Hospital history and archives
The opening of the impressive new Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on the site once occupied by St Stephen's Hospital, brought together staff, services and equipment from five London hospitals.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was designed by the architects Sheppard Robson and was built with fast track techniques in 5 years.
Founded as a voluntary hospital in a small house in Petty France, Pimlico, with just 10 beds in 1719. It occupied other sites, including one opposite Westminster Abbey and another in Page Street.
Westminster Children’s Hospital
Built in 1907 as The Infant’s Hospital. Originally in Vincent Square SW1, the hospital pioneered the treatment of malnutrition in infants. In 1946 it amalgamated with the Westminster.
West London hospital
Opened in 1860 the hospital was known from the early 1970s for its women-centred maternity service.
St Mary Abbots Hospital
An infirmary occupied the site of what had been the Kensington work house. The hospital was founded in the late 19th century.
St Stephen's Hospital
A map of 1664 indicates, on this site, “The hospital in Little Chelsea”. Later there was a workhouse then an infirmary before St Stephen’s was founded in the late 1800s.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital displays many treasures from the old hospitals. Some of these are in the first floor Hospital Chapel, including an 16th century painting by Veronese from the Westminster Hospital and stained glass windows from Westminster, St Mary Abbots and the Westminster Children’s Hospitals.
Portraits from the Westminster hang in the Boardroom and there are Honour Boards from the old hospitals hung in the Main Mall. There is a mural in the Hospital Dining Room which was originally painted for St Stephen's Hospital.
To help preserve and record the past the Trust's Charitable Funds Committee appointed a hospital archivist in 2001.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital opened in 1993. It took over the functions of five predecessor hospitals:
- St Mary Abbots Hospital, Kensington
- St Stephen's Hospital, Chelsea
- West London Hospital, Hammersmith
- Westminster Hospital
- Westminster Children's Hospital
There are also connections with the history of a number of other hospitals, such as All Saints Hospital, which amalgamated with the Westminster in 1946. However, there is no link with the nearby Royal Hospital Chelsea.
The hospital's archives are records which have been kept because they:
- Provide evidence of decisions taken
- Show or give details about events which have been significant in the history of the hospitals and those connected with them
- Provide information of long-term value for research purposes.
The archives date from the 18th century to the present day.
The Hospital Archivist is always pleased to hear from anybody with an interest in the history of the hospital.
What are the hospital's archives?
The hospital’s archives include:
- Administrative records, such as minutes
- Patient records, such as admission and discharge registers, operations registers and some case papers
- Staff records including registers of nurses, wages books, photographs and records of social events
- Records of associated bodies such as the League of Nurses
The archives are extensive but unfortunately not comprehensive—there are some gaps, notably for St Stephen’s, of which relatively few records survive.
Where are they held?
Some are held at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital itself. These are predominantly from the 20th century. The holdings here also include some artefacts, such as busts, trophies and memorial tablets.
Many are held at London Metropolitan Archives, although those of West London Hospital are at Hammersmith & Fulham Archives and Local History Centre. Westminster Hospital Medical School archives are at Imperial College Archives.
The Hospital Archivist can advise further about the location of all surviving archives.