The village has been fortunate in having had a resident doctor from the latter part of the 18th century up to and including the present day.

The Foot Dynasty

After Fovant’s first named medical man Dr Lambert died, a notice in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, dated 2nd May 1763, indicated that Dr Henry Foot of Broadchalke would be taking over the former doctor’s house and practice in Fovant. There were several Doctors Foot. Dr. Henry Mitchell Foot of Donhead was the father of Doctor Robert Foot, senior surgeon of Fovant, who died in 1805. Dr. Henry Foot (junior) of Broadchalke and Stephen were sons of Robert. It was Henry of Donhead, the founder of the family, who ‘discovered’ Foot’s Cathartic mixture which, in an undated contemporary advertisement, was reputed to be a cure

‘For Inflamation in the Bowels. And Intestines. Indigestion and all
Bilious Complaints.
Discovered more than a Century ago by
Doctor Henry Foot of Donhead St. Mary
In the County of Wilts.
Inflamation in the Bowells and Intestines is
The most painful and dangerous Disease incident
To Mankind, since this Medicine was discovered
Thousands of persons has experienced its most
Happy and Salutary effects many of whom
Were brought to the Brink of the Grave and cast
Off all hopes of Recovery after every other Remedy
Had been tried in Vain and the most Learned
Of the Faculty had been Consulted, this Medicine
Is faithfully prepared from the Original Recipe
By Aaron Ings of Fovant, Grandson of Doctor Robert
Foot and Nephew of the Late Doctor Stephen Foot,
Sold in half pint Bottles at 5s/ each and will keep
Good for 20 years. One Bottle always gives relief
And two or three never fail performing A Cure.’

An Aaron Ings features as a young man of twenty-one in the Fovant census of 1841. He is stated to have been of independent means, so he may be the Aaron, great grandson of Henry Mitchell Foot, grandson of Robert Foot and nephew of Stephen and Henry (junior) Foot, who was promoting the ‘cathartic mixture’. What is not in doubt is that the Foot family were Fovant’s first medical dynasty.

An 1800–55 List of Tradesmen notes four Fovant doctors, John Beckingsale, William Edwards, William Ward and George Wride

The Clay Dynasty

From 1855 to 1970 three generations of the Doctors Clay ministered to the medical needs of Fovant and many of the surrounding villages. The Clay family, father, son and grandson, provided the village with its second medical dynasty.

Doctor Robert Richard Clay, reputedly bringing his pack of hounds with him, moved to Fovant in 1855. He took up residence as a tenant of the Earl of Pembroke in the Manor House in Church Lane and established his surgery there. His photograph is shown here by courtesy of his great-great-grandson, Robert Snow.


Dr. R.R. Clay was followed in the practice by his son, Challoner, who bought the Manor House in the early part of the 20th century. Apart from being the village doctor, Challoner was surgeon to the Provident and Medical Club, an organisation which, for a ‘small’ premium, insured against the future cost of medical services. (The photograph was also supplied by Mr Robert Snow).

Richard Challoner Cobbe Clay followed his father and grandfather, taking over the practice in 1917, still at the Manor House. In addition to his patients from the surrounding villages, his list included 120 of the medical beds in the large Military Hospital which catered for the soldier casualties amongst the many men passing through the local military camps during World War I. It is this Doctor Clay, a noted local historian, amateur archaeologist and the author of ‘Notes on the History of Fovant’, who is pictured here in his consulting room.

Since his death in 1971 the village has been well served by six other doctors:

  • 1971: Dr. Legge – at the Manor House
  • 1972–73: Dr. McCauley – at Gerrard’s Farm
  • 1974–89: Dr. John Cannon – at Gerrard’s Farm
  • 1989: Dr.Gordon Morse – at Becher’s Brook Surgery in the High Street.
  • 2004–07: Dr.Peter Windross practised with Dr. Gordon Morse at Becher’s Brook surgery while on a three year flexible career scheme.
  • 2007: Dr. Andrew Hall joined Dr.Gordon Morse in partnership.
  • 2008: Dr. Morse left in order to lead the new Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service in Somerset and handed over the practice to Dr. Hall. With the merger of the Fovant surgery and others at Wilton and Codford, the name of the surgery has been changed to “The Orchard Surgery.”

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Other Health Professionals