JAMES HERRIOT'S HOUSE
Okay It was not James Herriot’s House, but you know who I mean - James Alfred Wight known as Alf Wight, the vet and author who created the famous character.
Alf Wright had gone to Thirsk in 1940 to work for Donald Sinclair, a young vet who had just bought the practice and who was later joined by his brother Brian Sinclair, renamed Siegfried and Tristan Farnon in the books, and if you have watched any television at all you probably know the rest of the story, which was partly autobiographical.
The books were not begun until the 1960’s but soon proved a great success though Alf Wight continued to work as a vet. His son later joined the practice and though by then the income from his writing was immense Alf carried on working almost until his death, simply because he loved animals and loved being a vet
The original surgery is surprisingly interesting to look round. It is furnished and kitted out in period, and very well done, giving a real feel of the times. The house dining room with its huge aspidistra was used as both the receptionist’s office and patient's waiting room, and there is a quite realistic figure of Mrs Pumphrey holding Tricky Woo
And in the main sitting room and even more realistic figure depicting Alf Wright reading the newspaper. I have to say I am not generally a fan of ‘figures’ in museums, but this one works particularly well
The hall cupboards are full of old medicines, and the dispensary and examination room are kitted out in period. Even the kitchen with its Aga and big scrubbed top table and dresser full of old brand names gives a wonderful nostalgic tingle if you are old enough to remember those times.
Out at the back in the old stables they have a nice little film running on a loop with details of his life, and upstairs is a medical type museum. I think there was a tea room, but as the light was beginning to fade I wanted to visit the church at the top of the street.
It would have been the church where Alf and his bride married, and there was a lovely view back down the street to the surgery. I would guesthere was not much to do in Thirsk in years gone by judging from the depth of the carvings in the stonework inside the fine old porch. Next door to the chuch was what must have once been a very grand house. I half wondered if that was where the character of 'Mrs. Pumphrey' lived.