EARLY experiments on the Quantock Hills conducted into electricity are the subject of letters recently acquired by Somerset County Council’s Record Office.
It has purchased two letters written in the 1830s by local man Andrew Crosse (pictured, left) detailing his experiments within the field of electricity.
The experiments were conducted at Fyne Court, Broomfield.
The letters have been catalogued and will be added to the holdings of the Somerset Record Office (pictured, below), alongside other material already held relating to Crosse, who experimented with the presence of electricity in the atmosphere.
Crosse’s experiments and the resulting spectacular effects of lightning and loud bangs caused alarm at the time among people living on the Fyne Court estate.
It was stories about these experiments, which Crosse recounted during a series of lectures, which were said to have inspired Mary Shelley to write her famous novel, ‘Frankenstein’.
Shelley reputedly attended one of Crosse’s lectures in London.
Somerset’s Head of Archives, Janet Tall, said: “These letters are an important addition to the archives, which help to give an insight into the work of a local man experimenting with electricity at a time when this was a new field.”
Adult and community services portfolio holder Councillor Justin Robinson said: “This is very exciting for the Record Office, and we are proud to be able to provide access to the letters.
“I would encourage people to visit the office, which provides new experiences and an insight into the history of Somerset.”
The council purchased the two letters at auction for £400.
Both letters talk about ‘some products formed in a new manner’ and also speak of a desire to see the work being conducted into ‘animal magnetism’.
The Record Office’s catalogue also includes publications and a few other letters, mentioning progression with electro-voltaic batteries, on which Crosse also worked.
The letters are now catalogued (reference number A\CYG) and can be viewed free of charge in the office.
Anybody who wants to visit the office should make an appointment up to three weeks in advance by calling 01823 337600.