The former London Chest Hospital, the south wing of 1863-5 and sanitary tower of 1890-2, together with the Victorian gas lamp, dwarf wall, railings and entrance gates

List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: The former London Chest Hospital, the south wing of 1863-5 and sanitary tower of 1890-2, together with the Victorian gas lamp, dwarf wall, railings and entrance gates

List entry Number: 1433870

Location

Bonner Road, London, E2 9JX

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Tower Hamlets

District Type: London Borough

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 18-Apr-2016

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

The former London Chest Hospital, a specialist hospital built in 1851-5 to the design of F W Ordish, with G Myers as builder, including the cast-iron verandahs of 1900, the South Wing of 1863-5 and sanitary tower of 1890-2, together with the Victorian gas lamp, dwarf wall, railings and entrance gates. Other additions belonging to the later C20 and C21 are excluded from the listing.

Reasons for Designation

The former London Chest Hospital, a specialist hospital built in 1851-5 to the design of F W Ordish, with G Myers as builder, with the south wing of 1863-5 and sanitary tower of 1890-2, together with the Victorian gas lamp, dwarf wall, railings and entrance gates, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: built to a dignified design in late-C17 style, the frontage incorporates accomplished sculpture, attributed to the workshop of George Myers; * Historical interest: as one of the earliest dedicated to diseases of the chest, the hospital was founded by City philanthropists, mainly Quakers, to combat consumption in north and east London; * Planning interest: the main range and south wing largely retain the plan distinctive to chest hospitals of this date, with wards opening from one side of wide corridors for exercise, reflecting the greater mobility of most chest patients, and the treatment favoured in the mid-C19; the small WCs accessed from some wards, for use by less mobile patients, represent a rare feature; * Internal features: the main entrance is impressive, with noteworthy carving in stone and wood, as well as vaulting ingeniously executed in hollow fireproof bricks, whilst the main and subsidiary stairs are of considered design; other surviving features include piscenae in areas of circulation, and fireplaces in wards; * Technological interest: the former hospital building retains dials relating to an annunciator system, installed for communication purposes, and thought to be a rare feature; * Contemporary ironwork: the site retains high-quality contemporary ironwork, including elaborate stair-rails, area railings, and the railings (incompletely) enclosing the site, together with an entrance gateway to the site, and a gas lamp; * Group value: the hospital stands directly to the south of the 1840s Grade II*-registered Victoria Park, with. its numerous listed features; to the east is the Church of St James the Less of similar date, and to the south is Raine’s (originally Parminter’s) Foundation School of 1887; listed terraces of the 1860s line the southern portion of Approach Road.

History

The building known since 1923 as the London Chest Hospital, originally the City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, was founded in response to public concern at the inadequacy of provision for treating consumption or tuberculosis (then known as consumption or phthisis) in smoke-bound mid-C19 London. The Brompton Hospital had opened in 1846 as the first major specialist hospital of its kind; consumptive patients were denied access to other hospitals on the grounds of alleged contagiousness, and were generally treated at home. The need for a comparable facility for north and east London and the City, home to greater numbers of poorer people, particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis, was very great; the small Infirmary for Asthma, Consumption and other Pulmonary Diseases, founded in Spitalfields in 1814, was wholly inadequate. A public meeting on the subject held in March 1848 gave rise to a committee of City bankers and merchants, with Henry Gurney, of the prominent Quaker family, as treasurer; 13 of the original 19 members were Quakers. The aims of the founding committee were threefold: to establish a hospital for in-patients in a salubrious situation accessible from the City; to provide accommodation for those who, though not the very poorest, would not otherwise be able to procure the necessary medical attention; and to maintain a public dispensary where those suffering from chest problems might receive free advice and medicine. The Brompton Hospital had been intended to treat only tuberculosis cases, but in practice admitted patients with a wider range of chest complaints; it was intended from the outset that the new hospital would have this wider remit.

Funds raised allowed a dispensary to be opened near Broad Street Station in June 1848. The following year, a four-acre triangular plot was leased in Bethnal Green; though then in use as a rubbish tip, this had been the site of the Stepney manor house, once home to the Bishops of London, but demolished in 1848, and was adjacent to the newly-created Victoria Park. (An ancient mulberry tree in the grounds has been associated with the C16 Bishop Bonner, but arboreal research suggests it is more recent.) A competition for the design of the hospital drew entries from 12 architects; the successful applicant was Frederick W Ordish (1822-1885). Originally from Leicester but then practising in London, Ordish’s work consisted largely of churches and church restorations; this was his only hospital commission. The builder chosen was George Myers, best-known for his work with A W N Pugin; Myers had recently completed the asylum at Colney Hatch (S W Daukes, 1849-50), and worked on a number of other asylum and hospital projects at this period, including the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley (R O Mennie, 1856-3). A strong historicist element was present in hospital design of this period – F J Francis’s Brompton Hospital was Tudorbethan – and the late-C17 style chosen referred to a strong tradition of hospital building; Robert Hooke’s London hospital buildings, particularly Bethlem Hospital, Moorfields, had been very influential, whilst an announcement in The Times (26 June 1851) of plans for the Bethnal Green hospital noted that the structure was to bear a striking resemblance to Wren’s Royal Hospital at Chelsea of 1682. However, the scale of the new hospital was reminiscent of a country house or mansion rather than a palace. The building is notable for its sculptural enrichment, in ecclesiastical style; Ordish was used to employing detail of this sort through working on Gothic churches, whilst Myers’s workshop produced much architectural sculpture for Pugin and others, and it is thought that the carving at the hospital is likely to have come from this source. In 1850 Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort, agreed to be patrons of the hospital, and on 15 June 1851 Prince Albert laid the foundation stone. Ordish had made it clear at the outset that he could not provide a suitable building for the £8000 allowed; the final total cost was alleged to exceed £30,000, though The Builder (21 April 1955) put the sum at about £17,200, attributing the increase to "the anxious desire of the committee to make the internal arrangements as perfect as possible", the intention being that the hospital should be "as far as possible a model of its kind". Joseph Paxton’s 1851 design for a ‘Crystal Sanatorium’ – a glass and iron air-conditioned exercise pavilion – had to be abandoned due to cost. The out-patients’ department was in operation from March and the first in-patients were admitted in July of that year.

The hospital originally consisted of a single main block, providing accommodation for 80 patients in wards with between four and eight beds ranged along the west side of the building; women were on the first floor and men on the second. Running along the east side of the building was a wide corridor, used as an exercise area and day room (described in the ‘London Journal of Medicine’, 1851, as "wide, lofty and cheerful exercising corridors") with separate day rooms at the ends of the range; this arrangement, used at the Brompton Hospital, and at the time considered the best for treating chest patients, was similar to contemporary planning for lunatic asylums. Sanitary facilities were in spurs on the eastern side of the corridor, to north and south. Uniform temperature and good ventilation were important factors; in addition to fireplaces, a complex system was installed by W Jeakes, by which cold air was heated under the basement, and then ascending through hot air channels in the spine wall, was let into the wards through vents at floor level, the foul air being extracted through vents near the ceiling, and led through ducts and trunking to be expelled through the tower. A similar system by Dr Arnott was more widely used in institutions of the period, but had been found unsatisfactory at the Brompton by 1851, when George Haden introduced an improved system. At the London Chest Hospital, very little visible trace of the system remains, other than the ventilation tower, which was truncated in 1934, though further evidence may survive beneath the basement, and in the walls. On the ground floor, the out-patients’ department was to the south, with offices and a library and pathology museum.

The hospital received a number of additions, soon after completion, and later. A chapel was added to the north by E B Lamb in 1858-60; this was destroyed by bombing in 1941. It was the intention, at least from 1855, that two ward wings would be added when funds became available, creating a U-plan in the manner of the Brompton, and in 1863-5 the first of these, to the south, named the Albert Wing, was built to the design of William Beck; a corresponding wing was built to the north in 1871, but was destroyed at the same time as the chapel. These wings contained large day rooms, and had large wards at their east ends, with windows on three sides. Towards the end of the C19 the existing sanitary facilities, not properly disconnected from the main building, were inadequate, and two octagonal flanking towers were planned; only the northern one was built, in 1890-2. At the same time, a mortuary and post-mortem room was constructed, replacing facilities in the basement of the main building. In 1900, in line with more advanced thinking about tuberculosis treatment, and the benefit of fresh air, external iron balconies were added to the south-west corner of the building, capable of holding eight beds on each floor; these have since been enclosed. In 1905 nurses’ accommodation was built to the east of the site; the building was partially destroyed in 1941, with subsequent rebuilding. Further additions were made to the rear of the main building in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1972 a new outpatients’ department was built to the south of the main range, with an octagonal tower reflecting the design of the northern sanitary tower. The north wing was replaced in 1983, and there have been subsequent additions to the main building as well as extensive alterations internally, and the replacement of all the windows. A number of detached blocks have been erected in the grounds, including staff accommodation, an Institute building, and pathology and administration space.

In 1897 Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree, MP for Bethnal Green, presented a bust of Victoria, Queen of England and Empress of India, to be placed in the grounds to commemorate the sixtieth year of her reign. Only the granite pedestal remains.

The hospital closed in April 2015.

Details

The former London Chest Hospital, a specialist hospital built in 1851-5 to the design of F W Ordish, with G Myers as builder, including the cast-iron verandahs of 1900, the south wing of 1863-5 and sanitary tower of 1890-2, together with the Victorian gas lamp, dwarf wall, railings and entrance gates. Other additions of the later C19, C20 and C21 are excluded from the listing.

MATERIALS: red brick, laid in English bond, with Portland stone dressings; the roof is slated, with sprocketed eaves on a block cornice, and there are tall brick stacks. The original small-paned sash window frames have gone; the current windows are all UPVC. The ironwork is by Messrs E & R Dewer of Old Street. The later additions are mainly also in red brick. The areas of the main range are enclosed by cast-iron railings, with a single rail supported on bracketed uprights, with three-dimensional hexagonal joints.

PLAN: the main range is roughly rectangular, set on a north/south axis, the principal elevation facing west, with the 1900 verandahs wrapping around the south-west corner. Extending eastwards from the south end is the 1863-5 wing. To the south-west of the main range is the Victorian gas lamp.

To the north of the south wing, the extensions* dating from the 1920s/1930s, with a later addition* reaching into the angle with the main range, are not of special interest. The corresponding north wing* is a replacement of 1983 and is not of special interest. There is an octagonal sanitary wing of 1890-2 at the north end of the building, with a bridging link. The contemporary mortuary is attached immediately to the east. On the eastern, rear side of the building, is a large, multi-phase C20 addition*, extending from the centre of the building. Between this central extension and the south range, against the eastern face of the main range, is a later-C20 lift tower*. Between the central extension and the north range is a C21 stair tower*. Attached to the south-east end of the south wing is the octagonal tower of the 1972 outpatients’ building*, with a large single-storey block* extending southwards. None of these C20 and C21 additions is of special interest and they are excluded from the listing.

None of the separate C20 and C21 buildings standing within the site is of special interest and all are excluded from the listing.

Dwarf walls with railings surround the majority of the triangular site, with the entrance gates being to the south west.

EXTERIOR: the main range, being three storeys with attic and basement, is of seventeen bays. On the principal, east-facing elevation, the bays are symmetrically arranged, in three projecting stages, with a five-bay central section, two bays set back to either side, and a further four outer bays set back to either side of that; the separate sections are defined by stone quoins, and the storeys by string courses. The first stage of the frontispiece consists of a rusticated arched doorway with a concave-moulded round-headed arch; the keystone consists of three staggered scrolled brackets, each having a carved head beneath, supporting a pair of draped figures set against a foliate ground to each side, with a standing figure ministering to a seated one. The central female figure is a later replacement of circa 1900. The window cill above is supported on corbels enriched with serpents, emblematic of medical practice; the window has a stepped surround and a segmental pediment containing a cartouche bearing the initials V R. Above this, the second-floor window has a bracketed keystone decorated with a serpent and with an angel beneath, supporting a figure of Christ, perhaps replacing an earlier figure. The door opening contains the original pair of eight-panelled oak doors, in a frame of naturalistic carving, with leaves, flowers, birds, frogs, and snakes. The fanlight has an ornate central bracket, supporting the keystone; the base of this is carved with the initials F O. The entrance is approached by a flight of steps, bridging the area; these have ornate wrought-iron railings, with tall lanterns to the end piers. The window openings are of equal height, with flat arches of stepped gauged brick, those to the central section having unusual double arches; the windows to the central section have carved stone mullions, each with an angel entwined by a serpent in an elaborate niche to the top, supported on a tall, narrow, barley sugar column with a foliate capital. One half of one of the second-floor windows is blocked. The projecting sides of the central section have window slits, serving small corner WCs to the ward floors, and cupboards to the ground floor. The basement windows have stone mullions, and defined keystones. The building originally had three dormer windows with segmental heads to the central section; further dormers have been added since, in all but the southern section of roof. The tall rectangular stacks originally had stone capping; this was replaced with brick in the early C20. Rising above the centre of the building, from the back part of the roof, is the ventilation tower, now truncated. This originally had three stages, in a hybrid Baroque style, of which only the first remains: this has stone corner pilasters, with tiny heads to the upper corners, and stone dressings between framing what appear to have been narrow openings, now blocked; above this an arched stage and cupola have been lost, being replaced by a copper dome of ogee form. Attached to the southern section, and wrapping round the corner to the south elevation, are the cast-iron verandahs installed in 1900; accessed from the first and second floors, the verandahs are supported on slender columns with scrolled capitals. Though now infilled with timber and glazed panels, the original structure appears to survive. The south elevation of the main range is of three bays with a central entrance, the oak door being like that to the west, in a simpler surround, and with comparable, though less elaborate, railings. The detailing is otherwise as on the west elevation.

The 1863-5 south wing closely emulates the style of the main range. The central three bays are slightly recessed, and have a plain rather than a block cornice. The ground-floor windows to this section are round-headed, in arched recesses, whilst those to the first and second floors have chamfered stone mullions, without the carving of those to the west. The flat window arches take the same form as those of the main range. The eastern section, mirroring the south elevation of the main range, has a central doorway originally leading to the women outpatient’s waiting room; this part of the building is now obscured by the 1972 outpatients’ wing*. Against the east elevation of the south wing is a metal fire-escape. The original north elevation of the main range is obscured by the 1890-2 sanitary tower, which is octagonal, with a rectangular ground-floor block; the link between the tower and the main range has large arched windows at ground-, first- and second-floor levels, with a shorter rectangular window to the attic storey. The tower has a brick dentil cornice, moulded string courses, and the windows have flat brick arches; several of the windows are partially blocked. A ventilation shaft rises against the eastern side of the tower. Attached to the east side of the sanitary tower is the single-storey mortuary, with a pitched glazed roof. This has a large central segmental-arched window, and a blocked doorway; the openings are edged with moulded bricks, and there is a convex cornice. Immediately to the east of the mortuary is a narrow section of rag stone walling, with a chamfered ashlar edging; thought to be a fragment of Lamb’s bombed chapel, this now forms part of a small C20 body store. To the rear of the hospital, portions of the original building can be seen, between the C20 additions.

INTERIOR: the main entrance leads to the entrance hall; this has a barrel-vaulted ceiling with geometric compartments, and a stone floor. The sculptural enrichment of the front elevation is continued in this area of the interior. To either side of the hall is a square-headed doorway with a carved stone surround similar to that of the front doorway; the inner faces of the front doors have decorative brass hinges and heavy brass bolts received by carved lion heads, one missing. To the south of the doorway is the foundation stone, commemorating the occasion of its laying by Prince Albert. A deep archway – segmental to the outer face and round-headed to the inner face, having a hoodmould with foliate stops – leads to the stair hall. The depth of the arch reflects the fact that dumb-waiters originally passed through the wall thickness at this point. In the stair hall the groin-vaulted ceiling is lined with hollow hexagonal fireproof bricks of a sort used a number of times by Myers in asylum buildings. The stair wing is accessed through paired round-headed archways, with bearded heads to the keystones; the capital to the pier between the archways is carved with the pelican in her piety, goblets, and a head, apparently that of Bacchus. Attached to the east face of the pier is a pedestal holding a horizontal brass dial numbered from one to thirteen: this is understood to be part of an annunciator system in use in the hospital, designed by Henry Grafton, and installed to aid communication for deploying medical staff, the wider system including the convex dials, now painted over, found at either end of the main first- and second-floor corridors. Such a system would have been likely to have had a central control panel, distributing signals to all the dials. The cantilevered open-well stair has an open string with decorative paired cast-iron balusters and a wreathed handrail; sections to the landings have been replaced, possibly indicating openings for access to a pulley. Above is a pyramidal roof, with plaster mouldings and an opening for light. Towards the north and south ends of the main range, secondary stair towers project eastwards (now enclosed by later building*). The tight open-well stairs have sturdy starter newels, carved with vines and acanthus, and plain iron balusters. The south entrance leads to a vestibule with a segmental ceiling lined with hollow hexagonal bricks, as in the main entrance hall. The ground-floor corridor has an incised skirting as elsewhere in the main range and south wing; here the moulding is more complex. The floor here has been replaced, as have a number of floors within the historic parts of the building. To the north of the hall, two large archways originally led to the porter’s room and ante room; these have iron fanlights with lion’s head decoration, possibly re-used. The ground-floor rooms have long ceased to serve their original functions, and several have been subdivided: the hospital’s offices, board room, library, resident medical officer’s room, and out-patients’ waiting rooms were here – a reminder of the higher status of these rooms survives in their panelled window embrasures and shutters; the building has false ceilings throughout so any surviving mouldings are hidden.

On the first and second floors, the stair is separated from the corridors by large archways with heads to the keystones, containing glazed double doors. These open to vestibules with segmental ceilings lined with hollow hexagonal bricks. Opposite the stair are the rooms over the hall, formerly the ward kitchens. These are entered through arcaded crossings, the arches to north and south formerly giving access to the dumb waiters which communicated with the kitchens in the basement. The wards on the first and second floors of the main range, entered through segmental-arched doorways, mostly retain their original proportions, but have few original features. The medium-sized wards, in the middle sections to north and south, have the small connecting WCs; it is thought that these wards were for those who were too unwell to reach the facilities in the spurs. Two first-floor wards retain timber chimneypieces, with dentilled mantelshelfs, now partially boxed in; one ward has low-level vents with modern covers, probably a surviving trace of the original ventilation system. Chamfered beams can be seen to the ceiling in one second-floor ward.

The South Wing is entered directly from the south end of the main range. On the ground floor, the former consulting rooms and waiting rooms have undergone much subdivision, and retain few original features; the fireplaces have gone. In the corridor there is a stone piscina, its bowl infilled, standing opposite the archways, clearly used for drinking water or for washing. On the first and second floors, the original plan, seen on the second floor, had a corridor to the north, opening at the centre with two large arches leading to a day room, also used as a dining room. These features are embellished with sculpture comparable in style and quality with that found in the main range: there are heads to the keystones and foliage to the capitals. On the first floor, the corridor has been moved to the south, but the arcade is still visible. There is another stone piscina, also infilled, standing opposite the archways on the second floor; that to the first floor has been lost. At the entrance to the south wing on the first floor is a large glazed terracotta plaque, commemorating Prince Albert, and announcing the Albert Wing; this has been moved with the repositioning of the corridor. In the attic, a chamber gives access to the ventilation tower. To either side of this, the roof trusses are chamfered, confirming that the central space was used, probably for nurses’ bedrooms, from the first. In the area immediately to the south is a chimneypiece, probably inserted for the conversion of that space later in the C19. In the north part of the main range the conversion of the roofspace is evidenced by two small cast-iron late-Victorian or Edwardian chimneypieces. The basement is reached by the secondary stairs, with a separate stair from the south wing formerly lit by a traceried screen, now infilled. The basement retains few historic features, but the kitchen space is still legible, with the crossing for the despatch and receipt of the dumb waiters. The sanitary tower has been refurbished, but in 2015 retained its original function and layout, with the top floor having been converted to therapeutic use.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES

By the south-west corner of the building is a CAST-IRON GAS LAMP, with the maker’s name and date to the pedestal: ‘DEWER / LONDON / 1855’. The lamp has a slender tapered column, with laurel ornament to the base and neck. The lantern is a replacement.

The site is enclosed by a DWARF WALL of brick with stone coping, in which are set CAST-IRON RAILINGS contemporary with the building, by Messrs E & R Dewar of Old Street. The main entrance, to the south-west of the site, has double gates with gas lamps as piers, the upper stage of scrolled wrought iron; the lanterns are replacements. The railings and gates have spear-heads, in alternating smaller and larger size, and dog-bars. The regularly-spaced bracketed uprights have three-dimensional hexagonal finials, topped by spikes. The railings are set on a dwarf stone wall. A section of the wall and railings is missing, running northwards from the centre of the eastern boundary, and then southwards to a point on the eastern boundary. The gates at the south-eastern entrance have been replaced.

* Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Burdett, H C (Author), Hospitals and Asylums of the World, (1891-3)
Cherry, B, O'Brian, C, Pevsner, N, Buildings of England, London 5: East, (2005), 562-3
Hitchcock, H, Early Victorian Architecture in Britain, (1954), 332-3
Oppert, F, Hospitals, Infirmaries and Dispensaries, (1883)
Taylor, J, Hospital and Asylum Architecture in England, 1840-1914, (1991), 89-90
Dr Comack, , Dr Semple, , 'The Hospitals of London' in London Journal of Medicine, , Vol. III, No. 32, (), 751-9
Other
City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, Victoria Park. Plans and description of the internal arrangements of the hospital, with the system of warming and ventilation, 1871
Historic England Archive photographs
Historic England, London Historians' File, TH143, October 1991
Historical notes provided by listing applicant
Illustrated London News, 5 July 1851, pp. 11-12
KM Heritage report, December 2015
Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, Report No. 101116, April 1994
The Builder, 24 May 1851; 21 April 1855, 30 Jan, 8 May, 7 August 1858, 23 May 1863, 25 June 1870
The Times, 26 June 1851

National Grid Reference: TQ3540483256

Map

MAP

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