A PLAQUE was set in bricks at the Minories Art Gallery to honour the first female doctor of Colchester.

A permanent reminder of the honourable work of Doctor Ruth Bensusan-Butt was erected by the Colchester Civic Society.

Her grandson, clinical neurologist Professor Simon Shorvon, and Dr Elizabeth Hall, another of Colchester’s pioneering doctors and founder of St Helena Hospice, unveiled the plaque to a crowd.


Dr Butt trained at the Royal Free Hospital in London, before qualifying in 1904, and becoming a doctor of medicine (MD) in 1908.

She lived and worked at the Minories from 1915 to 1957 before it was a gallery, after moving to Colchester five years earlier with husband Geoffrey.

Her earlier travels had seen her gain medical experience in Italy, Switzerland and Ireland.


Rosemary Jewers, from the Colchester Civic Society, said: “Dr Butt was a prolific campaigner, having been a suffragist, a Fabian and member of the Labour Party.

“Her huge social conscience led her to throw herself into the task of making life better for the less fortunate, especially women and children.

“She was instrumental in establishing the first maternity hospital in Colchester, as well as being responsible for opening a day nursery at the Minories, antenatal classes, and several professional and social clubs.


“Besides doing her best for patients, she is remembered as a very forthright, formidable, and rather frightening GP - but one who was prepared to move mountains if the need arose.”

Dr Ruth had three children: John, who was a well-known Colchester artist and historian, and twins, David and Barbara.

Essex University offers a £750 scholarship in her honour open to female, final year history undergraduates moving onto a Master's degree.