The mallet was given to the College by the staff of St Mark’s Hospital, London to celebrate the inauguration of the Proctological (later Colonic and Rectal) Section, on 28 May 1963. It was presented by J.C. Stewart to Alan Lendon, then Vice-President and Chairman of the Court of Examiners.
Although it is usually described as a gavel, the form of the piece is in fact that of an ancient stonemason’s mallet. The action required to use it is a straight up-and-down motion, unlike that of a normal gavel, which is handled like a hammer.
Made of black bean, 22.5cm high and 12cm in diameter, the mallet rests in a wooden stand made of Queensland walnut, with a square base of English oak. The mallet and stand are housed in a travelling case covered in red leather and lined in red velvet and white satin. On the front of the stand are four crests, those of St Mark’s Hospital, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal Society of Medicine, and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
St Mark’s was founded in 1835 as a specialist hospital for the treatment of fistula in ano, a common condition in the days of travelling on horseback, and other anorectal disorders. Over the years the hospital developed into a centre for gastroenterology, colonic and rectal surgery, and many Australians went to further their training there. Some noted Fellows of the College, including Robert Officer, James Guest, Reg Magee, Brian Collopy and Adrian Polglase, and three Presidents, Mervyn Smith, Sir Edward Hughes and Russell Stitz, are alumni of St Mark’s.
This mallet is a reminder of the establishment of a significant surgical section within the College, and is a fitting gift from an institution with which so many eminent Australian surgeons formed close ties.
GAVEL ON STAND WITH PAINTED COATS-OF-ARMS IN RED LEATHER PRESENTATION BOX
Inscriptions & markings
PLAQUE ON GAVEL: "PRESENTED BY THE STAFF OF ST. MARK'S HOSPITAL TO COMMEMORATE THE FOUNDING OF THE PATHOLOGICAL SECTION OF THE RACS 28TH MAY 1963"