I thought we'd have ouwselves a welaxing day today because of couwse it's Team Tolstoy tomowow and if you've wead this month's chapters you'll know who I'm thinking of, and it's not Jonathan Woss.
I think I may have mentioned to just about anyone who will listen that I've read and very much enjoyed the biography of Edith Cavell and therin discovered a very interesting local snippet.
In 1901 or thereabouts, Edith Cavell applied for the post of Matron of Tavistock Hospital.
Now the consensus is that this was our Tavistock Hospital and, even if not, my imagination has already run away on a frolic of its own
Sadly for the town's history, and what would have been a good excuse for another statue that isn't Francis Drake or the Duke of Bedford, to say nothing of interesting road names like Cavell Close and Edith Lane, Edith's application to run our hospital was unsuccessful.
This is Tavistock Hospital now and it all piqued my interest in the history of the town's cottage hospital about which I knew very little despite having worked there, so it was off to the local library to find out more. Luckily the library has a really informative local history section and a complete file of cuttings and articles about the hospital including evidence of a medieval leper hospital thought to have been somewhere beneath what is now the Spar shop.
Browsing the file was fascinating and it's often the incidentals that can reveal the interesting details and the little nuances of social history that give such a wonderful picture of life back then... and how might the path of Edith Cavell's life have differed if she had secured the post of Matron at our little cottage hospital?
Would Belgium and the idea of war service and her ambitions to establish a nurse training school have been quite so urgent had she been settled in Devon, rather than filling a rigorous and exhausting permanent night sister post at the St Pancras Infirmary, located near Highgate Cemetery in London, for want of anything else?
One in five of the admissions would die, and many of those deaths would be from the complications of city living with squalid sanitation leading to infection, and fog-induced respiratory disorders prevailing.
I'm not sure what may have prevailed in Tavistock at the time, rural living probably just as perilous but in different ways ...charging bulls and farm accidents probably.
But in 1923, in order to raise £500 towards the cost of the new Tavistock hospital building there were all manner of community events.
The Royal Marines Band came from Plymouth and gave a concert in the market to 2,500 people and in the arcades around there was a miniature fat-stock show (Tavistock doesn't need much of an excuse to hold one of those) and competitions various run by residents various...
Throwing coins with Messrs Williams & Stenlake
Bran Pie with Messrs Wilmot and Weeks
Hoop-La with Mr Ash
All very enterprising because any gifts won were given back and auctioned for the fund, whilst Matron ran a competition to guess the final total raised, alongside Sister Friend who ran a competition to guess the number of people who paid for admittance.
Nothing like milking the event to the maximum.
But then there was the Draw and this was no ordinary draw with perhaps a dozen or so prizes, heavens they could teach us a thing or two because there were hundreds of prizes, twenty-six column inches of tiny printed details giving names, addresses and items own. I've left out the addresses as they will only be of interest to those who live here, but if you do live here you too may wonder as I did how Mr Muzzlewhite of Brook St or Mr Mitchell of Parkwood Rd or Miss Madaver of Bannawell St fared with their prizes.
And then my imagination ran riot with the others...
Let's hope Mr Maunder's cakes looked nice on his prize
and Mr May had a friend to pass his on to
and then there's Mr Goodman doubtless thrilled to be kept in sandwiches for about a year,
and I wonder who Nurse Hosking took with her
and I expect Miss Hillyar had herself a rare old time,
and thank goodness Mr Muzzlewhite had something to hold his trousers up with while he ran after his other prize,
and I hope to goodness Mrs Titcombe's teeth were up to it
and Mrs Gale must have been thrilled and...
oh I'll let you imagine for yourself...
Col Coleridge 5 cwt of coal
A.Down 4 doz eggs
G. Shellabear a lamb
Col Coleridge a silver pickle fork
Mr Muzzlewhite a cockerel
Miss Hillyar 1 doz Guiness
B.Bailey a goose
W.F.Brown one dozen photographs of yourself
Mrs Gawman a box of cigars
Col Coleridge 2lbs of tea
W.Maunder 2 D'Oyleys
George Giles 2 ducks
Mrs Gale an "EverSharp" pencil
Mrs Titcombe a 4lb tin of toffee
Mrs Cornish a hen and 6 chicks
Mr Muzzlewhite a pair of braces
Mr May a ladies camisole
Mr Woodward one week's washing up to 10/-
Nurse Hosking 2 cinema tickets
Miss Maddaver a gander
Mr Goodman a 6lb tin of corned beef
Rev Peacock 2 fowls
Mr Mitchell a pig
Mr Ball a pair of ladies silk stockings
Two years later in 1925 an £8000 extension scheme was announced for the hospital which would have meant an awful lot of prize draws and hoop-la throwing, so thank goodness the Countess of Mount Edgcumbe, in attendance at the public meeting to discuss the plans, started the ball rolling with a donation of £25.
Mr Alger apologised to her Ladyship for the smallness of the meeting but it was a market day.
Apologies were sent from Mr Sperling who promised £5 towards the scheme and from Mrs Rowe who hoped they would have a good time.