Cambridge, Oxford (: Museum of the History of Science as well as "People") and Canterbury - but he never came to St. David's.


    St. Erth, Cornwall

    Davies (Giddy) Gilbert (1767-1839) was born in St. Erth, south of St. Ives. He was MP for Bodmin, qv.


    St. Ives, Cornwall

    On a hill south of St. Ives is a pyramidal monument erected by John Knill, who had been mayor of St. Ives in 1782 [Barton, p.45]. [Burton, pp.64-65] says Knill was mayor in the late 19th century.


    St. Leonards (-on-Sea), East Sussex

    Alan Turing spent much of his youth at Barton Lodge, St. Leonards, near Hastings [Hodges, p.6].


    Salford, Greater Manchester

    James Prescott Joule (1818-1889) was born and grew up in Salford [Low, p.107]. See under Manchester, for more about him.


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    Salisbury, Wiltshire

    The nave of Salisbury Cathedral contains the works of what is believed to be the oldest working clock in the world, mentioned in records of 1386 [Spring, pp.66-67, with photo on p.67; Howgrave-Graham].

    Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559) was Dean of Salisbury Cathedral in the early sixteenth century.

    In Salisbury Cathedral, the tomb of Sir Thomas Gorges, d. 1610, and his wife, d. 1635, is topped with handsome framework sculptures of the dodecahedron, icosahedron and cubo-octahedron [Spring, pp.125-127, with photo on p.126], apparently based on Leonardo's drawings for Pacioli [i.e. Luca Pacioli, Divina Proportione, Paganini, Venice, 1509]. The tomb is at the east end of the church, just north of the Lady Chapel. It was erected after the death of the wife, who had previously been married to William Parr, Marquis of Northampton, for six years before his death, in 1565-1571. Parr had studied under Cuthbert Tunstall at Cambridge, Tunstall being a friend of his father. The Gorges family has no known mathematical connections, but had strong naval connections - Sir William Gorges was a vice admiral, his son Sir Arthur (d. 1625) was a captain under his cousin Raleigh. [Child, p.188] refers to Sir Thomas Gorges of Longford Castle, early 17th century. The cathedral guide book says the tomb is topped with a sphere and an astrolabe, but it is topped with a sphere surmounted by a framework dodecahedron and there is no astrolabe in sight, so the author seems to think the dodecahedron is an astrolabe. See Wimborne St. Giles, below, for a similar tomb and discussion.

    John Evelyn records visiting Salisbury and seeing 'the great mural dial', but the only possible candidate for this is a meridian line on the north boundary wall of the graveyard, where the spire's shadow crosses at noon. This has been nearly obscured by time, but Peter Ransom found the line marked by a deep groove in the upper ashlar coping stones of the wall, though he could not find the inscription 'meridies', which is probably obscured by lichen. [Peter Ransom, "Sundial corner No. 8: Meridian lines", BSHM Newsletter 30 (Autumn 1995) 38-40.] In [BSHM Newsletter 33 (Spring 1997) 31], Ransom reports that Lennox Napier located the true line about 12 ft to the left of where he looked and the word 'Meridies' is still visible.

    In the north choir aisle is the remarkable tomb of Thomas Lambert "who was borne May ye 13 An. Do. 1683 & dyed Feb. 19 the same year." Local doggerel commemorates this: "Thomas Lambert all should mourn for he died three months before he was born!" [Spring, pp.75-76, with photo on p.75. I have a photo of it.]

    Seth Ward (1617-1689) was Bishop of Salisbury after the Restoration and being Bishop of Exeter.

    In the middle of the floor is a brass plate inscribed "AD 1737 THE CENTER OF THE TOWER". [Timpson, p.75] says it was put there by Wren who had found the tower 2½ ft out of line and had straightened it. When the tower was renovated in 1951, its centre was directly over Wren's mark. [Child, pp.94 & 149] says Wren was asked to examine the spire by Ward - if so, it was some time before the work was completed.

    There is a handsome 1749 sundial on Malmesbury House, which shows both time and date [thanks to Peter Ransom for a postcard of this, 19 May 2000].


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    Saltash, Cornwall

    Saltash, across the River Tamar from Plymouth, Devon, was a childhood home of John Couch Adams (1819-1892) [DNB].


    Sandhurst, Berkshire

    The Royal Military College moved from Marlow (qv) to Sandhurst, 10 miles south-east of Reading, in 1812. Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen (1834-1923) was a student in 1848-1851.


    Sampford Courtenay, Devon

    has two roof bosses in the Three Rabbits pattern. A letter from D.P. Miles says these date from c1450.


    Sark, Channel Islands

    James Lighthill (1924?-1998) was an accomplished long-distance swimmer and used his hydrodynamic knowledge to plot his routes. In 1973, he was the first person to swim around the Channel Island of Sark. I once heard him on the radio describing this hobby and he said he once went around Stromboli while it was erupting, which led to occasional detours to avoid being boiled. On 17 July 1998, he was making his seventh cicumnatation of Sark when he died some nine hours into his circuit. However the wind and currents carried his body back to the point he started from, showing that his planned circuit was correct. He was posthumously awarded the RS Copley Medal for 1998.


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    Scarborough, North Yorkshire

    In Scarborough there is a c1350 building in Sandgate (or Sandside) on the seafront of South Bay called the King Richard III Inn because he is reputed to have stayed there. On the ceiling of one of the upper rooms is a 'Three Rabbits' pattern, but this is in the landlord and landlady's rooms and she was unwilling to let me see it. Inquiry to the Scarborough Museums and Gallery Officer elicited a photo held by the Planning Department in which the pattern can just be discerned and the information that it is in 16C plasterwork apparently done by Italian workers.

    George Cayley (1773-1857) was born in Paradise House, near the old parish church of St. Mary's, near the Castle (Borough plaque), but he seems not to have lived here for very long [Rivett & Matthew, pp.5-6 & 15]. The Rotunda Museum in Valley Road has copies of Cayley's models [Blue Guide].


    Schiehallion, Perthshire

    Schiehallion (or Schiehallien or Schehallien) is an isolated conical mountain (or narrow ridge??), 3554 ft high, in Perthshire (now Perth & Kinross), about 20 km west of Pitlochry. In 1772, the astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, asked the RS for advice and they appointed a Committee of Attraction (with Maskelyne and Cavendish as leading members) to advise on how to determine G from the deflection of a plumb line (or pendulum) near a mountain. This was the mountain selected and Maskelyne carried out observations here in 1774-1776 (or Jul-Nov 1774). The calculations were carried out by Hutton (following suggestions of Cavendish) and found that the density of the Earth was about 4.48 (later revised to 4.713, still much too low) - see ["Mean density of the earth", Phil. Trans. 1778] and a similar paper of 1821. Maskelyne was awarded the Copley Medal of the RS for this work. It is claimed that one of the surveyors, named Hutton (the same one??), invented contour lines during the associated mapping. (However Halley used isogonal lines in a map of magnetic variation in 1702.) There is a plaque in the car park in the Braes of Foss. [Mackinnon; Proctor; Anon, Memoir of the late Dr. Hutton; Stewart.] Playfair investigated the rocks of the mountain in more detail in 1811 leading to a further revision to 4.87. [Berry, pp.163-164.] Cf Edinburgh.


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    Scilly Isles

    The Scilly Isles (formally the Isles of Scilly), off Land's End, Cornwall, are where Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell ran his HMS Association and three (or four) other ships, including the Eagle and the Romney, onto the Gilstone Ledges (a local guidebook says the Western Rocks) on the night of 22 October 1707, losing about 2000 lives, including his own, due to uncertainty about their position - though some stories say the sailors were drunk from celebrating a famous victory. An extended description says he was leading a fleet of 21 ships back from an unsuccessful operation in Spain (though [Sobel, p.11] says it had been a success and there were five warships) and had been proceeding by dead reckoning for several days in bad weather and had only one hazy view of the sun on 22 October. Shovell summoned his captains to discuss their position and the consensus was that they were near Ushant at the south entrance to the English Channel, but the captain of the Lennox asserted that they were approaching the Scillies, about 100 miles north-northwest of Ushant, and, unfortunately, he turned out to be correct. [Sobel, pp.12-13] says a seaman had approached Shovell and said he had been keeping track of the ship's position and that they were dangerously close to the coast - such navigation by a sailor was rigorously prohibited and Shovell immediately had the man hanged for mutiny. [Sobel, pp.12-13] relates that Shovell was one of only two persons to be washed ashore alive, but that he was promptly killed by a fisherwoman for his ring - she confessed on her deathbed some 30 years later, producing the ring. There is a monument at the inlet of Porth Hellick, on the island of St. Mary's, about 1½ miles east of Hugh Town, where Shovell's body was washed ashore.

    [Timpson, p.100] relates that Shovell had a disagreement with his pilot and hanged him, and that no one else knew the route! He also says that after the fisherwoman's confession, Shovell was uncovered and moved to Westminster Abbey.
    The error was really more one of latitude than of longitude. Nonetheless, this disaster led to Parliament passing the Longitude Act in 1714, offering £20,000 for a solution of the problem of finding longitude at sea. (The £ was worth about 100 times its current value. Skilled labourers, such as carpenters, earned about £16 per year.) Cf Royal Observatory under London.


    Seaham, Co. Durham

    Seaham Hall, Seaham was the home of Annabella Milbanke, who married Lord Byron here in Jan 1815. She had an interest in mathematics - Byron called her his 'Princess of Parallelograms' - which she passed on to their daughter Ada, later Countess of Lovelace. Annabella was born at nearby Elemore Hall, 'off the road ... from New Pittington to Easington Lane' which would be about 5 miles ESE of Seaham, in Co. Durham. Several characters (Donna Inez, Miss Millpond, Aurora Raby) in Byron's Don Juan are based on Annabella. [Myers, pp.14-15; Blue Guide.]


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    Seaton Ross, East Yorkshire

    In Seaton Ross, 6 miles west of Market Weighton, a sundial enthusiast, William Watson (1784?-1857) erected a huge sundial, 12 foot in diameter, on the front of a cottage [Garry Hogg, Odd Aspects of England, David & Charles, Newton Abbott, 1968, p.102 with photo on p.103]. His epitaph in the local churchyard is: "At this church I so often / With pleasure die call / That I made a sundial / Upon the church wall." [Burton, p.258]


    Seaview, Isle of Wight

    William Garnett had a house and sailboat at Seaview. Lewis Fry Richardson, a college friend of one of the sons, visited here and eventually married Dorothy Garnett in 1909. G. I. Taylor was another sailing friend. Richardson was here at Easter 1912 when the news of the Titanic disaster arrived. He immediately thought that a ship could detect an iceberg by listening for the echo of a sound beam. He tested this in Seaview Bay, with Dorothy rowing and he blowing a penny whistle and timing the echo, using an umbrella over his head to focus the echo. The results were sufficiently satisfying that he filed for a patent in October 1912 - the basic patent for sonar and, later, radar. [G.R. Taylor, p.44.] See also National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Baird and Watson-Watt under London, and Daventry.


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    Sedbergh, Yorkshire

    John Dawson (1734-1820), surgeon and self-taught mathematician, was such a successful teacher of mathematics that students came from Cambridge to study with him in Sedbergh, Yorkshire (now in Cumbria, about 20 miles north of Lancaster). His pupils included 12 Cambridge Senior Wranglers during 1781-1807 and George Birkbeck. Some of his pupils erected a portrait monument to him in Sedbergh Church, in whose churchyard he is buried. There is a Dawson's Rock in nearby Garsdale where he mused on his system of conics. He was born nearby at Rangill Farm.


    Sellafield, Cumbria

    See Windscale, below.


    Settle, North Yorkshire

    George Birkbeck (1776-1841), founder of the Mechanics' Institutes and first president of Birkbeck College, was born here.


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    Severn Bridge

    The Severn Bridge is usually thought to join England and Wales, but the main part crosses the Severn from South Gloucestershire to Gloucestershire, then the smaller second part crosses the Wye into Monmouthshire, Wales. Opened on 8 September 1966, it was designed as an airfoil to reduce wind resistance and weight. It was the first box-girder suspension bridge in the world - this technique leads to a significantly thinner and lighter deck and has been widely used since, particularly on the Humber Bridge, which was the longest suspension bridge in the world, 1410m, for some time. The new second Severn bridge uses the older truss structure and looks much less interesting.

    The River Severn is at the head of the triangular Bristol Channel and narrows rapidly as you go up the river. When the tide comes in, it is greatly compressed and produces the Severn Bore, a tidal wave up to 6ft (2m) high which rushes about 20 miles (32km) up the river to Gloucester at a speed of up to 10 mph (16 km/hr). It is best at the spring tides, i.e. at full and new moons, and is now popular with surfers and canoeists.


    Shalford, Surrey

    Oughtred was vicar(?) here, 1605-1610 (or 1603-1610 [Lenihan, p.127] or 1604-1608 [Stander (3)]).

    Shalford House was the home of the Godwin-Austen family. Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen (1834-1923) was of this family though he was actually born in Teignmouth. Entered Sandhurst in 1848 and developed a talent for map-making. From 1852 to 1877, he was in and near India, surveying and mapping great regions of the Himalayas and discovering their glacier system. From 1860, he was part of the Trigonometrical Survey of India. Though he was not the first to discover K2, the second highest mountain in the world, he was the first to explore and map the area around it and it is unofficially named for him. Ill health forced his return to England in 1877. FRS, 1880. Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1910. Died at Nore, Godalming, near Shalford. Shalford Mill was presented to the National Trust by a Godwin-Austen in 1932 and there are memorials to the family in St. Mary's church, but I don't know if our man is commemorated. [DNB. Derek Palmer, Surrey Rambles Ten country walks around Surrey; Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, 1987, p.24.]


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    Sharow, North Yorkshire

    In the churchyard here is a pyramidal grave marker of Charles Piazzi Smyth, the noted Astronomer Royal of Scotland and founder of pyramidology (or pyramidiocy) [Burton, p.228].


    Sheerness, Kent

    The dockyards of Sheerness were laid out by Samuel Pepys in the early 1660s - recall he was Clerk of Acts to the Navy [Coster (2), p.116; Pepys, 18 Aug 1665, but the note shows that Pepys' layout was a preliminary to later work.]


    Sherborne, Dorset

    Sherborne School,, was founded in 705 and must be one of the oldest educational institutions in the world. It was refounded by Edward VI in 1550. Whitehead was a student to 1880 [Whittaker (2)]. Alan Turing was a student there in 1926-1931, and D. B. Eperson was his mathematics teacher [Hodges, pp.20 & 58].

    The castle and manor were granted to Raleigh in 1597 (or 1590). The castle was decayed and Raleigh built a new mansion, part of which survives. After imprisonment in the Tower in 1592 for having gotten married, Raleigh and his wife came here. [B. Bailey, p.19.]


    Sherborne, Gloucestershire

    James Bradley (1693-1762) was born at Sherborne (spelled Sherbourn in the DNB).


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    Shotesham All Saints, Norfolk

    Henry George Forder (1889-1981) was born at Shotesham All Saints, about 8 miles south of Norwich. (Only Shotesham is shown on my map.) The family moved to the nearby village of Brooke and then to Worstead, 12 miles NNE of Norwich, and attended Paston Grammar School in nearby North Walsham. [Robb]


    Shrewsbury, Shropshire

    Edward Waring (1736-1798) was born near Shrewsbury [Ball (5), p.101] and died at nearby Plealy.

    Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the naturalist and ancestor of several mathematicians, was born at The Mount in Shrewsbury. He lived there until 1825 and frequently returned until the house was sold in 1842. He attended Shrewsbury School. There is a statue of him. [Eastman, pp.194-195.]


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    Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire

    George Anson, the circumnavigator whose voyage was tragically hindered by not knowing his longitude - cf under London (Royal Observatory) - was born at Shugborough Hall, near Stone, Staffordshire. Actually my map shows Shugborough Farm as about 3 miles east of Stafford, near Milford, while Stone is about 6 miles to the north. There is an arch commemorating his voyage, with busts and a naval trophy near the north entrance to Shugborough Railway Tunnel. Barton's description indicates it may be visible from the train from Stafford to London, above and to the left as one approaches the tunnel. He built a number of other monuments in his grounds, including one to the cat that supposedly accompanied him on all his voyages. [Barton, pp.182-183, with photos.]


    Sidmouth, Devon

    Sidmouth has an observatory founded by Sir Norman Lockyer (1836-1920) [Stanier, p.87]. [DNB] locates it at Salcombe Regis (about 2 miles ENE of Sidmouth) and says that it was built in 1913 and that Lockyer died here. It is still in use as a science centre. Lewis Evans, the founding benefactor of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, lived at Sidmouth and his collection of scientific instruments was there before he donated it to Oxford in 1922 [Gunther & Simcock, pp.20-22].


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    Skreen, Co. Sligo

    George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903?) was born here [Ball (5), p.134; Anon, Sir George Stokes].


    Slough, Berkshire

    William (1738-1822) and Caroline (1750-1848) Herschel moved to Observatory House, Slough, from Datchet in April 1786 and remained until his death here. Arago [p.262] says the house was provided by the King. In 1788, William married Mrs Pitt, a widow in nearby Upton. In 1787, he announced two moons of Uranus and in 1798, he announced four more. In 1787-1789, he built, with the King's financial assistance, a 49 inch reflecting telescope with a 39 ft 4 in (usually referred to as 40 ft) iron tube of diameter 58 in. It cost at least £4800. Another source says George III contributed the estimated £1395 cost, and when the cost reached £2947, he immediately paid the difference - despite his legendary stinginess, the king was generous in his support of science. With this telescope, he discovered the sixth and seventh moons of Saturn, Mimas and Enceladus, on 28 Aug 1789 and 17 Sep 1789 [Arago, p.295]. This telescope remained the largest ever made until Lord Rosse's at Birr, Ireland, in 1845. However, Herschel had used his own optical system where the image is formed directly at the top edge of the tube - though this does away with the secondary mirror, it introduces distortions and is difficult to adjust. The telescope was awkward to use, requiring two men to move, and the mirror tended to tarnish. It was last used in Aug 1815 and was dismantled in 1822. Herschel's main work here was with his 'large 20 foot', now at Greenwich, and he determined the shape of our galaxy as a disc, explaining the Milky Way. At some point he discovered binary stars. Around 1800, he discovered infra-red radiation and studied its properties for several years. Caroline acted as assistant and amanuensis to William and has been recognised as a major contributor to their work. She had her own telescope, she discovered 8 comets, including the 1795 comet later recognised as periodic with period 3.3 years and now named Encke's Comet in honour of Encke's 1818 determination of its orbit; and she catalogued 2500 nebulae. After William's marriage, she eventually moved out and lodged at various places in the neighbourhood. After her brother's death, she returned to Hanover in October 1823. In 1838, the 40 ft telescope mounting was found to be unsafe and it was taken down in 1839. John Herschel made some of the earliest photographs in Autumn 1839, of the mounting before the demolition - one of these photos is dated 30 November. Arago [p.265] says the mirror was 58 inches and the family sealed up the tube on 1 January 1840. The tube remained on the site, though damaged by a falling tree, until the house was demolished in 1961 - it is now [1988] Rank Xerox offices. The mirror and the remains of the tube are in the Old Royal Observatory, Greenwich. [Thoday, item 9; P. Moore, pp.9-11; Arago; P. Moore (2); P. Moore (4), pp.30-33 with photos]

    John Frederick William Herschel (1792-1871) was born here [Ball (5), p.126]. He was appointed Assistant to his father in 1816.

    William is buried in St. Laurence's Church, Upton, with a wall tablet [Greenwood (2), pp.177-178].


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    Smethwick, West Midlands

    In Smethwick, a western suburb of Birmingham, the Avery Berkel company of weighing machine makers has a museum of weights and measuring devices going back to 4000 BCE. They are the successors of W. & T. Avery, who took over James Watt and Co., who were the successors of Boulton & Watt, whose Soho Foundry was here. [Martyn Halsall, "Weighing hi-tech and family tradition", The Guardian (24 Dec 1996) 16]


    Snowdon, Caernarfonshire & Merionethshire

    Mount Snowdon, 3560ft, is the highest mountain in England and Wales. Halley is said to have made astronomical observations from the summit in 1697.


    Soham, Cambridgeshire

    There is a cart-weighing steelyard in Soham, 8 miles north-west of Newmarket, which could weigh up to two tons [J.T. Graham, Scales and Balances, Shire Album 55, Shire, 1981, p.20, with photo; Garry Hogg, Odd Aspects of England, David & Charles, Newton Abbott, 1968, p.102 with photo on p.103; Burton, pp.266-268, with photo]. The only other extant UK example is at Woodbridge, qv below.


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    Solihull, West Midlands

    In Safeway's Supermarket, Solihull, on 14 March 1995, shoppers made the first UK trial of self-scanning shopping. The first customer was a Jane Skinner. Rescan of her £28.36 trolley found some discounts and reduced the bill to £27.61. [Anon, "Supermarket zaps checkout queue with scan gun", The Guardian (15 Mar 1995) 10]


    South Shields, Tyne and Wear

    Harton Pit in South Shields was the site of Airy's 1854 experiment to determine the gravitational constant by timing pendulums at the surface and the bottom of the 1260ft pit. A commemorative plaque was erected in 1992, on the centenary of Airy's death, on a site in South Tyneside General Hospital, near where the pit had been. [D. Turnbull] The experiment was supervised and the calculations were carried out by Edwin Dunkin of the Greenwich Observatory and yielded a mean density of the earth of 6.565 [Proctor; Stewart].


    South Trellech (or Trelleck), Monmouthshire

    See Llandogo, above.


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    Spreyton, Devon

    The church has a roof boss of the Three Rabbits pattern. The sign at the entrance to the churchyard is a large and beautiful version of the pattern, the nicest I have seen, painted by Helen Powlesland. Mrs Powlesland informs me that the roof boss is 15th century.


    Staithes, North Yorkshire

    Captain Cook was apprenticed to a grocer (or huckster) at Staithes, about 9 miles north-west of Whitby, in 1740 [Blue Guide].


    Stalbridge, Dorset

    Stalbridge Park, Stalbridge, between Shaftesbury and Sherborne, was one of the estates inherited by Robert Boyle. He spent some time there in his youth. It was demolished in 1822 and only the gateposts remain. [Frederick Treves, Highways & Byways in Dorset, Macmillan, London, 1906, p.34] says the posts are surmounted "by the heads of needlessly ferocious heraldic beasts" - I don't know if the heads remain.


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    Stamford, Lincolnshire

    In 570, Merlin of Caledonia mentions a university at Stamford, founded by Prince Bladud in 863 BCE.

    In 1333, a number of Oxford students left Oxford after some dispute and set up at Stamford, principally at Greyfriars School, which was on the south side of St. Paul's Street. Edward IV ordered the student to return to Oxford in 1335. Many of the students had come from Brasenose College and brought the famous Brazen Nose door knocker with them and this remained on the Brazenose Gate of Greyfriars School for several centuries; a replica is now on the Gate in St. Paul's Street.
    [The Ancient Borough of Stamford in Lincolnshire, Dolby Brothers, Stamford, for the Stamford Town Development Committee, nd [c1970], pp.11, 18, 41-42.]


    Stanhope, Co. Durham

    was the origin of the Stanhope family - see Chevening, above.


    Stevenage, Hertfordshire

    ICL had a Historical Collection on computing on Cavendish Road, Stevenage. This was a collection of material from ICL and the companies that formed it, e.g. British Tabulating Machines, Powers Samas and English Electric. The collection includes a replica of Hollerith's 1890 US Census equipment. I have seen a note indicating that this collection has been donated to the Science Museum in London.


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    Steyning, West Sussex

    Steyning has a Grammar School, dating from at least 1584, but formally founded in 1614. John Pell (1611-1685) was a student to 1624. The original building of c1481 still stands in Church Street and the first floor room where Pell would have studied is extant, though now divided. The room has been in use for over 400 years and is thought to be the oldest school room in the UK. Unfortunately the school has no record of Pell. [Thanks to Dr. Frank Kitchen for information and showing me around the school.]

    No. 52 High Street has mathematical tiles (cf Lewes), but they have been covered with stucco [Harry Ford, Steyning Conservation Area Guide A Pictorial Walking Trail, The Steyning Society, 6th revised ptg, 1996, p.16].


    Stockton, Wiltshire

    Samuel Fyler was rector of Stockton, Wiltshire, in 1699 when he proposed a solution of the longitude problem by using the stars as a clock. That is, if one knew that a star was directly above Greenwich at midnight, then observing when it was overhead by local time would determine one's longitude. Unfortunately the requisite data did not yet exist. [Sobel, pp.45-46]


    Stoke Fleming, Devon

    Stoke House, Stoke Fleming, a bit south of Dartmouth was the last home of George Parker Bidder (1806-1878), though he died in Dartmouth (qv above) before he moved here. He was 'The Calculating Boy' who became one of the great Victorian engineers and described how he did his mental calculations. There is a commemorative tablet on the side wall of the house facing in the direction of Dartmouth so that you do not see it when coming from the south. Just beyond the house are Bidder's Walk and Bidder's Close - at the corner of the Close is the Lodge House for Stoke House. Only the part of the house that he added is extant; the rest has been rebuilt and the whole is now flats for old people. The plaque says that he was a pioneer of the railways, with George Stephenson - but Robert Stephenson is more reasonable as he was Robert's partner. He is buried in the churchyard of St. Peter's, with a tall cross at the left rear corner of the church. His wife is in the same grave and his daughter Bertha is adjacent. [DBS, with thanks to a local who gave me directions. Letter from P.L. Roe. Clark, p.287 is a photo of the house before rebuilding. I have photos by Laurie Brokenshire and myself.]


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    Stonehenge, Wiltshire

    The megalithic monument of Stonehenge, near Amesbury, about 6 miles north of Salisbury, has been credited with various mathematical properties, ranging from exhibiting the Theorem of Pythagoras to being a sophisticated astronomical observatory, though evidence is pretty scanty. Sadly, due to the number of people wanting to visit it, one can no longer get very close to it. One gets a good overall view driving on the A303 or the A360, but it is hard to appreciate the size of the stones except by a proper visit, though the current arrangements get you rather closer than the previous arrangements.

    There is a legend that one cannot count the number of stones and get the same number twice. In a way this is not surprising as there are a number of smaller stones and it's not clear which ones should be counted. According to Aubrey, Charles II, fleeing after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, stayed in the neighbourhood for a few days and was unable to count the stones, though this may say more about Aubrey's reportage or about Charles' mathematical abilities or about Charles' state of mind than about the legend. [Child, pp.106 & 153-154.] This legend is associated with several other rings of stones, cf Aylesford and Bodmin, above. One version says that someone tried to count the stones with the assistance of a large basket of a known number of buns. She set a bun on each stone to show it had been accounted for and she intended to count the number left in the basket to determine the number of stones marked. However when she looked back, she saw the Devil eating all the buns. [Burton, pp.22-24]

    There are some aspects of the structure which show some mathematical competence. The outer ring of big (sarsen) stones is basically circular with lintels which have mortise and tenon joints onto the uprights and tongue and groove joints from one lintel to the next. Further the lintels are curved to make the circle. The inner horseshoe of even larger stones has lintels which are joined to the uprights with mortise and tenon joints. The uprights of the horseshoe are somewhat tapered, possibly a perspective effect to make them look bigger, and the lintels are also tapered, possibly to make them appear straight up when viewed from the ground. These structures are dated to about 2300 BCE. It is believed these joints were cut after the uprights were in place and with a timber framework around the uprights, but it still seems to require a certain amount of geometric skill - one would not want to keep trying to see if the piece fits. The long avenue extending from the axis of the horseshoe does point to about the point of midsummer sunrise and is dated to about 3000 BCE.


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    Stourton, Wiltshire

    At Stourton, near the famous house and gardens of Stourhead, is 'Alfred's Tower', a 160 ft high triangular tower, built by Henry Hoare, the builder of Stourhead, from 1768 [Barton, pp.210-211, with photo].


    Stowe, Buckinghamshire

    See Buckingham, above.


    Stradbroke, Suffolk

    Stradbroke is claimed to be the birthplace of Robert Grosseteste (?-1253) [Eagle & Carnell, pp.313-314].


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    Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

    Behind the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, there is a nine-men's-morris board cut in the turf - actually just the intersections are marked [Timpson, p.39]. John Harvard's mother Katharine grew up in the family house in the High Street which is now owned by Harvard University and is open to the public [B. Bailey, p.59]. Holy Trinity Church has an American window showing Vespucci and Columbus, etc. [B. Bailey, p.144].


    Sunderland, Co. Durham

    William Herschel lived at Sunderland sometime while head of the Durham Militia Band in 1760-1761 [F. Brown].

    See also Monkwearmouth, above.


    Swanage, Dorset

    [Timpson, p.96] says the facade of the 1883 Town Hall in Swanage is by Wren, having been the facade of the Mercers' Hall in London and replaced. The contractors Burt and Mowlem salvaged it and presented it to Swanage.



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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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    The British Society for the History of Mathematics is registered as a company limited by guarantee, no. 3326816, and as a charity, no. 1061229. Its registered office is c/o Andrew Thurburn & Co, 38 Tamworth Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1XU, UK.