Dr. Syntax's Head

I was very curious about this Dr. Syntax and his extraordinary name, so I asked around and eventually found a friendly local, Jeff Lewis, who told me the full story.

It seems that Doctor Syntax was the fictitious schoolmaster hero of three very popular books between 1812 and 1821. The famous caricaturist and water-colour painter Thomas Rowlandson painted one or two pictures each month showing the Doctor in various humorous scrapes (falling into water, disputing his bill with an inn keeper, meeting prospective wives, etc) and then William Combe wrote a continuous story in verse along the theme of the pictures. Combes did not know the subject of the pictures until he received them.

The Doctor's adventures were first serialised in a monthly magazine and then "by popular demand" in book form as

They were the smash hit of their day and were the subject of much illegal copying, jumping on the band wagon, and what we now call "merchandising" with Doctor Syntax crockery, wigs, clothes, etc. (much the same way as everything is Harry Potter today).

If you see a sign in a British pub signs depicting a man with protruding chin, a wig, and black clothes, that will be the famous schoolmaster.

There was also a famous racehorse born in 1811 and named after the schoolmaster. That Doctor Syntax won twenty Gold Cups over a ten year period.

So why is the point of land called "Dr. Syntax's Head?" Jeff didn't know, but thought it might be because of the shape of Doctor Syntax's chin. Now that he's shown me a picture of Doctor Syntax, I'm inclined to agree!

And if you know any more about Doctor Syntax, please do contact Jeff, who is always interested in more information about him.


- Return to the adventure: Walking to Land's End.
- The next adventure: Logan Rock, a spectacular hill-fort.
- Return to Grannus' circle.
- Go back to the front gate.

This page maintained by Gavin.