Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Hospitals - St. Thomas's Hospital

St. Thomas's Hospital, Wellington Street, London Bridge, is an extensive but ancient building that, like Christ's Hospital, owes its foundation to Edward VI. The present buildings are capable of accommodating 450 patients within the walls, and the establishment has, in addition to these, administered relief to a still larger number of Outpatients; making a total in One year of cured and discharged 10,500 persons. The annual expenditure of this vast establishment is 10,0001. ; the whole is in a course of re-erection. The surgical and anatomical theatres of St. Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals enjoy a reputation that has extended itself to every part of the civilized world

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

THOMAS'S (ST.) HOSPITAL, HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK. An Hospital for sick and diseased poor persons, under the management of the Corporation of the City of London, founded (1213) by Richard, Prior of Bermondsey, as an Almonry, or house of alms; founded again more fully (1215) for canons regular, by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester; bought at the dissolution of religious houses by the citizens of London, and opened by them as an Hospital for poor impotent and diseased people, Nov. 1552. The building having fallen into decay, the governors, in 1699, solicited the benevolence of the public for its support, and with such success that the whole Hospital was (1701- 1706) built anew. As thus restored, the building consisted of three courts, with colonnades between each. Three wards were built at the sole cost of Thomas Frederic, Esq.; and three (on the north side of the outer court) by Thomas Guy, the munificent founder of the hospital which bears his name. Day of admission, Tuesday mornlug, at ten. Patients stating their complaints may receive a petition at the steward's office, to be signed by a housekeeper, who must engage to remove the patient on discharge or death, or pay 1l. 1s. for funeral. The qualification of a governor is a donation of 50l. Of the 46,733 people under the care of the governors of this Hospital in the year 1845, 3,552 in-patients and 41,815 outpatients were cured and discharged, leaving 1232 in and out-patients remaining under cure.* (Times, Apirl 14th, 1846) Observe. - Church of St. Thomas against the south wall of the inner quadrangle; bronze statue of Edward VI., by Scheemakers; statue of Sir Robert Clayton, "the fanatick Lord Mayor" of Dryden's Religio Laiei.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL, founded by the City of London-the old almonry of Canons Regular, established in 1215 by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, having been purchased for that purpose - was situate in Thomas Street, Southwark; and in 1700 to 1706 it was rebuilt and enlarged; but the site and buildings having been bought by the Charing Cross Railway Company for 296,000l, the hospital has been temporarily re-established on the site of the Music Hall, Surrey Gardens, partially burnt in 1862, an iron roof having been added to the walls remaining from the fire. It was opened on 15th September, 1862, and will remain here till the ultimate removal of the hospital to Stangate, Westminster. There is accommodation for 200 patients.

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

    On the opposite side of the Thames, the Embankment is continued on the Surrey shore up the river, as far as Vauxhall Bridge, giving a Parisian aspect to the whole scene. But what are these?' a stranger is sure to ask, as he points to a number of new buildings, extending from the Surrey end of Westminster Bridge for several hundred yards along the Embankment, and directly - facing the Houses of Parliament. These buildings, I reply, are the new ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL; and here one of the oldest medical charities of London, after having been dislodged from its ancient residence near London Bridge, has found a new and costly home.
    The hospitals of London form an important part of its benevolent institu tions. Some of them-as St. Luke's and Bethlehem (better known as Bedlam) -are for the insane. Others are for aged pensioners who have served their country in the army or navy. At that of Chelsea many an old soldier still 'shoulders his crutch, and shows how fields were won.' But at Greenwich the venerable Jack Tars, who spun long yarns by the banks of the Thames, have been ' improved' out of the place. The larger number of London hospitals, however, are for the sick and hurt. In addition to the smaller ones, supported mainly by voluntary contributions, such as Charing Cross, King's College, and University College Hospitals, there are the large institutions of this kind with considerable endowments belonging to them. As deserving of special notice may be mentioned St. Bartholomew's Hospital, which was founded by Rahere, the king's minstrel, in the year 1102, and re-founded by Henry VIII. in 1546; Guy's Hospital, founded by Thomas Guy, a London bookseller, in 1721; and St. Thomas's Hospital, which is the subject of this sketch.
    The date given for the foundation of this noble charity for the reception of the necessitous sick and injured is A.D. 1553. It was in that year that King Edward VI. incorporated a society of persons for its government. Still it had an existence before it received a royal charter. It has its origin really as early as the year 1215, when Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, erected a building, as a kind of hospital, dedicated it to St. Thomas the Apostle, and endowed it with certain lands, in connection with a priory in Southwark. In 1428 one of the abbots granted the foundation lands to Nicholas Buckland, master of the hospital; and so they remained until ‘Bluff Harry turned the cowls adrift’ at the dissolution of the monasteries. During the reign of his son Edward VI. the corporation of London purchased the manor of Southwark  from the King, St. Thomas’s hospital being part of the purchase. The city immediately repaired and enlarged it, and the young King granted the charter of incorporation already referred to. 
    Since its foundation, St. Thomas’s Hospital has had its vicissitudes. By the great fire of London, much of its house property was destroyed, and the charity would have been completely ruined, only that the governors and citizens came to the rescue with large and liberal contributions. In consequence of the help thus afforded, the hospital was considerably enlarged in the reign of William III. The last great change is that which has removed the locale of the institution from the old site near London Bridge, which it occupied for several centuries, to the new buildings near Westminster Bridge. The change was not altogether the result of choice on the part of the governors, but has been necessitated by the exigencies of this railway age. The plain story is
this :—Tlie directors of the South-Eastern Railway Company wished to carry their line across the Thames to Cannon Street. In order to this, they required a part of the hospital premises; but the directors, judging that giving up a part would spoil the remainder, compelled the company to take the whole. With the purchase money, which amounted to nearly £400,000, they have erected the new buildings. In the interim, between the pulling down of the old hospital and the opening of the new, the institution took refuge in the Surrey Music Hall.
    St. Thomas’s Hospital has had its share of royal favour. Edward VI. is recognised as the founder; and now Queen Victoria appears as its patroness and friend in connection with the new buildings. On the 13th of September, 1868, Her Majesty, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, and other members of the royal family, laid the foundation-stone at Stangate, Lambeth, with a  golden trowel. It was, therefore, only in harmony with all this that the noble chain of buildings known as the new St. Thomas's Hospital was opened for the reception of patients by England's Queen in 1871, and received at its inaugural ceremonial the benediction of English Christianity.
    Nearly half of the site of this noble hospital has been reclaimed from the mud of the river. Its buildings have a frontage of about seventeen hundred feet, and are about two hundred and fifty feet in depth. They consist of no less than eight large blocks, or 'pavilions,' and are joined together by a double corridor. The entrance hail, facing Lambeth Palace Road, contains a statue of the Queen, represented as seated on a chair of state, in her full robes. The hospital can make up no less than six hundred and fifty beds for patients; and you will have some idea of its immense size, when I tell you that, including wards, houses, out-offices, kitchens, scuhieries, stores, and cellars, it contains nearly a thousand distinct compartments!

Uncle Jonathan, Walks in and Around London, 1895 (3 ed.)

ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL is situated on that portion of the right bank of the Thames called the Albert Embankment. It is a very spacious building or series of buildings, capable of accommodating 600 patients. On an average, there are about 5,000 in-patients and 80,000 out-patients treated annually. It occupies a site nearly 600ft. in length, and was opened by the Queen in 1871. In cases of accident patients are admitted at any hour; ordinary out-patients are seen at 12:45 daily, and those who are to remain in the hospital are admitted at 12. The arrangements of the hospital are admiralbe, and there is a large and efficient staff of physicians, surgeons, and nurses. Visitors are admitted on Sundays and Wednesdays, from 3pm to 4:30 pm. The hospital was originally founded by the Austin Canons in connection with their church at St. Saviour's, Southwark, and removed to the present site.

George Birch, The Descriptive Album of London, c.1896

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 - St. Thomas's Hospital

St. Thomas's Hospital - photograph


St. Thomas's is indubitably the finest hospital yet erected stretching along the Surrey side of the Thames from Westminster Bridge towards Lambeth Palace, and facing the Houses of Parliament. The Hospital was founded in 1228, but the present building, by Currie, reared at a cost of half a million, only dates from 1871, the old premises in Southwark having just before this been sold to the South Eastern Railway Company. In the Palladian style, it consists of eight red-brick, stone-faced pavilions, united by arcades; the whole structure being 1,700 feet long by 250 feet deep. St. Thomas's contains nearly six hundred beds, and in the course of the year some 5,000 in-patients and 80,000 out-patients are treated. The income of the Hospital is £40,000.