In the winter of 1847, the cloisters of Westminster Abbey enjoyed a sudden growth in popularity - though the visitors who streamed in were not of the usual kind.
They were naturalists, come to see the very first marine aquarium in England, a large collection of madrepores and sea sponges kept in glass cases in the drawing-room of Ashburnham House.
The Abbey aquarium was established not by the Revered Lord John Thynne, the Sub-Dean of the Abbey, but by his extraordinary wife Anna, a great beauty and mother of 10 children, who by a process of serendipity, discovered how to keep and breed her pet sea creatures in glass tanks in central London.
Anna's invention of the aquarium coincided with a major philosophical turning point in history.
Married to a clergyman, she found herself working in a field which cut right through to the heart of the prevailing conflict about the origins and development of life on the planet.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 160 pages
- Publisher: Short Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 16/10/2003
- Category: Biography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9781904095361