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Archives in London and the M25 area

Royal London Hospital

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0387 LH
Held at: Barts Health NHS Trust Archives (Royal London Hospital Archives)
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Full title: Royal London Hospital
Date(s): 1713-2011
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 200 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal London Hospital
London Hospital
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The London Infirmary, as it was originally named, was established in the autumn of 1740 in Featherstone Street and occupied premises in Prescot Street 1741 to 1757. In 1752 the foundation stone of the hospital building on Whitechapel Road (later known as Front Block) was laid. The first patients were admitted in 1757, and the building of the front block was completed in 1759. There were subsequent alterations, developments and extensions, but parts of the original building remained in use until 2012. East and West Wings were added in 1770 and extended in the 1830s. Both these extensions were demolished in 2007, together with the remainder of East Wing. The Grocers Company Wing was opened in 1876 and the Alexandra Wing in 1982: the latter replaced an earlier Alexandra Wing, opened in 1866 and was opened as a Dental Hospital in 2014. In 1755 and 1772 the Governors of the Hospital were able to purchase the two moieties, or halves, of Red Lyon Farm, which lay immediately behind the Hospital, between Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road. Many of the Hospital's departments were built on parts of the former London Hospital Estate. Notable hospital buildings on the Estate included the Out Patients Department, designed by Rowland Plumbe and opened in 1902 and the Dental Institute, opened in 1965 and closed in 2014. The new Royal London Hospital building, designed by HOK Architects, was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. The London Hospital had been granted Royal title by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its opening on the Whitechapel site, allowing it to be known as The Royal London Hospital.
Management of the Charity was originally in the hands of all the subscribers but, as they increased in numbers, this became impracticable. As early as April 1741 a Grand Committee was appointed to meet weekly, to transact the general business of the Hospital; this Committee developed into the House Committee, which exercised effective control, until its abolition in 1948. The subscriber's meetings became the Court of Governors, which normally met quarterly, and to which the House Committee reported. In 1758 the Hospital was granted a Royal Charter, which gave the Governors corporate status. Under the terms of the National Health Act, 1946, the Court of Governors and the House Committee were replaced by a Board of Governors in 1948. This Board was itself dissolved in 1974, when the Hospital became a part of the Tower Hamlets Health District in the City and East London Health Authority (Teaching).
Executive authority was at first split between several officers: the Secretary, the Steward, the Apothecary and the Chaplain; all exercised varying degrees of authority at different times. In 1806 a Superintendent was appointed and thereafter this officer, later called the House Governor, was the principal Executive Officer.
The original object of the Hospital was the "The relief of all sick and diseased persons and, in particular, manufacturers, seamen in the merchant service and their wives and children". The London Hospital has always been a general one and, by the end of the nineteenth century, was the largest voluntary, general Hospital in the United Kingdom. In the early years of the 20th Century the number of beds passed 1,000 on several occasions. In 2014 the new hospital provided 611 beds.
From the 1740's pupils had been taken on by members of the medical staff to "Walk the wards". In 1783 William Blizard and Dr. James Maddocks sought the Governors' support for the erection of a Lecture Theatre, so that both practical and theoretical education could be received on the same site. As a result a Lecture Theatre, which later developed into the Medical College, was opened in 1785. Until 1854 it remained largely independent of the Hospital but, from then until 1948, the Hospital House Committee exercised ultimate authority over the College. The College's records are kept by the College and are not included in these lists.
For many years the London Hospital had a number of Annexes and Convalescent Homes associated with it. At various times the Hospital managed the Zachary Merton Home, Banstead; the Brentwood Annexe; the Herman de Stern Home, Felixstowe; the Catherine Gladstone Home, Mitcham; the Croft and Fairfield Annexes in Reigate and the Hore and Marie Celeste Homes in Woodford. There was also Hayes Grove, a Home for Sick Nurses.
From 1945 until 1972 Queen Mary's Maternity Home, Hampstead, was managed by the Hospital. Its records are in the Royal London Hospital Archives, but are listed separately.
In 1968 Mile End and St. Clement's Hospitals were transferred to the management of the Board of Governors and were designated to the London Hospital (Mile End) and the London Hospital (St. Clement's). Some records of both these Hospitals are in the Royal London Hospital Archives, but are listed separately.
The "Marie Celeste" Samaritan Society was founded in 1791 to provide for London Hospital patients various welfare benefits, such as artificial limbs, periods of convalescence or special diets, which were beyond the resources of the Hospital. The records of this Society are in the Royal London Hospital Archives, but are listed separately.


Scope and content/abstract:

Administrative records; records of the Cardiac Department; records of Chaplain's Department; records of the Neurophysiology Department [a.k.a. E.E.G. Department]; title deeds, leases, trusts etc; records of the Dermatology Department; financial records; records of the Department of General Medicine; records of the London Linden Hall Association; patient records; records of the Department of Medical Photography; Medical Unit records; nursing records; records of the Nutrition and Dietetics department; nursing education records; records of the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry; records of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department; records of Orthopaedics Department; Occupational Therapy Department; photographs; records of the Pharmacy Department; records of the Public Relations Department; records of the London Hospital Photographic Society; records of the Radiotherapy Department; records of the Radiology Department; surveyors and estate records; records of the Social Society; records of the Works Department; records from unofficial sources, and persons and subject files.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

See Scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Some material is restricted. Please contact the repository in the first instance.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copying and digitisation services are available for unrestricted material. Researchers should contact the repository in the first instance.

Finding aids:

See 'Detailed catalogue' link above.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Originally compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Updated by Clare Button, Archivist, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London.

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:
June 2001, updated April 2020.

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