Friday, 23 October 2009

The dead guy in the cloisters? Yeah, I know him

Jeremy Bentham is his name.

All the wonderful things University College London is known for, being recently ranked 4th in the world according to the Times Higher Education QS rankings (that's above Imperial and Oxford Universities), notoriously secular, only accepting the creme de la creme of studentia (I went here..snigger). All the wonderful things UCL could be, and is, known for, but in the end it all boils down to one thing.....

....we have a dead man living in the cloisters
This is a fact, and his name is/was Jeremy Bentham.

Stay tuned for the fun bit, but a little bit of info about Jezza first, the man deserves some respect!

Jeremy was is considered the 'Godfather' of UCL. Although he didn't have a direct hand in the establishment of the university in 1826, it was his lifes work and his principles that UCL stood on. As well as a number of other social issues (which I'll mention further in a bit), he believed that education should be available to a far greater number of people. UCL was the first university to allow entry to students regardless of race or religion, it also soon caught up with itself and was the first to allow female students through its doors.

Bentham was a revolutionary social reformer, during his lifetime he attempted to tackle, and at least made a lot of noise over the following issues:

The right for individual and economic freedom

Need for separation of the Church and State

Freedom of expression

Equal rights for women

The end of slavery

Abolition of physical punishment

The right to divorce

Free Trade

Decriminalisation of homosexual acts

Abolition of the death penalty

He was way ahead of his time!

Now for the fun bit! In Benthams will he asked that his body be preserved as an auto-icon, and his students and 'disciples' (ironic) honoured his wish. His body was embalmed and placed in a glass and wooden case. Until 1850 this was kept by one of his followers, until it came to UCL in 1850. See a picture below. I was going to take my own picture, I literally went down there just now to take one, and some inconsiderate dudes in suits have set up some kind of table right in front of him.....sigh.

The head is a wax replica of Jezza's likeness, his real head was damaged quite badly during the embalming process. The real head was originally placed on the floor in the case between his feet, but after it had been stolen a few times by students and found being used as a football in the front quad, they decided to keep it in storage. This pic was taken before the real head was removed.

I've heard rumours...and I know for a fact this has happened at least once, that Jezza is wheeled in for meetings of the college council. His head is taken out of cold storage so that he is entirely present. Tradition holds that he is listed as 'present but not voting', unless the vote is 50/50, under which circumstances, Jezza break the vote by voting in favour of whatever motion is being passed.

Tis true, tis all true. Well done UCL :)

Our local pub is named after this fine chap, I've had many too many a beer in the Jeremy Bentham. When I get back to my old faithful laptop at home I shall put up some pictures of the best local in the world.


  1. Better than Imperial.

    You did that you did Sproglet x

  2. Better than Imperial...Oh yes!

    Of course it's all down to me *flicks hair and buffs nails*