Episode 5: A Victorian Dinosaur Dinner

Illustrated London News, January 7 1854, Add MS 50150, f. 225

Illustrated London News, January 7 1854, Add MS 50150, f. 225

Ever dream of dining with a T.Rex? Join us for a New Year's Eve dinner in 1853 at London's famous Crystal Palace where you can meet the man who coined the term dinosaur itself, Sir Richard Owen. And dinosaurs won't just be the talk of the table, they'll be the table itself! Discover how one Victorian dinner helped to launch the dino-mania of today, from The Flintstones to Jurassic Park.  

Written & Produced by Laura Carlson

Technical Direction: Mike Portt

Research Assistant: Megan Kirby

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If you had been invited to Hawkins' iguanodon dinner, you would have received an invitation that looked very much like this:

Original drawing by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for the invitation to Dinner in the Iguanodon Mould. This is preserved in Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. A printed invitation also is preserved in the Waterhouse Hawkins collection at the Natural History Museum. For more information, please see here. 

Original drawing by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for the invitation to Dinner in the Iguanodon Mould. This is preserved in Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. A printed invitation also is preserved in the Waterhouse Hawkins collection at the Natural History Museum. For more information, please see here. 

We even have the menu from the famous meal, preserved alongside the original invitation. Note the number of sweets & desserts! 

You can try out a few of these Victorian dishes yourself at home, including:

Mock Turtle Soup (courtesy of The Kitchen Project)

Julien (or Cut Vegetable) Soup (courtesy of Cooking Kosher)

Cotolettes de Moutonaux Tomates (Lamb Chops with Tomato Sauce) (courtesy of The Sloppy Cook)

Macedoine Jelly (or Jelly with Red Fruits) (courtesy of The Telegraph)

 

The famous song the party goers sang as they headed back to London has been updated & re-recorded by a group at Cambridge University.

Check out the music video to "The Jolly Old Beast" (if you dare!)

Read the backstory to the song

 

Hawkins was keen to publicize the dino-dinner & wrote to a number of his friends about the meal, even including a hand-drawn sketch of the iguanodon meal: 

Detail of the dinner party held inside the Iguanodon, from Hawkins' letter to Trimmer, Add MS 50150.

Detail of the dinner party held inside the Iguanodon, from Hawkins' letter to Trimmer, Add MS 50150.

The Illustrated London News published a number of feature pieces on the dinosaurs and Hawkins, including one of the mold of the iguanodon (presumably before the dinner took place):

Etching showing the mould being created from the full size clay model of the iguanodon from Illustrated London News, Dec 31 1853

Etching showing the mould being created from the full size clay model of the iguanodon from Illustrated London News, Dec 31 1853

Here's the Crystal Palace & the dinosaurs as they stood in the mid-1850s once completed:

Lithograph published by Day & Son, 1854, showing the Crystal Palace and Park in Sydenham. Add MS 50150.

Lithograph published by Day & Son, 1854, showing the Crystal Palace and Park in Sydenham. Add MS 50150.

More on Dinosaurs!

There are some great books out there about the history of paleontology in England as well as Richard Owen and Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. A few notable mentions include:

 

Deborah Cadbury, Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World

 

 

 

 

 

You can read all about Sir Richard Owen, the man who coined the term "dinosaur", and why he's been largely forgotten by history in this great piece by The Telegraph

The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are still around today!

They are cared for & preserved by the "Friend of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs" society, which has a huge amount of great information about the history of the sculptures on their website, available here. 

Episode Soundtrack:

Hector Berlioz, "Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9" performed by the US Army Band

Franz Liszt, "2 Waltzes, S.126b - 2. Waltz aus dem Ballet Die Amazonen" performed by Mauro Tortorelli

Frederic Chopin, "Waltz in A minor, B. 150" performed by Aya Higuchi

Franz Liszt, "Waltz in A Major" performed by Mauro Tortorelli

Claude Debussy, "La Plus que Lente" performed by Gerluz

Bughici, "Suite for Violin, 8 Ardeleneasca, moderato" performed by Advent Chamber Orchestra (licensed under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License).

Johannes Brahms, "Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39 - 1. Waltz in B major" performed by Martha Goldstein

Johannes Brahms, "Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39- 2. Waltz in E major" performed by Martha Goldstein

Johannes Brahms, "Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39- 2. Waltz in flat major" performed by Martha Goldstein

Johannes Brahms, "Sixteen Waltzes, Op. 39- 2. Waltz in g sharp minor" performed by Martha Goldstein

John Philip Sousa, "With Pleasure (Dance Hilarious)" performed by the United States Marine Band