A new biography has been published delving into the story of a civil war solider turned physician from Dorset who revolutionised medical practice.

The book, Castles in the Air by Dr Mike Denny, details the life of seventeenth century physician Dr Thomas Sydenham.

Born in Wynford Eagle, a village north of Bridport in September 1624, Sydenham attended university at Magdalen Hall in Oxford at the start of 1642 before serving as an officer for the roundhead Parliamentarian forces during the Civil War.

In 1646, Sydenham returned to studying medicine at Oxford before becoming a prominent London Physician, active in the Royal College of Physicians.

 Known posthumously as the English Hippocrates, Sydenham’s radical scientific approach to medical theory impressed physician John Locke.

Sydenham lived in Pall Mall and set up a practice in London in 1665, despite the mortality rate of the plague reaching 50 per cent at this time. A year later, Sydenham witnessed the Great Fire of London.

He wrote extensively on fevers and believed all fevers could be treated in broadly the same way using simple and humane methods: venesection, emetics, sleep, cordials, purging, diet, blisters (cupping), wine, the warmth of animals or young persons, extra bedclothes and hot drinks, quinine, change of air and doing nothing.

He considered diseases to be similar in all patients rather than being specific to each patient, recognised acute and chronic disease and he favoured vegetable remedies and the cooling of fevers. He considered time a good healer.

Sydenham published the book Observationes Medicae in 1676, which became the standard textbook for medicine for 200 years. He famously quoted ‘a man is only as old as his arteries.’

Dr Denny’s book covers Sydenham's life in west Dorset before and during the war and in Restoration London. He is a local to Wynford Eagle and a retired GP who studied at Barts. The book is his first major biographical publication, and received good reviews from the British Society for the History of Medicine.

The title, Castles in the Air, refers to Sydenham's view of contemporary medial theory.

The book is available at the Bookshop on South Street in Bridport as well as Little Toller Books in Beaminster.