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Today is Sir Thomas Browne Day - but who was he?

PUBLISHED: 12:17 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:17 19 October 2018

Thomas Browne statue, in the Haymarket, Norwich. Photo: Talking Statues

Thomas Browne statue, in the Haymarket, Norwich. Photo: Talking Statues

Talking Statues

17th century polymath Thomas Browne died on his birthday on October 19, 1682 - but why isn’t more known about him?

You may not immediately know who he is, yet most people in Norwich have walked past his statue on Hay Hill.

Thomas Browne spent most of his adult life in the city, living in his ‘patch’ of Hay Hill. Although famous around the world, he is not as well known to locals in his home city.

Sir Thomas Browne's house Haymarket Norwich demolished 1842 (Image: Archant)Sir Thomas Browne's house Haymarket Norwich demolished 1842 (Image: Archant)

Thomas Browne was a polymath - a doctor, a scientist, a botanist, a naturalist, a philosopher and a writer. He asked questions about life, in the days when science as we know it now, didn’t exist. His house - now Pret a Manger - was a crazy clutter of curiosities, animals and objects.

He died on his birthday aged 77 and was buried in St Peter Mancroft Church alongside his family. In 1905, a statue of him was erected in Hay Hill and then in 2007, another set of marble and granite sculptures were installed as a ‘living room’ for the city.

The scene at the unveiling of the statue of Sir Thomas Browne at the Haymarket on 19th October 1905 (Image: EDP library)The scene at the unveiling of the statue of Sir Thomas Browne at the Haymarket on 19th October 1905 (Image: EDP library)

To celebrate Browne and to highlight his existence, the Thomas Browne Project has started celebrating Sir Thomas Browne Day on October 19 every year. They are holding free events in Norwich which everyone is welcome to:

• 10:30am-11:30am - A tour of Browne artefacts in St Peter Mancroft Church by Barbara Miller - free

• 12:30-1:30pm - Costumed recital of extracts of Browne’s work by Browne enthusiast and scholar Kevin Faulkner on Hay Hill - free

• 7pm - Annual Sir Thomas Browne Talk by George Szirtes at the National Centre for Writing, Dragon Hall, Kings Street - pay what you can

Happy Sir Thomas Browne Day!

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