Aysgarth – a picture postcard of health

We see many a guest arrive sporting an urban pallor and dampened spirits, only to emerge after a few hours chez Colman’s with a spring in their step and a rosy glow.

Whilst we like to put that down to the almost Nordic quality fresh air, our nourishing grub and being able to properly get away from it all, we’ve recently discovered that there may be more to it than that.

There’s possibly something about Aysgarth and our building in particular that leaves a lasting impression of wellness on those who come amongst us. Perhaps it’s all down to the learning and goodwill of an esteemed former resident?

Dr William Pickles 1885 – 1969 MBBS, MD London, Hon. DSc Leeds, CBE.

A Leeds lad by birth in 1885, Dr. Will as we refer to him, practised from Town Ends as Colman’s used to be known from 1913 until 1964. Will served in the Royal Navy from 1914 until the end of the First World War as a ship’s doctor.

On his return to Aysgarth, he didn’t settle down to life as the quintessential country GP as you might suppose. For a start, the Aysgarth practice (formerly the practice of Dr. Edward Hume) that Will ran together with his colleague Dr. Dean Dunbar, served eight villages and a population of more than 4,000 patients. Secondly, Will was a committed scholar, scientific researcher and something of a medical pioneer.

He published several papers in respected medical journals and began to build an interest in epidemiology, culminating in the publication of a major publication, Epidemiology in Country Practise in 1939. The book became a medical classic and established his reputation as a leading practitioner in his field.

He became the first President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, serving from 1953-56 and was awarded a CBE in 1957.He continued to live in Aysgarth with his wife, Gertrude and was a practising GP until 1964. He and Gertrude died within a few months of each other in 1969.Colman’s proudly displays a photograph of Dr. Will taken in the garden of the house circa 1920, along with a copy of his esteemed medical works.