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The auction of instruments at Observatory House, Campden Hill - 19th Century
The former residence of the Phillimore family was purchased by Sir James South in 1827. Sir James was an astronomer. He renamed his new home Observatory House. In the garden he built an observatory. He commissioned Isambard Kingdom Brunel to build the dome. Troughton & Sims were asked to supply the mounting for the 12 inch lens he had purchased in Paris. South was unsatisfied with the work and sued all concerned. Furious at loosing both cases he destroyed all the offending articles. As this cartoon shows he then sold the pieces at an auction in his grounds. The lens survived and presented Trinity College, Dublin.
He also waged war with the Vestry, refusing to allow any roads to be built near his house. The vibration he feared would interfere with his astronomical observations. Campden Hill Road was only opened to the south after his death in 1867. While his relations with people were fraught, he doted on his pet dog Tiger.
Copyright: the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries (RBKC Libraries)
Location of original: B08 Print Drawers alph GC2121
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