1817 London Hospitals
Images From Walks Through London
by David Hughson
via Google Books
Part 2 describes the hospitals.
Be sure to read about Bethlem Hospital and the appalling conditions inmates lived in.
Windows had been covered in at the bottoms so that ‘passengers’, or tourists, couldn’t see in, but no one considered that the inmates couldn’t see out and therefore stared at blank walls year after year.
And what about the privie trenches under beds?
Would you like that? Ewwww!
Coming to Chelsea, the Hospital is the first object of the attention of visitors. This edifice was begun in 1682, but not completed till 1690, by Sir. Christopher Wren. Its general appearance is plain, yet not inelegant, as the architect seems to have avoided all superfluous ornament, in order to save expense. The structure is of elegant brick-work; the quoins, cornices, pediments, are of free-stone. The chapel and the ball are well disposed; the colonnade and portico, towards the river, are handsome and well proportioned, and afford a comfortable sheltered walk, and communication between the two wings for the pensioners in wet weather.
The hospital consists of three courts; the principal one is open to the south side. In the centre is a bronze statue of the royal founder, Charles the Second, in a Roman habit. The south side is also ornamented, with a handsome portico of the Doric order, and a colonnade continued along the whole of it: this side is divided into a chapel, a hall, and, in the centre, a large vestibule, terminated by a cupola of considerable height. On each side of the chapel are the pews for the various officers of the house; the pensioners sit in the middle on benches. The north front is handsome. and extensive; and about fourteen acres of ground, opposite to it, forms an enclosure of about fourteen acres, planted with avenues of limes and horse-chestnuts.
The principal grand entrance is by two iron gates of elegant workmanship and great height, ornamented on each side by lofty stone pillars, surrounded with military trophies. This entrance is also ornamented with two handsome porters’ lodges. In the burial-place, to the east of the hospital, are several tombs and monuments in memory of the governors, lieutenant-governors, and other officers of the establishment.
St. Luke’s Hospital is appropriated for the reception of lunatics. The building is of brick and stone. The centre and ends project a little, are carried higher than the two parts which connect them together, and are distinguished also by a little more decoration of stone. In the front is a broad space, enclosed with a wall, which is relieved by a portico in the centre. The entrance is by a flight of steps, under a cover, supported by columns.
This hospital, it will appear, is not only better constructed, but better conducted than some others in the metropolis, which have been the merited objects of parliamentary investigation, from which it appears that though the exposure of the patients at Bethlem, &c. used to be attended with some abuses, even these were less culpable than others which have been since detected and exposed.
The Deaf and Dumb Asylum
“Hence to the Obelisk, and to the Kent road, a little beyond the Bricklayer’s Arms, concludes this walk. Here we notice The Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, a handsome brick building, very accurately represented in the annexed engraving. Near this spot is also the Institutions for the Cure of Cancers, &c. Thus having commenced our perambulation of the metropolis at the emporium of commerce, we have closed this part of our undertaking among the mansions of charity.”
The Foundling Hospital
“Lamb’s-Conduit-Street is so denominated from a reservoir, built by Mr. Lamb, and leads to The Foundling-Hospital, a brick edifice, composed of two wings, in a plain regular manner; these are ornamented by piazza. The Chapel forms a centre, joined to the wings by arches. Over the altar is a fine painting, the Wise Men’s Offering,” by Cazali. Here are also several beautiful paintings by Hogarth and other eminent masters.”
The New Bethlem Hospital, St George’s Fields
“In the new road from Westminster Bridge to Newington Butts, we come to New Bethlem Hospital. This edifice presents a front truly grand, five hundred and eighty feet long, composed of two wings and a noble portico, formed by a lofty range of Ionic pillars, supporting a handsome pediment, with a tympanum, containing, in its centre, the Royal arms of the united kingdom. The centre of the building is also crowned by a dome, and has a number of appropriate embellishments.
After it had been resolved to take down Old Bethlem, and build a superior edifice in St. George’s Fields, a most disgraceful discovery, in consequence of parliamentary investigation, was made of the treatment of the insane patients. The Committee of the House of Commons, on inspecting this building, And entering the gallery on the principal floor, observed that the windows were so high as to prevent the patients from looking out; with the unfitness of which they were struck, as intelligent persons had stated, that the greatest advantage might he derived from the patients having opportunities of seeing objects that might amuse them.”
It was stated by Mr. Upton, the Deputy Architect, that these windows were at first so constructed, but were afterwards built up at the lower part, on a suggestion that it would be inconvenient to expose the patients to the view of the passengers; which inconvenience it is conceived might be very easily obviated.”
The windows in the upper story appear to be properly constructed.
The Report continues, “ In the sleeping apartments the windows are not glazed, which deprives the patients generally of a reasonable comfort, and may, in many cases, be really injurious. But, what appears to be still more important, there are no flues constructed for the purpose of conducting warm air through the house, except in the lower galleries on the basement story, which are proposed to be warmed by steam. This appears to be deserving of serious consideration, because it is represented that the patients suffer sensibly from cold; and Dr. Munro, the Physician to the Hospital, stated, that it had not been thought advisable to administer medicines in the winter, on account of the cold of the house.
“In the Infirmary for Female Patients there are only three small windows, at a great height, on the northern side of the room; it appeared, therefore, that something should be done for ventilation, which might easily be accomplished.
“The construction of the privies appears to be very objectionable; and there is only one in each of the upper galleries, one in the criminal part, and two in the basement story: nor are there any privies or urinals in the airing grounds. And it seems doubtful, whether the drain passing under the beds, is on such a construction as will answer the intended purpose.
“There is no room set apart for the reception of the dead bodies, which should be provided for.
“There are eight acres of ground occupied for the Hospital, including the site of the buildings, the airing grounds, and one acre and a half intended for a kitchen garden; and there are nearly four acres more adjoining, which it is the intention of the Governors to turn to profit, the Act of Parliament restraining them to the use of eight. The Committee, however, think it may be expedient to submit to the consideration of Parliament, the propriety of enabling the Governors to devote this ground to the general purposes of the Hospital, from a conviction of the benefits the patients derive from exercise, and, in many cases, from labour.
“And that the patients may not be entirely deprived of these benefits in wet weather, it appears to be desirable that pent houses should be erected against the cross-walls of the airing-grounds, or a sort of covering in the middle thereof, like those at St. Luke’s Hospital. In the criminal part of the building, the Committee find the same objection to the height of the windows, as before mentioned, and that no provision whatever is made for warming this department, although the warming pipes from the basement story are continued to the door at which this part is entered; and it may be useful, if external doors of iron grating should be provided on the basement story.”
The Committee further remarked, that in this part of the building there is no Infirmary. In consequence it was “Resolved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House, That leave be given to bring in a Bill, to amend and enforce the Provisions of the Act of the 14th George the Third, c. 49, intituled, “An Act for regulating Mad-houses.” As a preservation against fire, here are four large reservoirs on the top of this building, supplied by an engine, and a pump for each distinct gallery.”
Other Hospitals and Asylums
- The Westminster Lying In Hospital
At the corner of the City Road, where it is crossed by Old-Street, is situated The City of London Lying In Hospital. This building consists of a centre and two wings, the latter projecting a little from the main building. In the front of the centre is a very neat but plain pediment, and in this part of the building a chapel, the top of which is crowned with a light open turret, terminated by a vane.
The Westminster Lying-in-Hospital is a laudable institution, not formed merely for the honest matron, who can depose her burthen with the consciousness of lawful love, but also, for once only, for those unhappy beings who, in an unguarded moment, were seduced to be a prey to villany, deserted by their friends, and exposed to the horrid complication of guilt, want, and wretchedness.
After having passed the Turnpike, we come to The Asylum, an excellent charity, owing its rise to the humane and judicious plan of the celebrated Sir John Fielding, for friendless and deserted girls under twelve years of age. Ladies, subscribing specified sums, are entitled to be guardians, and to vote by proxy.
- The Freemason’s Charity School for Female Children
Proceeding eastward, on the north side of the road, is The Freemason’s Charity School for Female Children, where they are admitted from five to ten years.
- The Royal Military Asylum for Children
The Royal Military Asylum, for the children of the soldiers of the regular army, is near the Royal Hospital, and adjoining the King’s Road. This building is environed on all sides with high walls, and a handsome building.
- Lock Hospital for syphilis. In Grosvenor-Place is the Lock Hospital for syphilitic maladies.
- St George’s Hospital: Near Hyde-Park Corner, on the south side of the road, stands St. George’s Hospital, for patients and complaints of every description; a very neat, though rather a plain building.