Medical Services


Mulbarton has the Wingfields of Mulbarton Hall to thank for an affordable local medical service. Mrs. Wingfield gave just over £600 (an enormous sum in those days) to the Rector and Churchwardens to invest to provide nursing care in the parish. This fund was 'The Mulbarton Nurse Fund', and the committee appointed a Mrs. Clarke at a salary of £13 a year, plus £2.60 towards rent. By 1900, Swardeston, East Carlton and Bracon Ash were also covered, and the committee became affiliated to the Norfolk County Nursing Association. Jessie Ash (Mrs.) is listed as the parish nurse in 1904. But it still cost a lot our of a labourer's wage to call a nurse, so country cures were still used.

Vinegar and Brown Paper Mulbarton 1880s
My dear mother suffered from cruel headaches, and in them days there was no running off to surgeries - not that there was time for it anyways..... She was laid low for two or three days with these bad heads, and I spent my time dipping brown paper into vinegar and laying it on her forehead. 'Ah,' she'd say, 'That's lovely, boy!'
(From 'Within Living Memory - a collection of Norfolk Reminiscences' (written and compiled by members of the Norfolk Federation of WIs, 1971) All anonymous)

Oddfellows' Register open at a page for 1866
Oddfellows' Register open at a page for 1866

With no Social Security, it was hardly surprising that almost every household belonged to the Oddfellows Benevolent Society - one of the important Clubs, Societies & Unions whose Lodge was at the World's End. Above is spead from the Register showing payments of a penny (1d) a working day collected as a shilling (12d) every fortnight. Even with such a small sum some people got into arrears. Poor people who did not pay into such a fund depended on grants from local charity when sick or injured.

Medical certificate with records of the Mulbarton branch of the Oddfellows
Medical certificate with records of the Mulbarton branch of the Oddfellows


The school log book suggests the village was not a very healthy place: numerous entries about school closures and exclusions due to epidemics of measles, whooping cough, 'flu, scarlet fever and diptheria.

1887 April 20th - Closed School today by order of the Medical Officer of Health owing to an epidemic of Measles.

May 20th - School reopened Monday; 84 present. Several are still away suffering from Measles and Ringworm.

1888 Oct. 12th - School opened on Monday after having been closed six weeks. The last two weeks by order of the Medical Officer of Health owing to an outbreak of Scarlet Fever.

1889 Jan 18th - Three children absent from Whooping-cough

and many more entries most years up to 1946.

Doctors and nurses visit the school to inspect for infections, nits, skin disease, etc.

1916 July 20th Nurse Bullock called to examine children's heads. [First mention]

October 26th school closed for diphtheria outbreak [till Nov. 13th]

Oct. 30th School disinfected by teachers today.

1919 July 8th Letter of exclusion received for [3 children of 1 family]: This is on account of Ringworm in Head. 3 separate letters of advice and pamphlets of treatment were sent by me... In the afternoon I sent the 3 boys home as they came without the linen caps according to instructions. Gardening today to make up lost time thro' weather.

And eventually they come to organise immunisation - after which school closures cease:

1947 Oct. 22nd Dr. Maingay came to give Immunisation Injections. He was assisted by Nurse Chadwick.

The District Nurse

The Mulbarton & District Nursing Association

In 1914, the Association began to charge its members:

"The Mulbarton & District Nursing Association has been obliged to make a new rule which became operative on October 1st 1914. It was hoped that the voluntary offerings of patients would bring in such a sum that would make up the deficiency in the subscriptions, but this has not been the case. Rule 5 therefore reads ' 'In cases of general sickness the charges for the Nurse's visits will be as under:-

Class I 2d. Class II 4d. Class III 6d."

(From East Carlton Parish Magazine, November 1914)

Nurse Sexton arrived as District Nurse in June 1920, replacing Nurse Thompson who left to get married. At that time, the Nurse's salary was £90 a year + uniform (£1.8s.11d), bicycle (18s 3d), insurances (£1.13s.3d) and cottage furniture (£18.0s.6d). The other main expenditure was on drugs (£3.13s.4d) and fees and sundries (£1.16s.2d). Income in 1919-20 came from voluntary subscriptions and donations (£34.2s.1d - with donors and their gifts listed); charges for midwifery cases (£19. 7s.0d); fees for Nurse's services (£2.17s.4d); Health Visiting Grant (£1.1s.3d); School Nursing (1s 7d); plus payments from the Board of Guardians (£2.2s.0d); from the Local Government Board (£7.12s0d); the County Council Grant (£20);and Interest from Stock held by the Association (£21.4s0d).

The scheme continued into the 1930s whereby people could contribute 1 (old) penny a week and pay a lot less for nursing care. Charges in 1934 were:

General nursing - threepence a visit (free to subscribers)

Midwifery - £1.2s.6d (15 shillings to subscribers)

Maternity - 12s.6d. (7s.6d to subscribers)

In 1933/4, Nurse Sexton reported 20 midwifery and maternity cases, 59 general cases, 2 operations, 2 TB cases.

Extract from Mulbarton Parish Magazine, May 1937:

The Annual Meeting of The Mulbarton and District Nursing Association was held at The World's End Club Room on April 19th. The resignation of the Hon. Secretary, Mrs. Dupuis, was received with much regret. The annual report stated that Nurse Sexton made 2508 visits to 106 cases which entailed bicycle journeys amounting to 2844 miles.

168 attendances were made to the baby weighing meetings.

Finance: [in whole pounds] Balance 1935-6, £60. Voluntary Subscriptions £25; Mulbarton Nurse Fund endowment £21; Members' subscriptions £32; Fees £15; grants £55; collections £5. Total £215. Expenditure: wages, uniform, rent, dressings, etc. £175; Balance in hand £40


Nesda Gray (nee Carver) remembers her particularly well:
'Nurse Sexton: she came to Mulbarton in 1920, and my sister Rhoda was her first baby. My son Victor was the last baby she attended before retiring in 1946.'

From Brenda Ford (nee Collins):
There was Nurse Sexton when I was small who was of the real District Nurse breed. She delivered my brother just before the war. She was greatly loved and [from the 1930s] lived in one of the council houses in Long Lane. She mostly rode her bicycle, but she did have a little Ford car.

Nurse Sexton by the door of her house in Long Lane
Nurse Sexton by the door of her house in Long Lane

Red Cross supplies were available for loan from cupboard in the Wingfield Hall, which was also used for Red Cross trainings. In the 1930s, there were training sessions about chemical warfare, and jumble sales and 'hops' to raise money for the Hospital Contributory Scheme. Coming more up to date, people remember baby clinics being held in the old Wingfield Hall ('very draughty').

The advent of the National Health Service took away the anxiety of having to pay for medical care. In 1961, the Charity Commissioners agreed to the old Nursing Association Fund becoming the Mulbarton Sick Poor Fund, which is administered by the church but now has an income of less than £10 a year so can do little to help either the sick or the poor and has been amalgamated with similar very very small charities. 


There were accidents before there was any comfortable road transport, as the school log book shows:

1898 Jan 12th School reopened today.... Alice Mitchell away through an accident on the ice. She is still in Norwich Hospital.

We have no idea how she got there.... But calling an ambulance was a costly matter even by the 1940s. Mrs. Stackyard had to pay for the vehicle's return journey (13 miles) at 6d a mile when her son was taken to the Jenny Lind children's hospital in 1941, so the bill came to 6 shillings and 6 pence (below).

The Doctor's Surgery

Dr. Deacon is the first doctor to have had a telephone number in Mulbarton (Eaton - 201x4 in the 1920 Directory) and he had a surgery in Hethersett (phone Eaton 1). By 1928, Dr. R F Connell had a surgery here (tel.12) but lived in Swardeston. He was probably followed by Dr. Rogerson and then Dr. Maingay, the doctors people remember. 

There was no permanent surgery - the Doctor held consultations on certain days of the week in the front room of one of the cottages near the pond (now Huntingfield Cottage)  -  Dorothy Tungate

'Next to Funnel's (baker's) in one room of their house was the surgery where Dr. Rogerson performed. He also had a surgery in Cringleford. He was ably assisted by Nurse Sexton on her "sit up and beg" [bicycle] and later in her Ford Eight. Not loved by little boys....'   -  Tony Kent

'The doctor's surgery was held in the sitting room of a private house. The doctor was Dr. Maingay for most of my young life. There was no appointment system, we just used to sit and wait, and no prescriptions - he would mix up a bottle of evil tasting medicine himself. It always cured us!'    -   Brenda Ford (nee Collins)

People remember paying 2s. 6d (half-a-crown or now 12½p) to visit the doctor and 3s. 6d if he visited them, until the NHS abolished charges in 1948.

With more people working outside the village, the Parish Council requested an evening surgery (from the Minutes):

1952 July: Mulbarton needs an evening surgery and better method for collecting medicines. Parish Council to contact Dr. Maingay. [Evening surgery agreed from Jan. 1953]

By the late 1950s the village needed better medical facilities and a small surgery was built on the Norwich Road to serve Mulbarton and Swardeston (now the vet's). Dr. James was here. He was followed by Dr. Leaman in 1974, who was instrumental in seeing that the growing village had its own medical practice and modern surgery - despite opposition to his initial plans for a new building near where the Village Hall now stands:

From Parish Council Minutes:    1977 May 9th Annual Parish Meeting at the Village Hall

Dr Leaman had approached the Chairman regarding the possibility of establishing a new surgery in the village. With the growth of Mulbarton and the surrounding districts the present Surgery is becoming too small. The plot required would be about half an acre to allow for adequate parking.... Dr Leaman felt that an ideal position would be by the Village Hall [old school]; this would of course mean encroachment on the Common and the Chairman sought the opinion of the meeting; the voting was overwhelmingly against the proposal.

The unused caretaker's bungalow by the new school was taken over and adapted and the Humbleyard Practice opened in 1980. Later one of the partners, Dr Christine Buckton, was instrumental in setteing up an alternative therapy centre in the disused butcher's shop.