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News > Heritage > Florence Nightingale and her link to Bradfield

Florence Nightingale and her link to Bradfield

19 Aug 2020
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth on 12 May 1820. Best remembered as the lady with the lamp, there was so much more to Florence Nightingale as a radical campaigner for advances in medicine and a fine role model for nurses and the medical profession and also an interesting link to Bradfield College.
Florence will be best remembered for her night time ward rounds in the battlefield hospitals of the Crimea, bringing succour to the wounded. However, her lasting legacy is her contribution to healthcare as a whole. Florence’s work in the Crimean War established the whole idea of military hospitals, revolutionalising the care given and preparing the way for modern-day military hospitals. Florence wrote an influential book ’Notes on Nursing: what it is and what it is not’ which was published in 1859 and she also set up the first School of Nursing in the UK at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

In 1864 the Founder of Bradfield College Thomas Stevens was planning to build a Sanatorium (hospital/medical centre) for the College and asked Sir William Heathcote, member of the Council, to seek advice from Florence. A letter to her was sent requesting her thoughts and her reply is characteristic. In her handwritten response she notes “I have not much experience among young sick of the educated class of men” but continues in detail and gives her advice based on a school population of 150 boys during the time of Scarlet Fever. She says that “in any building for 150 … we should consider 7 beds an ample allowance and be very indignant if they were all filled”. She goes on to say in response to William suggesting perhaps 25 beds in his letter to her that “If they really ever have such an amount of Scarlet Fever or of any sick as 25 to 150, there should be most serious enquiry into the sanitary state of the school.”

Both the handwritten letter and a transcribed typed copy, which has been displayed in the College in the past, can be seen in full in the photo gallery below.
If you are interested to learn more about Florence, see her famous lamp and an exhibition of her life and work ‘Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places’ is running until 7 March 2021, at the Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas’ Hospital, to mark the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
We would love to hear from you if you are working in the medical, nursing or caring professions and if you have any comments, particularly as the spotlight has been on you in recent months while we have all been focussed on managing the Covid 19 pandemic and the impact it has had on daily life.


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