Adam Sedgwick Exhibition

From 14 July 2021
WEB2_CUII_ESCI_190 © 2021 Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Reproduced with Permission

The Library will be hosting a small exhibition about Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873), a former Canon of Norwich Cathedral and regarded as one of the founders of modern geology.

A Woodwardian Professor of Geology at the University of Cambridge, he proposed the Cambrian and Devonian periods of the geological timescale.

The exhibition relating to his life and work will include objects belonging to him which are on loan from the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge. These include a pair of boots belonging to Adam Sedgwick, his geological specimen collecting bag, one of his geological hammers, and a couple of geological specimens collected by him.

Books from Norwich Cathedral Library around the subject of earlier studies in the scientific area in which Sedgwick worked and early works on religion and the natural world will also be displayed to the exhibition.

From Wednesday 14 July, the exhibition will be open Tuesday to Thursday from 10am to 4pm.

About Adam Sedgwick

Adam Sedgwick was born in Dent, in Yorkshire, where his father was the vicar, on 22 March 1785. He went to Sedbergh Grammar School, then received tutoring in maths before going to Trinity College, Cambridge.

He was seriously ill, but recovered to complete his degree. He became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1810, one of the stipulations of which was that he must be ordained and this happened in 1816. He stood for the position of Woodwardian Professor of Geology, which he gained in 1818, and held for the rest of his life – and therefore remained unmarried, which was a condition of holding the chair.

He began field studies in 1818 and was elected to the Geological Society (which he served as President 1829-1831) and gave his first course of lectures in 1819.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1820 and became a Canon of Norwich Cathedral in 1834. He died in his rooms in Cambridge on 27 January 1873 and was buried in the chapel of Trinity College.

A memorial window to him was placed in Norwich Cathedral, originally in St Luke’s Chapel, where the commemorative plaque still hangs. The window itself was subsequently moved to the highest level of the south transept south wall.

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge was established by Sedgwick’s successor as Woodwardian Professor, Thomas McKenny Hughes, both as a memorial to Sedgwick and to house the collections that he had expanded.

Picture © 2021 Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Reproduced with Permission.