Umberslade Hall

Umberslade Hall

Walter R. Johnson M.D. London 1847 (23 February 1824 – 5 March 1913) was a British orthodox physician, Gold Medalist in Medicine and Materia Media, and Medical Tutor at Guy’s Hospital, who converted to hydropathy and homeopathy, to become the Editor of the Journal of Health (replacing Ralph Barnes Grindrod), a Member of the Management Committee of the Manchester Homeopathic Hospital, and a Chairman of the Manchester Branch of the Association for the Protection of Homeopathic Students and Practitioners.

Walter Johnson was one of five sons born to hydropathic physician Edward Johnson MD (1801 – 1867) and his wife Frances. All five siblings would become doctors and incorporated hydropathy into their practice.

By 1851 Johnson had embraced homeopathy and incorporated it in his practice alongside hydropathy. That year Johnson chaired a public meeting in Manchester, where William Armitage, Henry Dixon, Richard Durnford, William Philip Harrison, George Stevenson Knowles, Alfred Crosby Pope, William W Scholefield, Charles Caulfield Tuckey, Arthur de Noe Walker and many others, decided that homeopathy required the protection of a Royal Charter or a Legal Enactment to protect it from their enemies, and they proposed that a Branch of the General Association for the Protection of Homeopathic Students and Practitioners be immediately set in motion, noting that in London an Association for the Protection of Homeopathic Students and Practitioners was already up and functioning.

Also in 1851, Johnson attended the 4th Homeopathic Congress in Manchester, alongside George Atkin, Francis Black, Hugh Cameron, John James Drysdale, George Dunn, John Epps, George Fearon, William Philip Harrison, George Calvert Holland, Joseph Laurie, Charles W Luther, Alfred Crosby Pope, John Rutherford Russell, Charles Caulfield Tuckey, and many more.

In 1856,  Johnson practiced at the Great Malvern Hydrotherapy Establishment and at the Hydrotherapy Establishment at Umberslade Hall, near Birmingham. He was a colleague of hydropaths James Manby Gully, and James Loftus Marsden.

By the late 1860s, Johnson was back in practice at Great Malvern. In the 1860s Florence Nightingale was one of his patients in Malvern.

In 1867 Johnson married Mary Ann Sophia Young, the daughter of the Rector of Risley in Bedfordshire, by whom he had four children.

An advertisement in The Times on Aug 31st 1878 advised the re-opening of Walter’s water cure establishment, and a similar advertisement on Saturday Nov 30th 1878 went on to say:

Hydropathic Establishment

Malvernbury, Great Malvern

Re-opened by Dr Walter Johnson. Patients and visitors now received on winter terms.

The 1881 census records Walter and Mary living at ‘Bury’ House in Abbey Road which was almost certainly Malvernbury, and an 1887 edition of the BMJ, listing doctors registered in Worcestershire, confirms that Dr Walter Johnson was at Malvernbury.

When Mary died in 1888, Walter Johnson retired to Kensington in London to live near his younger brother Horace Edward Johnson MD (d. 1903).

Select Publications:

Of interest:

Edward Johnson (1801 – 1867), father of Walter Johnson and Howard Johnson, was a student of Astley Cooper, and of Vincenz Priessnitz at Gräfenberg, and he practiced hydrotherapy at Great Malvern, Stansteadbury, and at Umberslade Hall, Hockley Heath near Birmingham.