OXFORDSHIRE


BANBURY

Horton Hospital. The hospital is named after Miss Mary Ann Horton whose father, William Horton, became wealthy by inventing a machine to make elastic knitted hose. It first opened in 1872.

BURFORD

The pharmacy at 124 High Street , Robert Reavley's, claims to be the oldest pharmacy in England. On 16 July 1734, Nicholas Willet leased these premises as an apothecary. A pharmacy has continued here under several ownerships ever since. However the pharmacy in Knaresborough was established in 1720.

EWELME.

God's House. Founded in 1450 by William de la Pole and largely unspoiled. Fine buildings around a picturesque cloister adjoining the parish church in which there is a memorial to Sir William Osler who was Master of the foundation in his later years.

OXFORD.

The name of Dr John Radcliffe abounds in various quarters of the city; his memory is perpetuated in an observatory, two libraries, a college quadrangle, travelling fellowships for medical men and two hospitals. Radcliffe, the son of an attorney, was born at Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1652 . He claimed relationship with the Earl of Derwentwater and assumed the Derwentwater coat of arms. After Dr Radcliffe died, the College of Heralds refused to accept his alleged relationship and forbade the Derwentwater arms being displayed on any buildings erected from his estate but Oxford University paid not the slightest heed to their order and the arms appear on several buildings in the city.

Radcliffe died in 1714, leaving 140,000 in his will for the enlargement of University College, for travelling medical scholarships and for a library. However his will makes no mention of an infirmary or an observatory : both these projects were financed from the residue of his benefaction on the suggestion of its trustees.

The original Radcliffe Infirmary (see picture right) in Woodstock Road which opened on St Luke's Day 1770 has been largely superseded by the John Radcliffe Hospital, a modern conglomeration of concrete and glass on Headington hill. Until 1885, the Radcliffe Infirmary was a university institution, governed by university officers and often staffed by Fellows of the colleges. The university department of radiology retains some interesting historical material in this hospital including an important archive by A.E.Barclay and innovative apparatus for cineradiography. There is a plaque in the old infirmary commemorating the first use of penicillin in a patient in Briscoe ward on 12th February 1941. This represented the culmination of two years research at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology under the leadership of Professor Florey to isolate and purify the exudeate from the mould Penicillium notatum, the bacteriocidal effects of which had first been noted by Sir Alexander Fleming
Close to the Radcliffe Infirmary stands the curious Radcliffe Observatory which was completed in 1794 and used as an astronomical observatory and lecture room by the University. The observatory copies in form and decoration a tower in Athens erected in B.C. 100 for a water clock. Like the Athenian building, the Radcliffe Observatory is decorated with bas reliefs of the winds, carved in Windrush stone by John Bacon, R.A. The cast iron globe and supporters on the summit of the roof are also the work of Bacon.

In 1930, the observatory was threatened with demolition to provide a site for a block of flats but Lord Nuffield mercifully intervened, purchasing it and its grounds for medical research. It is now part of Green College.

 

The magnificent Radcliffe Camera, a circular library designed by James Gibbs was opened in 1749 and is probably the most outstanding building in the city.

In 1811 the library was confined to housing books on medicine and natural science but a larger building was ultimately required and in 1901, the Radcliffe Science Library, in the Parks, was opened and now has an extensive collection of medical literature on its shelves, including some manuscript material relating to Radcliffe and his contemporaries as well as a collection of portraits of medical men. The Camera was taken over by the University in 1927 and became part of the Bodlean Library. This is the main university library and possesses some fine incunabula relating to medicine and pharmacy.

 

Nearby is the Oxford Museum of the History of Science  (Tel: 01865 272 950), next to the Sheldonian Theatre, which has a fine collection of medical electrical equipment from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as well as a small but valuable collection of drug jars, surgical and dental instruments, anatomical preparations and materia medica. There is also an exhibit relating to the Oxford work on penicillin. In addition to the medical and pharmacy exhibits, the museum possesses an unrivalled collection of early astronomical and mathematical instruments, including optical apparatus from the Radcliffe Observatory. There is an almost complete series of early microscopes and an important collection of chemical glassware which was used in the Daubeny Laboratory, as well as many other items of scientific interest. The museum is open to the public Monday to Friday 10.30-13.00 and 14.30- 16.00 (except for Bank Holidays, Easter week and Christmas week). The museum library may be used by application to the librarian.
The Ashmolean Museum has a fine collection of Roman surgical instruments, including a double bust of a Roman physician and his wife. The mediaeval section has a stone corbel depicting a leprous face and some early spectacle frames.
The Radcliffe Quadrangle, begun in 1716 as a result of John Radcliffe's bequest , is part of University College. The doctor's statue by Francis Bird, holding a staff of Aesculapius, faces into the quadrangle from the tower. Sir William (later Lord) Beveridge, of the famous Report, was Master of the college from 1937-1945. His portrait, by Allan Gwynne-Jones, hangs in the Hall.

 

The Botanical Garden  is the oldest established physic garden still in existence in the country. It was founded in 1621 by the Earl of Danby and its original purpose was to study the use of plants in medicine.
Many famous names in medicine are associated with this city including Thomas Willis, who lived in Beam Hall, a 15thC Acedemic Hall in Merton Street, and practised as a doctor in the city and at Abingdon market on Mondays. He later leased consulting rooms at Boster Hall (on the site of what is now the HFC Bank at 86/87, High Street) Other famous Oxford physicians of this period were Richard Lower, Sir William Petty, John Mayow, Thomas Sydenham and John Locke though they all eventually left the town to practice elsewhere.

Oxfordshire Health Archives  cares for the historic archives of twenty five Oxfordshire hospitals, seven administrative bodies and several nurse training schools, as well as the collections of such related bodies as Leagues of Friends and Nurses' Alumni organizations.

 

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