|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
American Red Cross
Military Hospital No. 24
Baroda House, 24 Kensington Palace Gardens, W8 4QQ
|1918 - 1919
Following the success of the hospital for officers which had opened in St Katharine's Lodge, Regent's Park, in January 1918, the mining tycoon Mr A. Chester Beatty and his wife offered the use of their London residence, Baroda House, to the American Red Cross Commission for use as a hospital for American officers.
The American Red Cross Hospital No. 24 was officially opened on 20th March 1918 the American Ambassador, Mr Page, accompanied by his wife. The Beattys had paid for its furnishings and equipment and contributed to the running expenses of the Hospital, while the American Red Cross supplied the professional staff, the orderlies and the medical and surgical supplies.
The nursing staff consisted of a Matron, 4 Sisters and 4 probationers.
Wounded and sick American soldiers were usually nursed in France, so until the authorities decided to return them to England, British and Colonial officers were admitted to the Hospital in the meantime. Although originally intended for use as a convalescent hospital, it was soon required for medical and surgical cases exclusively. The Hospital was affiliated to the Military Orthopaedic Hospital in Shepherd's Bush.
Baroda House had been founded by an Indian prince, the Gaekwar of Baroda, and its spacious high-ceilinged rooms still contained an Eastern flavour, although they had been rearranged and furnished to contemporary occidental tastes. The ground floor of the Hospital contained a library and a lounge.
The lounge had a plenitude of luxurious easy chairs, upholstered in soft green. The tall windows opened directly upon lawns. Convalescent patients in wheelchairs and on beds could be wheeled out to spend time in the fresh air. Although it was in central London, the house in Kensington Palace Gardens was removed from traffic and was thus a quiet and soothing place with a peaceful, high-walled garden - ideally suited for use as an officers' hospital.
The Hospital had 36 beds in eight wards, each of which was named after a famous American - George Washington, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Each ward was furnished with white enamelled furniture and the beds covered with white pique quilts. The silken eiderdowns and curtains provided colour - some of a soft rose hue, some pale blue and some old gold - in different wards. The screens were of a buff colour. Each bed had a white table and a white enamelled locker with a glass top. The walls were painted oyster white. The Hospital also had a large number of luxuriously appointed bathrooms.
About one-third of the beds were set aside for use by American Army patients, but it was understood, if necessary, the whole Hospital would be taken over for their use if the need arose. It never did, as the war ended on 11th November 1918.
The American Red Cross decided to close the Hospital on 1st February 1919. It was then taken over by the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Present status (November 2010)
The property is currently the official residence of the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia.
No. 24 Kensington Palace Gardens.
(Author unstated) 1918 A new American hospital. Opening by Mr Page. The Times, 21st March, 9.
(Author unstated) 1918 The latest American Red Cross Hospital. British Journal of Nursing, 30th March, 219.
Dock LL, Pickett SE, Noyes CD, Clement FF, Fox EG, Van Meter AR 1922 History of American Red Cross Nursing. New York, Macmillan.
Fife GB 1920 The Passing Legions: How the American Red Cross met the American Army in Great Britain, the Gateway to France. New York, Macmillan.
|Return to alphabetical list
Return to home page