The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 20 Covent Garden, Kingsway, Lincoln's Inn Fields

Royal College of Surgeons 1

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On the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields stands the Royal College of Surgeons, a large building with an Ionic portico, erected originally by C. Dance, Jun., modified with great skill by Sir Charles Barry (1835), but marred since by the addition of two stories and other unfortunate changes. Its museum, as admirable in arrangement as it is valuable in its scientific contents, is open to visitors daily, on the introduction of a member or on application to the secretary (10-4 or 5, Saturday 10-1; closed in September). The nucleus of the museum consists of the anatomical collection made by Dr, John Hunter (1728-93), which was purchased by Government for �15,000 after his death and presented to the Corporation of Surgeons. It is estimated that about �500,000 has since been spent on the building and its contents, while the 13,652 preparations of Hunter have been increased five-fold. The museum occupies six large rooms, with galleries, and is divided into two main departments, the Physiological and the Pathological, having to do respectively with the normal and the abnormal (or diseased) forms and organs of animal life. Professional visitors should procure the �Illustrated Guide to the Museum,� by the conservator, Dr. Arthur Keith. The VESTIBULE contains the card catalogue, on the cabinets containing which are busts of Hunter (by Flaxman], Darwin, Huxley, Banks, etc. A varnished picture hanging in a dim corridor is believed to be a study for Holbein's painting In Barber's Hall; it gives a contemporary view of London. The floor space of Rooms I-III is devoted to the Hitman Osteological Collection. In ROOM I, in ten table-cases, is an interesting series of specimens illustrating the structure of the human body. The wallcases contain an admirable collection of the skulls of different races, as well as skeletons and bone formations. In Case 3 is the skeleton of Jonathan Wild. In Case 9 is the �Gibraltar Skull,� an excellent specimen of the Neanderthal Race (Homo primigenius). Cases 9, 10, and 11 contain cranial and other bones of the prehistoric natives of England. In Case 16 (Modern English Crania) is the skull of Eugene Aram (No. 469). The mummy of Ra-Nefer, a high official under Senefru (west side), dates from about 4000 B.C. and is the oldest mummy known. The collections in ROOMS II and III continue those in Room I. ROOM II. WAX Museum: anatomical models and preparations. ROOM III. To the right of the entrance, skeleton of Charles Byrne, or O'Brian, the Irish giant (7 feet 8 inches high), and that of Caroline Crachami, an Italian dwarf (20 inches high), who died when 9 years old, no bigger than a normal child of 12 months. At the south end of the room is a statue of Hunter (by Weekes), adjoining which is a staircase descending to Room VI in the basement. ROOM VI. Odontological Collection, consisting mainly of the great collection formed by the Odontological Society and entrusted permanently to the care of the Royal College of Surgeons. It illustrates the anatomy, development, diseases, and care of the teeth. We ascend again.