Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Hospitals - Guy's Hospital

Guy's Hospital ... At the anatomical and surgical theatres here, the lectures are accessible only to students, on terms always advertised in the public newspapers; but to witness any of the great surgical operations here performed, a ticket from one of the principals of the establishment will alone admit.

Guys Hospital, St. Thomas's Street, in the Borough, is indebted for its origin to Mr. Guy, a wealthy citizen and bookseller of London; it consists of a centre and two wings (in one of which is a chapel), and a separate edifice for the reception of lunatics; it makes up more than 400 beds, and annually affords in-door relief to about 2250, and out-door relief to about 20,000 patients. It was further enriched in 1829 by a bequest under the will of T. Hunt, Esq., amounting to 200,000l.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

GUY'S HOSPITAL, in SOUTHWARK, for the sick and lame, situated near London Bridge, built by Dance, (d.1773), and endowed by Thomas Guy, a bookseller in Lombard-street, who is said to have made his fortune ostensibly by the sale of Bibles, but more, it is thought, by purchasing seamen's tickets, and by his great success in the sale and transfer of stock in the memorable South Sea year of 1720. Guy was a native of Tamworth, in Staffordshire, and died at the age of eighty, on the 27th December, 1724. The building of the Hospital cost 18,793l. 16s 1d, and the endowment amounted to 219,499l. 0s 4d* (*Maitland, ed. 1739, p.687). The founder, though seventy-six when the work began, lived to see his Hospital covered the roof. In the first court is his statue in brass, dressed in his livery gown (erected Feb.11th, 1734), and in the chapel ("shouldering God's altar") another statue of him, in marble, by the elder Bacon.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

New building, 1852 [ILN Picture Library]

Guy's HOSPITAL, St. Thomas Street, near London Bridge, easily distinguished by its tall ventilating-shafts, was founded in 1721-24, by Thomas Guy, a bookseller of Cornhill, who at his death, in 1724, endowed the charity with a gift of 219,499l. The architect was Dance. It has since been enlarged by a bequest of 200,000l, by the late W. Hunt, Esq.; to commemorate this, five memorial windows have been placed in the chapel. The building now contains twenty-two wards, making up 580 beds; medical, anatomical, and operating theatres; a museum, library, and laboratory; and a fine collection of anatomical preparations and wax models. In the centre of the front court stands a statue of the founder, by Scheemakers; and another in marble, by the elder Bacon, is placed within the chapel. Sir Astley Cooper, the great surgeon, lies interred in the Chapel. 5000 in-patients and 50,000 out-patients are annually relieved.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

Guy's HOSPITAL, Southwark, on the south side of St. Thomas's-street, was built by Dance, the City architect, in 1722-4, at the sole expense of Thomas Guy, the book. seller in Lombard-street, who by printing and selling Bibles made a fortune: this he greatly increased by purchasing seamen's tickets at a large discount, and afterwards investing them in the South-Sea Company.
    Guy was the son of a lighterman at Horselydown, where he was born in 1644. He was apprenticed to John Clarke, bookseller and binder, in a house in the porch of Mercers' Hall, Cheapside, in 1660. In this house, rebuilt after the Great Fire, Guy commenced business for himself; and he subsequently removed to the house between Cornhill and Lombard-street, subsequently known as "the Lucky Corner," and Pidding's Lottery Office, nearly on the site of the Globe Insurance Company's offices. Guy had agreed to marry his housekeeper, who, however, displeased him, and thenceforth he devoted his immense fortune to works of charity. In 1707, he built and furnished three wards of St. Thomas's hospital; the stately iron gate, with the large houses flanking it in High-street, Guy also built at the expense of 3000l. He was a liberal benefactor to the Stationers' Company; built and endowed almshouses and a library at Tamworth, in Staffordshire, the place of his mother's birth, and which he represented in Parliament. In his 76th year, he took of the president and governors of St. Thomas's Hospital a piece of ground opposite the south side of their Hospital for 999 years, at a ground-rent of 30l. a year; thereon, in the spring of 1722, Guy laid the first stone of a Hospital for the cure of sick and impotent persons; and the building was roofed in before his death, Dec. 27, 1724. The expense of erecting and finishing the Hospital was 18,792l. 16s., and the sum left to endow it was 219,499l. 0s. 4d.; the largest sum ever left by an individual for charitable purposes. His noble example was followed by Mr. Hunt of Petersham, who, in 1829, bequeathed to the Hospital 196,115l., stipulating for the addition of accommodation for 100 patients. About 10,000l. was also received from other benefactors.   
    "The annual income is now between 25,000l. and 30,000l., arising chiefly from estates purchased with the valuable bequests of Guy and Hunt, in the counties of Essex, Hereford, and Lincoln. The usual number of governors is 60, who are self-elective. The office cannot be constituted by any contribution, and there is no published list of benefactors" -Low's Charities of London, 1850.
    Guy's Hospital consists of a centre and two wings; behind is a quadrangle, and beyond is a lunatic house for twenty-four insane patients, with a garden and airing. ground for their recreation; in 1839, one of these patients had been in the Hospital fifty-three years. In the wings are the officers' apartments, a surgery, apothecary's shop, laboratories, medical and operating theatres, and a room for the application of electricity and galvanism. Here, too, are a museum, library, a very fine anatomical collection, models in wax by Towne, &c. Westward is the Chapel; and eastward, the Court-room. Attached to the Hospital is a botanic garden for the students. In 1852 were added two handsome wings, heated by Sylvester, and ventilated by a shaft 200 feet high, with an open cupola, and a wind-vane which sends down the shaft fresh air into the wards; while two lower shafts carry off the effluvia. In the front court is a metal statue of Guy, in his livery-gown, by Scheemakers; the pedestal bears representations in relief of Christ healing an impotent man; the Good Samaritan; Guy's arms, and an inscription. In the centre of the front are two characteristic statues by John Bacon, a native of Southwark    
    In the Chapel is a fine marble statue of Guy, by Bacon, which cost 1000l.: he stands in his livery-gown, with one hand raising an emaciated figure from the ground, and with the other pointing to a second sufferer, as he is borne on a bier into the Hospital, at the back: on the pedestal are emblematic medallions and a glowing inscription, asserting that Guy "rivalled the endowment of kings." Here is buried Sir Astley Cooper, the distinguished surgeon, to whom there is a marble monument. In the Court-room, over the president's chair, is a portrait by Dahl, a Danish painter, of Guy, in the black gown and long flowing wig of his time: on the ceiling is painted 1118 apotheosis.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867


Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 -  Guy's Hospital

Guy's Hospital - photograph


This famous institution was founded by Thomas Guy, a bookseller, who made an immense fortune either by trading in Bibles or by speculating in South Sea stock. The Hospital, which is situated in Southwark, a short distance from London Bridge, was built in the years 1722-25, but considerable additions to it have since been made. Our picture shows the front of the building, with one of the wings in the courtyard is a bronze statue of the pious founder, who did not live to see the Hospital occupied. Guy's has on the average 411 beds occupied every day, but is able to accommodate 500 patients, and in the course of the year some 5,000 in-patients and 70,000 out-patients are treated. The yearly income is about 20,000; and there is a flourishing medical school.