|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
Brabazon Home of Comfort
15 Lesbourne Road, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7JP
|1885 - 1950s
The Brabazon Home of Comfort was formally opened on 4th July 1885 by the novelist Charlotte M. Yonge, who was the Winchester Diocesan Head of Literature and a member of the Winchester Diocesan Council. It had been founded to care for chronic or incurable invalids among the members of the Girls' Friendly Society who might otherwise face ending their days in the workhouse infirmary.
The idea for such a home for invalid members of the Society had come from Miss Annie Cazenove, who suggested it to the Victorian philanthropist Lady Brabazon, later Countess of Meath, (1847-1918). The members and associates of the Society had been in favour and proposed to guarantee an income of £200 a year towards its running costs. As a suitable property at No. 11 Lesbourne Road, formerly used by the Holmesdale Institute for Young Women, had become available, Lady Brabazon generously provided the means of purchasing it. The Institute had presented most of the furniture to the Society for use in the Home.
The Home had 20 beds for girls and women aged between 14 and 35 years, who had been members of the Girls' Friendly Society for over a year. Invalids who required medical care were also admitted, as well as four girls for industrial training. At the time of its official opening 8 patients had already been admitted, coming from as far afield as Birmingham, Lewis and Yorkshire, as well as from London.
As with other voluntary hospitals, consumptive cases were rarely admitted. Those with infectious diseases, chronic insanity and epilepsy were also excluded.
The Home was managed by a local committee, elected annually, and partly supported by subscriptions. The cost of a bed was calculated at £25 a year, and any individual or Diocese giving an annual subscription of that amount could send a member without further charge. The weekly fee for invalid members of the Girls' Friendly Society was 7 shillings (55p), 10 shillings (50p) for non-members of the Society, and 5 shillings (25p) for members of the Society who were received for industrial training. Nursing care was provided by workhouse girls who received training in how to care for the chronic sick.
The ground floor of the building had originally been designed as shops, and thus had two front rooms with large windows. One was used as a dining room and the other as the front sitting room; this had a high window seat.
Four of the wards had already been named the Annie Cazenove (after the proposer of the Home and its Honorary Secretary), the Mercier, the Morshead and the Slade. It was proposed to add later the Somerset (presumably after Lady Somerset), the Mary (after Mrs Townsend, founder of the Girls' Friendly Society) and the Charlotte (after Miss Yonge). The bedrooms were cheerful and bright, enlivened with pictures and flowers, and with a variety of couches where the invalids could rest.
Two years after it had opened, many of the patients - apparently incurably ill - had recovered after a long period of rest with peace and quiet, and good nursing.
During WW2 the Home moved to Whitepost House (now demolished) in Redhill Common.
It closed in the early 1950s as the NHS took over the care of chronically sick patients.
Present status (May 2011)
By 1913 the building at No. 11 Lesbourne Road had been renumbered as No. 15 (above and below).
|References (Accessed 2nd July 2015)
(Author unstated) 1885 Girls' Friendly Society. Work and Leisure 10, 233.
(Author unstated) 1894 The Brabazon Home of Comfort, Reigate. Lancet 143, 45.
Meath RB (undated) The Diaries of Mary Countess of Meath. London, Hutchinson & Co. Pp. 79, 80, 83, 95
Yonge CM 1885 The Brabazon Home of Comfort, Reigate, for members of the Girls' Friendly Society. The Monthly Packet 10, 290-293.
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