image MS_776_232
Image number: RS.17366
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Whispering place, Gloucester Cathedral


29 October 1662


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 321mm
width (page): 200mm


   > Acoustics


The layout and structure of a narrow passage in Gloucester Cathedral behind the high altar called a ‘whispering gallery’, in the shape of half of an irregular polygon, about 20 yards in length. A gentle whisper at the end of this gallery was audible for the entire length of the gallery. Its description by Henry Powle was read at the meeting of the Royal Society on 5 November 1662. Earlier in the year (August 1662), fellows such as Robert Boyle, Jonathan Goddard, Walter Charleton and William Croone were discussing echoes and sounds, and had sought information about the whispering gallery from Henry Powle.

Copied from RBO/2i/034. Other versions of these images can be found at RBO/2ii/040, Cl.P/7i/29/001, Cl.P/2/33/003, MS/215/031 and RBC/1/257.

This volume is another copy of entries of the first two volumes of the Register Book. It was given to Sir Joseph Banks by G. S. Heales Esquire of Doctor's Common on 31 May 1814.

Object history

At the meeting of the Royal Society on 20 August 1662, ‘Mr. Powle was directed to be written to by Mr. Oldenburg, that he would send the society an exact description of the whispering-place in the cathedral of Gloucester’ (Birch 1:105).

On 5 November 1662, ‘Mr. Powle’s description of the whispering-place in the cathedral of Gloucester was brought in by Mr. Oldenburg, and read; and the scheme of it was ordered to be drawn in the great, against the next meeting; which Mr. Winde undertook to do’ (Birch 1:120). Text reproduced in Birch 1:120-23.

Related Fellows

Henry Powle (d.1692, British), Politician

Associated place

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