Natural philosophy, medicine and the culture of science in provincial England : the cases of Bath and Bristol, 1790-1850
This thesis seeks to contribute to the field of local historical studies of scientific and medical culture by taking examples of activity in the West of England between about 1750 and 1840. The cities of Bath and Bristol provide the centres of attention. Bath, a tourist town with an itinerant population, developed scientific and medical communities that reflected the nature of the local economy:it also produced a hospital that both utilised the local spa waters while forming part of the culture of improvement and decorum that helped make the city a by-word for Enlightenment ideals. This hospital,the place of medical men in intellectual life, and the variations between medical writers as to what the Bath waters consisted in, are all discussed.Certain differences between events in the eighteenth century and those of the early nineteenth are also examined,the latter being a period of relative quiet in the history of the city. Bristol receives more detailed attention for the years 1790 to 1850. The general cultural background is described,with examples, such as the eighteenth century work of the 'geologist' Alexander Catcott(1725-1779) and the theme is then carried forward Into the nineteenth century city, with specific examples.The chief of these are:the Bristol career of the doctor and chemist Thomas Beddoes(1760-1808);the origins and progress of the Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science,Literature and the Arts, from about 1820 to 1850; the beginnings of new forms of medical education and medical lecturing;episodes from the history of local dispensaries and hospitals;and the various forces at work in the foundation of Bristol's first zoological gardens.The thesis finishes with a conclusion that attempts to summarise the distinct features of local elite culture in these years.