Kings Road – “Sir Hans Sloane”

My accompanying photo is a bit of a giveaway in respect of when it was taken. This statue of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) may be found just off the Kings Road at the entrance to The Duke of York Square and the nearby Saatchi Gallery.

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Sir Hans was born in Killyleagh in Ireland but following his interest in the natural world, studied medicine in London and France. In 1689 he set up a medical practice in Bloomsbury Place and his patients included Queen Anne and George I & II. He promoted the inoculation against smallpox and the use off quinine against malaria. Of particular interest was his recommendation that his patients imbibe drinking chocolate with milk. He is quoted as saying “Chocolate is here us’d by all People, at all times, but chiefly in the morning; it seems by it’s oiliness chiefly to be nourishing and by the eggs mixt with it to be render’d more so. The Custom, and very common usage of drinking it came to us from the Spaniards, although ours here is plain, without Spice. I found it in great quantities, nauseous, and hard of digestion, which I suppose came from the great oiliness, and therefore I was very unwilling to allow weak Stomachs the use of it, though children and Infants drink it here as commonly as in England they feed on milk ..” There is, as a result a company selling drinking chocolate in his name today, although his original recipe was at one time used by Cadburys.

Sir Hans was also a collector and through his own efforts and by subsuming those of others, his collection had amounted to 71,000 objects by the time he died in 1753. He bequeathed everything to King George II for the nation in return for £20,000 to be paid his heirs. The collection formed the basis of the collection which started the British Museum following an Act of Parliament receiving Royal Assent.

The statue by Simon Smith was erected in 2007. It is based on the original, carved by John Michael Rysbrack in 1737 and stands two meters tall and weighs nearly two tonnes.

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