St Mary's Convent
and Nursing Home
28 Burlington Lane, Chiswick, W4 2QE
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1873 - current

Long-term care
The Community of St Mary and St John Evangelist had been founded in 1868 by Sister Mary (Jones), who had been Sister-in-Charge at both King's College Hospital and Charing Hospital, but had increasingly found the work too stressful.  In 1873 she and six Sisters established St Joseph's Hospital for Incurables at No. 39 Kensington Square.

In 1887 Sister Mary died of typhoid fever, but the work continued.  The Sisters wished to expand the Hospital but were unable to purchase neighbouring houses or the Godolphin School in Hammersmith.  They decided to move the Convent and Hospital to a more rural area.  A piece of land in the gardens of Corney House, Chiswick - part of the estate of the Duke of Devonshire - was purchased in 1896 for £2,700.

The cornerstone for the new St Mary's Convent was laid on 6th May 1896, and the Convent and Hospital opened in 1897.

In 1909 St Joseph's Hospital had 40 beds.  Only women and children were admitted, suffering from various forms of paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis and similar diseases.  Cripples and elderly patients with senile decay were also accepted.  The weekly charge was 10s 6d (52p) for women and 5s 6d (27p) for children.  For a separate room the weekly charge was 2 to 4 guineas (£2.10 to £4.20).

The hospital had been filled as soon as it opened, but the Sisters were now elderly and fewer in number.  They were short of funds and were in dispute with their Bishop over religious matters.  In 1910 they applied successfully for affiliation with the Sisters of the Society of St Margaret, another Anglican order which had been established in East Grinstead.

With the arrival of a Sister Superior and other Sisters from East Grinstead, the convent was revitalised.  In the years leading up to the outbreak of WW1 (1914-1918) the plumbing, heating and lighting systems were improved with the help of funds from a number of benefactors.

In 1912 a small nursing home for paying patients, also named after St Mary, was officially opened by Sir Anthony Bowlby, C.M.G.  The nursing home occupied the upper part of the Hospital building, which had been remodelled to accommodate it.  It had six beds, an up-to-date operating theatre and a room for electric and massage treatments.  It was hoped that the nursing home would provide an income to help support St Joseph's Hospital for Incurables.

Despite the continuous noise from the neighbouring Gwynne's aircraft engine factory, the Convent and Hospital survived the war.

By 1921 the Hospital had 48 beds.

In 1935 a Nurses' Home was built.

Towards the end of WW2 (1939-1945) the Hospital was evacuated to Scotland in September 1944, just before a V2 rocket landed on nearby Paxton Road.

In 1948, with the introduction of the NHS,  the Hospital was disclaimed, but the private nursing home closed and was replaced by a residential home for the elderly.

In 1958 there were 38 beds for handicapped girls and women.

In 1979 the home had 36 beds for women.

In 1986 the name was changed to St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home; 'St Joseph's Hospital' was dropped from the title.  An Appeal was launched to raise £850,000.  The wards were remodelled and an extension built on to the Nursing Home.  This became St Joseph's Wing, which opened in 1992.  It had 10 single rooms and had been partly financed by the sale of the Nurses' Home.

In 1996 the Convent and Nursing Home celebrated their centenary, under the patronage of Princess Alexandra.

In October 2001 an Appeal was launched to raise funds for refurbishment of the Nursing Home so that it would comply with the required standard of the Care Standards Act, 2000.

By December 2003 some £1.68m had been raised, which covered the cost of the refurbishments and improvements.

In 2014 fund raising began again to raise £1m to build five one-bedroomed bungalows to provide halfway care for elderly residents who wished to live more independently than in the Nursing Home; however, assistance would be provided if they needed it.

In January 2015 the bungalows, named after St Francis, were officially opened by Princess Alexandra.  Each bungalow could accommodate either one person or a couple, who could take their meals in the Nursing Home if they wished.  The weekly rent was £350, inclusive of all bills except Council Tax.

Present status (September 2019)

Today the Nursing Home accommodates 61 elderly long-term residents in 51 single and 5 shared rooms.  They are cared for by some 95 members of staff, as well as five Sisters who live in the Convent.  The residents eat together in the Dining Room, and there are various Sitting Rooms throughout the building.  The well-kept garden has pathways for wheelchairs.  A minibus is available to take residents on outings, while other activities are organised for them during the week.

N.B.  Photographs obtained in January 2009

St Mary's Convent
St Mary's Convent on Burlington Lane.  The inscription above the door of the Grade II listed Convent building is taken from Lamentations 1:12 - Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

St Mary's Convent
The chapel and Convent seen from the east on Burlington Lane.  The buildings were designed in the Arts and Crafts style.

St Mary's Convent
An entrance on Burlington Lane.

St Mary's Convent
The main entrance to the Nursing Home on Corney Road.

St Mary's Convent
Part of the grounds was sold for the Dartmouth Place housing development.  Note the old yellow brick wall of the Convent and the new red brick wall of Dartmouth Place.

References (Accessed 6th September 2019)

(Author unstated) 1912  Nursing Echoes.  British Journal of Nursing, 12th October, 297.

(Author unstated) 1912 New nursing home at Chiswick.  The Hospital, 19th October, 61.

Cartwright  FF 1976  Miss Nightingale's Dearest Friend.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 69, 169-175.

Kilvington J 2010 St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home. Sutton and Croydon Guardian.

Myers P 1996  Building for the Future: A Nursing History 1896 to 1996.  London, St Mary's Convent.

Sykes JFJ 1909 Report of the Medical Office of Health for St Pancras.  London, Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras, p. 61.

www.chiswick4.com (1)
www.chiswick4.com (2)
www.saintmarysconventchiswick.org (1)
www.saintmarysconventchiswick.org (2)
www.saintmarysconventchiswick.org (3)
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