Friday, 7 October 2016

Visiting Faraday House

Michael Faraday was the self-taught chemist and physicist who, among numerous other achievements, was responsible for the discovery of electricity. In 1833 he was made Fullerian Professor of Chemistry, an appointment for life at the Royal Institution, and worked as a government researcher investigating, among other things, the causes of a disastrous colliery explosion.

Faraday came from a working class family, and became a devout follower of the Sandemanian branch of the Church of Scotland. He was offered a knighthood in recognition of his services to science, but declined it, as it was against the Bible to accumulate riches and pursue worldly rewards like titles. Faraday preferred to remain "plain Mr Faraday to the end." He also refused on ethical grounds to help develop chemical weapons for use in the Crimean war.

Faraday House, at 37 Hampton Court Road, Middlesex, was formerly the Master Mason's House. The building was awarded to Faraday as a grace and favour dwelling in 1848, after the Prince Consort is said to have made representations on his behalf. He spent his last years here, and true to spirit, turned down an offer of burial in Westminster Abbey, opting instead to be interred in the dissenters' section of Highgate Cemetery.

You can see a pencil study I did from a bust of Faraday, which sits in the British Library, on my Instagram.

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