The King’s Physician

 Hearing the news that King (Charles III) has cancer, caused me to remember that a former King’s physician lived in the area.

As many of you will know Wistow Hall, a Grade II* listed building is currently the home of the Brooks family who oversee the running of the Wistow Maze and together with the local Rotary group a splendid outdoor charity concert.

Inherited Wistow Hall

Back in 1814 Wistow Hall estate was inherited by Sir Henry Halford, 1st Baronet who was born Henry Vaughan and was president of the Royal College of Physicians for 24 years.

As the royal and society physician, he was physician extraordinary to King George III from 1793 to 1820, then  physician in ordinary to his three successors – George IV, William IV and the young Victoria. He also served other members of the Royal Family until his death.

Halford was born as Henry Vaughan, the second but eldest surviving son of Dr. James Vaughan, an eminent physician himself in Leicester, and his wife, Hester née Smalley. His brothers were Sir John Vaughan, judge; Peter Vaughan, Warden of Merton College, Oxford (a big connection there for Kibworth) and Dean of Chester and Sir Charles Richard Vaughan, minister plenipotentiary to Switzerland and to the United States. (from Wikipedia).

It was the diaries of Henry Halford that confirmed that King George III was not mad but suffered from the hereditary disease of porphyria. 

Henry Halford patients included almost anyone of importance in London during the first quarter of the 19th century: the Duke of Wellington, Warren Hastings, Sir Walter Scott, Fox, Pitt, Talleyrand  and the King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands who were dangerously ill with the measles (which is again rife today in parts of England).

Sir Henry Halford made extensive improvements to the property of Wistow and created the lake we see today, whilst at the same time diverting the road around it. (

Vaughan Way Leicester and Vaughan College – which was originally called Leicester Working Man’s College – were named after members this family.

Stephen (Editor)