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Archives in London and the M25 area

St Leonard's Hospital

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0405 L
Held at: Barts Health NHS Trust Archives (St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives)
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Full title: St Leonard's Hospital
Date(s): 1790-1985
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 260 items
Name of creator(s): St Leonard's Hospital | London
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

St Leonard's Hospital originated in 1777 as the infirmary of St Leonard Shoreditch Workhouse, on the Kingsland Road, Hackney. The workhouse incorporated two wards for sick paupers, but there was little proper organisation of treatment until the appointment of James Parkinson as parish surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife in 1813. He divided the wards into male and female, surgical and medical, with additional maternity, incurable and insane wards. It was also Parkinson who established a separate fever block in the workhouse for the segregation of infectious patients, particularly those suffering from cholera. This was the first of its kind in London. In 1817, Parkinson published an 'Essay on the Shaking Palsy', in which he described the condition we now call Parkinson's Disease. James Parkinson died in December 1824, but his work was continued by his son, John William Keys Parkinson, previously his father's assistant.

By the 1860s it had become necessary to rebuild the workhouse, which was declared unsafe. The tender of Messrs Perry & Co of Stratford to carry out the work for 47,750 was accepted and building began in 1863. The new buildings were completed in 1866, and included provision for the care of 350 sick poor people in wards separate from the other inmates of the workhouse. In 1871 a further 10,000 was spent on additions and alterations to provide an infirmary and dispensary in a building separate from the main workhouse, according to the requirements of the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867. However, it remained in the administration of the Shoreditch Board of Guardians until 1930. The new building was opened in 1872 with 503 beds and a Matron was appointed for the first time.

In 1930 the London County Council (LCC) took over the running of St Leonard's. The workhouse was closed and the buildings were incorporated into the infirmary which, since 1920, had been called a hospital. In 1934 the buildings were condemned, but the outbreak of the Second World War prevented any improvements being made. St Leonard's is believed to have been the first London hospital to receive air-raid casualties and was itself bombed in 1941. After the war the condemned buildings continued to be used until a public enquiry prompted the LCC to start improvement works. These were in progress when control of the Hospital passed to the Minister of Health upon the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948. St Leonard's was grouped with four other local hospitals to form Central Group no 5, administered by a Hospital Management Committee. From 1966 to 1974, the Hospital was under the administration of the East London Group Hospital Management Committee.

With the 1974 reorganisation of the Health Service, St Leonard's Hospital became part of the City of London and Hackney Health District, along with St Bartholomew's, St Mark's, the Metropolitan, the Eastern, Hackney, the German and the Mothers' Hospitals. St Leonard's remained a general hospital until 1984, when the in-patient facilities were closed. It was then developed as a centre for co-ordinating community services and supporting health centres. St Leonard's has also become the home for various District Services including physiotherapy, chiropody, a disability resource centre and a diabetic day centre.


Scope and content/abstract:

Comprises: Chaplaincy records; Curator of Instruments; Administrative records; Estate records; Matron's office and nursing; Medical records; Pathology records; Radiology records; Operating theatre records.

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:

Records of St Leonard's Hospital, 1869-1948, including registers of in- and out-patients, 1869-1912 and creed registers, 1875-1905, are held by London Metropolitan Archives.

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:
October 2001; updated July 2020.

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