People gathered in Skinner Street, Poole to witness the unveiling of the commemorative plaque with help from the town’s mayor Cllr Julie Bagwell.
The blue plaque highlights the importance of Philip Henry Gosse and his contributions in forwarding the cause of natural history in Victorian England. Some say he was Poole’s ‘David Attenborough’ of some 170 years ago.
Known to his friends as Henry, his childhood home in Poole, was just across the road from Skinner Street church, were he was a member of the choir. His aunt, Susan Bell, taught him to draw and introduced him to zoology, using specimens from the harbour.
In 1827 he sailed to Newfoundland to work as a clerk. In his spare time he became a dedicated, self-taught student of Newfoundland natural history. He repeated this pattern of study whilst he farmed unsuccessfully in Quebec.
Returning to London in1839 he published the Canadian Naturalist. This was followed by some 34 books plus scientific papers on various subjects.
A summer spent in 1850s’ Weymouth is used as a backdrop for his most popular book The aquarium: an unveiling of the wonders of the deep sea (1854), which was the catalyst for the Victorian love of seawater aquariums.
The blue plaque is the result of a joint project between Skinner Street Church, the Poole Flag Trust and Poole Group of the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Several of those attending the unveiling were related to Henry Gosse.
Blue plaques link people of the past with the buildings of the present and serve as historical markers.
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