Wednesday 14 April 2010

Memorial to a Medical Man

This less than inspiring view hides quite an interesting story.  It was bought in 1966 by my father, presumably because of the statue which can be seen in the bottom left corner.  The information on the back of the card reads:
Harvey Memorial, The Leas, Folkestone
A popular resort as well as being a cross-channel port, Folkestone is renowned for its beautiful gardens and walks.  The Leas is a magnificent marine parade of which Folkestone is justly proud.  Folkestone is reached by roads A20, A259, and A260.
It is interesting that the publishers saw fit to mention the Harvey Memorial but then to wax lyrical about Folkestone with no further explanation.

William Harvey, born in Folkestone in 1578, was the first doctor to describe the circulation of the blood.  He went to school in Canterbury, then to university at Cambridge and then Padua in Italy.  He returned to London to be a doctor at St Bartholomew's Hospital, now frequently known as Barts.  It was in 1628 that he published his "Anatomical Exercise of the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals".  He described how the heart works as a pump and how the blood circulates around the body.  In its time, this was revolutionary but there seemed to be no practical application for the knowledge.  It wasn't going to save any lives.

Little changed in the practice of medicine, blood-letting, leeching and lancing continued for many years, but eventually the new understanding was put to some practical use. In the 17th century, the first intravenous injections were performed.  Now of course, his work is recognised as one of the most important contributions to the history of medicine.

Folkestone has changed little since the publication of that card.  The styles and manufacturers of the cars have changed, of course, and Folkestone is no longer a cross-channel ferry port, but The Leas are exactly the same, and the memorial to a great man remains understated, and unremarkable. 

My father will have noticed it because he was a doctor himself.  Little did he know at the time that he bought the card, that he would end up living not 15 minutes away from Folkestone.  Another coincidence, today would have been my father's 94th birthday.

M is for Memorial to a Medical Man.  A post for ABC Wednesday.

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  1. That was interesting, as always.

  2. Just goes to show you that looks can be deceiving! Truly a fascinating story.

  3. Thank you for the story of this remarkable man.

  4. Truly remarkable...and I like that name, Folkestone.

  5. I just got a little History lesson. I loved it. Thanks for teaching a lesson today. Very intriguing.

  6. Thank you for sharing such interesting information!

    Cool M post!

    Kisses from Nydia.

  7. I've heard of Harvey. An important figure and a nice history.

    On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!-Ramblin' with Roger

  8. As we are in the medical profession too, we have read your story with great interest. The essay is so well written interwind the Folkeston, Dr. William Harvey and your father together.

  9. I know Folkestone well as I have relations who live there by the name of Ansell, and I've visited the area in the PC many times but never noticed the interesting statue. I learn something new from blogging every day.

  10. Very interesting! My mother-in-law spent a lot of time in Folkestone - she had relations there and went on holiday to them. She often mentions The Leas.

  11. Of course, William Harvey was such a pioneer of modern medicine. At least, he does have a memorial, modest though it is!!!


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