London History

.’. Jeremy Bentham .’.

Known for many years as the “Lord Wellington” it is still frequently referred to as the “Welly Bar” by many of the academics and local residents. Renamed in October 1982 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Jeremy Bentham who is recognized as the spiritual founder of the University College London. The myth that he was the founder is sustained in a bizarre manner by the College.

Jeremy Bentham was born in 1748 at Spitalfields, London and was reportedly as a child prodigy, as a toddler he read a multi-volume of the history of England and at the age of three he began to study Latin.
He attended Westimenster School and, in 1760 at age 12, was sent by his father to The Queen’s College Oxford where he took his Bachelor’s degree in 1763 and his Master’s degree in 1766.

As requested in his will, Bentham’s body was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture. Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon” and it is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college.

His “Auto-Icon” as he called it, is in fact his skeleton, dressed in his own clothes and topped with wax model of his head.

His actual head is mummified and kept in the College vaults. It is brought out for meetings of the College council and he is recorded as being present but not voting. Above the bar can be seen a copy of the wax head, made by students at the College. In renaming the pub after him we are reminded of his greatest ideal. “The greatest happiness of the greatest numbers.”



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