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Robert Hooke, Engineer and Scientist, to have Abbey memorial

Monday, 28th July 2003

Robert Hooke, Engineer and Scientist, to have Abbey memorial

The Dean of Westminster, Dr Wesley Carr, announced tonight that, seventeenth century English scientist and architect, Robert Hooke is to be memorialised in Westminster Abbey on the tercentenary of his death.

Speaking at The Royal Society at a joint Gresham College/Royal Society international conference to mark the tercentenary of Hookes death, Dr Carr said: Hooke made a significant contribution to science and engineering in the 17th century that has until recently been largely undervalued. Hooke was Surveyor at Westminster Abbey from January 1690/91 to 1693 and worked closely with Dr Richard Busby the celebrated Head Master of Westminster School.

Work will now commence on the memorial, a stone tablet, which will be completed later in the year. It will be situated close to the Sacrarium steps, in the black and white pavement, which was designed by Hooke, in front of the Lectern, close to the memorial for Dr Busby.

Notes to editors

Hooke was one of the most brilliant and versatile of seventeenth-century English scientists, but he is also one of the lesser known; his persona and his contributions are far outweighed in public perception by those of Newton and of Wren.

Robert Hooke's research over nearly 40 years covered a wide variety of Natural Philosophy. Hooke suggested a wave theory of light in his Micrographia (1665), comparing the spreading of light vibrations to that of waves in water. As an inventor, he was second to none. Among many other inventions he invented the spring control of the balance wheel in watches; the compound microscope; a wheel barometer; and the universal, or Hooke's, joint, found in all motor vehicles. He also made important contributions to the design of astronomical instruments, built the first reflecting telescope, observed the rotation of Mars, and noted one of the earliest examples of a double star.

Although less well-known as an architect, Hooke played a major role in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire.

Hooke 2003 is a major international conference, organised under the auspices of Gresham College, London, co-sponsored by The Royal Society, and with the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering. More information is available at www.gresham.ac.uk.

Gresham College is an independent educational institution, governed by a Council with the Lord Mayor of London as its President. The College is named after Sir Thomas Gresham. Sir Thomas fine mansion in Bishopsgate was the first home of Gresham College.

The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit not by field.

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I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

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