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Cecil Walter Thomas carving of St. Blaise healing a boy, 1920

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 October 2019

As you enter the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, on the right hand side there remains, for the present, a carving of St. Blaise healing a person.  No doubt it will in time be moved with the new hospital, but, until then, it is opposite the Joubert plaque I investigated previously.

St. Blaise (d.316) was Bishop of Sebastea in the East Roman Empire in the 3rd century, who was formerly a physician, and was associated with healing conditions of the throat as early as the 5th century.  Much of what is claimed for this saint comes from a much later source, the Acts of St. Blaise.  He is supposed to have saved a boy from choking on a fish bone, as he was going to his execution.  Some Roman Catholics today celebrate the ‘blessing of the throats’, on February the 3rd, the Saint’s day in the Roman Church, the day after Candlemas, and the 11th of February in the Eastern Church.

The sculptor was Cecil Walter Thomas (1885-1976), born in West London, and a student at the Slade (UCL).  Thomas became known for his medallions and coins, that included work for the Royal Mint, as well as bronzes.  He served in the army in the First World War, and was wounded, then later served in the Second World War.

Although he won the competition outright for designing the first coinage of Elizabeth II, only his 6d. and florin coins were produced for Britain. He was asked to tidy the other designs used; this rankled. Almost as a consolation his crowned effigy of the queen was used on some of the Commonwealth coinage, for example in the West Indies, Fiji (1953–65), and in Hong Kong, Mauritius, and Nigeria. (Simmons, DNB)

The St. Blaise carving was produced in 1920, according to information in one of our files, but I have not substantiated that.

Frances Simmons, Thomas, Cecil Walter (1885–1976) DNB online https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/64419