Dr. James Manby Gully


Dr Gully was one of the most well-known doctors of his day. He treated many of the great and good of the Victorian age including Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Darwin. Darwin looked on Gully as a friend and when his ten-year-old daughter (Annie) became ill, he took her to be treated by Dr. Gully in Malvern in Worcestershire; unfortunately Gully was not able to save her life. Nowadays it is thought she was suffering from TB (at that time an incurable disease). James Gully was a very charismatic and popular doctor, especially with his female patients.


Though a qualified doctor, Gully was a practitioner of hydrotherapy, better known as the water cure. He practised at his clinic in Malvern. Dr. Gully never lived in Furzedown but he visited his former patient, Florence Ricardo, at Brooklands in 1871 where she was staying with the Brookes, her solicitor and his wife. (Brooklands stood where the junction of Clairview Road and Brookview Road is today.) Florence became Gully’s lover though he was 30 years older than her. Florence later married Charles Bravo, a young barrister who died of antimony poisoning in April 1876.


At the coroner’s inquest into Bravo’s death, it was revealed that Gully and Florence had been lovers and he had performed an abortion on her after getting her pregnant. Suspicion of causing Bravo’s death fell on him as the discarded lover, as well as on Florence and her companion Mrs Cox.


Though he could not have killed Bravo as he did not have access to administering poison to him, the scandal of Gully’s relationship with Florence ruined both of them. At the inquest it was alleged that he and Florence had been caught ‘in flagrante by the Brookes when he visited Florence at Brooklands – a terrible sin.