A real cabinet of curiosities!
The first cabinets of curiosities in the eighteenth century were not cabinets at all. They were rooms full of cabinets and in East Yorkshire there is a country house that still has its original cabinets of curiosities – rooms packed with curious items from the realms of science. Although many country houses had cabinets of curiosities the cabinets here are the only ones to survive in their country house setting.
The country house is called Burton Constable and is well worth a visit.
Find out more about Burton Constable Hall at http://www.burtonconstable.com
The cabinets of curiosities were built up by William Constable (1721 – 1791)
The curiosities are set out in two rooms.
Large items such as this machine for generating static electricity are set out on tables
while smaller items such as these biological specimens are set out in well lit cabinets
I was surprised to see that William also displayed the apparatus he used in experiments.
His geological specimens were kept in what seemed to be a converted writing desk where the specimens could be taken out and examined on the “desk” top.
Like all scientists of his day William kept up to date with developments by reading the latest published books and writing and receiving letters from other scientists just as we use emails today. Even in a quiet corner of his rooms he still found a place for more curiosities such as the nose of a saw fish propped up against the wall.
A visit to William’s cabinets of curiosities may inspire you to set up some at home at home or at school. The Curiosity Box series at http://www.peterdriley.com/books/curiosity-box/ may help to get you started.
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