A community of concerned residents from historical associations and societies around Dorchester have launched an appeal to raise the £1,175 needed to restore a memorial to coincide with the date of a famous surgeon’s burial.

The Dorchester Civic Society, Society of Dorset Men and Dorchester Association have joined forces in a bid to restore the memorial to Frederick Treves, so that the inscription on the Celtic Cross in the cemetery on Weymouth Avenue could once be read again.

A century’s worth of wind, rain and pollution have eroded the inscription, which is now barely legible, according to the societies.

Dorset Echo:

The Society of Dorset Men would ideally like to see the work completed by Sunday, July 7 in time for the annual service conducted by the graveside to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the burial, as Treves was the first president of the society.

Dorchester’s Civic Society and the Society for Dorset Men have pledged to contribute to costs of the restoration work but are looking for local donors to step up in a bid to raise funds to complete the work in time for July.

Ian Gosling, Chair of the Dorchester Civic Society, hailed Treves as an ‘important figure’ in the town’s long and storied history and said that he feels the townspeople will step up for the cause.

Peter Lush, Chair of the Society of Dorset Men, said: “As our founding President, Sir Frederick Treves’ memory is much revered by the members of the Society of Dorset Men, whose 120th anniversary falls on 7th July this year, and it is also revered by others in the county and beyond.

“Sir Frederick’s tombstone is in much need of attention and if this were to be achieved by that date it would be an added tribute and enhance the commemoration we are planning. The Society is pleased to contribute to this project.”

Treves, who was born in Cornhill Dorchester, became a surgeon in 1875, before meeting John Merrick, otherwise known as the Elephant Man, in 1886.

He showed kindness to Merrick and treated him at the London Hospital until Merrick’s death four years later.

Just before his coronation in 1902, King Edward VII was struck down with appendicitis. Treves saved his life by performing an innovative surgical operation on the table of the Music Room in Buckingham Palace, draining the abscess present whilst preserving the appendix.

Dorset Echo: Sir Frederick TrevesShortly afterwards he was awarded a Baronetcy and granted the Freedom of the Borough of Dorchester.

His deep love of historic Dorchester is evidenced by the following passage in Highways and Byways of Dorset, a book Treves published in 1906 in which he describes the view of the town from the north-east approach:

“It is from this quarter that the approach to Dorchester is the most pleasing and the most reminiscent of past days. Here the water meadows reach to the very garden hedges and to the actual walls of houses.

Dorset Echo: “Indeed, cows pasturing by the river might shelter themselves from the sun under the overhanging storey of one of these ancient dwellings on the fringe of the town.”

Treves moved to Switzerland in 1920 where he lived out the rest of his life, until his death from peritonitis three years later.

To enquire about helping with donations, or to donate, contact Jan Tollerfield from the Dorchester Association on 01305 266023.