We’ve been been travelling around a bit over the last few months, and it’s time I caught up with my blog posts.
We took the train to Birmingham, to visit Soho House, Soho House was home to the entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, from 1766 to 1809, it was January, it was raining, we didn’t linger on the outside, so here is sunny photo, to get you in the right frame of mind. Rather elegant isn’t it?
Matthew Boulton, was a member of the Lunar Society
Soho House was also a favourite meeting place of the Lunar Society, a leading Enlightenment group. The Lunar Society would meet every month on the night of the full moon to dine, conduct experiments, and discuss philosophical matters of the day.
Members of the society included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt and Joseph Priestly who all gathered around the Lunar Room table and engaged in a lively exchange of ideas which inspired many new discoveries and inventions.
They would meet in this room
and no doubt have a glass of wine or two
They were an amazing group of people. One of Mr Uphilldowndale’s ancestors was a member.
They were led by the larger-than-life physician Erasmus Darwin, a man of extraordinary intellectual insight with his own pioneering ideas on evolution. Others included the flamboyant entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, the brilliantly perceptive engineer James Watt whose inventions harnessed the power of steam, the radical polymath Joseph Priestley who, among his wide-ranging achievements discovered oxygen, and the innovative potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood. Their debates brought together philosophy, arts, science and commerce, and as well as debating and discovering, the ‘Lunarticks’ also built canals and factories, managed world-class businesses — and changed the face of Birmingham.
It seemed there was nothing they weren’t interested or curious about, this is one of Boulton’s creations, made from Derbyshire Blue John stone, I have a little Blue John, but nothing on this scale!
This is Boulton’s study, where they conducted experiments and studied fossils,
I suppose those evenings must have looked something like this! (with added dramatic lighting)
as this painting is by one of the Lunar Society members, Joseph Wright of Derby. Note the moon visible through the window.