Presentation to Wolverhampton Archaeology Group (WAG) on 22 January 2022

By Doug Bickley

Watercolour painting of the Wrottesley Observatory, reproduced by permission of the Royal Astronomical Society library

Some of you may remember a talk that I gave a while ago about Lord Wrottesley (1798-1867) and the observatory that he built and operated near Wolverhampton. I was approached a couple of years ago by Wolverhampton Archaeology Group to give a presentation to them. Since then lockdown has come and gone and we rearranged the talk. This was fortuitous in some ways because Steve Wootton and I had made a couple of site visits since and I could bring the talk up to date. The observatory, or what is left of it after 180 years, is on private land and I invited the landowners to the talk.

Wrottesley Observatory ruins as they are today

Lord Wrottesley was a respected albeit not well known astronomer and on moving back to Wolverhampton on the death of his father, built a beautiful and well equipped observatory near the family home (see watercolour picture).

The presentation went well (and I may reprise in the future as a member’s lecture) and the WAG members asked lots of questions afterwards. It’s always good to engage with the audience, because that usually means that the talk went ok!

I went through the construction of the observatory, explained the importance of the historical observations that Wrottesley had made and showed lots of pictures of the observatory as it is now. It has fallen into ruin since the early 1920’s.

Steve Wootton and I do intend to make further visits to maintain a historical record of the site.