Plymouth Medical Society

Chair – Photograph (PWDRO 116/21); 1931

The carved features on this formal chair include lion heads on the ends of the arms, floral borders on the back and scroll work couching a shield depicting the winged ox, symbol of St Luke, patron saint of doctors. An inscription states that it was presented to The Plymouth Medical Society by Mabel L. Ramsay MD FRCS, President 1930-31, the first woman to hold that post. A report of the Honorary Secretaries of the Plymouth Medical Society for the year 1930-31 refers to ‘the generous gift of a chair by the retiring president, Dr Mabel Ramsay, for use by all future presidents of the Society’ (PWDRO 1670/7). Dr Ramsay, among other roles, was Honorary Secretary, and then President, of the Medical Women’s Federation, which encouraged the work of medical women all over the country (Western Morning News, 1932). She was also a founding member of the Plymouth Soroptimists (Western Morning News, 1949). The chair is still used on official occasions and resides at the Post Graduate Medical School in the John Bull Building at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth (H. Preston, Mabel Ramsay biographer, pers. comm.). In November 2014, a blue plaque was placed on 4 Wentworth Villas, North Hill, Plymouth, where Dr Ramsey practised medicine from 1908 to 1945 (The Herald, 2104). This was the first blue plaque in Plymouth to commemorate a woman.


PWDRO 116/21 Photograph. Plymouth Medical Society. President’s Chair.

PWDRO 1670/7 Minutes. Plymouth Medical Society 1926-36.

The Herald (2014) Mabel’s Achievements Finally Recognised. 15 November 2014.

Western Morning News (1932) Medical Women. Dr. M. Ramsay Becomes President. 9 May p. 8.

Western Morning News (1949) Soroptimists’ Dinner Guest. 8 January p. 7.