Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting two Proper Historians, Ian Foster and Lisa Smith. They both came for a visit to Bloomsbury Place, and it was brilliant to listen to them and bat about ideas for the Small Museum of Hans Sloane.
Ian’s knowledge about Hans Sloane is deep and broad. After studying Sloane for about 12 years, his acumen reaches from Sloane to Jamaica to the Royal Society to London of the period generally to Chelsea to Bloomsbury and back around again. Sloane is such a multi-faceted character, you turn over one leaf and you find ten years of research to do!
Lisa has focussed on Sloane’s medical correspondence primarily and for even longer (since the 90s), but it’s obvious that this work also reveals endless stories about who Sloane met and when, and his position and networks in London and further afield. We wandered upstairs at Bloomsbury Place and were chatting about how there were probably live exotic animals like Arctic Foxes wandering about!
I’m very curious to see how we might be able to paint a picture of what the house was like when Sloane and his family (and his massive collection!) lived here. We had the idea that the Small Museum could respond or echo the actual chronology we might be able to reconstruct. So, in April 2017, you might see who visited or what was brought in in 1697, two years after he moved in.
The other thing I learned meeting Ian and Lisa was that there is SHEDLOADS of material to work with, and that could possibly translate to something completely untenable! But, there was great excitement and interest, so that’s enough energy to keep moving with for now.
- Make a simple proposal for Bedford Estates
- Go and visit Prints and Drawings at the British Museum to view some Sloane bits
- Say hello at the British Library to find out about their Sloane-related activities
- Move heaven and earth to visit the Sloane Herbarium at the Natural History Museum
- Take a field trip to the Chelsea Physick Garden