Graphical version

London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): H01/ST/SJ

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1847-1962

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 3.7 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Saint John's House x Saint John's and Saint Thomas' House


Administrative/Biographical history:

Saint John's House was founded in 1848 as a 'Training Institution for Nurses for Hospitals, Families and the Poor'. It was a religious community run by a Master, who was a clergyman, and a Lady Superintendent. The aim was to improve the qualifications and raise the character of nurses by providing moral and religious instruction. There were three classes of members:-

1) Probationers, who were to have two years training in hospitals before becoming Nurses.

2) Nurses, who were to nurse the sick either in hospitals or private homes, and who received wages. Certificates of competency were issued to Nurses after a period of five years.

3) Sisters, who were to instruct the Probationers and undertake the nursing in private houses. None of the members took any religious vows.

The Institution opened at 36 Fitzroy Street, St Pancras, and was named Saint John's House because it was in the parish of Saint John the Evangelist. In 1852 it moved to 5 Queen Square, Westminster, and in 1859 to 6-8 Norfolk Street, Strand. It remained in these premises until 1907 when a new house was built at 12 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. The chapel from Norfolk Street was re-erected in this building.

In 1854 six nurses from the Institution went out to the Crimea with Florence Nightingale, since Saint John's House was at that time one of the few sources for trained nurses. In 1856 the sisters took over the nursing of King's College Hospital and from 1862 to 1868 a six-month training in midwifery nursing was given there, with the help of a grant from the newly founded Nightingale Fund Council. The 1860s saw a further expansion of work. In 1865 the nursing of the Galigani Hospital, Paris, was undertaken, and in 1866 Charing Cross Hospital. In 1877 a Saint John's House Maternity Home was opened at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, later moving to Queen Anne Terrace, Battersea in 1883.

Difficulties arose, however, from an early date over the organisation of the house, and there was considerable dissension between the Master and Lady Superintendent. Although the rules were changed in 1865, the Master being renamed the Chaplain, and the Lady Superintendent renamed Lady Superior, there was no basic change in organisation. The crisis came in 1867 when the lady Superintendent and six sisters resigned on the rejection of their nominee for Chaplain. The arrangements of the nursing at King's College Hospital also provoked considerable conflict. A bitter disagreement in 1874 was patched up but there was further trouble in 1883. This time, the quarrel between the Sister-Matron and the Medical Staff led to the resignation of all the Sisters and most of the nurses of Saint John's House. They remained together, however, and founded the Community of Nursing Sisters of Saint John the Divine, which continues to work today in Hastings and Poplar. The Council of Saint John's House recruited new staff and the nursing service for King's College and Charing Cross Hospitals was maintained.

In 1886 the Community of All Saints took over the entire management of Saint John's House, until 1892 when the Community of Saint Peter's, Kilburn, took over. There were increasing difficulties of recruitment, however, and as hospitals began to undertake the organisation and training of their own nursing staff, Saint John's House withdrew from many of its commitments. In 1911 the superintendence of the House was taken by the Community of Saint Margaret's, East Grinstead. Finally the Institution was given to Saint Thomas' Hospital and was renamed Saint John's and Saint Thomas' House. Two Sisters from the Hospital took charge in April 1919 although the agreement was not completed until May 1920. The house was used as a centre for nurses who had been trained at Saint Thomas' Hospital and who wished to take up private nursing. Many of the Saint John's House nurses stayed on under this arrangement.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of St John's House nursing training school, Saint Thomas' Hospital, including minutes and agendas, 1847-1920, particularly for the House Committee; rules and regulations, 1849-1904; Lady Superintendent's reports and diaries, 1849-1885; general reports, 1848-1959; annual reports, 1850-1918; correspondence, 1849-1908; papers concerning agreements with other hospitals, 1856-1893, including King's College Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital and the Metropolitan Hospital; papers relating to properties, 1849-1907; baptism register for the maternity home in Battersea, 1886 - 1892; staff records, 1849-1953; financial accounts, 1848-1945; newspaper cuttings, 1871-1884; issues of 'Saint John's House News', published by the League of Saint John's House Nurses, 1901-1917; nurses medals and badges, 1901; histories, 1867-1919; papers regarding the community of the Nursing Sisters of Saint John the Divine, 1930-1985; papers regarding the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, 1873-1878; instructions for the laying out of the dead, 1912; photographs of buildings and staff, 1854-1908.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

ACC/1870, ACC/2170


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Records of Saint John's and Saint Thomas' House are at the LMA, reference H01/ST/SJ.

Publication note:



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: February 2009

Crimean War (1853-1856) | Wars (events)
Hospitals | Health services
Medical history | Personal history | History
Medical training | Vocational training | Training
Midwifery | Nursing | Medical sciences
Nurses | Medical personnel | Medical profession
Nursing education | Medical education | Higher science education
Paramedical personnel | Medical personnel | Medical profession
Nurses x Paramedical personnel
Medical institutions

Personal names

Corporate names
Charing Cross Hospital
King's College Hospital
League of Saint John's House Nurses
Metropolitan Hospital | 1886-1976 x Metropolitan Free Hospital | 1836-1886
Nursing Sisters of Saint John the Divine
Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
Saint John's House x Saint John's and Saint Thomas' House

Battersea | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Bloomsbury | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Hertfordshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
St Pancras | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Westminster | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
City of Westminster