Dispensary House

Dispensary House - Painting by Wendy White - Parish Art Class

Dispensary House – Painting by Wendy White – Parish Art Class

The precise date of this building is not recorded. A building is shown on the site on the OS map of 1834, but the present building appears to be a later refacing or remodelling, or almost complete rebuilding. It is marked on the OS map of 1908 as a ‘Dispensary’, although that function appears to have been attached to the site from at least the early 19th century. Records show that Isaac Wilson was practicising as Apothecary in Loughgall in 1816 with only one year’s training. The County Armagh Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1835-38 state: ‘The dispensary, situated at the north end of the town of Loughgall, is a plain stone dwelling house, not built for the purpose of a dispensary. It is rented for its present purpose at 12 pounds per annum’. On the basis of its stylistic appearance the present building appears to date from the mid-19th century. Notice the unusual octagonal stone posts in front of the house. A dispensary during the early 1800s was intended to supply medical attention and medicines to the sick poor of the district. In Loughgall quarterly meetings of subscribers were held with regularity. The subscribers in 1845 included Sir George Molyneux, Robert W.C.Cope, Henry Cobb, Rev. J. Jones, Joseph Nicholson, Esq., Rev. F. Clements, J.Hardy, Esq., Rev. F. Lloyd, Mr John Cardwell and Rev. J. Disney. During 1828, Loughgall Dispensary District was the most active in County Armagh having dealt with almost 3000 patients. In 1835 it is recorded that, at Loughgall, the medical officer, in addition to his salary of £50 per year, was provided with a house and garden rent free and received 2s 6d when he visited a patient who lived over two miles away. At that time, the average cost of medicines per person was 7½d per year. The majority of poor people had access to the benefits of what was called ‘dispensary relief’ provided they had a ticket signed by a subscriber. In 1851, when the Medical Charities Act was passed, the dispensaries, with the workhouses, were to form part of a new structure of health care which was to last well into the 20th century. The doctors who have served in Loughgall District since the early 1800s include Isaac Wilson (ca1818), Surgeon Joseph Hemphill Scott (ca1824), Dr Shegog (ca1835), Dr William W. Leeper ( d1894), Dr Charles Chatterton Deane (d1926) and Dr Ruth Lemon, who died in 1964. Dr Deane’s son Hector, born in Loughgall, became surgeon in charge of Armagh City Hospital in 1925, and McGready’s Royal Nurseries named one of their roses ‘Hector Deane’ in his honour. When there was not a sufficient demand for a doctor’s surgery in Loughgall the front room of the premises were opened as an antique shop and art gallery. When the current owners purchased the premises in 2004 they lovingly restored the old dispensary quarters which now form part of the ‘The Dispensary House Gallery’

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