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Royal Brompton Hospital Records

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0387 BH
Held at: Barts Health NHS Trust Archives (Royal London Hospital Archives)
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Full title: Royal Brompton Hospital Records
Date(s): 1811-1995
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 150 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal Brompton Hospital
Brompton Hospital
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The hospital was founded in 1841, primarily through the efforts of Mr. (afterwards Sir Philip) Rose (1816 - 1883), a solicitor. At the age of 25, reputedly after one of the clerks at his law firm, who was suffering from consumption, now known as pulmonary tuberculosis, was refused admittance to several hospitals, Rose determined to establish a hospital for sufferers of tuberculosis without the financial means to pay for treatment. Rose was Honorary Secretary of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, Brompton from its inception until his death. The charity's objects were to provide an asylum for in-patients for patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and a hospital for patients with other chest diseases and a dispensary to provide advice and medicine for less urgent cases to be treated on an out-patient basis.
The charity began work by converting Chelsea Manor House into a hospital for in-patients and opening an out-patient branch at 20, Great Marlborough Street. A purpose built hospital was opened on the Fulham Road in 1844. Ten years later a western wing was added giving a total in-patient accommodation of 200 beds. The hospital, which attracted Royal patronage from the time of its inception, was regulated by The Consumption Hospital Act of 1849 and became incorporated in 1850. The hospital continued to expand, supported by figures such as Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, and the famous singer Jenny Lind, who performed an in concert to raise £1,606 for the Building Fund (equivalent to over £90,000 in today’s money). A sizeable donation came from Cordelia Read, who left her personal estate to the hospital, including valuable paintings by John Opie, to the surprise of her family. After a long dispute, the hospital received £100,000 which was used to build a new extension in 1882, bringing the total number of beds to 368. It was again enlarged in 1900.
Although primarily associated with tuberculosis, Brompton Hospital had a number of departments which dealt with other diseases of the chest. A throat department was started in 1889, and expanded in 1922, and a radiological department was instituted in 1900, and expanded in 1925. The hospital provided post-graduate educational facilities in the form of lectures and clinical demonstrations by the medical staff. In 1905, the hospital established a sanatorium and convalescent home at Frimley, Surrey, with accommodation for 150 patients. The regime centred on a programme of 'graded exercise', which progressed from total bed rest to taking part in carefully defined physical labour. The advent of surgical procedures for treating tuberculosis in the twentieth century led to further improvement of radiograph and surgical departments. A cardiac department opened in 1919, and in 1934 a physiotherapy department opened, initially as a "breathing exercises" department; by 1948, the department had expanded to include six full-time and one part-time 'instructresses', due to the success of these techniques in patients with chest conditions.
The hospital became part of the National Health Service in 1948 and its management was put on a joint basis with the London Chest Hospital, Bethnal Green as the Hospitals for Diseases of the Chest. From the 1960s, as sanatoria became less important for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, Frimley Sanatorium transitioned into a convalescent home, looking after post-operative cardiac and respiratory patients from Brompton Hospital, London Chest, and National Heart Hospital, and other London teaching hospitals, until its eventual closure in the 1980s.
In 1988, Queen Elizabeth II awarded a 'Royal' title to the Brompton and its associated hospitals and the hospital was henceforth known as the Royal Brompton Hospital. In 1994 The Royal Brompton became an NHS Trust (at the same time the London Chest Hospital joined St. Bartholomew's and The Royal London Hospital to form The Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, afterwards known as Barts and The London NHS Trust). In 1998, the Royal Brompton merged with Harefield Hospital NHS Trust to form The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust.


Scope and content/abstract:

Administrative records, Frimley Sanatorium Almoner's Department records, Chaplain's Department records, title deeds and related records, financial records, patient records, records of nursing education, photographs and illustrations, pharmacy records, surveyors' records, Works Office records and miscellaneous 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:

Transferred from The Royal Brompton Hospital's Sydney Street and Fulham Road sites in March - November 2007 and January 2008 with the exception of the patient case records which were transferred from the Archives of the Royal College of Physicians, London, in 2000.

Allied Materials

Related material:

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:
March 2008, updated April 2020.

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