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Here we take a stroll down Main Street and a walk into the past

Dr. Garfit – Doctor

Charles Corringham Garfit, M.B., was Kirby’s first full time Doctor. From 1882 until Dr Garfit arrived, the village had been served for just three days per week, by a Doctor Kelly from Desford and Doctor Harris from Anstey. At times, Doctor Wright from Newtown Unthank also attended the village, generally arriving with his horse and cart, but with a horse and sleigh in the winter.

Charles Corringham Garfit was born in Delamere, Cheshire, in 1871. He was the son of Charles Taylor Garfit, a land agent and his wife, Ada Maria Corringham. He had three younger sisters, Ada, Helen and Kate. He gained an Exhibition to Hulme Hall, Manchester University, to study medicine, qualifying in 1896. He came to Kirby Muxloe as a single man in 1897 and lodged with Mrs Crawford at ‘Ashleigh’, Station Road. Within the year, he returned to Cheshire to marry Ruth Linnell, and then came back to the village to set up home at ‘Inglewood’, Station Road, the house next door to ‘Ashleigh’.

Dr Garfit is well remembered in the village and his reputation is legendary. We are told numerous stories of his rusty scissors, profuse use of iodine, unhygienic habits and liberal applications of ointment. It is also said that he more than once removed tonsils from a child on the kitchen table. His favourite cause of death for anyone over the age of 60 was ‘senile decay’. Although this sounds very worrying, it must be remembered that initially, Dr Garfit was practicing medicine in and around the turn of the last century, a time when medicine was still in its infancy, compared with today.

At first, the doctor’s surgery was held in the front room of a cottage on Main Street. The cottage was built at right angles to the road and on a small jitty, which is still there today. At one time, in the dead of night, Harry Webster, who was well known in the village, is said to have crept down the jitty and fixed a sign on the wall of the cottage (too high to be removed easily), which said ‘Harley Street’. The doctor was quite enamoured with the sign and so it stayed there until the cottage was demolished.

In 1933, Dr Garfit was joined by Dr Jones and became part of the firm of Garfit and Jones, Physicians and Surgeons. Dr Jones bought ‘The Old White House’ on Main Street and erected a large wooden shed in the front garden. Many people from Kirby Muxloe and Ratby will remember visiting the doctors' surgery there, firstly with Doctors Garfit and Jones and later with Doctors Jones and Alexander. Eventually in 1969, a purpose-built surgery was erected at Braunstone Crossroads.

Dr Garfit was a member of both the Quorn and Atherstone hunts and it was not unusual on hunt days for him to arrive at house calls on horseback, with his trusty hunt terrier in tow. We are told that he usually arrived between 7:30 and 8:30am, tied up his horse on the gatepost outside, visited his patient and then went off on his horse to join the hunt of the day. Dr Garfit was well known in the village and very involved in community life. He was a member of the Parish Council and Chairman of the Governors at the school for many years. He was also a member of the Parochial Sanitary Committee. Charles Garfit will always be fondly remembered for his rousing performances in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’ and for preserving the ‘right of way’ through the Old White House by walking through the hallway, front to back, once a year. Charles Corringham Garfit retired in 1944 and died in 1955, aged 84 years.

Part of the information for this article comes from Old Kirby (Muxloe) by Jonathan Wilshere, which has very generously been made available online by Andrew Wilshere.

Dr. Garfit

Dr. Garfit

Photograph courtesy of the Wilshere Collection