Crediton Museum has recently received an interesting donation from Mr Patrick Collier of Pownes House, High Street, Crediton. When he acquired Pownes House and neighbouring premises some 20 years or so ago, Mr Collier found a collection of medicine bottles and other medical items in a cupboard. He has now decided that they should go to the museum. He met archivist John Heal recently to hand over the finds. Since then the museum volunteers have researched the occupancy of the premises and discovered some interesting facts.
It was known that the house was named after a Dr Powne and that the practice at The Old Surgery a few doors up eventually became Chiddenbrook Surgery. The research revealed that medical practitioners had lived in the house (no. 52 High Street) for almost 100 years but that Dr Powne had, in fact, only lived there for a period of 15 years or so at the turn of the century. Prior to that two generations of Drs Body had lived there from 1871. Two generations of Drs Hugo lived in the High Street, probably at no. 52, for at least 20 years before that. What is quite remarkable is that a third generations of Hugos began to practice there for 30 years from about 1916. This means that there was a Dr Hugo in the town for around 100 years, the last one arriving almost 50 years after his grandfather. At least two of the doctors were for some time Medical Officers of Health for the area.
Archivist John Heal said “It is not often that artefacts such as these are left in a building for so long. In this case they have a special significance because they relate directly to the important service that was provided by the occupants to the community for such a long time.” Mr Collier said that he was pleased the items had not been disposed of and was happy that they were now going to be preserved at the museum so that the story the house has to tell will not be forgotten.