Saturday, 7 June 2014

Sir Frederick Treves past and present

Over the past year I have been suffering with discomfort in my neck and lower back. My GP has diagnosed osteoarthritis and has referred me to the  Dorset musculosketal services  at Frederick Treves House in Dorchester.
I recognised the name Treves as there is a Treves Road in Dorchester, so I have been having a look into who this genteleman was.

Frederick was born  in 1853 in Dorchester at no 8 Cornhill.

His parents were furniture makers and he attended school at a building in South Street which was run by the poet William Barnes until he was about 13 years old.

As a teenager he went to Merchant Tailors School in London. His father died and his mother moved the family to London. He then went to University College where he studied medicine.

Researching the history of some of his medical achievements it explains to me why his name has been honoured for the  modern medical centre on the Poundbury where I have my appointment in a few weeks time.

I remember watching a film when I was a teenager called 'The elephant man'. It was the story of a man who suffered from a severe physical deformity and I can remember the film made me feel very sad.
I have discovered that Frederick Treves provided the man that the film was based on 'Joseph Merrick' with safe accomodation in an attic of a London hospital, until he died. This very sad film must of had an impact on me as I remember it clearly and I understand Joseph died without a confirmed diagnosis of his extremely disfiguring condition.
Frederick Treves was also  responsible for the correct treatment for appendicitis and was the first to perform an operation to remove an appendix in England. This is of great interest to me as my niece was extremely ill with appendicitis at the age of 11 and her younger brother also had his removed at the same age.
It is very humbling to find the memorial to this obviously very talented medical surgeon in our local graveyard.

Frederick married Elizabeth Mason in 1877 when he was 24, she was a brewers daughter. I wonder what she would have thought of the new Brewhouse and Kitchen!
They had 2 daughters Enid and Hetty.

 He became the royal surgeon to both Queen Victoria and then King Edward VII whom he operated on to remove his appendix before his coronation.  He became Sir Frederick Treves and was rightly honoured for his innovative work, that we now consider often common and routine.
Very sadly his younger daughter Hetty died at the age of 18 from appendicitis. It must have been very harrowing for Frederick to operate on his own daughter and not to be able to save her.

 Frederick was given the opportunity of early retirement around the age of 55. He returned to Dorset, and his book Highways and Byways in Dorset was published. He travelled the world as he was  now a very wealthy man and could afford to do so. He moved to Lausanne in Switzerland in 1918 where he later died in 1923 of Peritonitis!!!! His body was cremated.

His ashes were later returned to Dorchester and a memorial service was held at St Peter's Church in Dorchester and his friend Thomas Hardy chose the Hymns, I have yet to find out which ones they  were.
My appointment at Frederick Treves House now seems extremely more meaningful, and I understand   that Frederick Treves made a huge contribution to medical history. 

A modern explanation of the condition that Joseph Merrick suffered from.

Link to Dorset Ancestors page

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