What's On

Isle of Wedmore Society -Thursday 23rd January

Our first meeting of 2020 will take place in the Wedmore Masonic hall at 7.30 pm.

The speaker will be the well known Wedmore historian, Hazel Hudson, and her talk will be on ‘Destitute and Ill. How Wedmore cared for its sick poor people 200 years ago.’

Members free.

Visitors £4 with free tea/coffee afterwards.

Contact: Ian Tomes on 01934 710390.’

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As usual we opened our new year of talks with one by Hazel
Hudson entitled ‘Destitute and ill’ (in Wedmore 200 years ago).
Elizabeth I brought in the Poor Laws and how the poor were
treated in Wedmore 200 years ago was certainly very different
from today.

There was a Poor House situated to the west side of the church
gates and four overseers were appointed by a JP (Justice of the Peace) to check that the records (which were started in 1701) of the sick were in order.

We had doctors from about 1640 and although the less well-off had their treatment subsidised, many patients had to pay. Dr Westover was appointed by the overseers about this time and he charged 2 shillings and sixpence per visit. Those who were eligible for free treatment had to wear the letters PW on their clothes to confirm this.

Nearby Mark did not have a doctor so he had to travel around the neighbourhood on horseback. The itch or scabies as it was known was widespread and in 1716 smallpox was treated with venom injected with a needle! A certain William Hodges, a destitute member of his family, had a leg amputated and was treated for six months – a person was paid 7
shillings and sixpence for making him a false leg and he survived for a further six months.

A Dr Glanville (after whom the road in the village was named) was here for many years and eventually the Poor House was knocked down in 1843 and patients were transferred to the Workhouse in Axbridge.

£1000 of pounds were paid out to look after the poor and they were well treated and Wedmore was better served with doctors than the surrounding areas. So much has changed since the NHS was started in 1948 and perhaps we are all better off in 2020!!?

Thanks to Hazel for another illuminating talk – how many more will she give us?

Chris Edwards

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