Andrew Crosse: The man and the myth

Andrew Crosse: 'Thunder and Lightning Man' © Somerset Wildlife Trust

Andrew Crosse: 'Thunder and Lightning Man'

Andrew Crosse became Fyne Court’s most celebrated occupant. He was a visionary scientist and poet with a deep love of his native Quantock Hills.

Electricity and experimentation       

Andrew Crosse was a highly intelligent man whose fascination with electricity ignited when he attended a lecture on the force. He began experimenting by giving electric shocks to unsuspecting friends. 

When he graduated from Oxford University he returned to Fyne Court to run the estate. Here his near obsession with electricity intensified.

Crosse became intrigued by its presence in the atmosphere and decided to explore this interest further.

He strung up a third of a mile of copper wire in the grounds and connected it to equipment in the music room.

Voltage would build up when there was fog, heavy rain or thunder and lightning. Conducting equipment would begin sparking and flashing, and loud bangs would shake the music room.

Local fear

Little was known about electricity when Crosse started experimenting with it.

Local people began to question what Andrew Crosse was doing and thought he was trying to attract storms.

He became known as the ‘Wizard of Broomfield’ and the 'Thunder and Lightning Man'.

Was Andrew Crosse Frankenstein?

In an experiment to generate crystals Crosse found that mites began appearing from a piece of volcanic stone he had put in acid and passed an electric current through.

After repeating the experiment, he found the same results. He informed a local newspaper editor, who published his findings without asking for permission. As a result, many people accused Crosse of trying to play God and create life.

Fyne Court's most famous resident gave a lecture on his findings in London, and it has been claimed that Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley attended.

This led to the belief that Crosses’ lecture inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. But their presence at the lecture has never been proven.