Dr Batter

This blog entry will, of necessity, be rather short as we know very little about its subject! Carrying on from our previous blog entry, we will continue to focus on the essay by Vera Shergold. We know (from Hugh Spencely’s book on The Hawthorns on Kings Road) that the Shergold family lived at Fiddington Farm. (Fiddington had been an exclave of West Lavington parish, despite being sandwiched between Market Lavington and Easterton.) Like its neighbours, Fiddington was long and thin and stretched from the chalk plain in the south, through a clay belt, to the greensand upland in the north, where Vera lived as an adult.

The next paragraph stated that Vera was warned by ‘Old Bill’ not to go and live there because ‘the old doctor haunts it’. However, Vera ‘was yet to hear of anyone who has seen the ghost of Dr Batter’. She wrote on that ‘Many centuries ago, this house was occupied by a very famous herb doctor, according to the old history books of Wiltshire.’ She recalled, ‘ I was shown a very old map on which this was marked as Doctor Batter’s house’.

We imagine this would have been the 1773 Andrews and Dury‘s Map of Wiltshire, on which this can be seen.

However, confusingly, ‘Village under the Plain – the story of Market Lavington’ (available from the museum or Market Lavington Post Office) suggests a different home for the herb doctor.

‘One of the early curers of ills, whose surgery in Market Lavington was the street outside his home, was Dr Batter, an 18th century herb doctor. Described as a genuine old-fashioned specimen of his class, Batter had humble origins and dressed as a poor man in a roadside cottage where his grandfather had lived before him. His patients’ waiting room was the hedgebank, and he would usually prescribe plants from the neighbourhood.’

Confused? We are, but would be glad to hear of any further information about Dr Batter.

We will look at more of Vera Shergold’s writing next time.

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