Focuses on an important but overlooked building in late seventeenth-century London: the College of Physicians on Warwick Lane designed by the scientist and architect Robert Hooke in the 1670s. The building, which was commissioned in response to the previous college’s destruction in the Great Fire of London in 1666, was itself demolished in the nineteenth century. In this article, Matthew Walker argues that the conception and design of Hooke’s college had close links with the early Royal Society and its broader experimental philosophical program. This came about through the agency of Hooke—the society’s curator—as well as the prominence of the college’s physicians in the experimental philosophical group in its early years. By analyzing Hooke’s design for the college, and its prominent anatomy theater in particular, this article thus raises broader questions about architecture’s relationship with medicine and experimental science in early modern London.

At the time of its completion in 1679, Robert Hooke’s College of Physicians, with its octagonal anatomy theater, was the largest of the numerous medico-institutional buildings in early modern London (Figure 1). Built between 1671 and 1679 on a site on Warwick Lane, north of St. Paul’s Cathedral, it replaced the Physicians’ previous home that had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Hooke’s college was itself demolished in 1866, although numerous images of it survive, including two remarkable photographs of the theater, dating from the year of its demolition (Figures 2 and 3).1 The group of buildings that Hooke designed for the Physicians was one of his earliest architectural commissions. It was also one of the more personal buildings of his oeuvre, as the anatomy theater’s function as a venue for the dissemination of the latest medical and anatomical knowledge meant that the college seemingly bridged the disciplinary divide in Hooke’s life. His closeness to early modern London’s medical intelligentsia—which was largely represented by the college’s members—meant that the College of Physicians was built in a climate of both architectural and medico-intellectual facilitation. As this article will demonstrate, the designing and building of the college took place at a time when the Physicians were both ideologically and institutionally close to the Royal Society, England’s principal experimental and natural philosophical institution and Hooke’s regular employer for the majority of his life.2

Figure 1

Robert Hooke, the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78 (watercolor by R. M. Massey, Bodleian Library, Oxford, Gough Maps, 20, fol. 52a; reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford)

Figure 1

Robert Hooke, the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78 (watercolor by R. M. Massey, Bodleian Library, Oxford, Gough Maps, 20, fol. 52a; reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford)

Figure 2

Robert Hooke, the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78, photograph taken in 1866 (Royal College of Physicians Library, MS 2245, fol. 24; reproduced by courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians)

Figure 2

Robert Hooke, the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78, photograph taken in 1866 (Royal College of Physicians Library, MS 2245, fol. 24; reproduced by courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians)

Figure 3

Robert Hooke, the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78, photograph taken in 1866 (Royal College of Physicians Library, MS 2245, fol. 24; reproduced by courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians)

Figure 3

Robert Hooke, the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians, London, 1671–78, photograph taken in 1866 (Royal College of Physicians Library, MS 2245, fol. 24; reproduced by courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians)

This article represents the first major piece of scholarship to explore in detail the architecture of this lost but important building. I will argue that the substantial institutional links between the college and the Royal Society at the time of the college’s construction left their mark on Hooke’s design. For example, alongside facilitating the professional and educational activities of the college, the anatomy theater was also designed as a space where Royal Society members could view demonstrations of medical knowledge that were similar to the sort of presentations that took place in the society’s meetings. In general, anatomy theaters represented an important early modern building type: most major European cities could boast at least one. But they have received very little attention from architectural historians.3 By considering the architecture of Hooke’s theater within the context of the London medical world, I will show that at the time of its construction it was one of the principal sites of intellectual culture in the post-Fire city. This article will also consider the college buildings as a whole, and I will argue that they represented one of the first opportunities for Hooke to showcase his knowledge of contemporary European architecture. This he had acquired predominantly through epistemic networks that were part of the Royal Society and its broader intellectual milieu. Even though the subsequent history of Hooke’s college was one of neglect and redundancy, at the time of its completion no other building in London could be said to have better represented the intellectual frontier between architecture and the new science.

The College of Physicians and the Architecture of the London Medical World

As an institution, the College of Physicians of London had been founded in 1518 and by the 1660s was made up of about thirty fellows.4 Its primary responsibility was to ensure high standards in medical practice throughout the capital, which it did through a program of accreditation and education of junior physicians as well as the censuring of the numerous irregular practitioners who operated in the city at the time.5 Hooke’s college was the third permanent home of the group, the first having been a small domestic property on Knightrider Street that had once been the home of the college’s founder, Thomas Linacre.6 In 1614, the Physicians had moved to another small set of premises on Amen Corner, just south of Warwick Lane. Following a benefaction in 1651, courtesy of the most famous of their alumni, William Harvey, they had extended these buildings to include a library, built to the designs of John Webb.7 Although no visual record of the executed Webb buildings survive, extant presentation drawings in his hand show what was probably close to the final design (Figure 4).8

Figure 4

John Webb, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, ca. 1651 (Worcester College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford)

Figure 4

John Webb, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, ca. 1651 (Worcester College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford)

Besides being the immediate predecessor of Hooke’s college, Webb’s competent, classical design is relevant to this discussion for a number of reasons. Firstly, it could be argued that the Amen Corner library was just one episode in a much larger story of architectural one-upmanship that took place in the London medical world over the seventeenth century: an ongoing architectural competition between medical groups that would crescendo with Hooke’s college in the 1670s. As medical historians such as Margaret Pelling and Harold Cook have shown, the College of Physicians spent the century in a near permanent state of judicial war with its institutional rivals over the control of medical practice in the city.9 The college’s principal adversaries in this respect were the Barber-Surgeons’ Company and the Society of Apothecaries, both of which also claimed jurisdiction over London’s medical practitioners. From the 1630s onward, these rivalries manifested themselves architecturally with all three of these groups building large classical premises at various points over the course of the next fifty years. These built statements of medical and legal superiority normally came as a response to the building work of one or both of the other groups. The first institution to begin this process was the Barber-Surgeons, whose Monkwell Street home was transformed in 1636 by the then royal surveyor, Inigo Jones. To the existing, modest buildings, Jones had added a livery hall, a courtroom, and a large and celebrated anatomy theater (Figure 5).10 This was London’s first such structure and was clearly inspired by earlier European examples such as those of the Universities of Padua (1594) and Leiden (1597). It was also, presumably, a catalyst for the College of Physicians’ 1650s building program, directed by Jones’s pupil, Webb. The new Amen Corner buildings were the second major set of medical buildings in London, and they rivaled the Jones buildings in scale. It is easy to see them as a direct response to the Barber-Surgeons, particularly given the fact that the rivalry between the two groups in the 1650s was at a fairly advanced stage.11

Figure 5

Inigo Jones, the anatomy theater of the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall, London, 1636 (watercolor by Charles Harding, 1762; reproduced with permission of the Wellcome Library, London)

Figure 5

Inigo Jones, the anatomy theater of the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall, London, 1636 (watercolor by Charles Harding, 1762; reproduced with permission of the Wellcome Library, London)

This rivalry continued after the Great Fire, which destroyed the Amen Corner buildings and left the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall substantially damaged. The Society of Apothecaries (in fact, the college’s bitterest rivals throughout the seventeenth century) also lost its modest premises on Blackfriars Lane and was, architecturally speaking, the first out of the blocks. In 1668, the Apothecaries commissioned the master-carpenter Thomas Lock to build a large, classical hall that was complete by 1670.12 The Barber-Surgeons also quickly undertook repairs to Jones’s theater, which had been damaged but remained standing. This work was overseen by Hooke, almost certainly in his capacity as one of the City of London’s Surveyors.13 Unsurprisingly, these two speedy responses provoked jealousy among the Physicians, and in September 1674, the college’s registrar, Daniel Whistler, issued an appeal to the members for funds for the building of the college’s home, noting, “We see the proudly erected palace of the Apothecaries. We see too the more magnificently rebuilt Theatre of the Surgeons.”14 These did not compare favorably to the college’s new home, still largely under construction. Therefore, Hooke’s college, like Webb’s before it, was built in a climate of intense institutional rivalry between the Physicians and other medical groups in the city. Both buildings should be understood as large, architectural statements of the college’s wealth, as well as their intellectual and medico-jurisdictional pretensions at the time.

The second reason the Webb buildings warrant discussion in this article is the question of whether or not they contained an anatomy theater as Hooke’s successive design would do. As discussed above, the Webb buildings could be seen as a response to the Barber-Surgeons’ 1636 anatomy theater. Indeed, one of the contested issues between the London medical groups in this period was the right to conduct anatomy lectures and make claims regarding anatomical research. The college, in particular, was keen to stress its intellectual supremacy in the field of anatomy and hosted numerous lectures on the subject.15 Therefore, the Amen Corner buildings would have contained some sort of space to conduct lectures. But was it a substantial theater like Jones’s (and Hooke’s), and did Webb design it?16 According to the diarist John Evelyn, the Amen Corner college did contain a theater: on 3 October 1662, Evelyn recorded in his diary that he had been “invited to the College of Physicians, where Dr. Meret, a learned man and Library-keeper, showed me the library, theatre for anatomy, and divers natural curiosities.”17 Two years later, on 6 October 1664, he returned to hear “the anniversary oration in praise of Dr. Harvey, in the Anatomy Theatre in the College of Physicians.”18 However, evidence in the archives of the college suggests that the anatomy theater on the Amen Corner site predated the Webb buildings. In 1641, the physician Alexander Rhead gave the college £100 to adorn the “Theatro Anatomico.”19 Given that the pre-Webb Amen Corner buildings were on a small, domestic scale, this theater would not have been a substantial structure. It is most likely to have been a smaller space with theater-like seating, built within an existing structure.20 If this was the case, then the impetus for the college in the post-Fire period to commission a large anatomy theater was considerable. The Physicians needed to replace and upgrade the previous arrangement as well as outdo the Barber-Surgeons once and for all.

The College and the Royal Society

In the 1660s, the Physicians had to contend with yet another potential intellectual rival: the Royal Society, which in its early years was viewed with considerable suspicion among various members of the college. Anatomy, physiology, and medicine were component parts of the society’s broader epistemic program, and it was granted privileges in its 1662 charter that had previously been the exclusive preserve of specialist medical organizations. In particular, the charter allocated the right to conduct and present research into human anatomy using the corpses of executed felons.21 This legal dispensation equated the Royal Society with the existing medical companies as well as demonstrating the aspirations of the new organization in the field of medical research and investigation. Most important, it potentially rendered the society a new player in the capital’s existing medico-jurisdictional and intellectual disputes. In practice, however, the experimental philosophical group rarely exercised this privilege. Anatomy lectures were logistically difficult to arrange, and there are no entries in the minutes of the society that suggest a human cadaver was ever present in the meeting room of Gresham College, where the organization met.22 Instead, the members privately conducted dissections or, more commonly, autopsies, and the findings were read out, but not practically demonstrated, to the society at a later date. For example, the physician Walter Charleton, who was an early member of the society, conducted an autopsy on a child killed by lightning in July 1662 and presented a report to the group in August.23 In 1664, Charleton also undertook a series of presentations to the society on the brain, but again the dissections themselves seem to have been conducted beforehand and were not repeated.24 Instead, it was much more common for the society to anatomize or vivisect animals at meetings. This was probably because of the ready availability of animal specimens, but also because vivisection was concurrent with the society’s preference in its early years for easily demonstrative, clearly experimental presentations.25

There was, nonetheless, a substantial amount of human anatomical, physiological, and medical discussion in meetings of the Royal Society. These were, of course, areas in which the college claimed jurisdiction, and as a result there was noticeable but short-lived opposition to the society among some of the older members of the college in the 1660s. As Cook has demonstrated, Edward Alston, the college’s president from 1655 to 1666, and Baldwin Hamey, the treasurer from 1664 to 1666, were particularly hostile to the new organization.26 However, Alston’s removal from office and Hamey’s retirement shortly after the Great Fire effectively ended any opposition to experimental philosophy among the college’s senior hierarchy.27 By contrast, large numbers of the college’s physicians joined the Royal Society in its early years, many as founding members.28 They included Charleton as well as Charles Scarburgh, George Ent, and Francis Glisson, all three of whom held influential positions on the college’s ruling comitia by 1666. Indeed, Glisson succeeded Alston as president of the college from 1667 to 1669 and was in turn succeeded by Ent, who held the senior position in the organization until 1675.29 The fact that the building of Hooke’s College of Physicians took place under presidents who had been founding members of the Royal Society is of considerable significance, particularly in light of their choice of Hooke as architect. Other college physicians who had been members of the society from its inception or had joined early in its existence included Timothy Clarke, Thomas Coxe, Jonathan Goddard, Christopher Merrett, William Petty, and Thomas Willis.30 Of the physicians named in the early membership lists of the Royal Society, Clarke, Ent, Goddard, and Petty were also nominated to the society’s first council.31

Younger physicians such as Clarke and Petty had attended Oxford with Robert Boyle, Hooke, and Christopher Wren, and their presence at the genesis of the experimental philosophical group was to be expected.32 However, the equal prominence of older physicians among the society’s early membership was in part due to the history of experimental learning in the college prior to 1660. This was a movement that had excluded men such as Alston and Hamey but had included later Royal Society physicians such as Ent, Glisson, and Scarburgh. Relatively separate from the Oxford-based groups to which Hooke and his associates belonged, this group instead claimed experimental credibility from Harvey. Although his complete adherence to experimental method is a matter for debate, Harvey’s writings are explicit in his belief in the merits of observational physiological discovery.33 His status as a key progenitor of English observational research was secure by the second half of the seventeenth century. Ent, Glisson, and Scarburgh were all his acquaintances and saw themselves as the inheritors and champions of this observational tradition.34 Scarburgh had been one of Harvey’s closest confidants, whilst Ent, to whom Harvey had left the task of dispersing his library within the college, had edited, prefaced, and published Harvey’s De generatione animalium in 1651. Indeed, Ent had already published his own Apologia pro circulatione sanguinis in 1641, which, as its title suggests, was a defense of Harvey’s doctrine of circulation, and of observational medical research in general.35 Finally, Glisson had defended Harvey and the circulation doctrine extensively in his lectures in Cambridge, where he was Regius Professor of Physic from 1636 to his death in 1677.36 His advocacy of Harveian ideas continued into his tenure as Gulstonian Lecturer at the college from 1639.37 Together, these three had been involved in attempts to turn the college into a quasi-Baconian research club during the Interregnum, when many of the more conservative, Royalist members of the college had kept a low profile.38

Other college physicians joined the Royal Society throughout the 1660s. Most notable among these was Daniel Whistler, who, simultaneous to being a practicing physician, had been Hooke’s predecessor as Gresham Professor of Geometry from 1648 to 1656.39 This intellectual and professional juggling between the seemingly disparate areas of medicine and academic mathematics, besides being similar to Hooke’s own experience, was typical of the virtuosic activities of Royal Society members in general. In this respect, Whistler was representative of the college’s makeup in the 1670s: a physician who held intellectual interests besides medicine and combined Royal Society membership alongside his duties for the college. Collectively, this group of physicians saw themselves as integral participants in the activities of the new society, as is apparent from the contents of a letter written in 1668 by Clarke to the society’s secretary, Henry Oldenburg, outlining the experimental credentials of the college’s physicians: “Bacon and Gilbert produced great specimens of the true philosophy; and our physicians (Harvey, Glisson, Ent, Wharton, Willis and others) have made known nothing that was not thoroughly demonstrated; nor by excessive haste, did they yield green fruit.”40 Such avowed commitment to experimental methodology was common among the physician members of the society. Goddard, in a 1670 text printed by the Royal Society, recommended that a young physician should “apply his study to Natural Philosophy, such as is more real and solid in this Age, by many happy Experimental Discoveries in Nature.”41

For its part, the Royal Society was eager to pursue links with the College of Physicians. Thomas Sprat, in his 1667 History of the Royal Society, praised those physicians who, despite being committed to furthering medical research, “have also with great zeal, and ability, promoted this universal inspection, into all Natural knowledge.” Sprat also lauded the college, claiming that “ever since its first foundation, for the space of a hundred and fifty years, [the College] has given the world a succession of the most eminent Physicians of Europe.”42 Members of the society who were not physicians held the college in high esteem; to them it was an organization whose intellectual credentials matched those of their own group. After the Fire, society members involved in the planning of the new city, saw the need for the rebuilt college to match those credentials. Evelyn, while drawing up plans for the rebuilding in 1666, noted that “the College of Physicians would be in one of the best parts of the town, encircled with a handsome piazza for the dwelling of those learned persons.”43 It was even suggested a number of times that the two organizations could share a home.44 This proposal was eventually rejected, however, perhaps because the college’s educational and professional mandate—unlike the society’s—necessitated a set of specialized buildings. This rejection is also indicative of the college’s independence in this close relationship. As prominent as the physicians were in the Royal Society, their other professional duties, to a certain extent, differentiated them from the majority of the experimental philosophical group.45

Hooke and the Physicians

Therefore, the rebuilding of the college and its anatomy theater on Warwick Lane was overseen by a group of explicitly pro–Royal Society physicians. On 8 February 1670, the college appointed a building committee comprising President Glisson, Clarke, Coxe, Ent, Scarburgh, Samuel Collins junior, John Micklethwaite, Nathan Paget, Henry Stanley, and William Staines (or Stanes).46 As we have seen, Glisson, Clarke, Coxe, Ent, and Scarburgh were all founding members of the Royal Society, while there is no evidence that any of the rest of the committee played a role in the skepticism toward experimental philosophy that had been present in the college in the early 1660s. The committee was instructed “to take care of everything that was necessary for the building of the new house and go to the Royal Surveyor, or any others whom they should chose” and to “come to terms with carpenters, masons and others at their discretion.”47 Members of this committee would have known Wren—the incumbent royal surveyor—personally, and it is no surprise that the college treasurer’s book from the period names Scarburgh as the intermediary between Wren and the physicians.48 Wren and Scarburgh were long-term acquaintances, and it is suggested in Parentalia that Wren had briefly been Scarburgh’s assistant when the physician was the anatomical lecturer at the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall in 1649.49

Wren, however, did not become the architect of the College of Physicians, and the college soon began negotiations with Hooke instead.50 In a college comitia on 22 December 1670, the committee was “authorized to agree with workmen for the building … and all things concerning it, and that they intreat Mr. Hook the Surveyor his assistance in it and management of it in such a way as shall bee agreed upon by the said committee.”51 The college then voted a payment of 20 guineas for Hooke’s “care and pains.”52 That the physicians went to Wren and then to Hooke is demonstrative of the close links between the college building committee and the Royal Society. At the very least, it reveals the lack of opposition to the society among the college authorities at the beginning of the 1670s. It is apparent from Hooke’s diary that he counted Scarburgh, Ent, Glisson, and Whistler among his friends and that they and other physicians formed an important part of his social life. Hooke was particularly close to Ent and Whistler, and his friendship with these two physicians extended to the periods before and after the rebuilding of the college.53 Hooke would have also known them through his place on the society’s anatomy committee, which met at Ent’s house and included all the society’s physicians.54 Therefore, the college’s choice of Hooke as the architect for their new buildings, although significant, is not surprising. The rebuilding committee, with its clear links to experimental philosophy, had appointed the Royal Society’s curator of experiments to design their new home. Hooke’s diary reveals that, throughout the construction of the new college, he was in almost constant contact with a group of senior physicians concerning the designs for the new building. Significantly, these were almost all Royal Society members: in particular, Ent, Scarburgh, and Whistler, who, between them, personally approved all Hooke’s ideas for the Warwick Lane college.55

Hooke’s College of Physicians

The design that Hooke and the Physicians agreed on was arranged around a quadrangle with the anatomy theater on the east side (Figure 6). The seven-bay college house was built opposite with residences for the college chemist, beadle, and one of the fellows to either side. The college house was the first of these buildings to be erected, and was begun sometime in 1671 and completed in early 1675 (see Figure 1).56 It was a large, classical, two-story structure, adorned with swags and pilasters: Ionic on the ground floor and Corinthian on the first. A cupola with an iron balcony rose above the house, offering views out over the city.57 The ground floor of the college house contained the entrance hall, a room for candidates of the college, and the library. The floor above housed a censor’s room and the “Cœnaculum,” where the majority of the college’s meetings took place; above was a garret for drying herbs, and the basement contained a cellar, a repository, and the college’s kitchen.58 The houses on either side, which had astylar, brick façades, were begun in 1671 and 1672, and also were completed by 1675.59

Figure 6

Plan of the College of Physicians with elevation of the college house (engraving by J. le Keux for A. C. Pugin, The Public Buildings of London [1826]; reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford)

Figure 6

Plan of the College of Physicians with elevation of the college house (engraving by J. le Keux for A. C. Pugin, The Public Buildings of London [1826]; reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Library, Oxford)

Hooke’s diary, normally the key source for his architectural projects, does not begin until mid-1672, and, as a result, it is difficult to establish the evolution of his designs for the physicians. Two drawings in Hooke’s hand survive, however, both of which show a preliminary design for the college. One, currently held in the British Library, shows the seven central bays of the college house and, like the executed design, has engaged Ionic columns and windows interrupted by swags (Figure 7).60 This drawing also shows a one-bay projecting porch with a segmental pediment above that did not survive in the final design. The second drawing, currently in Warwick, is labeled on the verso “Collidg front” and shows the side range of the College courtyard, viewed from the south (Figure 8).61 This reveals that in this preliminary design, the college house was to have small return pavilions that extended two bays into the side façades, the remainder of which were astylar and a story lower. These corner pavilions would have been similar to those of Hooke’s Montagu House (Figure 9), which he designed shortly after the college (discussed later). The second drawing also shows a section of the one-bay porch, superimposed on the corner pavilions, and adorned by the same statue as shown to the left of the porch in the British Library elevation. The capital of its Ionic column is shown in profile, as is that of the engaged column on the corner of the return pavilion. Together these two drawings can be dated to some point after 7 April 1671, when the Physicians’ comitia first asked Hooke to consider the “fellows houses and front houses.”62 He must have altered the design shortly after, abandoning the return pavilions and porch, and raising the height of the side ranges instead.

Figure 7

Robert Hooke, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, ca. 1671 (British Library, Additional MS 5238, fol. 57; copyright British Library Board)

Figure 7

Robert Hooke, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, ca. 1671 (British Library, Additional MS 5238, fol. 57; copyright British Library Board)

Figure 8

Robert Hooke, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, 1671 (Warwickshire County Record Office, Warwick, Feilding Papers, MS CR 2017/B1, fol. 5)

Figure 8

Robert Hooke, preliminary design for the College of Physicians, 1671 (Warwickshire County Record Office, Warwick, Feilding Papers, MS CR 2017/B1, fol. 5)

Figure 9

Robert Hooke, Montagu House, London, 1674 (engraving by Sutton Nicols, 1754; copyright Trustees of the British Museum)

Figure 9

Robert Hooke, Montagu House, London, 1674 (engraving by Sutton Nicols, 1754; copyright Trustees of the British Museum)

By 1675, the college house and the adjacent sides of the courtyard were largely complete (the anatomy theater remained unfinished until 1678 and will be discussed below).63 Although the completed quadrangle layout bore some resemblance to Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and therefore was appropriate to the college’s remit as an educational body, it is much more likely that Hooke’s design was deliberately French in appearance. The arrangement echoed a Parisian hôtel, with a corps de logis (the college house) fronting a cour d’honneur and flanked by two identical wings. Like Parisian hôtels of the 1630s and 1640s, such as François Mansart’s Hôtel de la Vrillière (1635) and Louis Le Vau’s Hôtel Tambonneau (1642), Hooke’s College also had a high screen wall and entrance gate that closed the courtyard off from the street. As will be discussed in more detail, the placement of the domed theater above the gate made further reference to uniquely French architectural forms.64 Hooke would repeat this Parisian arrangement in a domestic setting at Montagu House in London in 1674, which also had a corps de logis, cour d’honneur, and screen wall (see Figure 9).65Hôtel plans such as these were rare in England at the time, as noted by John Evelyn, who thought that the “French manner” of Montagu House was noteworthy when he visited it in May 1676.66 In the case of this domestic building, the use of French planning is understandable given that Hooke’s patron, the Duke of Montagu, was the English ambassador to France for much of the 1670s. For the College of Physicians, the significance of the French influence is harder to establish.

As a number of authors have observed, Hooke’s architectural designs regularly included European (particularly French and Dutch) elements taken from his formidable collection of architectural books and prints.67 Often his buildings could resemble exercises in the application of European architectural knowledge. In this respect, they were representative of a broader trend in London intellectual circles—and in particular, those associated with the Royal Society—that prioritized any form of European architectural knowledge over English. This was best exemplified by Evelyn, who in his 1664 Account of Architects and Architecture, a volume with considerable methodological links to other Royal Society projects, argued that Englishmen who had traveled abroad returned with “irrecoverable Advantages” acquired “during their Travels in other Countries” over their countrymen in respect to architectural knowledge.68 This would put them on a level with European architects, particularly those of Italy, who, according to Evelyn were “generally so well furnish’d with instructions touching this laudable Art, that the knowledg of Architecture … is universal, and so cherish’d, even in men of obscure extraction.”69 Evelyn contrasted this knowledge with that of English architectural practitioners, who consistently misunderstood or corrupted the correct Vitruvian rules of architecture, noting that in England “all the mischief’s and absurdities in our modern Structures proceed chiefly from our busie and Gotic triflings in the Compositions of the Five Orders.”70 This insistence on the superiority of European architectural design perhaps explains the self-consciously French appearance of the college and other buildings designed by Hooke. Whether the architecture of contemporary French hôtels was correctly Vitruvian or not (it was not) is, to a certain extent, beside the point. To possess knowledge of it demonstrated an architect’s overall awareness of highly prized extraneous architectural forms. This much is demonstrated by Evelyn’s recognition of the French qualities of Montagu House: his was a completely uncritical judgment and an acknowledgment that a building demonstrating French influence was an important indication that its architect possessed a broader, underlying knowledge of European architecture. Hooke never traveled abroad, so he did not, in theory, possess such advantages. He had the next best thing, however, having accumulated such a large collection of books and prints that his knowledge of European architecture was second to none in London. Among Hooke’s collection was one of the key sources for French hôtel architecture: Jean Marot’s undated Recueil des plans, profils, et élévations des plusiers palais, chasteaux, églises, sépultures, grotes et hostels (the so-called Petit Marot), a text that included numerous illustrations of Parisian town houses designed by the key French architects of the early to mid-seventeenth century: Le Vau, Mansart, and Jacques Lemercier.71 Although the architecture of the college was not directly taken from any of Marot’s illustrations, it was clearly built using the same principles as many of the houses depicted in the volume.

It was also in the Physicians’ interest to emulate the architecture of the Continent. The Barber-Surgeons (through Jones) had already looked to Europe in their 1636 anatomy theater and, as discussed above, Hooke’s theater represented a direct response to that building. But more than this, a set of European buildings aligned the college with the broader European intellectual climate. Many of the physicians of the college had trained abroad, either in Leiden or Padua, and to them, an architecture that was recognizably European would have been entirely appropriate within a profession that was, by the standards of the day, conspicuously international.72 The college’s links to the Royal Society in the 1670s also had the potential to strengthen their European ties by bringing the Physicians into contact with the wider republic of letters. Indeed, Royal Society physicians explicitly encouraged such contact. In 1670, the college and society member Christopher Merrett argued that all physicians should undertake European travel to broaden their knowledge base: “As a Picture is raised to the highest point of admiration by the variety of excellent colours; so the Intellectuals of a Physician are incomparably adorned with the addition of those various accomplishments, his Travails through several Countreys afford.”73 He then suggested a route that the aspiring physician should take through France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. Thus, for Merrett the paradigmatic physician should have traveled far beyond Leiden and Padua in a search for knowledge of European culture and philosophy. It is clear that college members in the 1670s—particularly those associated with the Royal Society—saw their organization as more than a localized medical group concerned only with the quotidian activities of London’s medical practitioners. Instead, it was an educational and intellectual institution that sought to compete at a much higher level. Its new set of buildings explicitly advertised this fact.

Sir John Cutler and the Genesis of the Anatomy Theater

As outlined earlier, the Physicians were keen from the outset to incorporate an anatomy theater into their home. However, practical concerns were as important to the college as the need to outdo the Barber-Surgeons and to emulate European architectural forms. Hooke’s brief also included the facilitation of the college’s considerable lecture schedule, audiences for which extended beyond the core cohort of physicians. The college’s two main types of regular anatomical presentation were the Lumleian lectures, founded in 1581, and the Gulstonian lectures, which commenced in 1632. The former were primarily an educational lecture series, quite broad in scope, which young candidates for admission to the college had to attend.74 By contrast, the Gulstonian lectures concentrated specifically on organs or systems of the body, although they had originally been founded with the intention of focusing on different diseases.75 Attendance at the Lumleian lectures seems to have been restricted to candidates and college members, whereas the Gulstonian lectures appear to have had a broader audience. Whether it was to the Gulstonian lectures or not, it was clear that people who were not members of the college could attend some of the lectures offered. This is apparent from the diaries of prominent Royal Society figures. Evelyn and Hooke both recorded visiting anatomy lectures and other presentations in the Amen Corner and Warwick Lane sites. For example, Evelyn had visited the old college in 1662 to see the Harveian Oration, and on 24 March 1682, he recorded in his diary that he had seen the physician Walter Charleton deliver a “lecture upon the heart in the Anatomy Theatre at the College of Physicians.”76 Hooke also attended “Dr Charletons Lecture at Physicians Colledge” on 8 March 1679 in the theater that he had designed.77 This event was one of the Gulstonian lectures given by Charleton to mark the opening of the building (discussed later).78 Another prominent Royal Society member, Robert Boyle, wrote in 1669 that he had been “invited by a company of physicians to a private dissection” whose subject had been the lungs.79 It seems likely that if this took place in London, it would have been at the college’s old home.

To a certain extent, these more “public” lectures probably reflected the absence of university medical faculties in the city. Unlike Oxford, Cambridge, or Edinburgh, London lacked university teaching rooms to hold such presentations. The college clearly filled this gap, and the need to accommodate an extracollegiate audience meant that Hooke’s theater had to have a sizable capacity. However, due to financial problems in the early 1670s, the Physicians initially struggled to raise money for such an ambitious project. As discussed earlier, as late as 1674 Whistler had to issue an appeal to the members to obtain funds for the building, and ultimately they had to rely on an outside benefaction.80 In October 1672, John Cutler, a financier and the patron of Hooke’s weekly mechanical lectures at Gresham College, came forward with an offer to fund the new theater.81 In many respects this event was almost as significant as Hooke’s appointment as college architect, for again it located the theater within the contemporary institutionalized, scientific milieu. As Michael Hunter has shown, the Cutlerian lectureship was a unique example of major scientific patronage in seventeenth-century England, and it was explicitly linked to the Royal Society, which administered Hooke’s salary.82 It also had indirect links to the college: Daniel Whistler had been instrumental in the establishment of Hooke’s lecture, presumably because of his previous position as Gresham Professor of Geometry.83

The association between these two benefactions was explicitly laid out by Charleton in the inaugural Gulstonian lectures that he gave in Hooke’s theater in March 1679. These consisted of six talks on the anatomy of the stomach and were subsequently published in 1680 as Enquiries into Human Nature in VI. Anatomic Prælections in the New Theatre of the Royal Colledge of Physicians in London.84 The frontispiece of this publication consisted of an illustration of the theater engraved by David Loggan (Figure 10), and in the preface Charleton dedicated the work to Cutler, thereby directly equating the theater with Hooke’s mechanical lecture:

Figure 10

Frontispiece from Walter Charleton, New Enquiries into Human Nature in VI. Anatomic Prælections in the New Theatre of the Royal Colledge of Physicians in London (London: Robert Boulter, 1680; reproduced with permission of Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Department)

Figure 10

Frontispiece from Walter Charleton, New Enquiries into Human Nature in VI. Anatomic Prælections in the New Theatre of the Royal Colledge of Physicians in London (London: Robert Boulter, 1680; reproduced with permission of Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Department)

Your [Cutler’s] Liberality walks in paths new and remote from the Common rode, yet direct, and leading at length into most spatiose fields of public Utility. … Of this, the Mechanic Lecture You have founded in Gresham Colledge, for the promotion of Manual Trades; and Your Anatomic Theatre, are illustrious Examples, worthy the imitation of Good Kings, and the envy of Bad: being Both so deeply founded upon Wisdom, that the Advantages they promise, are of Universal concernment to the present Age, and (if Men be not wanting to themselves) cannot but extend to all in Ages to come; rendering their Usefulness more and more Conspicuous, the lower they descend to Posterity.85

For Charleton, Cutler’s two benefactions were analogous because they were unique, but also because they provided a public service. Utility in the public sphere was, of course, a broader goal of the Royal Society in its early years and was ultimately inspired by Francis Bacon.86 But Charleton saw another reason why the lectureship and the theater were comparable. In the same way that Hooke’s weekly talks were intended to generate new mechanical processes and inventions by offering a space for their presentation, the theater was to be a catalyst that would further medical knowledge by providing the physicians of the college with an appropriate venue to disseminate discoveries. The theater aimed “at the incitement of even Philosophers, to make farther researches and discoveries of the infinite Goodness, Wisdom, and Power of God, discernable in all his Creatures, but more eminently in the admirable fabric of Man’s Body.”87 For Charleton, it was to stand as a “perpetual Moniment [sic] of [Cutler’s] Heroic Zeal for the promotion of Natural Science.”88 Significantly, when Hooke was designing the theater in 1674, some of the physicians entertained the notion that their architect might one day read his mechanical lecture in the new building. On 30 March 1674, Hooke noted in his diary that he had “Dind at Dr. Whistler. … He told me of Designe of Reading my Lecture in the theater.”89 Although Hooke’s reading never took place, his diary entry further highlights the belief among the physicians that the two benefactions were linked and shared common aims.

Following the news of Cutler’s benefaction, Hooke set about designing the structure. On 15 May 1674, two days after the availability of funds had been officially announced to the college comitia, a meeting took place to decide the building’s location. This was attended by Glisson, Goddard, Whistler, Scarburgh, Hooke, and Wren, who was presumably there in his capacity as royal surveyor.90 The four physicians had been told by the college authorities to determine, with Hooke’s and Wren’s help, “which site was most suitable for the building of the Theatre,” and all agreed that the college’s proposed herbal garden, at the rear of the site, would be the best location for the new structure (Figure 11).91 In many respects this was the obvious choice. As Paula Findlen has suggested, early modern anatomy theaters were often built adjacent to, or incorporated within, botanical gardens and museums of rarities.92 Collectively, these were the spaces that would facilitate the key Baconian project whereby natural objects—plants and animal and human bodies—could be removed from their original locations, studied, dissected, and understood through observation. Often in seventeenth-century European universities an anatomy theater would be combined with a garden or museum because of this shared, epistemic function.93 With this combination, the new college would resemble other educational establishments, particularly those of continental Europe. This seemingly appropriate arrangement did not come to fruition, however. In 1674, Cutler insisted that the theater’s location be moved to the front of the college, presumably so that the plaque bearing his name was visible from the street. The college, financially dependent on Cutler, “willingly submitted the power of judgment to the will of so great a benefactor.”94 Thus, Hooke redesigned the theater above the college gate.

Figure 11

The College of Physicians (from John Rocque’s map of London, 1746; reproduced with permission of the President and Fellows of St. John’s College, Oxford)

Figure 11

The College of Physicians (from John Rocque’s map of London, 1746; reproduced with permission of the President and Fellows of St. John’s College, Oxford)

Hooke’s Anatomy Theater

After this rearrangement, construction of the theater began in 1675 and would be complete by 1679.95 Hooke accommodated Cutler’s wishes by simply placing the theater above an octagonal, stone loggia with an Ionic portico that served as the gateway into the college. This arrangement was in no way incompatible with Hooke’s overall French plan for the college, and it again reflected hôtel planning of the earlier seventeenth century, where decorative gateways, often crowned with features such as small cupolas, would mark the entrance to the cour d’honneur. In 1675, Hooke would follow this pattern in the equally Francophile Montagu House, placing a cupola above the entrance portico to the courtyard behind. However, his raising of the large domed space of the anatomy theater above the college’s gate was reminiscent of another, much more elaborate French tradition: the domed entrance pavilion. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, architects of much larger châteaus often placed large, domed spaces above their entrance gates. These served as separate pavilions and contained large interior spaces, sometimes chapels.96 The principal examples of this arrangement were Jacques Androuet du Cerceau the Elder’s designs for Verneuil (ca. 1568), Salomon de Brosse’s Coulommiers (1612), and the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, also designed by de Brosse in the 1620s. All three of these designs were illustrated in books that Hooke owned: Verneuil in du Cerceau’s Les plus excellents bastiments de France (1576–79) and the latter two in the Petit Marot.97 Thus Hooke seems to have again chosen a consciously French motif to emulate in the college’s architecture. Although the college was on a considerably smaller scale than any of these French designs, the anatomy theater still served the same purpose as their domed entrance pavilions: it provided a suitably monumental frontispiece to buildings that were otherwise hidden from the city by large screen walls. Furthermore, the arrangement again advertised the European credentials of both the college and its architect.

Another reason why Hooke must have opted for this contingency was the resulting effect that the theater, which followed the octagonal plan of the loggia (Figure 12), was raised above the street and the rest of the college. The advantage of this new, elevated position was that it was not overlooked by any of the surrounding buildings and, as a result, was more exposed to sunlight. This was essential to the success of the auditorium’s design, which was largely driven by practical concerns. The interior consisted of steep wooden seating, interrupted by a chair for the president opposite the entrance to the auditorium. Above this, Hooke designed an elaborate glazing scheme that would ensure that any anatomical material on the table in the center of the space was adequately lit. The design was overwhelmingly functional; the Corinthian pilasters and somewhat perfunctory swags that decorated the exterior seem largely subservient to the fenestration. The architecture was governed by the need to ensure that the corpse was adequately illuminated and that the audience’s view was uninterrupted. The latter may seem like a simplistic point. After all, the primary function of any performance space must be to facilitate the act of viewing. Hooke, however, went to considerable lengths to achieve visibility, to the point that the architecture of the theater seems entirely dictated by this concern.98

Figure 12

Section and plan of the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians (engraving based on a drawing by C. R. Cockerell for James Elmes, Memoirs of the Life and Works of Christopher Wren [1823]; reproduced with permission of the Wellcome Library, London)

Figure 12

Section and plan of the anatomy theater of the College of Physicians (engraving based on a drawing by C. R. Cockerell for James Elmes, Memoirs of the Life and Works of Christopher Wren [1823]; reproduced with permission of the Wellcome Library, London)

The most conspicuous part of this pragmatic architecture was the theater’s large conical lantern. Appropriately for the college, Hooke seems to have taken its basic form from a European source: an illustration from the fifth book of Serlio’s Tutte l’opere d’architettura et prospetiva, showing an octagonal church design with a domed roof and a pyramidal structure at its apex (Figure 13). Hooke followed the Italian writer’s advice that “anyone wanting more light could make an opening in the apex of the vault, covered by sheets of glass in a pyramid shape so that snow and ice would not gather there.”99 Over 30 feet high and 20 feet wide at its base with 10-foot-high windows, Hooke’s lantern was surprisingly large, and it dominated the theater’s exterior. But this is not to say that it was unparalleled at the time. Interestingly, very similar arrangements can be found in a number of Wren’s designs from the 1670s and 1680s. Two such examples are in his unexecuted 1675 designs for the Commencement House project and for Trinity College library, both in Cambridge. In the proposal for the Commencement or Senate House, a building that would essentially fulfill the same functions as Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre, Wren intended to top-light the adjacent library with a series of squat, glazed, pyramidal lanterns (Figure 14).100 These features are only shown in Wren’s section of the proposed design and are omitted in the accompanying elevation, yet they are clearly similar to Hooke’s lantern and were conceived the year before Hooke drew the final design for the theatre’s roof.101 Even more similar is a design of a proposed top-lit room among Wren’s designs for Trinity College library. In a small pencil sketch on one of the site plans for the library, Wren drew a section of a building very similar in shape to the proposed library of the Senate House project (Figure 15).102 A tall conical lantern, bearing close resemblance to the finished lantern on Hooke’s theater, is clearly visible in the sketch; there is even a suggestion that Wren intended the top part of his lantern to be leaded above the glazing—indicated by a horizontal line—as was the case with Hooke’s theater.

Figure 13

Sebastiano Serlio, design for an octagonal temple (from Quinto libro d’architecttura [1559]; reproduced with permission of Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Department)

Figure 13

Sebastiano Serlio, design for an octagonal temple (from Quinto libro d’architecttura [1559]; reproduced with permission of Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Department)

Figure 14

Christopher Wren, unexecuted design for the Commencement (Senate) House, University of Cambridge, ca. 1675 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Figure 14

Christopher Wren, unexecuted design for the Commencement (Senate) House, University of Cambridge, ca. 1675 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Figure 15

Christopher Wren, unexecuted design for a top-lit room, probably in connection with Trinity College Library, University of Cambridge, ca. 1675 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Figure 15

Christopher Wren, unexecuted design for a top-lit room, probably in connection with Trinity College Library, University of Cambridge, ca. 1675 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Perhaps the most remarkable of Wren’s designs in this respect is a later preliminary section for a library in St. Paul’s Cathedral (Figure 16). This drawing was produced in the 1680s by a young Nicholas Hawksmoor (then Wren’s draftsman), and shows a scheme to incorporate a library into the upper story of the north side of the western body of the cathedral.103 In the design, the proposed library was to be top-lit by hemispherical, glazed cupolas, and, in a contingency that was very similar to Hooke’s anatomy theater, Wren seems to have included oculi in the elevation below. Significantly Wren—through the draftsmanship of Hawskmoor—included light lines in the drawing: thin pencil lines indicating how the sunlight from the cupolas above would enter the library space below. More than all others, this drawing represents explicit evidence that Wren thought carefully about the direction natural light took in enclosed spaces. It is significant that all these designs were for libraries or educational buildings: spaces where learning through books or specimens was to take place and the need for appropriate lighting was paramount. It is clear that Wren, contemporaneously with Hooke, was thinking about the best way to top-light rooms in which the visual experience of users was a key aspect of their function. Large glazed lanterns were clearly seen as the best practical solution to this problem, and architects such as Wren and Hooke painstakingly calculated the direction of light that such structures admitted into the building.

Figure 16

Christopher Wren, preliminary design for the Library of St. Paul’s Cathedral (drawn by Nicholas Hawksmoor), ca. 1685–87 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Figure 16

Christopher Wren, preliminary design for the Library of St. Paul’s Cathedral (drawn by Nicholas Hawksmoor), ca. 1685–87 (All Souls College, Oxford; reproduced with permission of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Although Hooke and Wren never wrote anything about how they might have envisaged these designs working, a third Royal Society member, Joseph Moxon, did discuss similar themes in the context of another educational or learned building type: the contemporary printing house. In this period it was not uncommon for printing houses to be associated with educational establishments: this is best evidenced by the Sheldonian Theatre’s dual function as a ceremonial university space and printing house.104 Reflecting on this learned function, Moxon (in a volume of his popular series Mechanick Exercises devoted to the printing trade) wrote that the master printer, when designing his workshop, ought to pay particular attention to the lighting scheme of the space: “He is also to take care that the Room have a clear, free and pretty lofty Light, not impeded with the shadow of other Houses, or with Trees; nor so low that the Sky-light will not reach into every part of the Room. … Therefore he ought to Philosophize with himself, for the making the height of his Lights to bear a rational proportion to the capacity of the Room.”105 This description could easily fit Hooke’s theater, and it is significant that Moxon characterized the act of arranging the fenestration of a room as “philosophizing.” As Adrian Johns has shown, Moxon was keen throughout this text to equate the master printer with the virtuosi or philosophers of the Royal Society, which, of course, included his friend Hooke.106 Moxon also compared the printer to the architect, as defined by Alberti and Vitruvius: as a “man of Sciences.”107 Therefore, the placing of windows to improve the light of a room could, in itself, be a philosophical act. The creation of the architecture of learned and educational spaces was as much an intellectual process as the production and display of the forms of experimental or natural philosophical knowledge that such spaces housed.

To return to the elevations of Hooke’s theatre, the oculi, which gave Hooke’s theater its somewhat cyclopean appearance, were also carefully placed to contribute to the natural light in the room. A nineteenth-century image of the theater’s interior shows that the sills of these windows were diagonally slanted to let sunlight into the center of the auditorium (see Figure 13). On the exterior, Hooke allowed the oculi to cut through the architrave below the springing of the dome, as if to emphasize not only their importance but also the overall dominance of the fenestration over the decorative scheme. This pragmatic architecture also went beyond the glazing scheme. The steeply raked seating was essential to the success of the theater’s design. Early modern anatomy theaters featured some of the steepest seating of any contemporary auditoriums, and the College of Physicians was merely the latest example. The University of Padua’s famous theater (built in 1594), which was Europe’s first permanent venue for anatomy lectures, had vertiginously steep seating, to the point where the audience was located almost directly above the corpse.108 Likewise, the anatomy theater at the University of Leiden (1597), which has been proposed as the model for the seating of Hooke’s theater, had a similar arrangement.109 These wooden structures ensured that the audience’s view of the lecture was uninterrupted and, in the case of the College of Physicians, combined with the windows to form the sort of “philosophized” ensemble that Moxon had described.

Unfortunately, no contemporary account of the interior of Hooke’s theater exists to confirm the success of this design. However, James Elmes’s description of the theater in 1823 pays close attention to the lantern and the seating and is entirely complimentary in its evaluation of the building’s efficiency:

[The theatre] is one of the best imagined for seeing, hearing and classification of students and fellows and for the display of anatomical demonstrations, or philosophical experiments, upon a table in the middle of the arena, of any building of its size in existence. It is a perfect study of acoustical and optical architecture: the roof and form of the section being so well adapted for the distribution of sound and the elevation and arrangement of the seats, with the president’s chair in the centre, and the separate stairs for fellows and members, so well designed. … The effect of the lantern on the inside is every thing that can be desired, affording light and ventilation and excluding rain in a very efficient manner.110

Despite Elmes’s mistaken belief that Wren was the architect of the theater, this account is important. That the lantern still allowed plenty of natural light into the building in the heavily smoke-polluted London of the 1820s is telling; it suggests that in the late seventeenth century, when visibility in the city would have been better, although by no means perfect, the device would have been more than adequate for its purpose.

After the theater’s opening, it took up its role as the college’s regular lecture space. As we have seen, Royal Society members also attended some talks in the new theater, although the proposal to host Hooke’s mechanical lectures in the space never became reality. However, the executed building did have one more thing in common with the spaces in early modern London associated with the Royal Society: it had an additional role as a repository (or museum). An early eighteenth-century account of the building reveals that “in the preparatory Room adjacent, are Thirteen Tables of the Muscles in a Human Body; to wit, before, behind, each side, and each Muscle in its proper Position.”111 Tables of muscles were typical of the type of rarities that could be found in the anatomy theaters of European universities. For example, the University of Leiden’s famous anatomy theater also housed a considerable collection of anatomical specimens, including human and animal skeletons.112 This shared function brought the Physicians’ theater closer epistemically to the spaces of the Royal Society. Although it lacked an anatomy theater, the society did possess a considerable collection of rarities, responsibility for which lay partly with Hooke.113 In the case of the college, Hooke and the Physicians clearly equated the new building with other manifestations of the new science in the capital. It was part of the same world as Hooke’s mechanical lecture, the Royal Society’s museum of rarities, and the anatomical interests of the experimental philosophical group as a whole. In some respects, it had the potential to be the purpose-built meeting room that the early Royal Society never possessed.114

Conclusion: The Decline of Anatomy

If Hooke’s anatomy theater was built in a climate of medical and scientific cooperation in which the auditorium was envisaged as hosting demonstrations of medical knowledge in front of a broader intellectual audience, its subsequent history unfolded rather differently. Ultimately, and in spite of all the collaboration between Hooke and the Physicians, the theater became a somewhat dysfunctional space in the years after its opening. In fact, it increasingly came to resemble an idealistic relic of the intellectual culture of the 1660s and 1670s rather than a working lecture space. One of the main reasons for this was that the institutional and intellectual closeness of the Royal Society and the College of Physicians did not last long, and the two institutions would fairly rapidly disentangle themselves from one another in the eighteenth century. This was predominantly due to the deaths of many of the founding physician members of the society coupled with a return, on the college’s part, to its legal pitched battles with the other medical bodies. These were exacerbated by internecine warfare that broke out within the college over the post-1689 legality of its charter.115 Such institutional quarrels drew the Physicians’ gaze inward to the London medical world rather than to the Royal Society and the broader republic of letters. By the 1690s, the college on Warwick Lane had become the symbol not of experimental medicine but of an increasingly inward-looking organization, more concerned with medical politics rather than with broader intellectual cooperation.116

But there was another, more serious threat to the theater’s functioning. This was a movement within the college against anatomy as a general practice and as a pedagogical tool in particular. The chief spokesman in this regard was Thomas Sydenham, an Oxford-educated physician and a close associate of John Locke. As early as the late 1660s, while the Physicians were planning their new buildings, Sydenham and Locke wrote a lengthy attack on anatomical teaching, arguing that it was of little use in the training of physicians:

Anatomy noe question is absolutely necessary to a Chirurgen and to a physitian who would direct a surgeon in incision and trepanning and severall other operations. … But that anatomie is like to afford any great improvement to the practise of physic, or assist a man in the findeing out and establishing a true method, I have reason to doubt. All that Anatomie can doe is only to shew us the gross and sensible parts of the body, or the vapid and dead juices all which, after the most diligent search, will be not much able to direct a physician how to cure a disease.117

Although Sydenham and Locke were happy for surgeons (under a supervising physician) to continue to practice anatomy, the process was simply too crude and bloody to reveal anything of actual pathological significance. Instead, said Sydenham, physicians were to learn their craft by observing the symptoms of living patients.118 This challenge, from within the college, had significant implications for the wider London medical world and its built fabric of anatomy theaters. Whereas the right to conduct anatomy lectures (and build theaters) had once been a key intellectual battleground between the London surgeons and physicians, Sydenham now argued that it was a menial and crude practice to which the surgeons were welcome, but with which the learned physicians need not bother.

Sydenham, it must be admitted, had an uneasy relationship with the college: he was only a licentiate (a fairly lowly position) and his views were by no means universally held within the group.119 However, more established collegiate physicians also expressed unease over the axiomatic status of anatomy and anatomical lecturing within the college’s curriculum. In 1676, during the construction of Hooke’s theater, the college physician and Royal Society member William Petty also criticized the anatomy lecture as a pedagogical tool. Surprisingly, he did so with direct reference to Hooke’s half-complete structure. First, Petty noted that “all the great Cittyes of Europe have their Colledge of Phisitians; and every Colledge hath its Theatre for Anatomy, and our Methropolise London is building the most August and Comodious Theatre that perhaps has ever been seen in Europe.”120 Following this, and despite being a friend of Hooke’s, he then turned on anatomy theaters as didactic spaces: “the thorough knowledge of the fabrick of animals is not to be attained from the publick and promiscuous Demonstrations from a Theatre, nor from any wordy and tumultory discourses that can be made about it; but from curious and minute Disections.” Here, the technologies of the Royal Society (such as microscopy and close observational research) were used as the stick with which to beat cruder practices of anatomical demonstration. But within this critique, Petty also implicated the architecture of anatomy theaters. No matter how sophisticated the theater and its architecture (and Petty admitted that Hooke’s theater was about as good as anatomy theaters got), anatomical demonstration was never going to be able to appropriately communicate detailed information to students of medicine.

As a result of these concerns (alongside the increasing difficulty of obtaining corpses), the college’s lectures, though retaining their old Lumleian and Gulstonian appellations, moved away from anatomical demonstration.121 Throughout the eighteenth century, the theater was still the venue for talks and meetings, but these tended now to be conducted without a corpse, thus rendering Hooke’s carefully designed fenestration and seating somewhat redundant. Indeed, complete redundancy would follow when the Physicians moved out of Warwick Lane in 1825 into a new building on Pall Mall East designed by Robert Smirke.122 The Francophone cour d’honneur and the optics of the anatomy theater were no longer appropriate for a nineteenth-century medical institution, concerned far more with accreditation rather than education. The Warwick Lane site was subsequently occupied by a brass foundry, but by the 1860s had become empty again. By the time it was photographed in 1866 (see Figure 2), the theater had become a ruin and the windows of Hooke’s lantern were partially boarded up. It was now a doomed quirk of a lost intellectual culture, overshadowed by the timeless baroque glories of the cathedral that loomed large in the background, shrouded by the fog of the Victorian city.



I wish to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their advice on this article. I also thank the librarians and archivists of the Royal College of Physicians for their assistance with my research.

The photographs can be found in An Album Containing Images and Maps, Plans, Engravings, Photographs and Drawings to Illustrate Dr Farre’s History of the College, 1883, MS 2245, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, fol. 30a, 30b.


Although scholarship on Hooke’s College of Physicians remains slight, a number of authors have raised the possibility that the College might represent the most “scientific” of Hooke’s designs: Hentie Louw, “The ‘Mechanick Artist’ in Late Seventeenth-Century English and French Architecture,” in Robert Hooke, Tercentennial Studies, ed. M. Cooper and M. Hunter (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006), 181–99. Lisa Jardine, On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Life of Christopher Wren (London: HarperCollins, 2002), 316n.


For a very brief overview of the architecture of early modern anatomy theaters, see William Brockbank, “Old Anatomical Theatres and What Took Place Therein,” Medical History 12, no. 4 (1968), 371–84.


The standard institutional history of the college’s early years remains George Clark, A History of the Royal College of Physicians of London, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964).


For the college’s activities in its early years and its work as a censure of irregular practitioners in particular, see Margaret Pelling, Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London: Patronage, Physicians, and Irregular Practitioners 1550–1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).


Clark, History of the Royal College, 52.


For the Amen Corner site, and the Webb buildings in particular, see C. E. Newman, “The First Library of the Royal College of Physicians,” Journal of the Royal College of Physicians 3 (1969), 299–307. For Webb’s involvement, see John Bold, John Webb: Architectural Theory and Practice in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 165–66.


John Harris and A. A. Tait, A Catalogue of the Drawings by Inigo Jones, John Webb and Isaac De Caus at Worcester College Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 34–35.


Pelling, Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London, in particular chap. 2. See also Harold J. Cook, The Decline of the Old Medical Regime in Stuart London (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986), chap. 4.


For a general introduction to the Barber-Surgeons’ buildings, see Jessie Dobson and R. Milnes Walker, Barbers and Barber-Surgeons of London (Oxford: Blackwell, 1979), 77–81. For the theater in particular, see Harris and Tait, Catalogue of the Drawings by Inigo Jones, 9.


The source of this acrimony was the Surgeons’ (and the Apothecaries’) opposition to the college in a series of legal disputes concerning irregular medical practice in 1650s; see Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 124–32.


See Cecil Wall, Charles Cameron, and E. Ashworth Underwood, The History of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, vol. 1, 1617–1815 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), 66. For Lock and the apothecaries, see H. M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840, 4th ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 658.


See Margaret Espinasse, Robert Hooke (London: William Heinemann, 1956), 95. Unlike the College of Physicians, the Barber-Surgeons and the Apothecaries were livery companies of the City and were therefore aided in their rebuilding work by the Corporation of London.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, vol. 4, 1647–82, MS 4145, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, fol. 109v.


The details of the college’s main anatomy lectures are set out in Andrew Cunningham, “The Types of Anatomy,” Medical History 19, no. 1 (1975), 1–19. I discuss the lectures later in this article.


A drawing in the Jones and Webb collection at the Royal Institute of British Architects for what looks like an anatomy theater drawn in Jones’s hand has been tentatively proposed as this structure: John Harris, A Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Inigo Jones and John Webb (Farnborough, UK: Gregg, 1972), 13–14. As Harris demonstrates, most of the ratios between the stories in this drawing match those of Webb’s final elevations for the main buildings.


John Evelyn, The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. De Beer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955), 3:338. “Dr Meret” was Christopher Merrett, a physician, Royal Society member, and the college’s librarian: see Aaron Mauck, ‘‘ ‘By Merit Raised to That Bad Eminence’: Christopher Merrett, Artisanal Knowledge, and Professional Reform in Restoration London,” Medical History 56, no. 1 (2012), 26–47.


This is a reference to the college’s annual Harveian Oration, which had been instated by Harvey to commemorate the college’s past benefactors; Evelyn, Diary, 3:379. For details of the Harveian Oration, see Clark, History of the Royal College, 299.


Charles Goodall, A Collection of College Affairs Left by Dr. Goodall to the College of Physicians, London, ca. 1680–1700, MS 2189, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, 58.


A nineteenth-century plan of the Amen Corner college, reconstructed from earlier accounts, has two small rooms in the older, pre-Webb buildings marked for “anatomy.” It seems likely that the theater would have been in one of these: Album Containing Images and Maps, Plans, Engravings, Photographs and Drawings to Illustrate Dr Farre’s History of the College, fol. 15r.


The Royal Society’s charter reads: “they [the members] and their successors from time to time may and shall have full power and authority from time to time, and at such seasonable times, according to their discretion, to require, take, and receive the bodies of such persons as have suffered death by the hand of the executioner, and to anatomize them, in such ample form and manner, and to all intents and purposes, as the College of Physicians and the Corporation of Surgeons of our City of London have used or enjoyed, or may be able and have power to use or enjoy, the same bodies.” Royal Society of London, “Translation of First Charter, Granted to the President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London by King Charles the Second, A.D. 1662,” (accessed 7 Dec. 2012). See Robert G. Frank, “Viewing the Body: Reframing Man and Disease in Commonwealth and Restoration England,” in The Restoration Mind, ed. W. G. Marshall (London: Associated Universities Presses, 1997), 87–98; Emily Booth, “A Subtle and Mysterious Machine”: The Medical World of Walter Charleton (1619–1707) (Dordrecht: Springer, 2005), 116–18, 121–27. The “Corporation of Surgeons” was the Barber-Surgeons’ Company, which, along with the college, was the only other organization in London to be legally granted the right to conduct human anatomy prior to 1662; Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (London: Routledge, 1995), 56.


For the logistics of anatomy lectures, see Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, 54–63.


Thomas Birch, A History of the Royal Society of London (London: A. Miller, 1756), 1:104. For a general discussion of anatomy and medicine in the research program of the early Royal Society, see A. Rupert Hall, “Medicine in the Early Royal Society,” in Medicine in Seventeenth Century England, ed. Allen G. Debus (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 421–52; and Roy Porter, “The Early Royal Society and the Spread of Medical Knowledge,” in The Medical Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, ed. R. French and A. Wear (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 272–93.


Birch, History of the Royal Society, 1:415. For a discussion of these presentations and Charleton’s involvement in particular, see Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 120–23.


Perhaps the most famous of these was Hooke’s open thorax vivisection of a dog, which was conducted with the help of a number of the society’s physicians; see Robert G. Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists: A Study of Scientific Ideas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 158–60. For Royal Society meetings and their tendency to feature popular and visually impressive experiments, see Michael Hunter, Science and Society in Restoration England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 43.


Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 162–63; see also Harold J. Cook, “The New Philosophy and Medicine in Seventeenth-Century England,” in Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, ed. D. C. Lindberg and R. S. Westman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 397–436. There are suggestions that some of the senior physicians of the college were behind Henry Stubbe’s famous attacks on the Royal Society in 1670 and 1671; Harold J. Cook, “Physicians and the New Philosophy: Henry Stubbe and the Virtuosi-Physicians,” in French and Wear, Medical Revolution, 246–71.


Alston was ousted as president after he committed the college to buying an unsuitable piece of land in Cannon Street in the immediate aftermath of the Fire; see Clark, History of the Royal College, 328–29; Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 162–63.


William Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London (London: Longman, 1878), 1:253, 224, 219. For examinations of the role physicians played in the founding of the Royal Society, see C. C. Gillespie, “Physick and Philosophy: A Study of the Influence of the College of Physicians of London upon the foundation of the Royal Society,” Journal of Modern History 19 (1947), 210–25; Hall, “Medicine in the Early Royal Society”; Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 45–63; Robert G. Frank, “The Physician as Virtuoso in Seventeenth-Century England,” in English Scientific Virtuosi in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. R. G. Frank and B. Shapiro (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, 1979), 59–114. For the contributions of individual members, see the relevant entries in Michael Hunter, The Royal Society and Its Fellows, 1660–1700: The Morphology of an Early Scientific Institution, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Alden Press, 1994). An important recent addition to this body of work is Emily Booth’s monograph on Walter Charleton; Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 111–16. Although Booth recognizes the key role that physicians played in the experimental program of the early Royal Society, she suggests that the relationship between the two groups has been overstressed. Booth correctly observes that the physician members of the Royal Society were not defined solely by their membership of that organization. Instead, they had distinct and independent professional lives as practicing physicians, in which experimental philosophy, as an epistemology, did not necessarily play a role; Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 112. Another recent, though brief, addition to this corpus is Craig Ashley Hanson, The English Virtuoso: Art, Medicine, and Antiquarianism in the Age of Empiricism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 69–75.


Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1:218, 223.


Ibid., 1:258, 247, 390, 240, 315, 270, 338.


Birch, History of the Royal Society, 1:4.


For the presence of physicians in natural and experimental groups in Oxford, see Mordechai Feingold, “The Origins of the Royal Society Revisited,” in The Practice of Reform in Health, Medicine and Science, 1520–2000, ed. M. Pelling and S. Mandelbrote (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005), 167–84.


For a detailed discussion of Harvey, anatomy, and experimental philosophy, see Roger French, William Harvey’s Natural Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 310–86. See also Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 16–20; Andrew Wear, “William Harvey and the ‘Way of the Anatomists,’ ” History of Science 21 (1983), 223–49.


Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 22–25.


Theodore M. Brown, “Physiology and the Mechanical Philosophy in Mid-Seventeenth Century England,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 51 (1977), 30; and Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 22.


Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 22–23.


For Glisson’s writings and their relationship with Harvey and observational technique, see French, William Harvey’s Natural Philosophy, 286–309.


See Charles Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform 1626–1660 (London: Duckworth, 1975); and Charles Webster, “The College of Physicians: ‘Solomon’s House’ in Commonwealth England,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 41 (1967), 393–412.


Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1:249.


A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall (eds.), The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), 4:362. For further information on Oldenburg and Clarke’s correspondence, see A. Rupert Hall, “English Medicine in the Royal Society’s Correspondence: 1660–1677,” Medical History 15, no. 2 (1971), 111–25. The presence in Clarke’s list of Thomas Wharton, another senior college physician, is odd given his apparent opposition to the Royal Society. In 1673, he penned a lengthy attack on the society, claiming its experimental practices were ruinous to “our old and settled and approved practice of physick” and even named Boyle as being particularly culpable; see Hunter, Science and Society, 138. However, he had been another acquaintance of Harvey, and perhaps when Clarke wrote this letter in 1668 Wharton had not disclosed these feelings about the society and experimental philosophy in general.


Jonathan Goddard, A Discourse Setting Forth the Unhappy Condition of the Practice of Physick in London … (London: Royal Society, 1670), 13.


Thomas Sprat, The History of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge (London: Royal Society, 1667), 130.


Guy de la Bédoyère (ed.), The Writings of John Evelyn (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 1995), 343. This quote is from Evelyn’s London Redivivum, a short text he wrote immediately after the Fire outlining his proposals for the new city. See also Caroline van Eck, British Architectural Theory 1540–1750: An Anthology of Texts (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003), 79–86. When the college was eventually built, Evelyn expressed his displeasure at its location. He noted in his diary, “Tis pitty this Colledge is built so near new-gate Prison and in so obscure an hole”; Evelyn, Diary, 4:307.


Michael Hunter, “A ‘College’ for the Royal Society: The Abortive Plan of 1667–1668,” in Establishing the New Science: The Experience of the Early Royal Society, ed. Michael Hunter (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1989), 160–61. Cook, The Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 165. In 1660, upon the founding of the society, the minutes record that it had “been suggested … that the college of physicians would afford convenient accommodation for the assemblies of the society, upon supposition, that it were granted and accepted of, it was thought reasonable, that any of the fellows of the said college, if they should desire it, be admitted likewise as supernumeraries, upon condition of submitting to the laws of the society, both as to the payment on their admission and the weekly allowance, and the particular works or tasks, that shou’d be allotted to them”; Birch, History of the Royal Society, 1:5. This proposal was first put forward by Christopher Merrett and the treasurer of the society, Daniel Colwall; Christopher Merrett, A Short Reply to the Postscript, etc. of HS (London, 1670), 2. See Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 163, and Margery Purver, The Royal Society: Concept and Creation (London: Routledge, 1967), 132–33.


See Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 44.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 96v. For biographical material relating to these physicians, see relevant entries in Munk’s Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 96v.


On 22 March 1670, the college treasurer gave £21 to “the Beadle for Sr. Ch: Scarburgh by him presented to Dr Wren for the Colledg”; Copy of the Treasurer’s Book During the Time that Dr. Hamey, Dr. Micklethwait, Dr. Coxe & Dr. Whistler were Treasurers, 1664–1684, MS 2077, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, 20.


Scarburgh was, unusually, a member of both organizations. For a discussion of the Parentalia reference and Wren’s acquaintanceship with Scarburgh in the 1640s, see J. A. Bennett, “A Note on Theories of Respiration and Muscular Action in England c. 1660,” Medical History 20, no. 1 (1976), 59–69.


Wren’s dealings with the college did not end in early 1670. The college sought Wren’s advice on the best location for the anatomy theater in 1674 (discussed later). Additionally, a series of letters that survive in the British Library reveal that the college approached Wren sixteen years later, in 1686, and asked him to supervise work on the enlargement of the library in the college house following a bequest of more than 3,200 books to the college by the Marquess of Dorchester; Papers Relating to the College of Physicians, 1666–1735, Sloane MS 3984, fol. 245v, 246r, British Library, London. The college also asked John Evelyn for his advice on the new library; Evelyn, Diary, 4:307.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 98v.




For the physicians in Hooke’s social life, and specifically Ent, see Espinasse, Robert Hooke, 128–29.


Birch, History of the Royal Society, 1:406. One of the committee’s first decisions was to investigate respiration: this would lead to the open thorax experiment; Frank, Harvey and the Oxford Physiologists, 158–60.


To choose one example of many, in the first entry in his diary relating to the College of Physicians, on 6 April 1672 Hooke ordered £100 for the master mason Joseph Lem from Ent; Felicity Henderson, “Unpublished Material from the Memorandum Book of Robert Hooke, Guildhall Library MS, 1758,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 61, no. 2 (May 2007), 137. That same day Micklethwaite, the treasurer of the college, recorded Lem’s payment in the college accounts: Treasurer’s Book, 24. Whistler was appointed college registrar in 1674, which may explain his constant involvement. He was also a close friend of Hooke’s and therefore may have been acting informally; Espinasse, Robert Hooke, 128. For a detailed examination of the contact that Hooke had with Ent, Scarburgh, and Whistler over the design of the college, see Matthew Walker, “Architectus Ingenio: Robert Hooke, the Early Royal Society, and the Practices of Architecture” (PhD diss., University of York, 2010), 211–12, 223–25.


Foundations were being dug by 16 January 1671, when the college made payments to laborers for that purpose; Treasurer’s Book, 22. Construction had begun by 15 July 1671, when the college made its first payment of £100 to the master mason Abraham Story; Treasurer’s Book, 22. There is a very brief summary (taken from the college annals) of the rebuilding in Robert T. Gunther, Early Science in Oxford, vol. 7, pt. 2 (Oxford: Author, 1930), 395–96.


Christine Stevenson, “Vantage Points in the Seventeenth-Century City,” London Journal 33, no. 3 (2008), 222.


A detailed account of the interior of the college’s buildings can be found in the present-day college’s archive; Album Containing Images and Maps, Plans, Engravings, Photographs and Drawings to Illustrate Dr Farre’s History of the College, fol. 27a.


On 7 April 1671, Hooke was asked by the college’s comitia to “treat with persons concerning the fellow’s house and front houses, and give an account thereof to this committee”; Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 99v. On 26 June that year, it was decided that houses for the chemist and beadle would be built on the south side of the college, and on 24 March the following year, a comitia proposed that the fellow’s house be built opposite; ibid., fol. 101v, 106r.


A Volume of Miscellaneous Drawings Containing Several by Robert Hooke, Additional MS 5238, British Library, London, fol. 57.


Architectural Drawings, Including some by Robert Hooke, Feilding Papers, MS CR 2017/B1, Warwickshire County Record Office, Warwick, fol. 5.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 99v.


The college house must have been complete by 25 February 1675, when the Physicians held their first comitia in the new building; ibid., fol. 111r.


For the Parisian houses of Mansart and Le Vau, see Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France, 1500–1700, 5th ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999), 128–55.


For Montagu House and Hooke’s general interest in French architecture, see Alison Stoesser, “Robert Hooke’s Montagu House,” in Cooper and Hunter, Robert Hooke, Tercentennial Studies, 165–80.


Evelyn, Diary, 4:90.


Anthony Geraghty, “Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Prints and Books,” Architectural History 47 (2004), 113–25.


John Evelyn, “An Account of Architects and Architecture,” in J. Evelyn (trans.), Roland Fréart: A Parallell of the Antient Architecture with the Modern … (London: Thomas Roycroft, 1664), 120. For the intellectual position of Evelyn’s Account within the published output of the Royal Society, see Walker, “Architectus Ingenio,” 44–45.


Evelyn, “Account,” 120.


Ibid., b2.


Geraghty, “Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Books and Prints,” 114.


For example, of the members of the 1670 building committee, Micklethwaite had been a medical student at Leiden in the 1630s as had Nathan Paget. Whistler had also studied at Leiden: R. W. Innes-Smith, English Speaking Students of Medicine at the University of Leyden (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1932), 158, 176, 247.


Christopher Merrett, The Accomplisht Physician, the Honest Apothecary, and the Skilful Chyrurgeon (London, 1670), 26; Mauck, “Christopher Merrett,” 44.


Cunningham, “Types of Anatomy,” 12. As Cunningham shows, the Lumleian lectures were originally a course of lectures that were “closely stipulated, consisting mainly of surgical works, lectures being given twice a week over a period of six years; this fitted very well with the normal seven-year apprenticeship [for candidates].” In Harvey’s period as Lumleian lecturer (1615–43), however, the addresses had shifted in the direction of broader, philosophical anatomy. It was in these lectures that Harvey first brought the doctrine of circulation to a wider audience, even though the lectures themselves were not specifically focused on the heart and the blood; see French, William Harvey’s Natural Philosophy, 71–72. Exactly how regularly these presentations actually took place is difficult to establish. Using evidence relating to the lack of available human corpses in London, Sawday suggests that the college struggled to put on frequent anatomy lectures, particularly in its early years; Sawday, Body Emblazoned, 55–57.


For information on the Gulstonian lecture, see Clark, History of the Royal College, 251.


Evelyn, Diary, 4:308. As I have noted, Evelyn recorded attending the Harveian Oration in the College’s Amen Corner home. While this event was not an anatomy lecture, it was held in the college’s venue for anatomy in both the Amen Corner and Warwick Lane sites; see Clark, History of the Royal College, 299. Evelyn’s presence at a Harveian Oration suggests that nonmembers could be invited to this event as well as to lectures. For Evelyn’s general interest in anatomy, see Frank, “Viewing the Body,” 65–110.


Henry W. Robinson and Walter Adams (eds.), The Diary of Robert Hooke, 1672–1680 (London: Taylor and Francis, 1935), 402.


The lectures that Charleton gave in early 1679 were the first in the new theater. That they were officially the Gulstonian lectures is evidenced by the payment from the college of £10 to Charleton “for Dr Gulstons Lecture” on 3 April 1679. The college also paid for a dinner to be served after the first lecture: Treasurer’s Book, 56.


Robert Boyle, “Certain Physiological Essays and Other Tracts,” in The Works of Robert Boyle, ed. M. Hunter and E. B. Davis (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1999), 2:70.


Clark, History of the Royal College, 330.


On 3 October 1672 Hooke was told while he was at Ent’s house that “Sir J. Cutler would build the theater”; Hooke, Diary, 9. Oddly, the College annals do not record Cutler’s benefaction until 13 May 1674, when Whistler reported it to a college comitia; Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 108r. The nature of Cutler’s benefaction is difficult to establish given the fact that, unbeknownst to the college, he may have envisaged it as a loan rather than an outright act of patronage. The college’s accounts list the total given by Cutler as £1,700, in five installments from 1675 to 1680; Treasurer’s Book, 35–66. However, Hooke also recorded a number of instances when Cutler paid workmen directly without the money passing through the college, as well as signing contracts for the work; 28 August 1675, Hooke, Diary, 177; 6 February 1676, Hooke, Diary, 216; 30 May 1676, Hooke, Diary, 234. It seems, therefore, that the college handled Cutler’s benefaction with a certain degree of informality. This may not have been the best approach, for after Cutler’s death in 1693 the nature of his gift became the subject of controversy and embarrassment to the college. Cutler’s executors claimed that the merchant had recorded the entire benefaction as a loan in his papers; James Elmes, Memoirs of the Life and Works of Sir Christopher Wren (London: Priestley and Weale, 1823), 452; Espinasse, Robert Hooke, 89. They subsequently demanded £7,000 from the college, which managed to bring the demands down to £2,000. Where the sum of £7,000 came from is unclear, as the bond made between Cutler and the college on 2 January 1680 was for £1,700, exactly the amount the college treasurer recorded in his account book; The State of the Case of the College of Physicians in Relation to Sir John Cutler, an Anonymous Account Formerly in the Possession of William Munk, MS 2000/118a, Royal College of Physicians Library, London. Accrued interest alone cannot account for the difference in the figures, and it could be that many of the payments recorded in Hooke’s diary, but missing from the college treasurer’s book, were added to the bond by the executors. After this revelation, the Physicians removed the inscription on the theater reading “Omnis Cutleri Cadet Labor Amphiteatro.” The theater’s statue of Cutler by Arnold Quellin remained, however, and can be seen in nineteenth-century photographs of the building. It survives today in the Guildhall in London; see K. Esdaile and M. Toynbee, “More Light on ‘English Quellin,’ ” Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 19 (1958), 34–35.


Michael Hunter, “Science, Technology and Patronage: Robert Hooke and the Cutlerian Lectureship,” in Hunter, Establishing the New Science, 279–338.


Ibid., 284.


Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 227.


Walter Charleton, Enquiries into Human Nature in VI. Anatomic Prælections in the New Theatre of the Royal Colledge of Physicians in London (London: Robert Boulter, 1680), Epistle Dedicatory. See Booth, Subtle and Mysterious Machine, 137–49. In her analysis of Charleton’s lectures, Booth does not acknowledge the fact that Charleton’s definition of anatomy (and quite possibly physic as a whole) is very Baconian. Charleton continually discusses anatomy’s role in the production of cures and remedies and at one point directly equates medicine with architecture: “the most useful inventions of the first of Historical Times … one to furnish mankind with helps against infirmities of the body, the other to defend him from injuries of the air: both suggested by Necessity”; Charleton, Enquiries, preface.


For the early Royal Society and public utility, see Hunter, Science and Society, 87–112.


Charleton, Enquiries, Epistle Dedicatory.


Ibid., preface.


Hooke, Diary, 94.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 108r. As royal surveyor, Wren was frequently called upon either by the City or by various companies to offer his advice on major building projects; for Wren’s consultative role in the rebuilding of the City, see Matthew Walker, “The Limits of Collaboration: Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren and the Designing of the Monument to the Great Fire of London,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 65, no. 2 (2011), 121–43. Wren’s presence in this meeting should not be taken as evidence that he was involved in the design of the theater in any way.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 108r.


Paula Findlen, “Anatomy Theaters, Botanical Gardens, and Natural History Collections,” in The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 3, Early Modern Science, ed. K. Park and L. Daston (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 272–89. For the broader relationship between physic and natural history and botany, see Harold J. Cook, “Physicians and Natural History,” in Cultures of Natural History, ed. N. Jardine, J. A. Secord, and E. C. Spary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 91–105.


Findlen shows that Basel University built a theater for anatomy in 1589 surrounded by a botanical garden; Findlen, “Anatomy Theaters,” 277. A later example was the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris; see Andrew Cunningham, The Anatomist Anatomis’d: An Experimental Discipline in Enlightenment Europe (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010), 98–103.


Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, fol. 108r. Hooke’s diary reveals that the Physicians did not give in so easily. Cutler first informed Hooke of his decision to move the site on 16 June 1674. Three days later Hooke went to see president Ent who, obviously flustered, would not resolve the matter until Dr. Whistler returned from the country; Hooke, Diary, 108. There was a considerable amount of debate over the next month, and it was not until 24 July that the Physicians gave in to their benefactor. Hooke, however, “set out” the theater on 20 July, having “agreed all” with Cutler and Whistler on 14 July; Hooke, Diary, 112–14. This suggests that the decision may have been made the week before, although still a full month after Cutler first proposed the street front site. In the 1680s, following the Dorchester bequest, the Physicians would try to build a new library on the garden site, but the project was stopped by the City authorities: Annals of the Royal College of Physicians, vol. V, 1682–90, MS 4146, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, fol. 64r. The college decided to enlarge the existing library instead.


Hooke recorded in his diary that he had given a drawing of the proposed theater to the master mason William Hammond on 21 December 1674; work began early the following year, Hooke, Diary, 137.


See Nathan T. Whitman, “Fontainebleau, the Luxembourg, and the French Domed Entry Pavilion,” JSAH 46, no. 4 (1987), 356–73.


Hooke, Diary, 337; Geraghty, “Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Books and Prints,” 115.


The design of Hooke’s theater has long been seen as practical or functional in some way. For example, John Summerson called it “an empirical invention more strange than beautiful”; John Summerson, Architecture in Britain, 1530–1830, 9th ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press), 238.


Sebastiano Serlio, On Architecture, vol. 1, Books I–V of “Tutte L’Opere D’Architettura Et Prospetiva,” trans. and ed. Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996), 409. For evidence that Hooke owned Serlio’s treatise, see Geraghty, “Robert Hooke’s Collection of Architectural Prints and Books,” 114.


Anthony Geraghty, The Architectural Drawings of Sir Christopher Wren at All Souls College, Oxford: A Complete Catalogue (Aldershot, UK: Lund Humphries, 2007), 29.


Hooke recorded designing the theater’s roof on 6 January 1676; Hooke, Diary, 209. A drawing in Hooke’s hand of the roof survives; Feilding Papers, MS CR 2017/B1/5, Warwickshire County Record Office, Warwick.


Geraghty, Architectural Drawings, 30.


Ibid., 72.


See Anthony Geraghty, The Sheldonian Theatre: Architecture and Learning in Seventeenth-Century Oxford (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2013).


Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises; or, The Doctrine of Handy-Works. Applied to the Art of Printing (London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, 1683), 11.


Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 82–83.


Moxon, Mechanick Exercises, 6.


For information about the Padua theater, see Camillo Semenzato (ed.), The Anatomy Theatre: History and Restoration (Padua: University of Padua Press, 1995).


Alison Stoessar-Johnson has suggested that Hooke based the design of his seating on the Leiden theater; Alison Stoesser-Johnston, “Robert Hooke and Holland: Dutch Influence on Hooke’s Architecture” (PhD diss., University of Utrecht, 1997), 46. However, her suggestion that Hooke copied the Dutch theater almost identically is clearly an overstatement, as Hooke’s theater is almost a quarter larger again than Leiden’s. The stairs in Hooke’s theater only extended to five tiers and the structure was interrupted by the president’s chair. At Leiden the stairs extended through six uninterrupted tiers. Finally, Leiden’s theater was circular, having been built into an apse of a disused church, whereas Hooke’s purpose-built theater was octagonal. Nonetheless the two structures were similar and Leiden could well have been in Hooke’s mind. This is hardly surprising considering that several of the physicians who cooperated with Hooke on the project had undertaken part of their education at the Dutch university. As discussed earlier here, Micklethwaite, Paget, and Whistler had all studied at Leiden. For further, though largely unconvincing, suggestions of Dutch influences on the design of Hooke’s theater, see W. Kuyper, Dutch Classicist Architecture: A Survey of Dutch Architecture, Gardens, and Anglo-Dutch Architectural Relations from 1625 to 1700 (Delft: Delft University Press, 1980), 115–16.


Elmes, Christopher Wren, 451–52.


John Macky, A Journey through England, in Familiar Letters from a Gentleman Here, to his Friend Abroad, 2nd ed. (London: J. Hooke, 1722), 244. The muscle tables survive in the present college; see Geoffrey Davenport, Ian McDonald, and Caroline Moss-Gibbons, The Royal College of Physicians and Its Collections: An Illustrated History (London: James and James, 2001), 115–16. For the role of early museums in broader Baconian projects, see Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 3–4.


For information on Leiden’s anatomy theater, see J. C. C. Rupp, “Matters of Life and Death: The Social and Cultural Conditions of the Rise of Anatomical Theatres, with Special Reference to the Seventeenth-Century Netherlands,” History of Science 28 (1990), 263–87; and Tim Huisman, A Theatre for Anatomy: The Leiden Theatrum Anatomicum, 1594–1821 (Leiden: Museum Boerhaave, 2002).


Michael Hunter, “Between Cabinet of Curiosities and Research Collection: The History of the Royal Society’s ‘Repository,’ ” in Hunter, Establishing the New Science, 123–55.


For the Royal Society’s inability to find a permanent home for its activities in the seventeenth century, see Hunter, “A ‘College’ for the Royal Society,” 156–84.


Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, chap. 6.


See George Clark, A History of the Royal College of Physicians of London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 2:455–56.


This text is published in Kenneth Dewhurst, “Locke and Sydenham on the Teaching of Anatomy,” Medical History 2 (1958), 1–12.


See Andrew Wear, Knowledge and Practice in English Medicine, 1550–1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 442–54.


For Sydenham’s relationship with the College, see Cook, Decline of the Old Medical Regime, 185–86.


Marquis of Lansdowne (ed.), The Petty Papers: Some Unpublished Writings of Sir William Petty (London: Constable, 1927), 2:173.


For the college’s education role in the early eighteenth century, see Susan C. Lawrence, Charitable Knowledge, Hospital Pupils and Practitioners in Eighteenth-Century London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 181. For the problems of acquiring bodies, see Peter Linebaugh, “The Tyburn Riot against the Surgeons,” in Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, ed. D. Hay, P. Linebaugh, J. G. Rule, E. P. Thompson, and C. Winslow (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1975), 65–118.


The college did, however, repair the theater in 1751, when it paid for the lantern to be reglazed and the leading replaced: A Notebook by Dr. Farre of the College Houses in Warwick Lane, MS 2207, Royal College of Physicians Library, London, 32.