Chelsea Red Cross Hospital
for Officers
(formerly Lady Violet Brassey's Hospital for Officers)
40 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 2NG
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1915 - 1919

Convalescent (military)

Early in 1915 Lady Violet Brassey offered her house at 40 Upper Grosvenor Street to the War Office for use as an auxiliary hospital for officers.

At first the authorities expressed doubts as to whether it would be possible to convey patients upstairs to the operating theatre because the staircase was not only narrow, it also had awkward turnings.  

An officer and four men from the London/1 Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) were sent to experiment.  After several successful trips up and down the stairway with a loaded stretcher, the surgeon and Matron gave their approval for the use of the building as a hospital.  The London/1 V.A.D. was asked to always be prepared to send four men whenever an operation was planned and, if possible, the same four men.

The stretcher party became known as the 'Sunbeam Squad', a name bestowed on them by the Matron.  Sometimes the bearers were asked to assist inside the operating theatre, and the London/1 V.A.D. always furnished a stretcher squad when it was necessary to move patients to and from wards.

Lady Violet Brassey's Hospital for Officers opened in December 1915 with 16 beds.  Lady Brassey ran the Hospital, which was affiliated to Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, until February 1918.

In April 1918 the Hospital was re-opened by the Chelsea Red Cross, with the house and equipment being lent by Major Leonard Brassey, who also continued to pay the rates, taxes and lighting bills for the duration of the war.  It became the Chelsea Red Cross Hospital for Officers, a Class A hospital with 20 beds affiliated to the Second General Hospital.  The Red Cross undertook to allocate 10 of the beds for overseas officers at the request of Sir Robert Fox-Symons (1870-1932), who was in change of the Auxiliary Home Hospital Department of the British Red Cross Society.

The wards were spacious and hygienic, and the food good and plentiful.  The nursing staff consisted of 2 trained nurses, and 7 full-time and 20 part-time members of the V.A.D.

The Hospital closed in March 1919.  Of the 169 admissions during the last eleven months it was open, none had died.

Present status (June 2010)

The site now contains Eaton House, an apartment block, which was built in 1934-1936.  The new apartments were advertised in 1937 as being the only ones in London to be fully air-conditioned.

Eaton House

Eaton House (above and below).

Eaton House
(Author unstated) 1917 List of the various hospitals treating military cases in the United Kingdom.  London, H.M.S.O.

(Author unstated) 1925 The British Red Cross Society.  County of London Branch Annual Reports 1914-1924.  London, Harrison & Sons.

Unwin S (ed) 1920 The Work of the V.A.D. London 1 during the War.  London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

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