Dr Hugh Selwyn Gaskell

Eldest son of Rev. Thomas Kynaston Gaskell and Horatia Octavia Hugo, father of Gerald Charles Gaskell and husband of Hilda Frances Curling

Hugh was born on 1st August 1879 at Folksworth Rectory, Folksworth, near Peterborough. The rectory was subsequently burned down and c.1882 a new rectory built, in which Hugh grew up.

Hugh was christened at St Helena’s, Folksworth, by his father on 7th September 1879.

The sponsors were:

Rev. Richard Kay Haslehurst - see Horatia Octavia notes.

William Anthony Moberly - probably a son of Rev Robert Moberley and his wife Catherine, nee Temple, daughter of Octavius Temple

Margaret Hugo - mother’s sister and known to Hugh as Aunt Minna.

Annie Gaskell - father’s sister.

Hugh was initially taught at home by his mother including piano and religious instruction - “we read the psalms for the day daily, a verse each all through”.  He was, however, taught drawing and painting by others and later by a governess

From 1890 - 1893 Hugh attended Parkhouse School, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells and according to the 1891 Census, with his brother John Charles Temple Gaskell (known as Charles), was a border at 87 Woodside Green, South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey


From 1893 - 97 Hugh boarded at Haileybury School where he most enjoyed Rugby, playing left wing for his House. He was in the Shooting V111 in 1896/97, becoming eventually Captain of it, winning the "Hawkins Cup", given yearly by a Master of that name, for "best average in matches" against other teams. He shot for the school at Bisley in ’96 and ‘97, and also for the "Spencer Cup" for which one boy from each school was enterer for the Bisley Meeting.

In 1897 he entered Edinburgh University to study medicine but in the enthusiasm which gripped the young men of Britain when the Boer War broke out Hugh decided, in 1899, to leave his studies and join up. He could not obtain a commission because of a varicose vein in his leg and he, therefore, joined the 38th Company 10th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, the Bucks Hussars, as a Private No. 4969. Hugh fought in the Boer War of 1899/02 - the doctor who examined him at Buckingham did not look at his leg!

Hugh received the Africa War Medal and 4 Clasps 

Cape Colony 11th October 1899 - 31st May 1902

Orange Free State 28th February 1900 - 31st May 1902

Transvaal 24th May 1900 - 31st May 1902

South Africa 1901

After the war Hugh wrote "With Lord Methuen in South Africa" about his exploits in the Boer War. Published in 1906 by Drane.

Hugh returned to Edinburgh University in 1901, qualifying M.B., Ch.B. in 1905. Hugh’s first job was as a Locum in Salcombe and later in Thorveton, Devon. Then he became Clinical Assistant in the Ear Nose and Throat Department of the RIE. In 1906 House Surgeon at the Devonshire Hospital, Buxton and in 1908 Locum at Culross on the Firth of Forth, Scotland. In 1909 he became First Casualty Officer then House Physician, Evelina Hospital for Sick Children, London.

In 1910 Hugh's parents bought a half share for him in a practice in Cobham, Surrey - living firstly in a rented cottage called Ivy Cottage in the Main Street, “Church” Cobham  and soon afterwards moved to Vine House in “Street” Cobham (in 1936 it was an Old Curiosity Shop).

In 1912 Hugh wrote an article for the Lancet on “Cause of loss of memory after influenza”

In 1916 Hugh was Commissioned as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps with the 52nd Field Ambulance in France. From 1916 -17 he kept a war diary "Diary of an MO"

On August 3rd 1916, Dr Hugh Selwyn Gaskell cycled from Bedford, where he was stationed to Thorpe Hall, 38 miles, to visit his  "Strong"  cousins.  He remarked, "Mrs S. looks very well, and is no older, but of course  has to get about on crutches.  Horatia, Grace, Mrs Willie and Miss Metcalfe were there. Mary is in Cairo."

When the war ended in 1918 he returned to Cobham and on 17th November 1919 married Hilda Frances Curling at Christ Church, Hougham in Dover, Kent

The witnesses at the wedding were

H A Harmer, half brother to Hilda.

Dorothea Gaskell, Hugh’s sister.     

Just before Hugh and Hilda left Cobham, their only son, Gerald Charles was born in London on 19th January 1921

From 1921 - 23, Hugh practised in London at 316 Clapham Road. His entry in the 1922 Telephone Directory lists him as H S Gaskell MB, CHb, Physen Srgn and his telephone number was Brixton 1576. in 1923 he bought a Practice in Stowmarket, Suffolk, living at The Corner House, where he had a Surgery, until retirement. He was initialy in partnership with Dr Hill and Dr Hounsfield and later Dr Hounsfield's son. He soon took into partnership Dr Roger Kynaston and a Dr Reeve

In 1927 Hugh wrote “Loquacity in females - a diagnosis”. How would this be received today?

On 21st February 1931, Hugh was in Buffalo, New York State, USA, meeting his brother, Christopher, as he crossed the border from Canada with a friend, Rosamond Roberts

In 1932 he published "Pot Pourri", a book of poetry, which was very well reviewed. Hugh wrote a lot of other poetry, which was frequently published in magazines and local newspapers until well after his death.

In 1935 Hugh wrote for Pract, “Influenza - a comparison”

In addition to being a poet of some local repute, Hugh also took part in and produced plays for Stowmarket Operatic and Dramatic Society during the 1930's.

Hugh completed a two year exercise of writing a Memoir of his life in March 1938.

Hugh and Hilda adopted Susan Ray, born on 20th November 1938, and registered her as their child on 5th October 1939, calling her Pamela Frances  Gaskell


Hugh in 1938


In 1947 Hugh wrote “For Doctors only”. In 1948 he wrote “Gastric and duodenal ulcer” and finally “In hospital” in 1949, both for the Courier.


In 1949 Hugh and Hilda sold the Corner House to Roger Kynaston (no relation) and  retired to 17 Recreation Road, Stowmarket. in 1960 they moved to Montrose, Station Road, St Margaret's at Cliff, Kent to be near Pamela, their Daughter.

Hugh died on 24th July 1967 at Canterbury Hospital, following a fall, and was cremated.

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