Acland Crescent, SE5

Place Name

Sir Henry Acland (August 23, 1815 – October 16, 1900), one of Victorian England’s most influential scientists. However that’s not the reason he is commemorated here, rather it is on account of his lifelong friendship with writer John Ruskin who lived nearby, at Herne Hill, during the 19thCentury, hence Ruskin Park. Exeter-born Acland studied medicine in London and Edinburgh before serving as a physician from 1846. His distinguished career started with a post as Lee’s reader in anatomy at Christ Church, Oxford which where he met Ruskin. During his time there, Acland introduced the study of natural science into the university, became Regius Professor of Medicine, curated the university galleries and Bodleian Library and founded the University Museum. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1847, and later represented Oxford on the General Medical Council, of which he served as president from 1874 to 1887. He accompanied the Prince of Wales on a visit to America in 1860, and received numerous honours at home and abroad. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1883, promoted to a Knight Commander in 1884 and in 1890 created a baronet. He also pioneered improvements in public health and hygiene, following his heroic work during the 1854 cholera epidemic, and was a pioneer of professional nursing and midwifery. His interests extended to the arts. “To Henry Acland,” said John Ruskin, “physiology was an entrusted gospel of which he was the solitary preacher to the heathen,” but on the other hand, his thorough classical training preserved science at Oxford from too abrupt a severance from the humanities. In conjunction with Dean Liddell, he revolutionised the study of art and archaeology, to cultivate these subjects, for which, as Ruskin declared, no one at Oxford cared before that time, began to flourish in the university. The street appears to have been laid out in the mid-20thCentury.

 

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