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Montage of three nurses. All images © Wellcome Library, London. References: L0010490, L0018470, L0010789. Hospital Records Database
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Details: St Bartholomew's Hospital, London

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Name

 

Present name

St Bartholomew's Hospital 

Previous name(s)

St Bartholomew's Hospital 1123 - 1546
'The House of the Poore in West Smithfield in the suburbs of the City of London' - this title was used in legal documents between 1546 and 1948, but never by the public.
St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1948 - Present  

Address

West Smithfield London EC1A 7BE 

Foundation Year

1123 

Closed

No 

Administrative authorities

Hospital Management Committee (1948-74)

The Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew 

Regional Health Authority (1974-82)

North East Thames 

Regional Health Authority (1982- )

North East Thames 

District Health Authority (1974-82)

City and Hackney (Teaching) 

District Health Authority (1982- )

City and Hackney 

Current Trust

The Royal Hospital NHS Turst 

Previous Trust

Bart's 'Shadow' Trust, 1991 - 1993 Bart's NHS Group, 1993 - 1994 

Trust From

1994 

County (before 1974)

London 

County (1974-1996)

Greater London 

County (after 1996)

Greater London 

Status

Pre 1948

Voluntary

Post 1948

NHS

Type

Pre 1948

General

Post 1948

Acute

Other information

St Bartholomew's Hospital St Bartholomew's Hospital has provided continuous patient care on the same site for longer than any other hospital in England. It was founded, with the Priory of St Bartholomew's, in 1123 by Rahere, formerly a coutier of Henry I. A vow made while sick on a pilgrimage to Rome, and a vision of St Bartholomew, inspired Rahere to found a priory and a hospital for the sick poor at Smithfield in London. In the early medieval period the sick were cared for by the brethren and sisters of the Priory, but gradually the Hospital became independent. It was using a distinctive seal from about 1200, and by 1300 had its own Master. By 1420 the two institutions had become entirely separate. The Priory was closed as part of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, and although the Hospital was allowed to continue, its future was very uncertain as it had no income with which to carry out its functions. The citizens of London, concerned about the disappearance of provision for the sick poor, and alarmed at the possibility of plague breaking out, petitioned the king for the grant of four hospitals in the City including St Bartholomew's. Henry finally relented; near the end of his life he issued two documents, one a signed Agreement dated December 1546 granting the Hospital to the City of London, and the other Letter Patent of January 1947 endowing it with properties and income. Along with Bethlem, Bridewell and St Thomas', St Bartholomew's became one of four Royal Hospitals administered by the City. A governing body, or Board of Governors, was now set up to administer the Hospital, and there were paid officials including a Renter-Clerk, a Steward, a Porter and eight Beadles. The nursing staff consisted of a Matron and twelve Sisters, and there were also three Surgeons who had to attend the poor daily. Although a Physician had been provided for in the Agreement of 1546, the first Physician was not appointed until 1562. The basic constitution of the Hospital remained the same until the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, although the medical and nursing staff increased greatly during that time. Nurses, or 'Sisters helpers', were first mentioned in 1647. The only medieval building now remaining at St Bartholomew's is the tower of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less. Formerly a chapel of the priory, the church is now a parish whose boundaries coincide with the precinct of the Hospital. All the medieval hospital buildings were demolished during the eighteenth century rebuilding programme, carried out to the designs of architect James Gibbs. The North Wing, which contains the Great Hall, along with the East and West Wings are original Gibbs buildings and Grade I listed. The staircase leading to the Great Hall is decorated with two huge paintings by the artist William Hogarth, depicting the Good Samaritan and Christ at the Pool of Bethesda. The well-known Henry VIII Gate, through which one enters the Hospital from West Smithfield, is also listed and is slightly earlier than the Gibbs buildings, dating from 1702. Other buildings have continued to be added as the need had arisen, including Medical College buildings, nurses' accommodation and new ward blocks. The Fountain in the Square was added in 1859. Among the many famous physicians and surgeons who have worked at Bart's are William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood and Physician to Charles I, who was appointed Hospital Physician in 1609, and Percivall Pott, the leading eighteenth century surgeon who gave his name to Pott's fracture and several other conditions. A portrait of him by Sir Joshua Reynolds hangs in the North Wing. A Medical School was gradually established from the end of the eighteenth centrury, but its foundation is generally attributed to the efforts of the surgeon and lecturer John Abernethy, who in 1822 persuaded the Hospital Governors to give the school formal recognition. The first Warden of the School was James Paget, later Serjeant-Surgeon to Queen Victoria, who allowed Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the pioneers of medicine as a career for women, to study at Bart's in 1850. After her departure female students were strenuously opposed and excluded until 1947. The nineteenth century also saw many medical advances which transformed health care. Bart's was one of the first hospitals to encourage the use of anaesthetics, making a great many more kinds of operation possible. Understanding of infection and the importance of antiseptic procedures in surgery were only gradually accepted at Bart's, but once adopted did a great deal to reduce patient mortality. The development of medical science, particularly in pathology and bacteriology, led to an increased knowledge of disease. X-rays were first used in the Hospital in 1896 and by the end of the century the first specialised departments had been created. Also in the nineteenth century came the beginnings of more skilled nursing and a School of Nursing was founded in 1877. A notable early Matron was Ethel Gordon Manson, better known as Mrs Bedford Fenwick, who encouraged a high standard of training and campaigned for the state registration of nurses. Very soon the entire nursing staff was Bart's trained, and Bart's nurses have continued to enjoy a high reputation world-wide ever since. The Hospital remained open throughout the World Wars, although during World War II many services were evacuated to Hertfordshire and Middlesex. It has maintained its reputation for excellence in medical care, teaching and research; in 1954 it became the first hospital in the country to offer mega-voltage radiotherapy for cancer patients. Cancer services, particularly for children, are still a speciality today. Other notable medical specialities are endocrinology and immunology (particularly HIV/AIDS), while a Day Surgery Unit and state-of-the-art operating theatres were opened in 1991 and 1993. In 1948 St Bartholomew's became part of the National Health Service, and following re-organisation in 1974 became the teaching hospital for the newly-formed City and Hackney Health District, a grouping including several other hospitals. In the late 1980s, the Government introduced the idea of self-governing hospital trusts within the NHS, and Bart's was planning to set up such a Trust wihen its future was called into question by the publication in 1992 of Sir Bernard Tomlinson's Report of the Inquiry into the London Health Service. This did not see Bart's as a viable hospital and recommended its closure. The Government's response to this report was published in 1993 and laid out three possible options for Bart's: Closure, retention as a small specialist hospital, or merger with the Royal London hospital and the London Chest Hospital. The threat to Bart's sparked an intense public debate and a campaign in which over one million people signed a petition to save the Hospital on its Smithfield site. After public consultation, in April 1994 the Royal Hospital NHS Trust was formed, amalgamating the three hospitals. In addition, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children later joined the Trust. The Medical Colleges of St Bartholomew's Hospital and the Royal London Hospital have also merged with Queen Mary and Westfield College. Bart's Hospital is now to remain open providing specialist cardiac and cancer care, whilst general hospital services will be concentrated at the Royal London in Whitechapel.

Records can be found at:

notes

  Wellcome Library

Record type

Date range

Administrative

1659 - 1905

   General

1747 - 1905

   Finance

1659 - 1665

   Estates

1845 - 1845

   Pictorial

1879 - 1893

Clinical & Patients

1777 - 1950

Finding aids

Finding aids

Brief Guide(BG)

Location of finding aids

At Repository(AR)

Details

Souces leaflet: Hospitals: Individual: London

Notes

receipts for rents of tenements in Smithfield, 1659- 65 MS 5257; Pharmacopśia, 1743 MS 6164; Typescript extracts from Court minutes of 1747 and 1821, made by Sir D'Arcy Power, c.1900, MS 627; Letter by George North, numismatist and antiquary, to Dr.Anthony Askew, Physician of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, referring to Rahere, founder of St. Bartholomew's, 1756 MS 7368/5; Clinical notes probably by a House Physician, including patients with gun-shot wounds inflicted during the Gordon Riots. 1777-81 MS 4337; Letter sending patient for examination, 1817 MS 5258; Lease of premises in Smithfield to James Arnold, surgical instrument manufacturer, 1845 MS 5272; Miscellaneous photographs, largely group portraits , 1893, n.d. MS 6809; Letter by Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton arguing for research laboratory, 1900 MS 5970; Photographs of nurses in Humphry Rolleston's album, 1879-88 MS 6122/83,84,141; Clinical records by ECC Bramwell of four cases in Casualty Ward, 1887 MS 1342; Papers of Sir Anthony Bowlby, including correspondence re appeal for reconstruction, 1900-5 GC/181; records of S H Foulkes therapeutic group for dermatology patients, 1946-50 PP/SHF

notes

  St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives and Museum

Record type

Date range

Administrative

1137 - 1998

   General

1549 - 1974

   Finance

1547 - 1963

   Estates

1137 - 1976

   Nursing

1877 - 1962

   Admission & Discharge

1818 - 1971

   Staff

1645 - 1974

   Ephemera

1800 - 1974

   Pictorial

1800 - 1998

   Private Papers

1800 - 1990

Clinical & Patients

1826 - 1985

Finding aids

Finding aids

Catalogue, Card Index, Computerised

Location of finding aids

At Repository(AR), National Register of Archives (NRA)

Details

Computer database - partial only.

Notes

Includes records of St Bartholomew-the-Less, C16-C20 and St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, 1842 - 1990s.

 
 
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