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Archives in London and the M25 area

Mildmay Mission Hospital

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0387 MM
Held at: Barts Health NHS Trust Archives (Royal London Hospital Archives)
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Full title: Mildmay Mission Hospital
Date(s): 1877-1996
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 4 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal London Hospital
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Mildmay Mission Hospital has its origins in the work of The Rev. William Pennefather and his team of Christian women, later known as Deaconesses, who began their work of visiting the sick of the East End during the Cholera outbreak of 1866.

The Mildmay Medical Mission was opened in 1877 by William's widow Catherine Pennefather and eleven other women, in a converted warehouse behind Shoreditch Church, in Turville Square/Cabbage Court in the Old Nichol slums. Dedicated to the memory of William, who had died in 1873, it consisted of twenty-seven beds in three wards, one doctor, three nurses and five deaconesses in training. The Hospital was recognised for the training of nurses in 1883. Although the hospital did not require letters of admission, like many other voluntary hospitals of the time, and it did not discriminate by religion, throughout its existence the Mildmay stressed its role as an evalgelical Christian centre as well as a General Hospital; prayers were held on the wards, and biblical quotations were painted on the walls. Staff regarded their work as a religious as well as a medical vocation. Despite this, the hospital had a strong tradition for treating Jewish immigrants to the East End.

The slum clearances carried out by the London County Council in the 1880s and 1890s threatened the original site, and in 1890, a foundation stone was laid for a purpose-built hospital at Austin Street and Hackney Road. In 1892 the new Mildmay Mission Hospital opened, with 50 beds in 3 wards; male, female and children's. (The Mildmay Mission itself was based from c.1870s-1950s at Central Hall, Philpot Street, close to the Royal London Hospital).

In 1948 the hospital was incorporated into the National Health Service as part of the North East Metropolitan Regional Board's Central (No. 5) Group of Hospitals and transferred in 1966 to the East London Group. In 1974 it became part of the Tower Hamlets Health District. As a hospital with less that 200 beds the hospital was regarded as uneconomic and was closed down in 1982.

In 1985, the hospital was reopened outside the NHS as a charitable nursing home, with a GP surgery attached and caring for young chronically sick patients; in 1988, it became Europe's first hospice caring for people with HIV/AIDS and their families, acquiring a worldwide reputation. It was famously visited by Princess Diana in 1991. In 2013 a new, bigger purpose built hospice was opened, which still maintains outreach work across the world.


Scope and content/abstract:

Administrative records, patient registers, nursing records and photographs.

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:

The records were transferred from the hospital from 1984, and from the Mildmay Mission Hospital's League of Friends in 1992. The photographs were transferred from the Public Relations Department of the London Hospital.

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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