Cliffe Equine Vets is part of Cliffe Veterinary Group Ltd, a large independent Veterinary Practice based in Lewes.
It had always been believed that a Veterinary Practice had been established at 21 Cliffe High Street since 1890, but after further research this is now known not to be the case. Our story starts much earlier than that...
In 1795 a gentleman by the name of Simon Grover lived at the end of the Cliffe in North Street (Malling Street as it is now known). In the archives he is described as a Farrier & Veterinary Surgeon. Grover had a son by the name of John born, we believe, in 1794, who at the age of 21 is listed as a Veterinary Surgeon living & working at No 3 North Street. Simon & John Grover appear to have worked together at this address.
We have, as yet, no idea when Simon Grover died. In the census records of 1861 John Grover had taken on an assistant by the name of Vincent Vine, and in 1865 we find the first listing for Grover & Vine, Veterinary Surgeons, of North Street & High Street, Cliffe. (Prior to Vincent Vine living at No 21 it was listed as a Tea Dealers up until 1851.)
Vincent Vine did not live long, and in 1867 he died at the early age of 36. This was reported in The Veterinarian publication of March 1867 as follows - “We have to add the following case of sudden death of another member of the profession:- ‘An inquest was held at Lewes on Saturday afternoon, Jan 26th, on the body of Mr V Vine, veterinary surgeon, of that place. The deceased was found dead in his room on Thursday night, while a juvenile party were enjoying themselves in his house. Disease of the heart was the cause of death, and the jury returned a verdict to that effect.’”
1869 John Grover passed away & once again it was noted in The Veterinarian of March 1869. His obituary read - “We have to record the death of Mr J Grover, a retired and highly respected member of the profession, who resided in Lewes. Mr Grover’s diploma bears date Jan 27th 1815. He died on Christmas Day, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.
We are not sure who then resided at No 21, since we can find no records for the years between 1868 &1871. It is possible that Robert Stock was already there as a resident Veterinary Surgeon, as he is first listed at this address on the census of 1871. In 1889 Robert Stock purchased the lease of No 21 Cliffe High Street. The existing building was pulled down and Radstock House constructed in its place, the instruction being “to build a substantial brick dwelling house and all such outbuildings as were necessary for a sum not less than £800”. The freehold was owned by the Church Commissioners.
Robert Stock MRCVS with Railway Jack
Railway Jack was owned by Mr Moore, the Lewes Stationmaster in the 1800’s. He used to travel around the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway & in 1882 was hit by a train at Norwood Junction near Croydon & broke his left foreleg. He was returned to Lewes where we understand that he was taken to Robert Stock’s surgery on Cliffe High Street, where his injured leg was amputated. He made a full recovery & apparently continued his railway wandering, carrying a charity collection box under his collar. (Until the 1881 Veterinary Surgeons Act it was possible for anyone to term themselves a veterinary surgeon. Thereafter, it became an offence to do so unless one had qualified in veterinary science from a recognised University and been admitted to The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. From this time onwards, “unqualified “ persons were still able to practice as veterinary surgeons due to their previous experience, but were only entitled to call themselves Veterinary Practitioners listed on a supplementary veterinary register)
In 1890 Radstock House, as we now know it, was listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1890/91 under Veterinary Surgeons. The entry read - “Stock, Robert Albert, Radstock House, High Street, Cliffe, Lewes.” In 1897 Stock’s wife committed suicide by taking prussic acid in what is now one of the offices on the second floor of the building. In 1899 Robert Stock is still listed at Radstock House, but soon after he left for Henley. He continued working there until his death in 1911 at the age of 71. His obituary comments that he practiced at Lewes for 29 years, but it was in fact only 19.
It is not known how Radstock House came by its name. There are many stories concerning its origins, but it is probable that Robert Stock named it after Radstock in Somerset where he grew up and went to school. In 1901 the Veterinary Surgeon at No 21 was a Charles Radway – who we assume took over the Practice from Robert Stock. Charles Radway once again did not live a long life as in 1903 he died at the age of 35.
1905 John Cecil Mumby is listed as the Veterinary Surgeon at Radstock House, who had an assistant by the name of Mr G W Tingley who was registered as a Veterinary Practitioner. In 1926, aged 50, John Mumby died of heart failure from excessive drinking. His assistant Mr Tingley eventually broke away from the Practice at No 21 in 1931 & started his own practice further down The Cliffe at 24 Chapel Hill, which, you will see later, is quite significant. For two years, 1927-28, a Major Stevens joined Mr Tingley at Radstock House & the Practice declined. In 1929 Roy Turnbull bought him out for just £350. >Roy Turnbull was joined in the late 1940’s by Oliver Mayor, and in 1952s by John Teakle. This was the beginning of the modern Practice in the Cliffe High Street as we now know it.
In 1948 Richard Philcox had taken over Tingley’s Practice at 24 Chapel Hill. He was later joined by Robin Pepper, Bill Pepper’s father, the Practice then became known as Philcox and Pepper. 1957 Oliver Mayor left the Practice. By the mid 1950s, the Radstock House Practice had expanded to 5 veterinary surgeons with the arrival of Richard Rees in 1954, followed shortly by John Rawlins. In about 1951, Turnbull and Mayor purchased Carr’s single-handed practice at No 117 High Street on St Ann’s Hill and later employed Howard Sumpter to run this surgery.
In the latter half of the decade Oliver Mayor sold out his partnership to John Teakle and Howard Sumpter left at the turn of the decade to follow up a post in Sittingbourne. In the 1950s, the only rooms at Radstock House used as a Veterinary Practice were our two consulting rooms & the waiting room. This had been the case ever since the present house was built in 1890. The rest of the building was lived in by John Teakle, who by then had become the Senior Partner, & his family. The reception area & dispensary were the kitchen & dining room and on the first floor was a sitting room, 2 bedrooms & bathroom with two more bedrooms on the second floor. Many of the old fireplaces are still in situ, & downstairs in the entrance lobby are the original Victorian doors with their brass Surgery & House signs.
In about 1960 the Practice finally purchased the freehold of Radstock House from the Church Commissioners.
1965 Roy Turnbull retired and John Rawlins became a Partner. Also in 1965 David Lang arrived as an assistant becoming a Partner in 1971 The Practice was then known as Teakle, Rees, Rawlins and Lang. The then four-man practice grew again to five in 1973 with the arrival of John Daykin, and at the same time Mike Symons was with the Practice as a student. John Daykin became a partner in 1977, and the practice became known as Teakle and Partners 1984 saw Bill Pepper joining his father and Richard Philcox as an assistant, & when his father retired in 1986 Bill became a partner with Richard Philcox. (For once no name change needed!)
Mike Symons returned to join the Radstock House Practice in 1980, becoming a partner in 1988 when John Rawlins retired. Finally, in November 1990 when Richard Philcox retired from the Chapel Hill surgery, the two Practices merged 64 years after Tingley had left Radstock House to set up in opposition. The catalyst for this was Richard Philcox’s retirement, which left Bill Pepper without a partner, and with John Teakle and Dick Rees’ retirement in 1992 imminent, re-amalgamation was the happy outcome.
Thus, Cliffe Veterinary Group, the newly amalgamated practice, was born, and Bill Pepper joined the partners at Radstock House. This date, happily, marked the exact centenary of the rebuilding of 21 Cliffe High Street, a fitting tribute to the enduring presence of a veterinary practice at Radstock House. 1992 both John Teakle & Richard Rees retired, and when David Lang followed in 1995, the three remaining Partners took on a new Partner, Andrew Browning, to develop the equine department of the Practice.
1999 Karl Holliman, who had come to Lewes in 1994, became a Partner & the Cliffe Veterinary Group Partnership was back up to five.
Andrew Browning retired from Partnership in 2005, leaving just four partners - John Daykin, Mike Symons, Bill Pepper & Karl Holliman forming the Partnership.
Then in August 2008 while on holiday John Daykin who was due to retire in March 2009 tragically died in a swimming accident leaving just Bill Pepper, Mike Symons & Karl Holliman as Partners of Cliffe Veterinary Group.
In July 2010 Mark Allaway; who had been the senior small animal clinician since 2006; joined Bill, Mike and Karl as a partner of the practice.
2012 Cliffe Veterinary Group moved from a partnership to a Limited Company and Mike Symons retired
2015 saw Egbert Willems the equine clinician become a director.
2016 Nick Pile becomes a director - taking over in 2017 as the Farm Director
2017 Bill Pepper steps down as Director but continues as an associate veterinary surgeon