ONE of the key figures of Victorian science lived in Richmond Park for 50 years and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's, Ham.

The church has recently contributed information on Professor Sir Richard Owen's life for an exhibition at Fleetwood Museum in Lancashire.

The Ham parish magazine recounts some of his life. Born in Lancaster in 1804, Richard Owen went on to become one of the most eminent Victorian scientists.

During his career of nearly six decades, he published over 600 papers and more than a dozen books, on subjects ranging from Australian marsupials to gorillas. He is perhaps best remembered today for his key role in the discovery and analysis of the dinosaurs - a word which he coined.

For the last 50 years of his life, he lived at Sheen Lodge in Richmond Park, which had been given to him by Queen Victoria. He was mentioned in the same breath as Newton and was ranked second only to Charles Darwin in importance as a naturalist.

He was appointed superintendent of the British Museum's natural history departments in 1856 and immediately started campaigning for the natural history collection to get its own museum on a fresh site. He succeeded in convincing the government and sketched out the overall layout of the new museum at South Kensington, which opened in 1881.

He mingled with royalty and prime ministers and had many honours and medals heaped on him. As well as his knighthood and civil list pension, he was given honorary doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin and Edinburgh Universities.

Sir Richard died in 1892. His funeral at St Andrew's is said to have been the grandest ever seen there.