Palmer the Doctor

In August 1846 Palmer returned to Rugeley a qualified doctor having obtained his diploma from the College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.) Later, probably in 1847, he started up as a doctor by putting up a brass plate up outside the house in Market Street, that he rented for £25 a year from Lord Lichfield. This house stood opposite the Talbot Arms (later named the Shrewsbury Arms and more recently The Shrew) where John Parsons Cook later died in Room 10. His mother-in law, Leonard Bladen, four of his five children and his wife all died in the house that Palmer rented.

Palmer must have been well liked as a doctor, at least at first, because he built up his practice to such an extent that he could afford to engage Benjamin Thirlby to be his full time assistant. Thirlby in fact went on to run the practice as Palmer spent most of his time occupied with his horses and horseracing.

George Fletcher, in his book The Life and Career of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley published in 1925, told a story of one of his visits to Rugeley. In 1905 the then landlady of the Talbot Arms showed him Palmer’s brass plate saying she had been offered £5 for it and asked how she could best dispose of it. Fletcher suggested that Madame Tussaud’s Wax Exhibition might want it to put in its Chamber of Horrors. Unfortunately I have been unable to trace what happened to the brass plate.



Top left: Dr. Palmer’s House as it looked in 1856 The Illustrated London News May 24th 1856. Top right: In Fletcher’s 1925 book, this was said to be photographed in 1855 and that the lady in the doorway was his maid Eliza Tharme but looking at the plant growing up the wall it is more likely to be a postcard about 1900. Bottom left: The house later became a post office and then a shop. John Godwin’s photograph shows the house in 1979. You can still see the pattern of the upstairs windows. Bottom right: “Palmer’s House” much changed in this picture taken by Dave Lewis in January 2001.