|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
Stonefield Maternity Home
58 Kidbrooke Grove, Blackheath, SE3 0LG
|1920 - 1954
In 1920 Dr Cyril V. Pink (1894-1965) and Dr William H. White purchased Stonefield, a large Victorian mansion on the east side of Kidbrooke Grove, in order to establish a maternity home.
The house, built in 1876-1877 had 10 bedrooms, as well as a turret and a conservatory, stables for 3 horses and attractive terraced gardens.
The maternity home was run on vegetarian lines, according to the principle of Dr Maximilian Bircher-Benner, the Swiss nutritionist of 'muesli' fame. The home quickly developed a high reputation and became very fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s.
The patients' diet consisted largely of raw food. All were advised to become vegetarian, with fruit and salad as the most important ingredients. Fruit, cereal and milk were served for breakfast, while lunch consisted of soup and salad, with wholemeal bread, butter and cheese. Only a drink was served at tea-time, and supper was a cooked vegetarian meal containing nuts, cheese or other protein foodstuff, with vegetables, followed by fruit or a sweet. Special attention was paid to vitamins B and D to make sure the patients received adequate amounts. Vitamin B was thought best obtained from wholemeal bread and the proprietary medical products Froment and Bemax, which contained wheat germ, and the yeast products Yeastrel and Marmite. Vitamin D was obtained from Radiostol, which was plant-based rather than the fish oil in common use for vitamin D supplements.
Preparation for childbirth consisted mainly of exercises in relaxation and counselling against fear. Although anaesthetics were made available, they were never needed.
In 1935 Margaret Morris's 'Maternity Exercises' - both antenatal and postnatal - were introduced. These enabled patients to get on their feet sooner and, by the time the baby was six weeks old, the mother's abdominal wall had returned to its normal condition.
During WW2 (1939-1945) the Maternity Home was evacuated to Wookey Hole in Somerset.
In 1947 Dr White died. He had been one of the pioneers of veganism in the country, advocating a vegetarian or vegan diet for mothers and their babies.
The Home did not join the NHS in 1948 but remained independent. It closed in 1954.
Present status (May 2009)
The building was sold to the Port of London Authority. It became a hostel for the river police.
In 1965 it was sold to the London Borough of Greenwich and converted into a children's home.
In 2007 planning permission was given to the Morden College Estate to convert the building into sheltered housing for the elderly.UPDATE: 4th January 2020
Refurbishment has now been completed. The building has been renamed Graham Court. It contains 11 apartments, while the new 3-storey extension contains a further 10 apartments.
The building under conversion in May 2009. Its facade is being retained, while the internal structures behind are removed.
The mansion will contain 11 apartments.
The building has been extended at the back.
UPDATE: 4th January 2020
The building is now called Graham Court (above and below)
The conservatory at the side of the house.
The entrance is at the side.
|References (Accessed 28th November 2019)
(Author unstated) 1934 Infants' Dietary. As Recommended at Stonefield Maternity Home, Kidbrooke Grove, Blackheath, S.E.3. Heathway Press, Sun Lane.
(Author unstated) 1937 Food reform in the nursery. British Journal of Nursing (April), 112.
(Author unstated) 1947 Obituary. Dr W.H. White. The Vegan 3, 19.
(Author unstated) 1948 No meat for this baby. The Straits Times, 5th October, 9.
Inchbald P 2013 Jack of All Trades - And His Family. Morrisville, Lulu Press, 157.
Macrae E 2016 Exercise in the Female Life-Cycle in Britain, 1930-1970. London, Palgrave Macmillan.
Moscucci O 2003 Holistic obstetrics: the origins of "natural childbirth" in Britain. Postgraduate Medical Journal 79 (929).
Rhind N 1983 Blackheath Village & Environs 1790-1970, Vol. II. London, Blackheath Bookshop.
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