|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
St Francis Home for Incurables
157 Richmond Road, Dalston, E8 3NN
|1920 - 1962
Terminal care (women only)
In 1908 the Community of St Francis, an Anglican order, moved from Hull to London. The Sisters soon established a convent at No. 155 Richmond Road in Dalston. There they lived a life of poverty and prayer, visiting and nursing the sick in their homes. In order to have an income, they also took in laundry.
In 1919 the Sisters were gifted the house next door - No. 157 - when the occupants moved away. Unsure what to do with it, but concerned that the Council might take possession of the vacated building, they occupied it. They then decided to convert the house into a nursing home for incurable and bedridden women. The Sisters' nursing care in the community in support of the District Nurse, who lived with them, had provided them with the skills to care for such patients. There was very little money available, so after the building was thoroughly cleaned, it was furnished with free equipment from an auxiliary military hospital that was closing.
On St Francis Day (4th October) 1919 the St Francis Home for Incurables was opened and blessed by the Rt Revd Henry Moseley.
The Home had 18 beds in three wards. The two smaller wards - St Clare and St Agnes - were on the ground floor. The largest - St Mary - was on the first floor. The District Nurse oversaw the nursing care with the help of a trained nurse, employed for a small fee, while the Sisters took care of the patients at night.
Donations enabled the Home to buy radios and gramophone players (and later, in 1960, television sets so that the patients could watch the wedding of Princess Margaret). Visits from children were encouraged, and all took part in sing-songs, with one of the Sisters playing the piano. Entertainments were provided, as well as outings.
During WW2 (1939-1945) the convent building was badly damaged by bombs. The Sisters moved into the Home, but that too was damaged shortly afterwards. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Temporary accommodation for the patients and nuns was found locally until other arrangements could be made. Later, four Sisters moved back into the lower floor of the convent at No. 155, which had been made habitable. Fr Thomas Huxley, Rector of Singleton, Sussex, offered accommodation at his Rectory, and 3 Sisters and 6 patients were transferred there for the duration of the war.
At the end of the war in 1945 the Sisters and patients returned to Dalston. The parish church had been destroyed by bombs, but the convent chapel, built in 1924, was only slightly damaged and services were held there while repairs were carried out to the convent and Home.
In the late 1950s the LCC made plans for urban redevelopment. Many of the old houses in the Dalston area were scheduled for demolition, including Nos. 155 and 157. The Sisters began to look for an alternative location. Eventually a suitable site was found - the Old Manor House in Compton Durville, Somerset, which the Society of the Sacred Cross had left in 1959.
Early in the morning of 8th August 1962 the 13 patients were readied for the journey. Seven were completely bedridden, but two or three could walk. A fleet of six LCC ambulances arrived at 6 o'clock in the morning to transport the patients and Sisters to Waterloo station in order to catch a train to their new Home.
Present status (August 2013)
The houses were demolished and, in 1964, part of the Wayman Court estate was built on their site.
The whole area was redeveloped and a low-rise apartment block of the Wayman Court estate now occupies the site of the convent and Home.
The apartment block is on the north side of Richmond Road between Navarino Road and Eleanor Road, facing London Fields. No. 155, the convent, would have been a house on the left and No. 157, the Home, to the right of it.
|References (Accessed 29th August 2018)
Stanton H 2017 For Peace and For Good: A History of the Community of St Francis. Norwich, Canterbury Press.
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