A lock of hair, reputedly from King George III
King George III (1738-1820) ruled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and was also king of Hanover – part of mainland Europe – from 1760 to 1820. He was prone to episodes described as ‘madness’ by contemporaries. Recent tests on the hair found an unexpectedly high concentration of arsenic. Heavy metals such as arsenic can make the symptoms of the hereditary condition called porphyria worse. Some researchers believe George had this condition. Porphyria can lead to severe mental imbalance and episodes of apparent ‘madness’. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, dislike of bright light, and purple urine. Henry Wellcome bought this lock of hair at auction in 1927, enclosed within a slip of paper documenting its origin.
Glossary: human hair
used to define human remains as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human remains'
An object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or an event
A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.
Glossary: Mental health and illness
Mental health is the term used to describe a level of emotional wellbeing, or the absence of a mental disorder. The World Health Organisation describes mental health as "A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
An object intended to act as a reminder of the giver or original owner.