Human and Anthropomorphic Taxidermy with Pat Morris
At the Dissenters Chapel on Sunday 8th October at 7:30 pm

Though taxidermy had been around in primitive forms for hundreds of years it was a German, Herman Ploucquet, who was responsible for initiating the Victorian craze for anthropomorphic taxidermy (that is the dressing of animals in human clothes) with his display at the Great Exhibition in 1851. This inspired the English 19th Century creators of taxidermy dioramas, such as Walter Potter.

Here Pat Morris will discuss the ethical issues surrounding anthropomorphic taxidermy. Is is demeaning to animals? Or is it just a whimsical and amusing way of thinking about ourselves and our relationship with the natural world? Is a stuffed mouse in bonnet and apron really any worse than the illustrations we love in Beatrix Potter's books?

And in his talk, Pat Morris will also examine the history of human taxidermy. Despite the popularity of taxidermy in the Victorian household, stuffing human beings presents intractable technical and ethical problems. Wax models, embalming, and more recently, the plastination technique, as seen in Gunter Von Hagen’s Body Worlds dissection shows, have proved more practical methods for preserving and exhibiting the human corpse.

However Dr Pat Morris has managed to track down seven examples of human beings who have been stuffed and in his talk he will discuss the history of this maverick art form. Some of these specimens were servants whose masters wanted them preserved so they could remain posthumously in attendance, while others were circus freaks whose proprietors wished to be able to continue to make money from exhibiting them even after their demise.

Tickets £12 including a Hendrick's gin cocktail. Please click here to buy.

Dr Pat Morris has published over 80 scientific papers and has written many books, mostly about mammals. He is best known for his studies on hedgehogs over the last 40 years. He was Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway, University of London and is an Honorary Life Member of the Guild of Taxidermists.

Travel advice to the Dissenters' Chapel - During the day guests can walk through the cemetery to get to the chapel but at night the main cemetery gates on the Harrow Road will be closed and the only accessible entrance is on Ladbroke Grove. Previously the address for this entrance was 364 Ladbroke Grove but this number has now been updated to 391.

The two closest underground stations are Ladbroke Grove (Hammersmith & City or Circle Line) or Kensal Green (overground and Bakerloo Line). From Ladbroke Grove station there are several buses you can take to the Dissenters which include either the 28, 52 or 452. It's best to get off at the Sainbury's bus stop and then it's a short walk down Ladbroke to the entrance to the Dissenters' Chapel.


The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Ticket includes tour of the catacombs.