Presidential address and Georgian spa therapy


Wednesday 6 December 2017


Venue Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
Organised by

History of Medicine Society



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about this event

*A subsidised rate of £10 per place is available on a first come first serve basis for 8 student places for each meeting. *

**Due to a clash between two societies, registration and the meeting will start half an hour earlier.

Biography excerpt of Dr Catherine Sarraf

Catherine is an active member of a number of Medical/Scientific Societies, having joined the RSM in 2006. At present, she is President Elect of the RSM History of Medicine Society, President Elect of the Harveian Society of London, Council member and Transactions Editor of the Hunterian Society of London, Council member of the Medical Society of London, Member of Osler Club of London, an Apothecary, and a Freeman of the City of London. Catherine has over a hundred papers published in peer reviewed journals and has co-authored one book ‘Understanding Cancer’ MR Alison & CE Sarraf, Cambridge University Press.

Abstract of 'Presidential address: Life and times of Dr Axel Munthe'

Dr Axel Munthe (1857 – 1949) was a Swedish doctor, who initially qualified in Paris. Even though his first interest was in neurology, he practiced more as a society GP, mainly in Paris and Rome. In addition to serving his patients, he was a keen author, providing us with vignettes dealing with lifestyles he saw around him, ranging from the rich and famous to the most humble and poverty stricken. His best known book is The Story of San Michele, which tells the tale of how he discovered ruins of the villa of Emperor Tiberius in Anacapri and became devoted to building his own house there, frequently using ancient artefacts that he came across on and in the ground.

The aims of Dr Sarraf’s presentation are to reveal the frequently kind, genteel, altruistic aspects of the life of Axel Munthe and to compare and contrast them with other aspects of his own life and those of further contemporary doctors, whose qualifications and experiences were very different from his own.

The objectives of the presentation are to describe that over the times of Axel Munthe’s life, many different political and social changes were at work, which hugely affected doctors of the era.

Biography of Dr John Ford

Dr Ford maintained his long-standing interest in the History of Medicine while working as a GP in Kent. Since retiring he has spent his time furthering this interest, mainly at the Society of Apothecaries, where he has catalogued the Archive, examined for the History of Medicine Diploma and served as Chairman of the Friends of the Archive.

He was President of this Section in 1987/1988 and has been President of the British Society for the History of Medicine

His main interest is in trying to understand how a patient would perceive their illness and possible treatment through time.

Abstract of 'Taking the waters: Georgian spa therapy'

Spa treatment was very popular with patients and doctors in the Georgian era. This paper will explore the theory behind the therapy, the literature to popularise it, the different forms of treatment available and their possible success.

Tunbridge Wells will be used an exemplar of a chalybeate (iron containing) spa.

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5.00 pm

Registration, tea and coffee

5.30 pm

Introduction and welcome

Dr Ann Ferguson, Honorary Secretary, History of Medicine

5.35 pm

Presidential address: Life and times of Dr Axel Munthe

Dr Catherine Sarraf, President, History of Medicine Society

6.20 pm

Taking the waters: Georgian spa therapy

Dr John Ford, Retired General Practitioner, Society of Apothecaries

7.05 pm

Close of meeting

7.10 pm

Dinner - for those who have pre-booked

register for this event

  • Online registration has now closed.
  • On the day registrations will be accepted, first come first serve.
  • Unfortunately we are unable to take on the day dinner bookings
  • RSM member rates £25
  • Non member rates £35


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organiser's details

For information on this event, contact Alison ChanTel: 02072903937 Email: arrow