Tuesday, 17 February 2015


After reading my post about the Hunterian Museum the other weekend, Charlotte my niece decided  to foster my interest in the macabre further.  She thought that I might like to see Brighton's very own collection of dead things. They're housed at the top of a bloody great hill in the Booth Museum.  Here for starters is a Tasmanian Devil with my very own Devonian Devil. Can't decide which species is nastier or fiercer!

Back in the 19th century Edward Booth decided to demonstrate his keen love of nature by shooting at least one example of every species in Britain. He  then stuffed them and mounted them in 'attractive' display cases, sometimes with a few of their eggs for good measure.  He even went so far as to rear gannets in his garden so that he could pop them off when their plumage was just right.  Whilst waiting he practised using his guns on passing postman.  I'm not sure that he was a very nice man.

As well as travelling around Britain in his quest to take pot shots at anything that moved he also travel further afield. Here's one that he killed and mounted especially for me. I think I might have refused the grisly gift.  Those hummingbirds that I saw sipping sugar water from feeders in the Appalachian mountains were far prettier alive!

Now here's Louis' favourite exhibit, the skeleton of a Dodo. This one, for certain, didn't meet its maker at the hands of the founder of the museum as the last ones were killed in the 17th century.  Obviously though if the last of the species had been around during Mr Booth's lifetime he would have almost certainly have gone out with his shotgun to see if he could hunt it down!  There's other skeletons too including gigantic whale ones.  Let's hope that they died a natural death.  A little voice inside says that this might not have been the case.

In the midst of all the carnage there were a few exhibits that I found pleasing.  Here's a near
perfect example of a fossilised fish......

....and a huge piece of beautiful gypsum with its crystallised fingers.

I was also taken by the toad in a rock and the ugly merman, the creations of hoaxsters.

In spite of the dubious methods used to create the collection, it's definitely worth a look.  Here's a beautiful piece of brain coral to finish with. Now that's another species that thankfully most agree is much better off in a natural habitat.

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