THAT’S NORMAL, ISN’T IT? – 5/11/18


Jeremy Bentham has been sitting in a corridor at University College London since 1850.

This goof, left a will with specific instructions on the treatment of his corpse. He decreed that his skeleton and mummified head be assembled, clad in a black suit and seated upright on a chair in a wooden cabinet. He also suggested that his corpse could preside over regular meetings of his utilitarian followers.

For 10 years prior to his death, he carried a pair of glass eyes in his pocket so that embalmers could easily implant them into his head. Unfortunately, when the time came, something went wrong in the preservation process. Bentham’s head took on a mottled, hollow-cheeked look, its leathery skin sagging under a pair of intensely blue glass eyes. Preservers created a wax head and screwed it onto the skeleton to ensure a more visually pleasing display, placing the real head between Bentham’s feet.

The head sat undisturbed until 1975, the a group of students kidnapped it demanding a £100 ransom. The university made a counter-offer of £10, and the students caved, returning the head. After a few more pranks, including one in which the skull was apparently used as a football, university administrators decided to remove the head from display. It’s now in the Safe in the Institute of Archaeology.

Really, that’s normal isn’t it?

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