Carmen Mangion – ‘a bright home to the little ones’: Late-nineteenth-century English Hospitals and the domestic paradigm

Royal Holloway University of London Department of History

Event Date:
14 and 15 September 2010

11 Bedford Square, Royal Holloway (Central London)

 

Inhabiting Institutions in Britain, 1700-1950


Living in Institutions

Material Cultures

Carmen Mangion (Birkbeck): ‘a bright home to the little ones’: Late-nineteenth-century English Hospitals and the domestic paradigm

 

British hospitals in the nineteenth century were more than simply medicalised spaces.  While hospitals touted the expertise and the medical skills of their physicians and surgeons as well as the modern equipment and scientific methods that were used, hospitals, especially those that catered to patients with chronic symptoms or convalescing patients, were also residential institutions.  This paper shifts the focus of the hospital onto the residential interior and looks at the living practices in hospitals.  First, it shall discuss the material culture of the hospital spaces from a variety of sources including nineteenth-century images of hospital interiors found in annual reports.  Then, the analysis of these images will be compared to the descriptions found in newspaper clippings of hospital openings, with the numerous material gifts given by benefactors listed in annual reports and with a set of narratives written about patients that indirectly referred to the patient’s homelife.  This paper shall argue that to some extent, the domestic paradigm was adopted within hospital spaces.  This paradigm was intended as a pedagogical tool to encourage middle-class domestic values and christian morality.  This paper shall draw on the archives of St Thomas’s Hospital (London), Evelina Hospital (London), St John & St Elizabeth’s Hospital (London), Providence Hospital (St Helens) and St Mary’s (Stone)



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