Pigeons on the brain
Anyone that has been to Hay Hill will have seen that the statue of Sir Thomas Browne is habitually covered with pigeons - he provides many perching places and they clamber over him almost like affectionate children would climb on their father. This scene amused me though as I watched this pigeon drink water from the folds of the brain sculpture the other day, picking seeds and fragments from the crevices which reminded me of the phrase 'let me pick your brain' and I thought that it was something that might have amused Sir Tom himself - or maybe does as he looks down over this scene from his pedestal.
Marion Catlin 8 September 2018
From Professor Claire Preston
Oh, and do you know that terrific anecdote about Browne by JB Priestley?
While visiting Norwich he heard that there is a plaque at 12 Orford Place commemorating TB's residence there, and that it was once mistaken for an actual doctor's surgery in Kelley's Directory of Norwich 1929. It made him think of the following ghost story, which he told to the friend who reported it:
'Don't you see it? The year is 1929, after the publication of that directory. Late at night, with everything closed solid, a woman is suddenly taken ill and he husband, frantic, grabs the directory to look for a physician. There is no telephone, but the nearest doctor is a man named Browne, a few squares away. The husband snatches his hat, rushes out into the darkened streets, and in a few minutes is standing before the tablet in Orford Place. Yes, there it is! -- 'Thomas Browne, M.D.' He plunges his thumb into the bell and -- '
*I think it is no longer called Orford Place, but he means the house that's now the Pret a Manger.
I love that story!
Submitted by Claire Preston
Professor of Renaissance Literature
Queen Mary University of London
General Editor, The Complete Works of Sir Thomas Browne (Oxford) supported by the AHRC