Victorian Geology Collectors

Worcester City’s geology collection is a typically Victorian geological collection of around 12,000 specimens contains a wide variety of geological material – rocks, fossils, minerals, ores, meteorites, gemstones, borehole cores and models. The major strength of the collection lies in the comprehensive range of local fossils and rocks, particularly those from the Malvern Hills. The collection was mainly assembled in the nineteenth century with many specimens collected during the construction of the railways and others obtained from sites which no longer exist today.

The remarkable rocks of the area have attracted geologist since the early pioneering days of the nineteenth century and one of the most significant features of the collection is its interesting and important historical background. Worcester is one of the oldest provincial museums in Britain and since it was founded in 1833 by the Worcestershire Natural History Society, geological specimens have formed a prominent part of the collections. During the mid nineteenth century the Society flourished and was greatly influenced by Sir Charles Hastings, the founder of the British Medical Association.

Some of Britain’s most distinguished geologists including Sir Roderick Murchison, Sir Richard Owen, Professor Phillips, Professor Buckland and Sir Charles Lyell visited the Museum. Members of the Society included a number of remarkable local geologists – Sir Hugh Strickland, Sir Charles Hastings, Rev. W.S. Symonds, Dr Harvey Buchanan Holl, Ormus Biddulph and Jabez Allies. Their individual collections can still be recognised today. For the first 100 years of its history, the geology collection was in the care of a succession of curators – George Reece, W.H. Edwards and E.J. Else – who were keen and competent geologists and assiduous collectors. They greatly enriched the collection.

Rosemary Roden
Rosemary has worked with Worcester City Museums’ geology collection for many years and can be contacted via Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum.

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