Led Up The Garden Path By Laurus Nobilis

‘The Laurels’ – Doctor’s House (now demolished)

This post is an anecdotal aside about the peripheral perils of local history investigation, meandering along roads not adopted, climbing up eucalyptus trees, and finding oneself up creeks without a paddle.

On this occasion, your correspondent was lured into a lengthy, if arcadian, detour by no less an adversary than the doughty Laurus Nobilis, in search of the residence of the village doctor, known from the 1901 census to be residing at ‘The Laurels’. Following, no doubt unconsciously, in the footsteps of Charles Pooter, there were apparently other villagers who also thus named their residences.

At any rate, one such was Dr William Alexander Slater Royds. Misled by the ambiguous steer of his daughter, Kathleen Innes, we had taken her comments to mean that the doctors lived in the same house as did she, after her marriage to George Innes. We thus in turn unfortunately misled our readers

InnesFinally, serendipity took pity on us and led us to browse, once again, our collection of old post cards – Eureka! Realising it might be a mistake to emulate Archimedes in running through the streets of the village naked from our morning bath, we share our rapture with you instead through the written word, deeming it less likely to end in arrest and incarceration.

Doctors house

Ordnance Survey 1875

The doctor’s house is on the right hand side of the map, parallel to the road, to the left of ‘676’. It has since been demolished and replaced with two modern houses. We are told there was a small doctor’s surgery in the grounds – this seems likely to be the pink rectangle next to the winterbourne stream.

 Farewell To Dr Royds and welcome to Dr Cardwell

Dr Thomas Cardwell moved into the house some time in 1914, according to Kathleen Innes, so we shall assume that this was before Christmas. According to the directory of the General Medical Council, he qualified in 1882, and obtained the MRCS and LRCP (Edinburgh 1885).

Dr William Alexander Slater Royds: Community Pillar and Successor to Dr Stevens

Cricket team SMB 1906 main pic 001

Village Cricket Team 1906 courtesy HG

TitleNamesThe St Mary Bourne cricket team for 1906 look remarkably glum for a group of people who had just won the village league challenge cup. Perhaps the photographer was one of those annoying professionals who spend so long  perfecting their work that they have long since left their sitters behind in a slough of despond.

Dr Royds, as the president of the cricket team, sits in the centre of the group, looking as thoughtful as any. Perhaps he was thinking of his daughter Dorothy, who had died just the year before at the age of nineteen. Perhaps he was thinking of his son William, who had apparently taken to heart the injunction ‘Go West, Young Man’, and seemed destined for a life in the Americas. Royds family


Or perhaps he experienced one of those sudden presentiments – within ten years most of the young men surrounding him would be at the Front, fighting for their country and their young lives.

One of those who would go to war was his own son, George Freeman Royds, who  in due course would have a distinguished war in Mesopotamia, but as a professional soldier had been in at the start.

George Freeman Royds 2nd Lt


abaHe considered himself lucky, in a way, to have the compensations of his profession to keep him from dwelling too long on the sadnesses of his life – there were too many things to be done and people to be attended to.


Extract from ‘A Village Story’ by Kathleen Royds Innes 1955


Extract from ‘St Mary Bourne Records’ by Kathleen Royds Innes 1947


Post script: WRONG HOUSE! This is where Dr Royds’ daughter lived on marriage to George Innes, not the Doctors’ house – see post of 7 December 2014 https://stmarybournegoestowar.net/2014/12/07/led-up-the-garden-path-by-laurus-nobilis/