Who’s heard of Isaac Newton? Christopher Wren? How about Robert Hooke?
Robert Hooke was a Seventeenth Century polymath, inventor and noted architect. Born on the Isle of Wight in 1635, Hooke went on to become a notable contributor in various fields of science. He is principally known for his “Micrographia” ,published 1665, and for his work on the tension of springs which became Hooke’s law of elasticity. Hooke’s law states that the amount a material strains is linearly related to the stress applied to it. Micrographia was a work in which Hooke detailed and described observations through a microscope; he coined the word “cell” to describe structures he observed under the microscope.
Hooke was also a noted architect and surveyor. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, Hooke was employed as an official surveyor. He worked on the design of the Monument, Royal Greenwich Observatory. and Bethlem Royal Hospital. He also collaborated with Christopher Wren, a lifelong friend, on the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Unfortuantely most of Hooke’s originally designed buildings have not survived intact.
Willen Church is one of the few know building of Robert Hooke’s that survives relatively unchanged. It was built for Dr Richard Busby who was headmaster of Westminster school for over 50 years; also a lifelong friend of Robert Hook, who attended the school and lodged with Busby. The church was completed in 1680.
So why is Robert Hooke not as well know as his contemporaries?
It has been alleged that Sir Isaac Newton is principally to blame. Hooke and Newton had exchanged letters over the explanation of the elliptical orbit of planets around the sun. Hooke’s idea was right but he couldn’t give mathematical proof of his conjectures and it’s suggested that Newton was piqued. After Newton became President of The Royal Society in 1703, the year Hooke died, many of Hooke’s contributions became lost or dispersed with no record of what happened to them. A more likely explanation for the lack of recognition to Hooke’s contribution is the manner in which he worked. He was an experimental scientist ranging over a number of subjects and he probably just failed to cumulate his work enough to publish!
Appeal - "Under one roof" - If you enjoyed the church and this cache you may wish to know that there is currently an appeal to raise money for the church roof. More info can be found here:- Under one roof.
There is a competition to enter, with a cash prize! I will mail you a copy of the competition page upon request.
"UT TENSIO, SIC VIS" : "as is the extension, so is the force" - Robert Hooke 1635 – 1703