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Charles Henry Haycroft

Charles Henry Haycroft was born in 1856. His parents were both from Devon; his father came from Stoke Canon and was in the wool trade, his mother was Elizabeth Norrish whose family came from Sandford. He was born and brought up in Marlborough, Wiltshire and went on to Guy’s Hospital to do his medical training, qualifying MRCS in 1879. He first worked as an assistant to a Dr Stowe in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, before moving to Bow in 1881. At that time Bow didn’t have a doctor living in the village as Dr Nourse, the medical officer for Bow, was by then living in Morchard Bishop. When the position of district medical officer for Bow and Colebrooke districts was advertised, Haycroft applied and was appointed from Michaelmas 1882. The following year he was appointed to cover Coldridge district as well.


At first he rented Fair Park, at that time a 6-bedroom house close to the road through the village, for £35 per year, having moved in after the death of Miss Ann Wreford.

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The original Fair Park was close to the road going through Bow. Shown in red on the 1892 sales deed.

In 1886 at the age of 30 he married his cousin Annie Selina Haycroft from Camberwell, London, where her father, Rev Isaac Haycroft, also born in Stoke Canon, was the vicar. He officiated at the wedding. So Dr Haycroft was married to Miss Haycroft by Rev Haycroft. They had no children. (Rev Isaac Haycroft died in Bow in 1893.) Fair Park House came up for sale in 1892 when he bought it for £605.


Mr Haycroft's annual salary as medical officer of the Bow district (Bow, Clannaborough, Zeal Monachorum and Down St. Mary) was £36 15s; for the Colebrooke district £15; and for Coldridge £16; total £67 15s. According to the accounts for the year ending Lady-day, 1896, he additionally had received as medical fees - vaccination fees and fees for reports - £10 1s 6d.

In 1891 he wrote to the Guardians asking for an increase in salary for Bow district from £36.15.0 to £40. They deferred their decision until they had studied the census, which showed that between 1881 and 1891 the population of Bow had declined by 133. So no pay rise.

In early March 1896, Dr. Haycroft again applied for an increase of salary to £40 per annum from “Ladyday next” (25 March). The Board of Guardians voted to reject his application. So he wrote back to them, resigning from the end of that month, and requesting a “written testimonial”. Perhaps surprisingly, they called his bluff and accepted his resignation and proceeded to advertise for his successor.


At the next meeting, the Clerk reported that there were two candidates for the post of Medical Officer of the Bow district, viz., Mr Orchard, of Bovey Tracey, and Mr Haycroft of Bow, the last named of whom sought re-appointment. In applying to be re-instated, Mr Haycroft forwarded a petition which had been made to him, signed by 34 persons in receipt of relief, and 98 other ratepayers in the Bow district expressing their regret at hearing of his resignation, and respectfully asking him “for their sakes” to reconsider his decision. At the last moment Mr Orchard had telegraphed withdrawing his application. Mr Haycroft was then unanimously re-elected, at the original salary.


In February 1899 he sued the Crediton Guardians for non-payment of the fee (10s 6d) for his attendance at an ”urgent case of midwifery”. The previous September he had been given a written order by an Overseer of the Poor to attend Mrs Emma Tonkins at Loosebeare, a large farm just outside Zeal Monachorum. Her husband Charles was a thatcher; they lived in one of the farm cottages. Crediton Union declined to pay him for the attendance. The case was heard at Crediton County Court, the Guardians retained a barrister to defend the claim, on the grounds that Mr Tonkins was not destitute, and that Dr Haycroft should have realised. Haycroft was awarded the judgement and costs. The Guardians were given leave to appeal, but at a vote decided not to. Their lawyers’ bill was £16 19s 4d and the court costs were £11 4s 6d. The case was reported by the British Medical Journal and the local press.


He wrote to The Western Times on 14 February 1899




Sir, - On the occasion that I attended Tonkin's wife during child-birth had it been a part of my duties to have enquired into the poverty or otherwise of the Tonkins, what conclusion could I have come to from the following: - Parents had six other children under 13 years of age, barely a scrap of furniture in the cottage, no chair nor anything to sit upon in the bedroom, no jug or basin to wash my hands in, nor towel to wipe them; no tumbler or glass to administer anything to patient in, and articles of nourishment had to be obtained from neighbours; bed covering for the poor children consisted of only skirts and other articles of clothing.

I am, faithfully yours, CHARLES H. HAYCROFT. Fair Park, Bow.


In July 1901, Dr Haycroft transferred the ownership of Fair Park to his wife, as a gift. This was probably a form of tax avoidance as a month later Mrs Haycroft was named in the newspaper advertisement seeking tenders from builders to build a new house to be called "Fair Park" up the hill behind thieir house.


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(John Archibald Lucas was to become an eminent architect from his offices opposite the Guildhall in Exeter High Street. He also designed the Bow Church Room.)

Dr Haycroft died at Fair Park, Bow on 7 August 1912. This is how his death was reported.



Dr. Haycroft, of Bow, Succumbs to Poisoning

Dr. Haycroft, M.R.C.S., L.S.A., who has been practice in Bow for over 30 years, passed away on Wednesday after a short illness, at the age of 56 years. The deceased was very popular, and will be greatly missed by a large number patients and friends. He was very kind and attentive to those under his care. He contracted blood poisoning whilst attending a case of child birth, and it very quickly developed. Dr. Pratt, of Morchard Bishop, and Dr. Davy, of Exeter, were called in, but were powerless stop the progress of the malady. Dr. Russell Coombe was also called in, but found an operation would useless, and the deceased gradually sank and passed away, to the great regret of all who knew him. His familiar figure will be long remembered in Bow, where he laboured so long. He is to be buried at Sandford on Saturday next after a funeral service in Bow Church, which will be held at two o'clock.



Funeral of the Late Dr. Haycroft, of Bow.

The large attendance at the funeral of the late Dr. Haycroft, of Bow on Saturday, and the signs of deep regret which were on all sides evident, testified to the popularity of the deceased, and the feeling of the great loss which has befallen the district by his death. For over thirty years Dr. Haycroft had been in practice at Bow, and to the poor, as to the more well-to-do patients, he was invariably kind-hearted and scrupulously painstaking and attentive. He was to them, indeed, a real friend, and by none more than by the labouring classes is his untimely death deplored, for it was while attending a patient suffering from septic poisoning that he contracted the illness to which he succumbed after but a few days. The interment took place at Sandford, where some of Dr. Haycroft's relatives are buried, but the funeral service was held the parish church at Bow, which was crowded with a sorrowing congregation. The cortege arrived from Fair Parks at two o'clock, the coffin being conveyed in a glass hearse. It was of unpolished oak, with brass fittings, and the breastplate bore the inscription: Charles Henry Haycroft, Died August 7th, 1912 Aged 56 years.