Thursday, 17 September 2015

A plaque on both your houses

In these frantic times, it's good to take a minute now and then to remember some of our sadly lesser-known, yet nevertheless important, figures from history.

In my regular wanderings, I am frequently surprised by how little attention the average pedestrian (far less the average driver or gyrocopter pilot) pays to the plaques and memorials that dot or, if you prefer, pepper our streets. Sometimes these panels record interesting, successful or famous people; sometimes the locations of discoveries or events of great historical importance.

If only we looked up a little more, it sometimes seems to me, our lives could be enriched and enlivened by the thought of those who came before us (even if those thoughts should probably not, in all good conscience, always be considered to be entirely historically accurate).

This week, it's time to celebrate Dr James Yearsley, founder of the Metropolitan Ear Institute in London in 1838. Dr Yearsley is rightly recognised with this green plaque at 32 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, London, the site of his former clinic.

Without Dr Yearsley's tireless work and years of painstaking research, the chances are we still wouldn't have ears today or, as they were originally known in honour of their inventor, "Yearsleys". Queen Victoria who, for all any of us know, may have been a regular visitor to the clinic, is reported in Court circles to have been seen "grinning from Yearsley to Yearsley" after a successful appointment with the good doctor.

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