Alton House is at the bottom of The Terrace on Newmarket High Street (see image on the right). Clement Frederick Gray submitted the plans for Alton House in 1924, which described the building as a ‘home with surgeries etc. attached’ – see the ground floor plans below. The home part was for his son, Norman Gray, who re-married that same year (his first wife having died in 1917). The surgery was for Norman, his brother Gilbert, and Harold Hendley (the latter joined the partnership in 1925, apparently as a replacement for Clement, who seems to have retired about this time). It marks the point at which the Gray family practice started to develop into a wider partnership, with members from outside the family.
The Grays had long owned and practised from Lushington House, the next house up the hill from Alton House (where Clement continued to live until his death in 1943). In 1921 they bought Godolphin House and grounds (on the corner of The Avenue), which at that stage was next door to Lushington House, to the east. It appears that following this purchase the property was divided into three sections. The eastern part of the building remains as Godolphin House today, the western part was sold to The Freemasons, whose Lodge is still there today, and the original garden of Godolphin House was added to the Lushington House property. The Grays then built Alton House in part of this new extended garden of Lushington House (see the page on The Grays for maps showing this part of the High Street before and after these changes).
The building was named after the Gray family’s origins in Alton, Hampshire. According to practice lore it was the first purpose built GP surgery in the country. Whether this is really true is unknown. The building was obviously at least partly a house, with five bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, then downstairs a kitchen, drawing room and dining room. Also downstairs was a waiting room, next to a corridor that led to the purpose built surgery complex. Many medic’s houses had a ‘surgery’ in them, typically one or two rooms adapted for such use (see the page on Woodward Mudd whose house included a surgery, described when it was sold in 1818, and who had trained in a house with a surgery incorporated too). Perhaps this surgery complex could be described as the first purpose built example (as opposed to an adapted building such as the surgery at Kingston House, which was adapted from a stable and wash house in 1902). The original surgery complex at Alton House consisted of another waiting room, a dispensary, two consulting rooms, and a mysterious, surprisingly large, ‘electrical room’, (19 ½ feet by 10 feet) – see image below.
Soon other partners started to join the practice, most notably James (Jimmy) McNeil in 1932, who was to stay for nearly half a century. Others remained for shorter periods. The full list below, with dates and brief notes, has been compiled from the best available evidence I could find, including the Medical Directory and Register, and correspondence/discussion with those who have living memory of Alton House Surgery, but also supplemented by other sources such as Newspaper articles etc.
As the practice grew it eventually took over the whole building, including the house part. It’s not known exactly when that happened; it appears perhaps to have been a gradual process. The Gray family have memories of the house as a home in 1940 but family documents indicate that they were living elsewhere in Newmarket by 1951. After Clement Gray died in 1943 the Lushington House Investment Company was formed, in 1945. This existed to manage the properties owned by the Grays. They had a 50% share and the solicitors who used Lushington House as offices owned 50%. It would make sense that the whole of Alton House was leased by the partnership from the Lushington House Investment Company from that point. However, as late as about 1970 Dr Dale-Bussell lived in the upstairs and part of the downstairs of Alton House, and had use of the adjacent Lushington House garden.
An interesting snapshot of the practice exists from 1972 (see references below) a practice summary sent to Dr Baxter before he applied for the job.
The Alton House practice moved to The Rookery shopping centre in 1974 to become The Rookery Medical Centre, at which point Alton House ceased to be used as a medical building. For a time it was solicitors’ offices. It was sold as part of the Lushington House Investment Company to Tattersalls in 2013. At the time of writing (2017) the plaque on the outside of Alton House indicates that it’s used as offices by the International Racing Bureau Ltd.
During the time of Alton House Surgery, Dr Woollett moved his practice from Cardigan Lodge to Kingston House, where he was succeeded by Dr Joe Davis, who moved that practice to Rous Villa (see The Oakfield practice chain for more details). Dr Maund moved his practice from Grosvenor House to Heath Cottage about the time that Alton House was built, perhaps slightly before. He was succeed there by Dr Simpson who moved the practice to Lincoln Lodge. The same year that Alton House Surgery moved to The Rookery Medical Centre, Lincoln Lodge Surgery moved to Exning Road (see The Orchard House practice chain for details). See The Rookery practice chain for more details on the historical chain of Newmarket medics that Alton House Surgery is part of.
1925-1930: Hendley (had joined Lushington House Surgery in 1925)
1932-1974: McNeill (one of the six who moved to The Rookery in 1974; retired from there in 1980)
1939-1939: Brookman (appears perhaps to have been employed?)
1940-1947: Savory* (appears perhaps to have been employed?)
1954-1974: Dossetor (one of the six who moved to The Rookery in 1974; retired from there in 1988)
1965-1974: Wallace (one of the six who moved to The Rookery in 1974; retired from there in 1989)
1973-1974: Baxter (one of the six who moved to The Rookery in 1974; retired from there in 2002)
1973-1974: Wiggins (one of the six who moved to The Rookery in 1974; retired from there in 2000)
* Does not mention Alton House after 1947, but Camden House, and he was a retired RN Surgeon. His death was reported in The Newmarket Journal in 1956 under the heading ‘Sudden Death of Dr. C. H. Savory.’ It mentions that he was 65 years of age and of Camden House, and that he ‘served for 25 years in the Royal Navy, retiring in 1938 with the rank of Surgeon-Com-mander’ it goes on ‘It was in 1940 that he came to Newmarket to join Dr. Gray and Partners, and shortly after the war he opened his own practice.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Mar 1 1956: 1.
** Strickly speaking his name was A. P. Dale-Bussell, although he was generally known as Dr Bussell and referred to as Dale as if it was his first name.
*** The first female – in fact the first female GP in Newmarket.
**** Married Dr Walker.
Image 1: From Peter Norman’s Collection, originally part of Roger Newman’s Collection (cropped); image reproduced with kind permission of Peter Norman. [Note: we have not been able to access the back of this old postcard to ascertain the original publisher, but using the image here seems likely acceptable, especially given the card’s age. Please make contact using the details via the footer below if you know more, for example if further acknowledgements etc. are required.]
Image 2: 1924 plans for Alton House, reference EF506/6/1/19/666 (cropped); image ©, reproduced with kind permission of the Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds and the West Suffolk Council.
Image 3: From a copy of the Medical Directories at the Society of Apothecaries Archives, London (red annotations mine); reproduced with kind permission of the Society of Apothecaries Archives. [Note: for further details regarding this publication see the references and other sources consulted sections below.]
Image 4: From a private collection; image ©, reproduced with kind permission of Mary Darton and Colin McNeill.
Note: see comments regarding images and copyright © etc. on the Usage &c. page as well.
Note: I have not included here all of the references from the Medical Directory and Medical Register etc. used in constructing the table above. Those included are primarily the ones relevant to the start of Alton House Surgery – see ‘Other sources consulted’ below and comments above.
1834, 6th February: Frederick Clement Gray passed the LSA examination, apprenticed to ‘Thomas Charles Woodward’. Reference: Court of Examiners Candidates Qualification Entry Book, The Society of Apothecaries Archives, Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ. [Note: the apprenticeship is recorded as having started on 27th January 1827, he started attending lectures in January 1832, and was at St Bartholomew’s Hospital for 12 months.], [Note also, Thomas Charles Woodward, at his death in 1853, was said to have been ‘engaged in the practice of his Profession at Alton, where he earned himself great celebrity as an accomplished surgeon and successful Medical Practitioner. Subsequently, from ill-health, he was compelled to leave Alton, and for some twenty years has been a resident either in or near Andover’. Reference: The Medical Times and Gazette 1853;7:543.]
1834, 6th February: ‘APOTHECARIES’ HALL. NAMES of gentlemen to whom the Court of Examiners granted Certificates of Quali-fication on Thursday, February 6th… Frederick Clement Gray. Alton…’ Reference: The London Medical and Surgical Journal 1834;5(107):96.
1871, 2nd/3rd April: Frederick C Grey [sic] born in Alton, Hampshire, aged 58, together with his wife Sophia, son Clement, daughters Florence and Emily, two Crompton grandchildren and five servants, living in Lushington House, Terrace, Newmarket. Both Frederick and Clement are described as ‘Gen Practitioner London’ presumably referring to their place of qualification. Reference: The National Archives, 1871 census. [Note: see the page on Frederick Clement Gray for more details regarding his origins and when he came to Newmarket etc.]
1875, 2nd August: Lushington House described as ‘that messuage or dwellinghouse situate on ‘the terrace’ at Newmarket… formerly in the occupation of Lord Chesterfield afterwards of the said Stephen Rumbold Lushington then of William Henry Day and now in the occupation of the said Frederick Clement Gray‘. Reference: Conveyance of a Messuage or Dwellinghouse situate at Newmarket in the County of Cambridge. J. L. Wildman Lushington and F. J. Wildman Lushington to Frederick Clement Gray Esquire, in collection RH114/013, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely). [Note: I originally saw this collection at a solicitors’ office in London thanks to the Directors of the Lushington House Investment Company (see below), and subsequently arranged for it to be deposited in the Cambridgeshire Archives where it now has this reference number.]
1910: ‘GRAY, GILBERT CLEMENT, Lushington House, New-market (Nat.Tel.8)-M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.Lond. 1908; (St. Bart.); Ho. Surg. Roy. Free Hosp.’. Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1910. [Note: from 1913 Gilbert gave his address as Brackley House, then as Lushington House again from 1922, and Alton House from 1926. Likely he changed from giving his residential address to practice address in 1922.]
1915: ‘GRAY, Norman, Lushington House, Newmarket – B.A. Camb. 1912; M.R.C.S,,[sic] L.R.C.P. Lond. 1914; (St. Bart.)[sic]’. Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1915. [Note: from 1916 Norman gave his address as Brackley House, like Gilbert (see 1910 reference above), with Clement, Gilbert and Norman all describing themselves as Gray and Sons (see Clement’s entry below). In 1920 Norman was back listing Lushington House (possibly changing to listing his practice address), until 1926, when Gilbert, Norman and Hendley (see 1925 and 1926 entries below) started listing Alton House (Gray and Hendley). It appears Clement might have retired in 1926, since he stops listing Gray and Sons or any other roles (the Rous Memorial Hospital but not the Newmarket Union having been mentioned in 1925). It’s not until 1928 that his entry actually mentions ‘retired’ though – see below.]
1921, 30th September: Conveyance of Godolphin House from Capt. E. F. E. Hammond to C. F. Gray. Reference: In collection RH114/013, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely). [Note: see comments above regarding this collection], [Note also, it appears that following this purchase the property was divided into three sections. The eastern part of the building remains as Godolphin House today (on the corner of The Avenue), the western part was sold to The Freemasons, whose Lodge is still there today (details of this transaction and a diagram of their section are in RH114/013), and the original garden of Godolphin House was added to the Lushington House property. Then the Grays built Alton House in part of this new extended garden of Lushington House.]
1924, 12th March: Plans for Alton House. A notice with the plans reveal that they were for Dr C. F. Gray, Lushington House, Newmarket, and described as ‘Home with surgeries etc. attached’. There are three sheets of diagrams/drawings, all labelled ‘House High Street Newmarket for Dr. Gray’. Upstairs contained the bedrooms and bathroom etc. Downstairs in the main house were four rooms (kitchen, drawing room, dining room and interestingly ‘waiting room’). A corridor past the waiting room led into the main surgery area, which consisted of another waiting room, a dispensary, two consulting rooms and a mysterious, surprisingly large, ‘electrical room’ (19 1/2 feet by 10 feet). Reference: EF506/6/1/19/666, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: see image above.]
1924, 28th May: Norman Gray married Bridget O’Farrell at Chelsea (2nd quarter 1924). Reference: Transcription of England and Wales marriages 1837-2005 (online database, not image), www.findmypast.co.uk (accessed 26th August 2017). [Note: subsequent correspondence with descendants of the Grays confirmed that this was on 28th May.]
1925: ‘HENDLEY, Harold Jas. Holbein, Lushington House, Newmarket, Suffolk – M.R.C.S. Eng., L.R.C.P. Lond. 1921; (St. Bart.); late Res. Med. Off. Jenny Lind Hosp. Childr. Norw.; Ho. Surg. & Intern. Midw. Asst. St. Bart. Hosp.’. Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1925.
1925: Under ‘Newmarket’… then ‘Private Residents’… ‘Gray Clement Frederick, Lushington house. T N 336 / Gray Gilbert Clement, Grasmere, The Avenue / Gray Norman, Alton house, High st / Hendley Harold James H., B.A. Alton house, High street. T N 8’… then under ‘Commercial’… ‘Gray Clement Frederick M.R.C.S.Eng., L.S.A. surgeon, & medical officer to the Newmarket & Moulton Joint Hospital Board, Lushington house, High st. T N 336 / Gray Gilbert Clement M.R.C.S.Eng., L.R.C.P.Lond. surgeon (firm, Grays & Hendley), Alton house, High street. T N 8 / Gray Norman M.A., M.D., B.Ch., M.R.C.S.Eng., L.R.C.P.Lond. surgeon (firm, Grays & Hendley, Alton house, High street. T N 8 / Grays & Hendley, surgeons, Alton house, High st. T N 8 / Hendley Harold James H., B.A., M.R.C.S.Eng., L.R.C.P.Lond surgeon (firm, Grays & Hendley), Alton house, High street. T N 8′. Reference: Kelly’s directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex (with coloured maps) 1925-6. London: Kelly’s Directories Ltd.; 1925, pg 201-210. [Note: Norman Gray lived at Alton House as his private residence as well as it being the surgery. It appears Harold Hendley perhaps lived there too, unless he was giving his work address in both parts of the directory?]
1926: ‘HENDLEY, Harold Jas. Holbein, Alton House, New-market, Suffolk (Grays & Hendley; Tel. Newmkt. 8) – M.R.C.S. Eng., L.R.C.P. Lond. 1921; (St. Bart.); late Res. Med. Off. Jenny Lind Hosp. Childr. Norw.; Ho. Surg. & Intern. Midw. Asst. St. Bart. Hosp.’. Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1926. [Note: see image above], [Note also, see comments re: Gilbert and Norman on the 1910 and 1915 references above.]
1928: ‘GRAY, CLEMENT FREDK. (retired), Newmarket, Cambs. (Tel. 59) – M.R.C.S.Eng. & L.S.A. 1870; (St.Bart) Author, “Case of Cæsarian Section in which Mother Survived,” Brit. Med. Journ. 1883.’ Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1928.
1930, 31st December: ‘NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership which has for some time past been carried on by Harold James Hendley, Gilbert Clement Gray and Norman Gray, under the style of GRAYS AND HENDLEY, at Newmarket, in the county of Suffolk, in the practice of General Medical Practitioners, was this day dissolved under a power for that purpose contained in the Partnership deed, and that in future the said practice will be carried on by the said Gilbert Clement Gray and Norman Gray, in partnership – As witness our hands this thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred and thirty.’ Reference: The London Gazette. Jan 30 1931; Issue 33685: 704.
1937, 16th August: Old receipt from Alton House Surgery. Address of the practice: Alton House, Newmarket. Partners: G. C. Gray, N. Gray, J. L. McNeill and T. R. Smith. The partnership was called ‘Messrs Grays, McNeill & Smith. Surgeons’, and under the heading ‘For professional attendance and medicine’ is written ‘during confinement’ (i.e. pregnancy). Reference: Old receipt shown to me by a patient, relating to her birth over 70 years earlier.
1943, 16th January: ‘Death of Dr. C. F. Gray / It is with profound and sincere regret – a regret which will be fully shared by everyone in New-market and district – that we re-cord the death of Dr. Clement Frederick Gray, who passed away at his residence, Lushington House, High Street, Newmarket, on Saturday. / Dr. C. F. Gray was the son of the late Dr. Frederick Clement Gray, of this town, who died in 1888, and, after obtaining his medical qualifications, joined his father in practice. For some-thing like 60 years he had the largest medical practice in New-market and district,… two sons, Dr. Gilbert Gray and Dr. Norman Gray, both en-tered their father’s profession, and, upon gaining their qualifica-tions, joined him in practice… Several years ago Dr. Gray retired and handed over the practice to his sons, by whom, with their partners, it is now carried on.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Saturday Jan 23 1943: 7. [Note: see the page on Clement Frederick Gray for more details on his life.]
1944, 30th June: Old receipt from Alton House Surgery. Address of the practice: Alton House, Newmarket. Partners: G. C. Gray, N. Gray, J. L. McNeill and J. H. Randall. The partnership was called ‘Messrs Grays, McNeill & Randall. Surgeons’, and under the heading ‘For professional attendance and medicine’ is written ‘Operation’ (which I’m told was a hernia repair carried out by Norman Gray at The Rous Memorial Hospital). Reference: Old receipt shown to me by a patient. [Note: see the page on the Rous Memorial Hospital for an image from this, one of the last examples of generalist medics calling themselves surgeons – see The history of medical treatments, training, qualifications and regulation for more on that.]
1945, 21st November: The Lushington House Investment Company was formed. It was dissolved on 21st July 2015. Reference: Companies House. https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/00400862 (accessed 12th August 2017). [Note: as above, thanks to the Directors of the Lushington House Investment Company I was able to view the old deeds associated with Lushington, Clifton, Godolphin and Alton Houses at a solicitors’ office in London in 2013, and subsequently arrange for these to be deposited in the Cambridgeshire Archives, where they still are. Reference: In collection RH114/013, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely).], [Note also, this company was formed to manage the properties owned by the Grays. They had a 50% share and the solicitors who used Lushington House as offices owned 50%. It was sold to Tattersalls by their successors in 2013.]
1945, 31st December: Conveyance of ‘freehold property known as “Lushington House” “Lushington House Stables” “Clifton House” “Rupert Cottage” and “Alton House” Newmarket in the County of Suffolk.’ from ‘G.C.Gray & N. Gray Esqs to The Lushington House Investment Company Limited.’ Reference: In collection RH114/013, (Cambridgeshire County Record Office [called Cambridgeshire Archives], Cambridge – subsequently relocated to Ely). [Note: see comments above regarding this collection and the Lushington House Investment Company.]
1954: Norman Gray shown as retired in the Medical Directory, with his address changed from Alton House (Gray & Partners) to Bedford Cottage in Bury Rd, Newmarket. Reference: The Medical Directory. London: Churchill; 1954. [Note: this probably does not reflect him moving, but changing from a business to a residential address on retirement. Gray family documents suggest he was living elsewhere by 1951.]
1972: Summary of the practice in the early 70s: The partnership consisted of Drs Bussell, Walker, Dossetor, Wallace and McNeill. It covered 13,500 patients, 6000 of whom lived in the surrounding villages. The summary states that the surgery ‘was partly purpose built some years ago’, and had ‘six consulting rooms [I’m told all on the ground floor], waiting room and reception facilities [which apparently was the room to the right of the front door – and the corridor was used for waiting too], nursing room, small theatre, office, dispensary [which was too the left in the old surgery complex, and could be accessed via the passage at the side, which had a glass roof], and common room with library [which was upstairs]’. It mentions that the premises was rented on a long term lease. Interestingly for this time it says that all patients were seen by appointment only. Private practice accounted for less than 5% of the work by 1972. Various special clinics are mentioned, such as antenatal, and that a nurse was in attendance for all surgeries. Regarding antenatal care, they provided maternity services, including using a GP maternity unit at Newmarket Hospital [where the GPs did assist with some deliveries]. Village surgeries are mentioned, and each partner covered a particular segment of the surrounding area [this was still the case in the early 21st century, Moulton village surgery being the last to close in the mid ’00s’, taking place once per week in a small room at the back of the old village hall – gradually this system became obsolete, it being more appropriate to see people using better facilities in the main surgery and visit at home anyone who could not come over, on any day of the week. At one time there were village surgeries in Ashley, Bottisham, Cheveley, Dullingham, Exning, Gazeley, Kentford, Kirtling, Snailwell and Stetchworth, generally held in peoples’ houses (see note below)]. The surgery operated a one in five on call rota in 1972 [for obvious reasons] and each partner did seven surgeries per week [equivalent to 7 sessions today – a 3 ½ day week excluding on call]. The phone number had extended to Newmarket 2236 [see 1910 reference above! – a number first recorded at Lushington House in 1906]. Reference: Description of the practice supplied to Dr Baxter by the practice via the BMA before he joined in 1973. [Note: Dr Baxter left this in the coffee room on the day that he retired in 2002. I kept it out of interest, but did not research the history any further until 2013, and have subsequently added the remarks in square brackets in discussion with those familiar with the surgery. Dr Baxter was also involved with the Exning village surgery mentioned above, in the 1970s and early 80s before it closed. For most of that time it was held in the converted front room of a cottage in Chapel Street. The conversion involved a thin partition between a waiting room area with a few chairs, and a very basic small surgery room. Interestingly this property had been (and to some extent still was) associated with a barber’s shop business – cf. the barber-surgeons of old!]
1974, 28th October: Under a small heading ‘On the move’ it was reported that ‘From next Monday, the practice of Dr. J. L. McNeill and partners will be at new premises on the Rookery. The practice, which involves six doctors, has been at Alton House, High Street, New-market, for many years.’ Reference: The Newmarket Journal. Thursday Oct 24 1974: 40 (i.e. the back page).
Honan RF. The Gray Matter. Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House; 1987. [Note: this book charts the Gray family from old family records going back to 1437! and includes lots of detail regarding Australian branches descending from Frederick Clement Gray’s brothers, but it does include a small section on the Newmarket medical Grays, including Pictures of Alton House and Lushington House taken in 1985. I have used this source for dates of birth, marriage and death etc. and early Gray family history.]
Personal correspondence and discussion with those who have living memory of Alton House Surgery, including doctors, staff and patients.
Shops History Newmarket. http://www.newmarketshops.info/index.html. Specific page on Alton House: http://www.newmarketshops.info/No.117_High_Street.html. [Note: newmarketshops.info has been supplied with information regarding the medical history of Newmarket by the author of talkingdust.net since August 2013 (see footnotes on some of the pages, including this one). Both websites continue to be developed, and in this sense are mutually symbiotic.]
The Medical Directory. London: Churchill. [Note: this publication has been known by various titles over the years. Initially it just covered London, but from 1847 it had a wider remit, being variously known as the London and Provincial Medical Directory, The Medical Directories, The Medical Directory, etc., essentially the same work with minor variations and developments. It is usually referred to as The Medical Directory (as opposed to The Medical Register), so that is how it’s consistently referred to on talkingdust.net.]
The Medical Register. London: General Medical Council.
Note: For published material referenced on this website see the ‘Acknowledgements for resources of published material’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page. The sources used for original unpublished documents are noted after each individual reference. Any census records are referenced directly to The National Archives, since images of these are so ubiquitous on microfilm and as digital images that they almost function like published works. Census records are covered by the ‘Open Government Licence’ as should be other such public records (see the ‘Copyright and related issues’ section on the ‘Usage &c.’ page for which references constitute public records, and any other copyright issues more generally such as fair dealing/use etc.).