St Veronica's Retreat
Boston House, Chiswick Square, Chiswick W4 2QG
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1889 - 1911

Inebriates (females only)
In 1889 Boston House in Chiswick was acquired by Cardinal Manning and other trustees.  It became St Veronica's Retreat, a home for inebriate Roman Catholic women, admitted as voluntary patients.  Its ballroom was converted into a chapel.

The Retreat had 10 beds and was licensed under the Inebriates Acts 1879 and 1898.  It was managed by the Revd Dr Robert Clarke, a medically qualified doctor who had converted to Catholicism and had been ordained a priest in 1868.  Among the honorary medical staff were prominent specialists in inebriety - Dr Norman Kerr, Dr Sydney Ringer, Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson and Mr W. Watson Cheyne.

In 1894 the premises were extended, after which there were 25 beds.

In July 1897 Cardinal Vaughan asked the Sisters of Nazareth to take over the Retreat as the community of Sisters who had been caring for the residents were few in number and unable to carry on with the work.

The Superior General of the Sisters of Nazareth and her General Council acceded to the request and, on 7th August 1897, the Retreat was licensed to Mother Cecilia O'Sullivan, Sister of Nazareth and new Superior.

By 1899 the Retreat claimed a success rate of 30% for the cure of alcohol addiction but, because of the limited time of incarceration, many patients could not be successfully cured.

In 1906 the weekly charge for an in-patient was from between 10s 6d (51p) to 2 guineas (£2.10).

 In 1908 the Retreat was licensed for 40 female patients, although only 23 had been admitted during the year.   The premises could accommodate 70 people under the Act, but this number probably included the Sisters and others who were not patients.

By 1910 the Retreat was in financial straits due to a decline in the number of applications and also the difficulty in obtaining payment for its current patients.  It was also in debt.  The Superior General and General Council of the Sisters of Nazareth therefore decided to surrender the license for the Retreat and turn the property into a Nazareth House.

At Christmas 1911 the Retreat was renamed Nazareth House, becoming an annexe to the original Nazareth House in Hammersmith, to ease overcrowding of the inmates there (the apostolate of the Sisters of Nazareth has always been to care for the elderly and for children).  

By 1912 elderly ladies were being cared for at the former Retreat and, for a short time, small girls also lived there.

In 1912 the Sisters purchased an adjoining property - Fairfax House - and a small plot of land.

In 1920 a decision was made to sell the property.

Present status (July 2013)

The Nazareth House in Chiswick closed in 1921 when the Sisters and the elderly ladies still in residence moved to Knightons, a large house in East End Road, East Finchley, which was renamed Nazareth House Finchley.

In 1922 the building became the canteen and recreation club for the female staff of the Chiswick Polish Company (Cherry Blossom) until 1972, when manufacturing moved to Hull.

In the 1980s the house was converted into four apartments and part of its grounds were sold for housing.

Boston House
Boston House was Grade II listed in 1951.

Boston House
The building, as seen across Chiswick Square from Burlington Lane.

Boston Gardens

New housing - Boston Gardens - was built in the grounds  of the house (above and below).

Boston Gardens

References (Accessed 28th January 2019)

(Author unstated) 1889 Legislation for inebriates at home and abroad.  British Medical Journal 2 (1500), 731.

(Author unstated) 1894 Reflections from a Board Room Mirror.  Nursing Record and Hospital World, 27th October, 282.

(Author unstated) 1902 Temperance notes.  Sacred Heart Review 27 (23), 12.

(Author unstated) 1903  Where Shall I Send My Patient?  Bournemouth, The Association of Medical Men Receiving Resident Patients, 74.

(Author unstated) 1903 British Institutions for the Care of the Inebriate, I.  Hospital 34 (887), 457-458.

(Author unstated) 1906  The Catholic World.  Death of a Convert.  New Zealand Tablet 14 (24), 27-28.

Burnand FC (ed) 1908 The Catholic Who's Who Year-Book.  London, Burns & Gates. p.49.

Ffoulkes MMC 1915 My Own Past.  London, Cassell & Co. p.49.

Parliamentary Papers 1910  Report of the Inspector under the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900, for the year 1908.  London, H.M.S.O.

www.doricdesign.com (1)
www.doricdesign.com (2)

Our especial thanks to the General Archive of the Sisters of Nazareth for providing additional information on St Veronica's Retreat.

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