St Anthony's Hospital
801 London Road, Cheam, Surrey SM3 9DW
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1904 - current

In September 1904 the Daughters of the Cross of Liege purchased North Cheam House for £4,625 in order to establish a hospital.  It was named St Anthony's Hospital and initially had 10 beds.  An operating theatre was installed at the cost of £224.

The first patients to be admitted were a woman and her 3-year-old son, both suffering from tuberculosis (TB).

By 1907 the old house had been extended and the Hospital then had 40 beds in 5 wards.  An open air shelter for children with TB was built to the north of the Hospital and a chapel to the south of it.

All patients paid for treatment according to their means; contributions varied from a few shillings to 2 guineas (£2.10) a week, but many received free care.

In 1914 a new 3-storey Hospital was erected adjacent and southwest to the existing building.  

The new Hospital opened in 1915 and had 100 beds.  It had a frontage of polished brick, some 163 feet (49 metres) in length.  The building faced the main road and was fronted by a wide garden.

In 1934 the Hospital became a state-recognised Training School for Nurses.

By 1935 the shelter for TB patients had been replaced by St Joseph's Sanatorium.

At the beginning of WW2 in 1939 the Hospital joined the Emergency Medical Service.

In 1948 the Hospital had 102 beds.  It was disclaimed from the NHS, but received NHS patients under contract from the local Regional Health Authority.

By 1958 the Hospital had gained an excellent reputation for the care and cure of all types of general medical and surgical disorders.  About 3,000 patients a year were admitted, and some 6,000 outpatients seen.  Although part of its maintenance costs were met by the Regional Hospital Board, it remained independent.  Mounting costs and debts, however, threatened to overwhelm the limited resources of the Community.  A new children's ward had been built, as well as a boiler house, while a new lift to the operating theatre had been installed, new laboratory equipment and extra ward facilities purchased, and other improvements insisted upon by the General Nursing Council. A new Nurses' Home was planned.  An immediate debt of £10,000 had to be paid in the near future, while a long-term loan of £27,000 was still outstanding.  An extension to the Nurses' Training Centre was badly needed, but would cost £25,000.  The funds had to be raised from voluntary sources.

In 1960 the nuns were equipped with one-way shortwave radio receivers to make communication easier between them.  These sets were a gift from the League of Friends of St Anthony's Hospital, which had been established a few years earlier by the first Catholic Mayor of Cheam, Alderman David Sullivan.  Another modern innovation was the possibility of patients listening to the services in the chapel from their bedside radios (a microphone had been placed on the altar.  The microphone was also wired to the annexe where sick nuns were accommodated, enabling them also to hear the service).

By the 1960s the Hospital was one of the largest Catholic hospitals in the country, with 160 beds and a staff of 100 nurses (excluding the nuns), many in training.

In 1961 Archbishop O'Hara, Apostolic Delegate, opened the new Nurses' Home.  The 2-storey building had cost £40,000 to build and contained 50 rooms, each with its own built-in wardrobe.  There was a small communal 'laundry' equipped with hot rails, a heated cupboard and ironing boards.

In 1967 the Daughters of the Cross made plans to build a £3.5m hospital, which would have 300 single rooms for patients.  A monorail system would deliver supplies from a central distribution area to where they were needed, thus saving 50% of a nurse's time spent in 'fetching and carrying'.

Two years later the projected cost of the new hospital had risen to £6m.

In the early 1970s the NHS contract ceased and the Nursing School closed, the last such Catholic one in the country.

However, it was decided to continue with rebuilding the hospital adjacent to the existing one, but on a smaller scale - 80 beds instead of 300, all for private patients.  In 1972 the foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy of Southwark.

The new building was officially opened on 22nd October 1975 by the Duke of Norfolk.  The patients had been transferred from the old hospital and the new building retained its Catholic atmosphere.

The highly innovative hospital was designed to further the principles of patient-centred care that the Sisters had always advocated.  It was one of the first hospitals to be built with single rooms for patients instead of wards.  The appointment of non-nursing staff for administrative duties meant that the nurses could concentre wholly on providing nursing care.

AMI (Hospitals) Ltd had helped to finance the project and, in 1974, the nuns had signed a 10-year contract with the company to take over management of the new building.  The company decided that the Hospital should specialise in cardiac surgery.  Consequently, it had an 8-bedded Intensive Care Unit and offered the only cardiac surgery programme in the area.

In 1984 the contract expired, but the Hospital retained a former member of the company as its Director of Management Services.

In 1985 the Hospital had 100 beds and 5 beds in its Intensive Care Unit.

In May 1986 work began to build a hospice in the grounds of the Hospital.  St Raphael's Hospice was officially opened on 1st April 1987 by the Duchess of Norfolk.   It was to provide palliative care for the terminally ill and had 10 beds, which were available free of charge to local patients and their families.

In 1997 the Hospice was extended.

By 1999, however, while the Hospital was in a more secure financial position, its revenue was falling.

In 2012, because of the advanced age of many of the nuns and the decline in membership of the order, the Daughters of the Cross decided to sell the Hospital, but to retain ownership of the Hospice.

However, the staff and consultants at the Hospital, as well as the Chairman of the Board of the Hospice, were concerned about how the sale would affect the charity work of the Hospice (which was subsidised by Hospital revenues).  Another consideration was the future ability of the Hospital to operate within the moral directives of the Catholic Church.

In June 2013 an appeal was sent to the Vatican to prevent the sale.  In November of the same year, a petition signed by over 7,000 people was presented to Parliament, requesting its help in preventing the sale.  It was hoped that a new Catholic charity would be formed to take over both the Hospital and the Hospice.

Despite these activities, the Hospital was sold in March 2014 to Spire Healthcare Ltd, a private healthcare group.

In 2015 work began on the erection of a £30m building to house an orthopaedic centre and six new operating theatres.

Present status (April 2017)

The 92-bed Hospital continues in operation.  

Most of the buildings on the large campus are modern; many of the older buildings have been demolished, but a few remain.  The site now includes the Hospital with its recently opened block, the Hospice, St Joseph's Convent and its chapel, St Mary's Convent, St Bede's Conference Centre and various other buildings.

St Raphael's Hospice remains under the ownership and management of the charity Daughters of the Cross.

On 1st August 2011 the seven remaining Daughters of the Cross moved into a refurbished building on the site, which then became St Mary's Convent.  Their former convent, St Joseph's Convent, became the headquarters of the order.

N.B. Photographs obtained in September 2008

The current Hospital was built in the early 1970s.

The main entrance.

St Raphael's Hospice opened in 1987.

St Joseph's Convent now houses the International Generalate of the Daughters of the Cross.

The chapel was built before WW1 (1914-1918) and the convent building behind it perhaps sometimes in the 1950s.

St Bede's Conference Centre is located behind St Raphael's Hospice.

An unnamed fine old building on the site.

N.B.  Photographs obtained in April 2017

New signage at the entrance driveway.


The new white block opened in 2017
(above and below).  It contains six new theatres on the first floor and an orthopaedic centre on the ground floor.  

References (Accessed 15th April 2017)

(Author unstated) 1954 Out of revolution and cholera came the Sisters.  Catholic Herald, 10th September, 6.

(Author unstated) 1958  Catholic hospital in need.  Catholic Herald, 2nd May, 1.

(Author unstated) 1961 £40,000 nurses' Home at Cheam.  Catholic Herald, 15th September, 7.

(Author unstated) 1967  £1-1/2m. hospital plan.  Catholic Herald, 24th February, 2.

(Author unstated) 1984 Hospital severs link with management company.  Catholic Herald, 9th March, 3.

(Author unstated) 1986 New stock.  British Medical Journal 292, 632.

(Author unstated) 1987 People in the news.  British Medical Journal 294, 128.

(Author unstated) 2012 A message from Clare Joseph, sister superior of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross.  Your Local Guardian, 30th January.

Caulfield C 2015 Expansion set for St Anthony hospital site.  Your Local Guardian, 5th March.

Cockshutt B 1960 Good news Squeaking for the Sister! Catholic Herald, 23rd September, 5.

Davies P 1969 a £6 million 'dream' hospital.  Catholic Herald, 13th June, 3.

Holden C, Skinner S (eds) 2013  Pictures of You.  A North Cheam Community Picture Archive, 27-45.

McKeran R 2013 The Future of the Hospital.  Life (Summer), 2.

Murphy-Pyle M 2014 St Anthony's Hospital sold by nuns to private company.  Your Local Guardian, 31st March.

Murphy-Pyle M 2014  St Raphael's chairman Dr Ron McKeran resigns over concerns about its future after nuns sells St Antony's Hospital.  Your Local Guardian, 2nd April.

Nash J 1975 St Anthony's at Cheam a 'dream hospital'.  Catholic Herald, 30th May, 3.

Ritchie C 2015 St Anthony's Hospital, North Cheam.  Get Surrey, 18th March.

Ritchie C 2015 Treatment in time: see the development of St Anthony's Hospital in the 20th century.  Get Surrey, 24th March.

Sleigh S 2012 Nuns step down from running St Anthony's Hospital and St Raphael's Hospice.  Your Local Guardian, 2nd February.

Sleigh S 2013 Concern over St Raphael's Hospice as nuns decide to sell St Anthony's Hospital in North Cheam.  Wimbledon Guardian, 7th February.

Sleigh S 2013 Fight for St Raphael's Hospice escalated to Vatican.  Your Local Guardian, 21st June.

Sleigh S 2013 Chairman makes urgent plea to save St Raphael's Hospice.  Your Local Guardian, 25th July.

Sleigh S 2013 Government agrees to join fight for St Raphael's Hospice in North Cheam.  Your Local Guardian, 19th July.

Sleigh S 2013 Thousands sign petition against separation of St Anthony's Hospital and St Raphael's Hospice in North Cheam.  Your Local Guardian, 25th November.

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