"Longevitaris" or The Shelfanger Spa Water"

On 7th August: 1842 born to Sir Henry and Lady Farrington, a son Anthony Charles. The event was in Devon, but destiny decreed that Anthony would find his way to Diss and play a remarkable part in the life of Shelfanger. Records of 1811 established that he was a Doctor in Diss and wrote to the 'Diss Express' reassuring residents that the smallpox epidemic was only 'mild'. In 1878 he saw an advertisement in the 'Express' that Hill House, Shelfanger, was to let. He rented the property and in due course found from Bloomfield's 'History of Norfolk', about the iron and mineral properties in the waters beneath the house. Further investigation revealed the waters perfect for curing dyspeptic, gout and anaemic conditions, and he spent much time launching a company to exploit the 'find', even to the extent of soliciting the patronage of the Prince of Wales by asking for some 'Royal distinction'. This was refused but Anthony pressed on and established a well, fountains and a bathing place. Around the turn of the century there were 'picturesque stalls' and tennis. Public Conveyances in the form of 'Mr. Trudgill's Waggonette'. 'Mr.Ward's Omnibus' and 'Mr. Filby's Spring Van' transported passengers from Eye via Brome and Scole, Diss and New Buckenham via the Dambridge Mill Crossings and Hawe Corner for the convenience of passengers from Banham and Old Buckenham. For the comfort of visitors travelling by train the Doctor provided seats along the roads from Diss station to the spa as his hopes for a branch line into Shelfanger were never to materialise! Although many thousands of bottles of Shelfanger spa water were sent over England and France and hundreds flocked to bathe, financial troubles beset the Doctor and he hid himself from his creditors by locking himself in the cupboard under the stairs and boring an eyehole to spy their departure. Eventually Dr Farrington sold the property and moved to Suffolk where he immersed himself in poetic thoughts. Today the renamed 'Spa House' has been beautifully restored and there is still evidence of the good Doctor's influence in the garden. ©2001 V Day

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