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St Bartholomew's Hospital

German Hospital


Reference code(s): GB 0405 G

Held at: St Bartholomew's Hospital

Title: German Hospital

Date(s): 1843-1971

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1273 items

Name of creator(s): The German Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

Originally founded 'for the reception of all poor Germans and others speaking the German language', the German Hospital also cared for the local English-speaking population in the case of emergencies. It was supported by subscriptions and donations, many from Germany or the German community in England, and was run by German nursing sisters and doctors.

It is estimated that in the 1840s some 30,000 Germans were living in England, making up by far the largest immigrant community. Many of them lived and worked in poor conditions in the East End of London, where poverty and the language barrier left them little chance to make use of the limited medical resources available at that time. The work of a German pastor and a doctor to establish a hospital for 'poor German sick' was taken up by the Prussian Ambassador, the Chevalier Bunsen. He succeeded in enlisting the support of the rich and influential in Germany and England, including both royal houses, so ensuring that the hospital was built. On 15 October 1845, the German Hospital opened with just twelve beds.

An early outstanding feature of the Hospital was the nursing care provided by the Protestant Deaconesses from the Kaiserswerth Institute near Wessendorf. It was their example at the German which prompted Florence Nightingale to visit the Hospital on two occasions and then to enrol for training at the Institute in Germany in 1851. New hospital buildings, constructed according to the highest standards in hospital design, were opened in 1864, and proved to be invaluable in the epidemics which swept London in the 1860s and 1870s. The German royal family took a keen interest in the Hospital, as did the von Schroder family who were often to provide funds for the Hospital over the years.

During the First World War, the German staff remained at the Hospital despite strong anti-German feelings in the country and a shortage of nurses and doctors in Germany. The period between the wars was one of great improvements and extensions to the buildings, the most important of which was the opening of a new wing in 1936. This housed maternity and children's wards, and the well-known and innovatory roof garden for convalescents, which provided a panoramic view of the entire city as far south as Crystal Palace. In May 1940, the staff of the German Hospital were interned on the Isle of Man. English staff assumed the running of the Hospital, which now became German in name only.

Before 1948, nursing matters at the German Hospital were dealt with by the Board of Household Management, later the Household Committee. When the Hospital was taken into the National Health Service in 1948, the newly formed House Committee took over from the Hospital Committee, the Household Committee and the Nursing Committee. The League of Friends of the Hospital was founded in 1956.

In 1974, the German became part of the newly-formed City and Hackney Health District. For its last thirteen years, the German Hospital cared for psychiatric and psychogeriatric patients. During this time it continued to develop its work, such as its provision of emergency night-shelter facilities for psychogeriatric patients from the community. However, it closed in 1987, as the services it offered were transferred to the new Homerton Hospital.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the German Hospital, 1843-1971, comprising:

Engineering Department records: details of water storage, 1913; letters concerning smoke from boilers, 1913-1914.

Administrative records: minutes and letters of Hospital Committee, 1843-1951; minutes and papers of General Court of Governors, 1846-1948; minutes and papers of Board of Household Management and Household Committee, 1845-1968; Nursing Committee minutes, 1947-1948; House Committee minutes, 1946-1969; Bazaar Committee minutes, 1846-1869; Joint Consultative Staffs Committee minutes, 1951-1970; sub-committee for the revision of bye-laws minutes, 1903; annual reports, 1846-1947; letters sent accompanying annual reports, 1933-1946; rules and regulations, 1883-1945; letters, copies and associated material, c1860-1949; resolutions and petitions, c1863 - 1865; visitors' books and reports, 1845-1969; legal papers, 1858-1940; printed programmes and pamphlets, 1845-1943; letter books, 1846-1874.

Financial records: signed copies of annual accounts, 1916-1947; cash books, 1845-1943; general ledgers, 1932-1948; income analysis ledgers, 1891-1944; expenditure analysis ledgers, 1907-1923; suppliers ledgers 1928-1930; petty cash account books, 1930-1949; household petty cash book, 1926-1940; donations and subscriptions, 1904-1933; papers concerning legacies, 1869-1971; investments, 1870-1943; fundraising, 1862-1978; account books for private patients, 1934-1945; papers concerned with financial administration on death of patients, 1917-1935.

Estate and property records: letters and inventory relating to the convalescent home in Dalston, 1904-1929; leases on property in St John, Hackney, 1802-1908; plans of the German Hospital, 1843-1962; plans of the German Orphanage, 1890-1914; plans and correspondence relating to the German Church in Dalston, c1895-1933; files relating to individual German Hospital properties, 1908-1959; file realting to the railway bridge on Hospital grounds, 1910-1959; deeds for properties owned by the German Hospital Trust, 1849-1944; liquidation of Phantestra Ltd., 1930; documents relating to legacies of William Coles and descendants, 1890-1923; valuations of German Hospital, 1929.

Postcards: exteriors of buildings, [1936]; wards, [1890-1936]; operating theatres, [1900 -1930]; internal scenes, [1936]; and a postcard album, [1936].

Photographs: the Hamburg Lutheran Church, [1910]; celebrations and commemorative events, [1945]; photograph of Sir Hermann Weber, [1900]; photographs of nurses, 1959-1967; nurses' prize givings, 1958-1973; photographs of Christmas at the German Hospital, 1958-1965; ward scenes, [1960]; photograph album, [1936]; chronological photographic record of the Nurses' Training School, 1946-1958; photograph blocks, [1900-1930]. Internal publications: Freiherr Bruno von Schroder, 1937; Jubilaums-Gedicht der Matron des Deutschen Hospitals zu London, 1896.

Medical committee minutes, 1845-1957.

Nursing records: linen book, 1925-1939; returns of questionnaire, c1939-c1945; Christmas event programmes, 1940; programme for De Beauvoir Infant School Prize Day, 1965.

Medical Photography/Illustration Department: photographs of patients; the recovery of an unexploded bomb from the grounds of the German Hospital; groups of nurses; men's medical ward and the children's ward, 1940-[1986].

Medical records: register of deaths, 1950-1955; mortuary registers, 1950-1967; register of out-patients, 1940-1949; register of patients receiving light or heat treatment, 1931-1935; registers of radiology and X-ray patients, 1947-1951; patient statistics, c1860-1923. Pathology records: post mortem register, 1924-1933.

League of Friends: minutes, 1956-1970; annual reports, 1961-1970; newsletters, 1960-1962; promotional booklet, 1962.

Nurses league: journals, 1959-1962. Staff records: staff files, 1911-1949; staff passports register, 1936-1942; list of sisters sent to Ministry of Labour, 1936; List of German Nursing Sisters in the employ of the German Hospital, 1939; register of non-clinical staff, 1954-1955; national registration identity card for Elizabeth Wyatt, 1940; salaries, 1927-1953; pension scheme payments register, 1939-1947. Operating theatre registers, 1939-1959.

External publications, 1845-1963


Language/scripts of material: English and German

System of arrangement:

This fonds has been arranged into the following subfonds:

SBHG/EN Engineering Department

SBHG/HA Administrative records SBHG/HB Financial records

SBHG/HC Estate and property records

SBHG/HO Postcards

SBHG/HP Photographs

SBHG/IP Internal publications

SBHG/MC Medical Committee

SBHG/MO Nursing records

SBHG/MP Medical Photography/Illustration Department

SBHG/MR Medical records

SBHG/PA Pathology records

SBHG/SE League of Friends

SBHG/SL Nurses League

SBHG/ST Staff records

SBHG/TH Operating theatre registers

SBHG/XP External Publications

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should first contact the Archivist, St Bartholomew's Hospital, for an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is not permitted. However, single sheets dated after 1850 may be photocopied at the discretion of the Archivist. Photographs of items are obtainable, subject to copyright regulations, from the Department of Medical Illustration at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Arrangements can be made via the Archivist. Outside photographers and researchers' own cameras are not permitted.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A catalogue (produced in 2006 thanks to generous funding from The Pilgrim Trust/Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Cataloguing Grants Programme) incorporating both the original catalogue and previously uncatalogued material is available at St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers relating to the German Orphanage and German Church are probably from the business papers of Charles Rees, Surveyor to the London Hospital.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Annual reports after 1948 are in the Hackney Group Hospital Management Committee annual reports (reference: HMC) held by St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.

Records of the Hospital, 1898-1947, are held by London Metropolitan Archives.

Records of the Hospital, 1845-1950s, comprising pharmacopoeia, 1845; case notes, 1890s-1950s; photographs of patients, 1890s-1900s; and material relating to hospital during Second World War, 1940s-50s, are held at the Wellcome Library.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: Wellcome Library and the Public Record Office HOSPREC: On-Line Hospital Records Database. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Updated as part of the City & Hackney Hospitals cataloguing project, Pilgrim Trust/Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Cataloguing Grants Programme.

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: September 2001. Updated September 2007.

Hospital finance | Hospitals | Health services
Hospital management | Hospitals | Health services
Medical personnel | Medical profession | Medical sciences
Medical records | Documents | Information sources
Patients | Health services
Surgery | Medical sciences
Medical institutions
Primary documents
Social sciences
Social welfare

Personal names

Corporate names
German Hospital | London
Infant Orphan Asylum | Dalston

Dalston | Hackney | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Hitchin | Hertfordshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe