Observatories: Somerset

Barron’s Observatory [BOMK] (1919-1924), Monkton House, Monkton Combe, established by the Rev. Robert Percy Barron. It housed a 7-inch Troughton & Simms refracting telescope on an equatorial mounting by John Browning – optics probably by Merz (clear aperture = 7.46 inches). It is likely that the instrument was formerly owned by Clare Hippisley of Belgrave Terrace, Bath and was purchased at auction of Hippisley’s affects in 1918. The telescope and probably the observatory were donated to Monkton Combe School in 1925.

Brodie’s Wadbury Observatory [BWO] (1853-4), Wadbury House, established by Frederick Brodie at his home. The building consisted of a transit room adjacent to a 12-sided equatorial room with a 15-foot cone-type dome with two metal rings supported by cannon balls. It was equipped with a 3-inch transit instrument (fl 45-inch) and 6.4-inch Merz refractor (fl 8.5-feet) carried on a equatorial mount of Brodie’s own design. The observatory and telescope were moved to Eastbourne after his wife died in 1858, and he quit Somerset moving in with his mother (Chambers 1890, 71-2 & fig. 64; Obit., MNRAS, 58 (1896), 131-3). 

Clare Hippisley’s Observatory [CHOB] (c.1885-1918), 4-5 Belgrave Crescent, Camden Road, Bath, established by Clare Robert Hippisley in the back gardens of the premises. It housed a 7-inch Troughton & Simms refracting telescope on an equatorial mounting by John Browning – optics probably by Merz (clear aperture = 7.46 inches). It is probable that the telescope was sold after Hippisley’s death and purchased at auction (c.1918) by the Rev. Robert Percy Barron.

Herschel’s Bath Observatory [WHOB] (1776-82), New Kings Street, established by William Herschel, obsering in the garden or road with portable instruments (Howse 1986, 64-5).

Lawson’s Bath Observatory [LBO] (1841-1855), 7 Lansdown Crescent, Bath, established by Henry Lawson. The open-air observing platform on the roof  of the terrace house was equipped with a 7-inch Dollond refractor (fl 11-feet) on a cross-axis English mount. When the observatory was dismantled the telescope was offered to the city council in Nottingham, but instead was later installed in the new observatory at the Royal Hospital School, Greenwich  (Howse 1986, 65; Lawson 1844) – see County of London.

John Hippisley’s Observatory [JHOSE] (c.1854-99), Ston Easton Park, Ston Easton, established by John Hippisley in the grounds of his estate. It is thought to have housed a 9-inch speculum reflecting telescope.  It is also possible that it housed a 7-inch Troughton & Simms refracting telescope on an equatorial mounting by John Browning – later own by his Clare Robert Hipisley (Obit., MNRAS, 59 (1899), 225-6).

Monkton Combe School Observatory [MCSO] (1925- ), Monkton Combe, established after the gift of a telescope from the Rev. Robert Percy Barron of Monkton House in the village. Housed in a wooden domed building, it contains a 7-inch Troughton & Simms refracting telescope on an equatorial mounting by John Browning – optics probably by Merz (clear aperture = 7.46 inches). The original observatory building was replaced by a Romsey type wooden structure in 1970s – currently under restoration by Bath Astronomers and the school (Sidders 1926).

Pond’s Observatory [JPO] (c.1806-11), Westbury-sub-Mendip, established by John Pond and equipped with an altazimuth Circle. Known as ‘the Westbury Circle’ it was made by Edward Troughton, London. Dismantled in 1811 when was appointed Astronomer Royal succeeding Nevil Maskelyne at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (Howse 1986, 83).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s