Plaques to honour Great Yarmouth politicians

ICONIC men of Great Yarmouth’s history are being commemorated for their remarkable work in the legal and medical professions.

Two blue plaques will be revealed next Thursday to remember author, solicitor and local politician Charles John Palmer, and honoured surgeon Sir Astley Cooper.

CJ Palmer’s plaque will be unveiled at 11am on the Elizabethan House, South Quay, which belonged to his father in 1809.

The second plaque, at St George’s Plain (site of the old Yarmouth General Hospital) will be revealed at 12.15pm where Sir Astley Cooper served part of his surgical apprenticeship.

The two new plaques are part of a series of historical memorials created by Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society.

CJ Palmer, who died on September 24, 1882 at his home, Villa Graham in Yarmouth.

He was twice mayor of the borough, chief magistrate for the Yarmouth court, and served as deputy lieutenant for Suffolk.

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After leaving school, he was articled for two years to solicitor Robert Cory, registrar of Admiralty Court and another former mayor of Yarmouth.

In later years, Palmer gave aid to St Nicholas Parish Church and was active in the establishment of its restoration fund in the mid 19th century. He proved key in saving the Priory refectory from destruction and establishing a national school in the building.

Elsewhere in the borough, he was involved with Yarmouth Charity Trustees, the public library, the Sailor’s Home, and the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society. He published a number of literary works on Yarmouth.

Sir Astley Paston Cooper, born in Brooke, Norfolk in 1768, was renowned for his work as a surgeon and spent his early years in Yarmouth.

His father, Samuel Cooper was the Vicar of Yarmouth from 1781 to 1800.

During his youth, Astley narrowly escaped with his life when he attempted to cross the harbour bar and go to sea in a gunboat which was only suitable for sailing on Breydon Water.

He was apprenticed to his surgeon uncle at Guy’s Hospital, London, in 1784.

In 1802, he won the Royal Society’s Copley Medal for his research for a paper on hearing acuity in two patients with perforated ear drums – the first time the condition had been prescribed.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and became the most famous surgical teacher in Europe and in 1813 became Professor of Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons.

During his time as a surgeon he was also prolific in stealing dead bodies, known as “body-snatching”, so he could continue his research.

He died childless, at the age of 72 in 1841.