History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Provenance

According to King and Millburn (p. 160) it is likely that this orrery was owned by Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731). Orrery bequeathed 'that mathematical instrument called the Orrery which is now at my house at Britwell in Buckinghamshire and was made by Wright in Fleet Street' to Dr Robert Friend, master of Westminster School. Friend later became Canon of Christ Church, and it was from Christ Church that the orrery came to the museum.

Although there is no direct evidence of the orrery passing formally from Friend to Christ Church, it would have been seemed natural to have this instrument rejoin the others which had belonged to Orrery.

If the Oxford orrery did belong to Orrery, and the date of the earth's printed gores is the date of the whole apparatus, then it was commissioned only shortly before Orrery's death on 28 August 1731. The implied association between Wright and Orrery would help to explain why Wright catalogued the Orrery Collection that went to Christ Church.

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