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Royal Victoria Hospital

 
 

"Dover Hospital occupies the site of Brook House, a residence which was thought a good deal of seventy years ago.  It was built by Alderman W.R. Dickenson, Papermaker, for his residence, and after he left Dover was occupied by the Dowager Lady Knatchbull, and in 1839 by the Dowager Lady Suffield.

"In the early part of 1850 when the scourge of cholera was passing away in England, the people of Dover took a practical way of expressing their thanksgiving that this town had escaped the epidemic, by raising a fund to establish a Dover Hospital.  There had been a Dispensary in Dover since the year 1823, and in 1850 it was resolved to incorporate that with a Hospital.  There having been 1760 raised by subscription, the committee sought for a suitable site.  It was proposed to build a Hospital on St. Martin's disused burial ground, but St. Mary's Vestry refused to sanction that, and just about that time Brook House was offered for sale by auction, and it was acquired at a cost of 1336, and after certain alterations, it was opened on the 1st of May 1851.  At that time meadows, where cricket matches were played, joined up to the Hospital grounds; but in 1858, Wood's Meadow, as the land on each side of the Dour was called, was bought by Messrs. Nightingarl and Bushell, as building land, and to prevent the Hospital from being hemmed in by buildings, half an acre of the meadow was purchased at a cost of 740, that transaction keeping the builder at bay, and also providing space for the enlargement which has since taken place.  It was proposed to remove the Hospital to another site in 1870, and again in 1897, it was suggested that a new building should be erected on the ground between Laureston Place and Ashen Tree Lane, but eventually it was decided to utilise the land in possession, and a fund raised by local subscription to form a permanent memorial to Queen Victoria, and to Sir Richard Dickenson, was spent in building a spacious new wing, and the enlarged building has since, by Royal warrant, been named the Royal Victoria Hospital." (JBJ 1907)

The Dover Dispensary   The "Dover Dispensary" was formed as a charity whose objects were defined thus:
OBJECT "All Persons in sickness, really necessitous and not receiving Parish relief, being properly recommended, whether resident in Dover or the neighbouring villages are deemed objects of this Charity"
ADMISSION OF PATIENTS "No Patient can be admitted without a printed letter of recommendation, signed by a Governor or Subscriber; forms of which may be obtained, on application, at the Dispensary; and Governors and Subscribers are most particularly requested, before they give their recommendation, to ascertain that the Person is a proper object of this Charity, by being really necessitous."
  A person could become a "Governor for Life"  by donating "25 or upwards at one time", or a "Benefactor entitled to recommend Patients"  by donating 10 or more.  The Charity was funded by donations from individuals, organisations or businesses, by annual subscriptions, by "Legacies and Memorial Gifts" and by collection boxes left in public houses and other public places.  They also received "Miscellaneous Gifts of Flowers, Fruit, Money, Magazines, etc.", from local businesses as well as fruit, etc., from Church Harvest Festivals.
  The above information is taken from the Annual Report of the Committee of the Dover Didpensary, for the year ended 1st March, 1829, published by the Secretary, Edward Elwin, in 1846.

In the same volume is an account of the numbers of patients admitted during that year:

REPORT OF PATIENTS Report of Patients, from March 1st, 1828, to March 1st, 1829.

Admitted ............................... 452   
____   

Discharged                                         Cured ........................................................ 311   

Relieved ...................................................... 35   

For Irregularity ............................................ 11   

Receiving Parish Relief ................................. 17   

To Canterbury Hospital .................................. 3   

Died ...................................................................................................................... 23   

Remain on Books .................................................................................................. 52   
____   

Total ..................................... 452   

 

The Deaths were as follows:-

Consumption .................................... 11

Palsy and Apoplexy ............................ 2

Dropsy ..............................................  3

Water in the Head ..............................  1

Water in the Chest .............................  1

Inflammation of Lungs ........................  2

Scald .................................................  1

Enlargement of Heart .........................  2
                                                         ___

                                                            23
 

 

"The Hospital was in the first instance a Dispensary only, having been under the patronage of the Earl of Liverpool in 1823, and subsequently lapsed.  It was revived in 1828, and located on the east side of the Market Square, the exact spot being where Messrs. Flashman's carpet room is now.  At that time, Mr. George Flashman, who also then had a furniture depot in Last Lane, had set up his upholstery business in the Square.  Next to him was Richard Harding, the dyer, and Mr. Gorely the hatter, adjoining Dolphin Lane."   (JBJ 1907)

The Dover Hospital The "Dispensary" was dropped from the name in 1893, when it became known simply as "The Dover Hospital." 

In 1875 the Hospital board appointed the Dispenser, Mr Edward Parker, to collect the Annual Subscriptions.  He continued this duty until 1894, after which he remained as Dispenser until his early death in 1902 at the age of 66.

 
  The original hospital building was opened in 1851.

The text over the windows reads:

"INSTITUTED AT THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING OF MDCCCXLIX" (1849)

 
Royal Victoria Hospital The Annexe was built to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.

The upper panel reads:

"HOSPITAL ANNEXE"

and the lower panel:

"JUBILEE OF QUEEN VICTORIA"

With permission, the hospital was re-named the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1902, in honour of the late Queen.
 

  During the Second World War the hospital moved into the country to escape the bombing and shelling.  The 112th Annual Report of the Committee contains the following information:

"The year 1939, now under review, started well as regards the work of the hospital.  The Nurses were installed in their new Home, and the new kitchen was proving satisfactory.  War clouds, however, soon gathered, and in February the Committee decided to accept the generous offer of the Earl and Countess of Guilford of the free use of Waldershare Mansion as a Hospital in the case of war.  This plan was submitted to the Ministry of Health, who expressed their approval, and details with regard to the general working and transfer of patients were arranged.  In the meantime we were approached by the Local Authorities, who wished to install a First Aid Post in our Out-Patient Block, and this Department was accordingly taken over on the outbreak of hostilities.  At the same time, the In-Patients were transferred to Waldershare Mansion, together with nearly all the staff, and the Nurses' Home has been taken over for a Military Hospital.  The Out-Patient work is being carried on in the old main block with a skeleton staff residing at Dover"

The Maternity Ward was part of the In-Patient Department - I have a copy of a birth certificate which gives the place of birth as "Royal Victoria Hospital, Waldershare, Tilmanstone R.D."

The 118th Annual Report records the return to Dover after the war:

"The year 1945, during which the war in Europe and the Far East was concluded, also saw the return, in September, of our In-Patient Department from Waldershare to Dover.  For six years our In-patients and the majority of our Staff enjoyed comparative quiet and safety in the beautiful and healthy surroundings of Waldershare Park, and it is difficult adequately to express the sincere thanks of all concerned to the Earl of Guilford for the loan of the Mansion for this purpose, which was greatly appreciated."

  The hospital was finally closed in May 1987.  In latter years it had provided out-patient services along with a stroke unit and geriatric day-care.  The eye hospital in Noah's Ark Road (formerly the Isolation Hospital for TB care) also closed with all services being transferred to Buckland Hospital.  This in turn has been gradually run down over the past decade, with the closure of the Accident and Emergency Unit, the operating theatres and several wards.  Patients now have to travel to Ashford for most services.