In lowering a turnpike road through a hillock of Kummeridge clay in the rectory glebe of Hardwick, some immense fossil bones of the gigantic Plesiosaurus were found, one single femoral bone weighing 60 lbs, together with several of it’s teeth, and other rare and beautiful fossils. When HRH the Prince Albert visited the British association at Oxford in 1847, the late Sir H De la Beche, Professor E Forbes and Dr Buckland requested the Rector (Rev C Erle) to bring these fossils to Oxford and when first laid before the Geological Section, Professor Sedgewick exclaimed “what glorious fossils”. Addressing the Rev Erle he said “if you will present them to my Woodwardian Museum your name shall be immortalised as a benefactor to the University of Cambridge”. Dr Buckland deprecated them leaving Oxford, and the Rev Erle subsequently presented them to his friends Sir H de la Beche and Professor E Forbes for the Museum of Practical geology in Jermyn Street, London and Rev Erle received the official thanks of the Board of Woods and Forests. Dr Buckland features in the 21st century novel by ….. about the fossil collector… in Lyme Regis.
Further information about the Rev Christopher Erle can be found in pages 13/14 “The Rectors of Hardwick”.