What’s on : Cafe-scientifique

“From Cave to Cosmos” YPS and Science in York

5 Jun 2023
Start time
7:00 PM
Bootham School
Sarah Sheils, Historian
"From Cave to Cosmos" YPS and Science in York

Event Information

“From Cave to Cosmos” YPS and Science in York

Sarah Sheils, Historian

Talk on the new book “From Cave to Cosmos: A history of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society” written by historian Sarah Sheils. Founded in 1822, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society has continuously provided a range of activities to promote the public understanding of science and now reaches its bicentenary, flourishing as a learned society open to everyone. In this talk author Sarah Sheils explores the ideas and scientists forming part of this distinguished history, from William “Strata” Smith, Professor John Phillips, and George Cayley to Tempest Anderson and then Mary Kitson Clark and on to contemporary scientists. Alongside the physical gift to the citizens of York of the Museum Gardens, the Yorkshire Museum, St Mary’s Abbey, the Multangular Tower and the Hospitium, this book celebrates the work of the Society’s indefatigable members over the last two hundred years. The book will be available to purchase at the event.

To be held in the Auditorium at Bootham School, York YO30 7BU with many thanks to Bootham School.

An event for the York Festival of Ideas

Member’s report

This Café Scientifique session for the “Festival of Ideas” was part of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society’s bicentenary launch of a new history of the Society by historian Sarah Sheils.  Dorothy Nott and Sarah Sheils had each chosen various members of the Society as examples to explore in detail their contribution to both the Society and science in York. The Society was founded in December 1822 at the house of James Atkinson in Lendal.  James Atkinson was a medical practitioner who together with his friends William Salmond and Anthony Thorpe were concerned that the discoveries of fossils found in Kirkdale Cave should be preserved in the city, which led to the birth of the YPS and within ten years to the establishment of the Yorkshire Museum soon followed by the Observatory. The profiles chosen included Henry Baines, Botanist and Gardener, who created and developed the Museum Gardens alongside his work as Sub Curator at the Yorkshire Museum. Among his many achievements were his book on the “Flora of Yorkshire” and introducing hot houses to the Museum Gardens particularly for growing and displaying the waterlily Victoria amazonica, which drew crowds to the Gardens.  The story of distinguished members continued with geologists John and Anne Phillips, engineer George Cayley and volcanologist and photographer Dr Tempest Anderson. Next in line was archaeologist Mary Kitson Clark who, after studying history and archaeology at Cambridge worked on the Dorothy Garrod led excavation in Palestine in 1929. Her work on Roman archaeology in the Yorkshire Museum was recognised in 1941 by the YPS appointing her as Curator of Archaeology. In 1935 she published “A Gazeteer of Roman Remains is East Yorkshire”, still a useful reference work, and is recognised by a symposium in her honour. The session was concluded with a look to the future and the important role the Society plays in bringing the latest scientific research to public attention both through lectures, publications and online.

Catherine Brophy