Exhibition recallswork of key figure

THE artistic achievements of a key figure in the medical history of Worthing are being remembered 37 years after his death.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2011, 9:09 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:09 am

Oliver Horsley Gotch was the man who brought Queen Alexandra’s Hospital Home (Gifford House) for disabled ex-servicemen from Roehampton, South West London. to Worthing in 1933.

He remained as medical officer at Gifford House until his retirement in 1959.

Alongside his work as a doctor, he also pursued strong interests in both painting and music.

Dr Gotch’s son Tim, who lives in Bramber, has put together an exhibition of his art at Chichester’s Oxmarket Centre of Arts (February 20-March 5).

“He did so many things in his lifetime when I knew him. He was quite old when he had me and my brother.

“After he died, we tried to have a couple of exhibitions, but they didn’t do very well. My mother wasn’t very well.

“But since she died in 2007, I decided to get his paintings brought up to date with new framing and try to get them exhibited. It was very much a thing that I thought should be done for the family.

“He was very much influenced by Impressionism, which is always a popular genre. He did do a number of local pictures, but actually I have decided to make this exhibition all of France. He was mad about France. He loved France. Most of his pictures were painted in France.”

Tim remembers him as having a detached serenity: “He was hard of hearing, and I think he played on that a little bit. He was a gentleman with quite high-brow interests. He spoke three or four languages. I remember him as a father who was considerably older. He had me when he was 60. Everyone had fathers half his age!

“He served in World War One as a naval doctor, mainly based in the Mediterranean.

“I don’t think he saw much action. And then immediately following the war, he had a great affinity with the disabled ex-servicemen who were really apparent at the end of the war.

“Gifford House was originally in Roehampton. When they moved to Worthing, they took the name with them. He thought it would be beneficial to the residents

“I should say, rather than patients. It was a hospital home rather than just a hospital. He saw a lot of benefits in the sea air. He was a great walker himself, and he definitely saw Worthing as a good venue.”

Dr Gotch was born in Oxford on 2 February 1889. He was the eldest of four children of Francis Gotch who was Professor of Physiology at Oxford from 1895 until his death in 1913.

Oliver went to Bedales School, and then studied medicine at New College, Oxford (1907-1912) and St Thomas’s Hospital, London (1913-1915). He married in 1947 and spent the rest of his life in Worthing until his death in 1974.