Grand Designs for Health & Wellbeing in the Victorian Hospital (Recording)

Grand Designs for Health & Wellbeing in the Victorian Hospital (Recording)

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Explore the fascinating history of 19th-century hospitals in this talk by the Survey of London's Harriet Richardson.

About this event

With the development of the pavilion-plan, hospital architecture in Britain succeeded in devising a building form that we now realise is both sustainable and ideally planned to combat airborne infections such as coronavirus. Not only that, but they had a strong identity, making the most of the architectural fashions of the day to produce buildings in elegant Italianate, spiky gothic or richly decorative Jacobethan styles. Nearly all of these hospitals were transferred to state ownership in 1948 with the inauguration of the National Health Service. Seventy years later less than a quarter remain as functioning hospitals. There have been many battles to retain much loved local cottage hospitals and to deal sensitively with the decommissioning of the hundreds of large mental hospitals that have closed. The fate of these buildings has been mixed, there have been a few successes, but sadly a great many failures. This talk will look back at the work that Harriet undertook in the late 1980s and 1990s investigating hospital architecture for the Scottish Research Council and the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England and consider how some of these buildings have fared since then.

For most of her career, Harriet worked on the Survey of London, contributing to the volumes on Knightsbridge, Clerkenwell, Battersea, South East Marylebone, and most recently, Oxford Street. Previously she worked on a survey of Scottish hospitals in 1988-90, and the thematic study of hospitals instigated by RCHME in 1991. These two projects resulted in the publication of English Hospitals 1660-1948 in1998, edited by Harriet, and Building up our Health: the architecture of Scotland’s historic hospitals, published by Historic Scotland in 2010. Harriet has maintained an interest in hospital architecture and design, and established a WordPress site in 2016, an architectural gazetteer. This was initially set up to make the findings of the Scottish hospitals survey more widely available to the public, but has expanded to include regular blog posts on varied aspects of hospital history, as well as further gazetteers of hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.Harriet is currently in her second year of a PhD researching the architectural development of hospitals in Scotland after the Second World War.

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