6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Max Clifford comes face-to-face with Winston Churchill's dentures

17:20 09 January 2012

Max Clifford comes face-to-face with Winston Churchill's dentures

Max Clifford comes face-to-face with Winston Churchill's dentures

I never imagined, when I was asked to speak at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, what myriad of delights awaited me...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2011


Elmbridge resident Max Clifford's monthly Surrey Life columngives us an insight into his busy life in the county and beyond...


SUBSCRIBE to Surrey Life magazine
BUY SL online


I never imagined, when I was asked to speak at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, what myriad of delights awaited me including coming face-to-face with Winston Churchills dentures.


I was there to give a talk at the presidents dinner for the Prostate Cancer Charity of which I am an ambassador and during my visit I was lucky enough to have a tour of the Hunterian Museum, which houses tens of thousands of weird and wonderful human and animal specimens. The shelves are full of fascinating artefacts, some of which may be considered controversial.


Whilst on our tour, among the exhibits we saw were the cranium and teeth of a megatherium, or extinct giant sloth. This specimen was presented to the college by Charles Darwin back in 1837. He collected the fossil during the voyage to South America. Megatherium weighed as much as elephants and became extinct about 10,000 years ago.


Just a few feet away from that was half of Charles Babbages brain. He was an eminent mathematician and computer pioneer who designed complex mechanical calculating machines. The other half is kept at the Science Museum. Babbages brain was preserved by Sir James Paget at Babbages own request. He gave his permission to use it in any way necessary to the advancement of human knowledge.


During the late 19th century, this specimen was included in research studying the brains of the eminent men. Sadly, the curators attempts to prove a link between brain anatomy and genius were not successful.


The museum also houses Sir Winston Churchills dentures; these have a gold base, platinum clasps and mineral teeth. Normally made to fit as closely as possible to the palate, Churchills dentures were different. To compensate for his natural lisp, his were designed to leave a gap between the palate and the roof of his mouth, thereby enabling him to maintain his distinctive speaking style.


A painted silver prosthetic nose from the mid-19th century can also be seen. This false nose was worn by a woman who had lost her own as a result of syphilis. She later presented it to her physician, stating that she had remarried and that her new husband preferred her without it.


We also saw the cast of the cranial cavity of Jonathan Swift. Swift was an author and Dean of St Patricks Cathedral. He is best known for his satirical book Gullivers Travels. Such casts of the inside of skulls were used to calculate the volume of the brain. This cast was made by Edward Perceval Wright in 1864.


The museum curator, Sarah Pearson, explained: The purpose is not to sensationalise these remains but celebrate the history and development of medical science, mistakes and all.


If you do visit the Royal College of Surgeons, which I recommend, be warned: it is not for the faint-hearted. With displays of primitive surgical instruments, animal and human remains, tumours, reconstruction work, misshapen skeletons and all, you may need a strong stomach.





(All photos The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London)


0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Mon, 17:52
Ron with a McLaren 12C Spider

Last year, Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans was the major surprise at The Children’s Trust’s The Supercar Event when he spun into Dunsfold Park in his Ferrari. This year, a whole host of motoring fanatics are supporting the cause. Here, a few of them share their dream cars – as well as their top tip for what to see at the event

Read more
Mon, 11:38
WI members help out with the 1954 Keep Britain Tidy campaign

On the eve of the WI’s centenary celebrations, Aly Warner catches up with national and local leaders to find out what it means to be a member today – and why there is special cause for celebration here in Surrey...

Read more
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Mr Benn narrator Ray Brooks enjoys making the most of his weekends at home in Kew

Best-known as the narrator of children’s TV series Mr Benn, here actor Ray Brooks shares the stories of his weekends at home in Kew...

Read more
Thursday, May 14, 2015
David Mills with one of the red squirrels at the British Wildlife Centre

As owner and founder of the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, which is home to the country’s finest collection of native wildlife, David Mills rarely manages a weekend off, but that’s just the way he likes it. Here he talks us through what he gets up to...

Read more
Thursday, May 14, 2015
There's never a dull moment with Tim Vine around (Photo Andy Newbold)

With a host of awards to his name, comedian Tim Vine has been at the top of his game for nearly two decades. But ahead of a nationwide tour, some quick-fire rounds with the pun-slinger reveal that there’s nowhere quite like home in Banstead…

Read more
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Working in the studio

Ewhurst painter Alexander Creswell is famous for his glorious, large-scale architectural paintings.

Read more
Monday, May 11, 2015
Anything Obama can do! Peter shooting some hoops with the Surrey Goldhawks basketball club (Photo: Simon Hunt)

Like many people, High Sheriff Peter Lee was surprised to find that real deprivation could exist in a county like Surrey. As his year in office comes to a close, here he talks to Matthew Williams about some of the other things he’s learned along the way, the place of this historic role in modern society – and getting used to its fashion demands...

Read more
Monday, May 11, 2015
Michael relaxing in his 500-year-old family home (Photo: Richard Kluczynski)

With his family roots at Guildford’s Loseley Park dating back more than 500 years, Michael More-Molyneux is a man with his finger firmly on the Surrey pulse. Currently chairing the multi-million pound campaign to save Guildford Cathedral, as well as overseeing the renovation of his historic home (not to mention putting up the occasional film star), there’s never a dull moment, as Matthew Williams discovers

Read more
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Celebrities share their favourite local places in Surrey Life

Over the years, some of Surrey’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about our county to Surrey Life. Here, we compile their favourite restaurants, shops, views, places to visit and relax, and ask what makes you proud of living in Surrey?

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



subscription ad

subscription ad

Surrey's trusted business finder