Cotswolds Claims to Fame - Inventions & Discoveries

Roger Bacon, the renowned 13th Century scholar and philosopher, received his early education in the village of Chalford, near Stroud.
Bacon's byname was Doctor Mirabilis, meaning “Wonderful Teacher”, and he became a major medieval proponent of experimental science.
He was the first European to describe in detail the process of making gunpowder, and he also proposed flying machines and motorised ships and carriages.
Winchcombe-born Christopher Merrett was a pioneering physician.Christopher Merrett (1614-1695), a Winchcombe-born doctor and naturalist, has been credited as the "inventor of Champagne" and he also produced the first lists of British birds and butterflies.
After studying at Oxford, Merret practised medicine in London. He was the first person known to have described using sugar in wine to make it fizzy, years before Dom Perignon, who is traditionally thought of as the father of Champagne.
The astronomer James Bradley, who was born in the Cotswolds, made two of the most important discoveries of the 18th Century. In July 2014, the Winchcombe Festival of Fizz was held to mark the 400th anniversary of Merrett's birth.

An 18th Century astronomer born in the Cotswold village of Sherborne is the man responsible for Greenwich Mean Time.
James Bradley, who was born in 1693, attended Westwoods Grammar School in Northleach and studied at Balliol College, Oxford.
Bradley went on to become the third Astronomer Royal from 1742, succeeding Edmund Halley, and made two discoveries that were said to be "the most brilliant and useful of the century". He discovered the aberration of light (1725-1728) and the nutation of the Earth's axis (1728-1748).
Bradley also established the Greenwich time line, so we have him to thank for Greenwich Mean Time.
Bradley retired in broken health to the Cotswold village of Chalford where he died at Skiveralls House in 1762 and was buried in Minchinhampton.
Reverend Edward Stone (1702–1768) was a Church of England Rector who discovered the active ingredient of Aspirin.
In 1745 he became chaplain to Sir Jonathan Cope at Bruern Abbey and served various curacies around Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
He was also a Justice of the Peace for Oxfordshire, actively enforcing the Poor Law.
He once lived on the site of the Hitchman Brewery in West Street, Chipping Norton, where an Oxfordshire Blue Plaque has now been erected, and was buried at Horsenden, Buckinghamshire, in 1768.

The statue of Edward Jenner in Gloucester Cathedral.Edward Jenner (1749-1823), the English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, the world's first vaccine, was born and raised in the Cotswolds.
Jenner is often called "the father of immunology" and his work is said to have "saved more lives than the work of any other human".
A portrait of Edward Jenner by James Northcote.He was born in Berkeley, the eighth of nine children, and his father, the Reverend Stephen Jenner, was the vicar of Berkeley.
Jenner went to school in Wotton-under-Edge and Cirencester and at the age of 14, he was apprenticed for seven years to Mr Daniel Ludlow, a surgeon of Chipping Sodbury.
After working at St George's Hospital in London, Jenner returned to his native Gloucestershire and became a successful family doctor and surgeon in Berkeley.
Jenner and others formed the Fleece Medical Society or Gloucestershire Medical Society, so called because it met at the Fleece Inn, Rodborough, near Stroud.
Jenner is buried in the Jenner family vault at the Church of St Mary's, Berkeley, and his house in Berkeley is now a small museum.
Almost two centuries after Jenner's pioneering work, in 1979, the World Health Organization declared smallpox an eradicated disease
In 2002, Jenner was named in the BBC's list of the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote
A statue of Jenner can be found in the nave of Gloucester Cathedral, while another statue was erected in Trafalgar Square and later moved to Kensington Gardens in London.
Near the Gloucestershire village of Uley, Downham Hill is locally known as "Smallpox Hill" for its possible role in Jenner's studies of the disease.
Edwin Beard Budding (1796–1846), an engineer from Stroud, was the inventor of both the lawnmower, in 1830, and the adjustable spanner. Budding went into partnership with a local engineer, John Ferrabee, and together they made mowers in a factory at Thrupp, near Stroud. Examples of the early Budding-type mowers can be seen in Stroud Museum, the Science Museum in London, and at Milton Keynes Museum.

 Sir Isaac Pitman invented his world famous system of shorthand while teaching in Wotton-under-Edge.One famous former resident of Wotton-under-Edge was Sir Isaac Pitman (1813-1897) who invented his system of shorthand.
Pitman first came to Wotton as a teacher at the British School and he later set up his own school originally in Symn Lane and then in Bradley Street.
He invented his “phonography”, or shorthand, in 1837 while living in Orchard Street. He later moved to Bath.
A marble plaque dedicated to Sir Isaac Pitman can be found in Orchard House, Wotton.
Elisha Smith Robinson (1817-1885), a Blockley grocer and druggist, is credited with inventing paper bags for shoppers. Born in Overbury, near Tewkesbury, Robinson was apprenticed to his maternal grandfather, Rev Elisha Smith, a grocer and Baptist minister in Blockley and in nearby Chipping Campden.
He went on the establish his own printing and packaging business in Bristol, ES & A Robinson, which became the largest buyer of paper in the British Empire.
Robinson was Mayor of Bristol in 1866 and in 1870 he was elected as Liberal MP for Bristol but was unseated on a technicality. Robinson was a staunch Baptist and in 1872 he laid the foundation stone of the new Chipping Campden Baptist Church.
Robinson also had a love of cricket and a number of his descendants went on to play for Gloucestershire. For decades, cricket teams made up entirely of Robinsons played matches on August bank Holiday, including a game against a team made up entirely of Graces in 1891.

Bow Wow Sauce, a sauce to be served with roast meats, was developed in Painswick.

The Danish-born inventor Mikael Pedersen invented his famous bicycle while living in Dursley.Mikael Pedersen (1855-1929) was a Danish inventor much associated with the town of Dursley where he invented the highly distinctive Pedersen bicycle, but his story is one of rags to riches and back again.
Pedersen's unusual and ingenious cantilevered bicycle earned a small but devoted following.
His other inventions included a novel corn thresher capable of separating corn from chaff, a transmission system, a gear system for horse-drawn mills and a braking system for waggons.
Pedersen was also involved in the development of a continuous centrifuge for the churning and separation of cream and butter from milk and he came to England to set up local assembly with parts shipped from Denmark.
A modern-day Pedersen bicycle.The separator was highly successful in the English market and Pedersen became rich, renting the largest house in Dursley and becoming prominent in society in the town. He formed a choir and took part in concerts, and set up a number of social and sporting groups.
However, Pedersen lacked business acumen and was both profligate and prone to being cheated. He left Dursley unannounced and was spotted by a friend selling matches in London, who arranged to pay his way back to Denmark in 1920.
He died in 1929, poor and virtually unknown, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Copenhagen. Although Pedersen was largely forgotten in his native country, in 1995 a collection was started by enthusiasts for the Pedersen bicycle to raise funds in order to bring Mikael Pedersen's remains back to Dursley and re-bury them there.
This was achieved in 1995, and the service was attended by over 300 people including the Bishop of Gloucester, representatives from the Danish Embassy and Pedersen's grandchildren.
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2022.