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A House of Medics

WBR recently looked at Wolseley House in Market Lavington. This fascinating house is tucked away at the east end of the village. The land on which it stands apparently once belonged to the chantry of the parish church. Examination of the physical fabric showed that it dated from the early 18th century, as the listed building schedule suggested, and the rough dates of additions. What the list does not do is tell you about the succession of occupiers and what they did. Our redoubtable researcher Margaret researched the history and among other facts she found that from 1826 until the early 20th century the house was occupied by those of the medical profession. In 1831 the parish registers show William Tucker, a surgeon, as both owner and occupier of a house and land on which 9/- tax was paid. The house next door (now called Ivy Lodge) was also curiously occupied by a general practitioner in 1851.

It was then found that this concentration of medics was probably due to the proximity to Fiddington House, which had become a private lunatic asylum in about 1817. Other medics occupied the two houses after 1831 including a James Herriot, a general practitioner (not the vet!), and William B. Pepler described as a ‘surgeon and apothecary’.

By 1881, the Lush brothers, William Henry and John Selfe, both practising as surgeons, had moved into the two adjoining houses. John Selfe Lush was said to be living at ‘Ivy Cottage’. He was medical officer for the No.7 District of the Devizes Union, and also medical superintendent of the nearby Fiddington House Asylum. His brother William Lush was the public vaccinator for the 7th District. An anonymous reminiscence recalls that the two brothers used to visit their patients who lived out of the village on horseback. After 1910 this long period of occupation by medics was broken, though Fiddington House continued in existence until at least 1936.

Dorothy Treasure. Principal Buildings Historian, Wiltshire Buildings Record