Medicine was originally linked with religion and some ancient cultures had healing gods, such as the Greek god Asclepius. His symbol of a snake twisted around a staff has beome a universal symbol for medicine.
Sick people would go to the god’s shrine or temple and make offerings to be cured. At some of these places, primitive hospitals were created for the cure to take effect. Quite often the patients were given drugs such as opium to relax them. By 100 BC, the Romans were constructing special buildings called Valetudinaria for the care of sick slaves, gladiators and soldiers. The spread of Christianity in Britain was followed by the setting up of numerous hospitals. These were usaully associated with a monastery or church and run by monks or nuns. The medical treatment was crude but better than nothing. One particular disease at that time was leprosy and the Church set up a number of leper hospitals where the patients’ suffering could beeased until they died. This was the equvalent of modern hospices.
After the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1540, most of the hospitals ceased to be supported by the Church and many closed. Following petitions in London, the hospitals of St Bartholomew's, St Thomas's and St Mary of Bethlehem's (Bedlam) were supported by the crown and this was the first instance of secular support for medical institutions. In the 18th Century, modern hospitals began to appear that were staffed with trained doctors and volunteer nurses. Obe of the first of these was Guy’s Hospital in London that was set up in 1724 by a wealthy merchant called Thomas Guy. Other hospitals were established in London and other British cities paid for by private subscriptions.
The Apothecaries Act 1815 made it compulsory for medical students to practice for at least half a year at a hospital as part of their training. Florence Nightingale pioneered the modern profession of nursing during the Crimean War and the first official nurses’ training programme, the Nightingale School for Nurses, was opened in 1860. By 1866 many hospitals began to have a professional nursing staff.
During the First and Second World Wars, many temporary military hospitals were set up in Shropshire. The Beveridge Report of 1942 recommended the creation of a "comprehensive health and rehabilitation services for prevention and cure of disease". This was followed by the National Health Service Act 1946 which created the National Health Service in England and Wales. The NHS was actually implemented across the United Kingdom on 5th July 1948. The services were initially funded through general taxation and National Insurance, although some prescription charges were soon introduced in response to economic difficulties.
Gazetteer of Sites
Bishop’s Castle - Stone House (SO321888)
A small 16-bed community hospital.
Bridgnorth - Bridgnorth & South Shropshire Infirmary (SO715934)
General hospital established in 1841, which moved in 1895 to a new building made of red brick, hung tiles and half-timbered gables. Extended in 1908 with further alterations in 1927-8, 1934 and 1948-93. The building is now a general acute hospital.
Bridgnorth - Holy Trinity St Mary & St John the Baptist Hospital (SO721930)
Created before 1199 and dissolved about 1539. It was a dependency of Lilleshall Abbey and stood on the north side of St John's Street. It was demolished and a house known as St.John's erected in 1698. An excavation in 1976 found an inhumation cemetery and a thin scatter of building rubble.
Bridgnorth - St James Leper Hospital (SO721924)
First recorded in 1224 and still in operation in 1544, although some of the buildings had been demolished before 1574. A mid 17th Century map depicts the hospital with a hospital chapel, the priory and a house for the sick, all situated within a walled enclosure. Old documents also referred to it as Vetus Maladeria. Today the north-west quarter of the enclosure is occupied by a house and its gardens, a late 18th Century barn and modern industrial buildings, while to the south is a modern housing estate.
Bridgnorth - St Leonard’s Church (SO717933)
Church was built around 1180 and had a hospital beside it during the Mediaeval period.
Broseley - Lady Forester Memorial Hospital (SJ679014)
Cottage hospital built in 1907 but now empty.
Clun - St Catherines Hospital (SO302809)
Created in 1893 as a cottage hospital and now converted into flats.
Cross Houses - Cross Houses Hospital (SJ538075)
Created from the old Atcham workhouse.
Ellesmere - Ellesmere Cottage Hospital (SJ398349)
Created in 1906-7 of red brick and pebbledash to two storeys. The building is now in use as a community care centre.
Gobowen - Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital (SJ305323)
Built in 1920 to replace the original hospital established at Florence House in 1900. It occupied the site of a World War 1 military camp and hospital and comprised a series of single-storey ward blocks with a central corridor.
Ironbridge - Beeches Hospital (SJ674038)
Created in 1930 from the old workhouse and continued as a NHS hospital until the early 1990s, when it was leased to a private company as Lincoln Grange nursing home. The lease has now ended and it is likely to be sold to private developers for housing.
Ludlow - East Hamlet Hospital (SO514753)
Created from the old workhouse and renovated in 2014.
Ludlow - Holy Trinity St Mary & St John the Baptist Hospital (SO513743)
Created about 1220 by Peter Undergod to provide relief for the poor and infirm and also as a rest house for travellers. In 1233 the hospital was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Mary and St John the Baptist. By the early 15th Century, the hospital had developed into a small college of priests who served the hospital, church and chapels of Ludlow Castle. The hospital was closed in 1538 and it became a private house of the Fox family.
Ludlow - St Giles Leper Hospital (SO514738)
Created in 1216 and operating in 1330 but by 1547 it had become an almshouse. Buildings demolished when St John’s House built.
Ludlow - St John the Evangelist Hospital (SO511747)
A college was created in the reign of Edward the Confessor and there was an adjacent hospital built in 1394. The site is now occupied by Ludlow Hospital.
Market Drayton - Market Drayton Cottage Hospital (SJ673337)
Built in 1892 of red brick with half-timbered gables. Later minor additions included a small operating theatre and a radiography department.
Market Drayton - Quarry House (SJ661333)
Created around 1930 from the old workhouse. The buildings have now been demolished and replaced by a housing estate.
Morda - Oswestry District Hospital (SJ289279)
Created from the old workhouse.
Much Wenlock - Lady Forester Memorial Hospital (SJ622007)
Much Wenlock - St John’s Hospital (SO623999)
Recorded in 1267 and 1275. Believed to have stood on the site of the Corn Exchange in High Street.
Nesscliffe - St Mary de Rocheiro Hospital (SJ383191)
A chapel was founded about 1250 by the Le Strange family, Lords of Ness. It had an adjacent hospital that was run by monks. At a later date it was given to the nuns of Aconbury Priory in Herefordshire. The prioress and convent were to administer the land of the hospital and find a priest to serve the church there. It had closed by 1535.
Oswestry - Aston Leper Hospital (SJ3327)
Leper hospital belonging to Haughmond Priory, recorded in 1265 as having closed. Aston village was removed in the late 18th Century when Aston Hall was built.
Oswestry - Oswestry Cottage Hospital (SJ287297)
Built in 1869-70 in Gothic-style with fine stone carving and terracotta work. A second building, for extra staff and isolation patients, was added in 1895. Further alterations were made in 1922-3, 1925 and 1933. Between 1939-1992 the hospital was a boarding school.
Oswestry - Oswestry & Chirk Isolation Hospital (SJ289279)
A two-storey, red brick, isolation hospital erected in 1891 to the south-east of the workhouse and providing 16 beds. It later became the Greenfields Hospital. A two-storey nurses home was also added to the site in 1904. In 2001 the hospital was in use as Morda Social Club.
Oswestry - St John’s Hospital (SJ290295)
Leper hospital and hospital for the poor created by Bishop Reiner of St Asaph before 1210. It was assigned to the Hospitallers of Halston after 1221 and at a later date it was partly dependent on Haughmond Abbey. The associated chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, was situated in Church Street and was last recorded in 1577.
Prees Heath - Prees Higher Heath Isolation Hospital (SJ563365)
Built between 1902-13 as a temporary smallpox hospital and the survivng buildings comprise a corrugated iron ward block and a two storey brick building used as offices. Altered to become Cheshmere Boarding Kennels and Cattery between 1938-1992.
Prees Heath - Warren House Sanatorium (SJ557377)
Shifnal - Park Court Hospital (SJ748072)
Created from the old workhouse but by 1993 had been converted to domestic use.
Shirlett - King Edward VII Memorial Sanatorium (SO654979)
Created in 1910 by the Association for the Prevention of Consumption and other forms of Tuberculosis in the County of Shropshire and the Hundred of Maelor. They wished to establish a sanatorium to educate the public about the means of spreading tuberculosis and its prevention, to influence public bodies to exercise their powers to prevent tuberculosis and to take any other measures which may be practicable for the prevention of tuberculosis. Initially catered for 36 patients but it was extended in 1913 to provide 60 places. At that time, lung tuberculosis caused more deaths in Shropshire than all the other infectious diseases, with over 120 deaths per year. In 1907 there was only one institution in Shropshire that would accept tuberculosis patients, with general hospitals specifically excluding such cases because of the contagious nature of the diseases. With tuberculosis diagnosis rates and death rates increasing quickly, something had to be done and without a cure, sanatoria seemed the next best solution. The problem was heightened when the returning soldiers from the Great War brought an influx of tuberculosis. The Shropshire tuberculosis death rate was higher in 1918 than at any other time since 1906 and Shirlett was running at full capacity. As a result, it was further extended in 1923. The County Council paid for three-fifths of the costs of building the sanatorium, which were not to exceed £90 per bed. This limited it to basic wood construction that could house 20-40 inmates in cheaply constructed wooden shelters with toilets, a kitchen and administration offices in a more solidly built central block. In 1916 all the fruit and vegetables the sanatorium used were grown on site except potatoes and the report for that year announced plans to grow them in future to save money. These efforts continued until the sanatorium closed in 1961.
Shrewsbury - Meole Brace Hospital (SJ4810)
Created before 1277. In 1278, the “Hospital de Meole held one acre of land of Thomas le Halte, for 2d. per annum, and ten acres belonging to Meole Church”. In 1854 the lands held by the ancient Hospital had come to be called the “Spittle Dales, alias the Spittle Dines," and part of them still formed a portion of the Glebe Land.
Shrewsbury - Monkmoor Isolation Hospital (SJ514139)
Created in 1922 on the site of a former women's hostel. The existing single-storey brick-blocks were converted into wards and new additions made between 1922-1925. The hospital was extended in the 1930s.
Shrewsbury - Pest House (SJ486122)
The Black Death appeared in Shrewsbury in 1650 and the Corporation ordered that “the Pest House at Kingsland be repaired". This indicates that it was in existence some time before that. In 1956, human bones were found in the bank below Shrewsbury School and these were possibly burials associated with the Pest House.
Shrewsbury - Royal Salop Informary (SJ494126)
Purpose-built infirmary built in 1827-30. Several alterations were carried out in the 19th and 20th Centuries and it closed in 1979, when it merged with Copthorne Hospital to form the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The building has now been converted into flats and a shopping arcade.
Shrewsbury - Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (SJ467123)
Originally built for the Armed Services as an Emergency Medical Service hospital and this is reflected in the functional architecture of the buildings. The EMS hospital consisted of six long parallel blocks oriented roughly north to south and linked by connecting corridors at midpoint. Within this layout there has been considerable infilling, particularly along the midpoint adjacent to the link corridors. A later 20th Century two storey brick range lies to the west of the EMS hospital and there are a number of other buildings of varying date and construction within the area of disposal. The EMS huts are largely built of brick but with some asbestos sheet walling and timber cladding. They are almost uniformly of one storey with a shallow pitched roof or flat roof clad in corrugated asbestos.
Shrewsbury - Shelton Hospital (SJ460131)
Mental hospital built for 60 inmates in 1843 as the Salop and Montgomery Counties Pauper Lunatic Asylum, later being renamed as the Bicton Asylum. It was extended in 1848 and 1884.
Shrewsbury - Shropshire Eye Ear & Throat Hospital (SJ491123)
Specialist institution which opened as a dispensary in 1818 but moved to a new purpose-built hospital in 1879-81. It is a tall, Gothic-style building, faced in red brick and terracotta. Alterations were carried out between 1925-1926.
Shrewsbury - St George’s Hospital (SJ489129)
Created in 1162 and dissolved in 1465. Described as the hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 1278 and 1307.
Shrewsbury - St Giles Hospital (SJ507118)
Created about 1136 as a hospital for lepers and the infirm. It was dissolved in 1546 and the present hospital was built in the mid 18th Century. This is a small, brick building north of the church, consisting of four single-room dwellings.
Shrewsbury - St John the Baptist Hospital (SJ486129)
Created in 1221 by the Dean and Chapter of St. Chad. In the reign of Edward III, Richard Pygot undertook to rebuild it and asked that he might be interred in the Chapel of St John and St George and that “the hospital by him begun should be finished out of his effects”. It was dissolved in 1547 and became almshouses.
Shrewsbury - St Mary Magdalene Church (SJ512172)
A church was built by King Henry IV between 1406-9 as a chantry to commemorate the Battle of Shrewsbury fought nearby in 1403. Shortly after completion, it became a secular college with attached hospital, the chantry and college being dissolved in 1547.
Telford - Princess Royal Hospital (SJ654128)
Built in the late 1980s in accordance with a standard pavilion design with all the wards being perpendicular to a long linear corridor.
Wellington - Cottage Hospital (SJ645111)
Created in 1912 from money in the will of J C Bowring's widow. Later acquired by the regional hospital board and now houses popular day care facilities as Wellington Cottage Care.
Wellington - Steeraway Isolation Hospital (SJ655095)
Created in 1903 by Wellington Urban and Rural District Councils on land belonging to Lord Forester. The intention was to protect the town's population from smallpox and other contagious diseases. It was a two-part building linked by a corridor and surrounded by gardens. From 1919 it was leased to the County Council, who used it until 1947. It was then sold to the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board, who sold it in 1951.
Wellington - Wrekin Hospital (SJ640107)
Acquired by the regional hospital board.
Whitchurch - Deermoss Hospital (SJ544419)
Created in 1886 from the old workhouse and comprising two general wards, an isolation ward and a convalescent ward. An east wing was added in 1898 and further alterations were carried out in 1900-13. The surviving buildings now form part of Whitchurch Hospital, providing geriatric care.