Hospital of St Francis
145 New Kent Road, Camberwell, SE1
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1898 - 1904


The Hospital of St Francis was founded in 1898 by Dr Josiah Oldfield as a vegetarian and anti-vivisection hospital (the staff also were not allowed to eat meat). It had 8 beds and a 'large Out-Patients Department'.  Shortly after its opening, in January 1899 three members of the honorary medical staff resigned their appointments on the basis they had not been informed that the Hospital was based on vegetarian and allied principles.  In fact, the medical profession was virulent in its condemnation of the Hospital's anti-vivisection practice.

A scathing attack in The Hospital of 26th July 1902 gave a detailed description of the accommodation offered there, and the Hospital was forced to close on public health grounds.  

Shortly afterwards, Darenth House at 34 Camberwell Green was purchased and an announcement in the press in March 1903 stated that new premises had been found for the Hospital, which would be known as the South London Hospital.  However, this too closed in 1904, ostensibly because of the decision of King's College Hospital to relocate nearby.

The South London Hospital merged with the Anti-vivisection Hospital in Battersea in 1906 and, in June 1909, the Trustees of the institution 'The Hospital of St Francis' were authorised by the Charity Commissioners to sell the land.

Present status (April 2009)

The site of the Hospital is now a small strip of parkland with concrete boulders, many of whose surfaces are patterned with leaves, and  inspiring words set into the pathway.

The little park alongside the New Kent Road.

pathway  boulders
The inscription set into the pavement along the winding path (left) reads: "A little change in a glimpse outdoors may be useful in helping you know your own mind".  Several of the blue-painted boulders are decorated in a leaf pattern (right).
  new housing  
A long view of the park from the southeast, with new housing behind it.

(Author unstated) 1901 The cruelty of antivivisectionism.  British Medical Journal 1 () 29 June,  1639.

(Author unstated) 1902 An overworked voluntary labourer.  British Medical Journal 2 (2186), 1671.

Burdett HC 1903 Distribution of hospitals within London.  British Medical Journal 1 (2200), 521-522.

Murray Leslie W, Harding Freeland E and Paterson HJ 1899 Hospital of St Francis.  British Medical Journal 1 () Feb 4, 323.

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