This is the research website of the Guildford Union Workhouse, Guildford War Hospital, Warren Road Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital. 

Patient making a phone call from bed
“Is that the hospital project? I have a story to tell about a very cheeky nurse….”

Our latest news and activities:

We are very lucky to have a local resource for ex- staff from St Luke’s to come and rediscover images and information from their years training and working on the wards.  We enjoyed meeting another party of lovely ladies visiting the Spike and our exhibition here.



A &E waiting times are making the headlines again.  Hospital staff have to deal with a backlog of appointments, so here is a reminder of earlier times – what do you think?

Rules for patients from 70 years ago!
Rules for patients from 70 years ago!

We are still receiving new additions to our archive

DORIS LAVERTY trained at what was then Warren Road Hospital during WW2.  We were lucky enough to meet Doris and record her memories of working on the wards. One American soldier on the ward took several photographs of Doris and along with her own saved images of the wards, these have given us a rare glimpse of life in the hospital during this scarcely recorded period.

In April of this year, Doris’s family shared some wonderful documents and these form our first archive documents to specifically refer to Warren Road Hospital.  With the advent of the NHS the hospital was renamed St Luke’s to try and do away with the stigma of the workhouse hospital that still attached itself to the Warren Road name.

Doris Laverty , student nurse
Doris Laverty , student nurse



Other donations:

Geigercounter used at St Luke's in the 60's
Geiger counter used at St Luke’s in the 60’s



The original Macmillan Day Centre plaque and other site signs have been recovered and kindly donated to the exhibition.  As seen above, we also have the Henrique’s Ward box with rubber address stamps, ink wells, ward bell, syringes, Xray plates, pictures of surgeons and senior managers and to top it all, a Geiger Counter!


Click on the image of the Plaque above to read about the career of Dr McMillan



Army Medical Services Museum


We visited this fascinating museum and found Louisa Watson Tulloh Matron of Guildford War Hospital at Warren Road during World War One.

Photo of Louisa Watson Tulloch in 1899




From Workhouse to Hospital – the story of St Luke’s



Thanks to the investigative genius of Len Norman, we have recovered 5 authentic St. Luke’s signs for our exhibition.

Two of the hospital's iconic signs (modelled here by Julie and Julie....)
Two of the hospital’s iconic signs (modelled here by Julie and Julie….)




One Saturday in May 1885 nine children were taken from various parts of Guildford Union Workhouse into the handsome oak-lined boardroom.  There they stood nervously before the twenty seven grand gentlemen and one lady of the Board of Guardians.  The Board included Miss Augusta Spottiswoode, one of the first women to be voted on to a Board of Guardians.  Miss Spottiswoode was anxious to break the spiral of poor or orphaned children following their parents’ path into pauperism and crime by giving them an industrial education and removing them from the workhouse by boarding out.  Now she espoused the cause of sending orphans to start a new life in Canada.

One of the children standing in front of her was Walter Shires, an 11 year old boy from a tragic family.  He can be found age 7, amongst the inmates listed in Guildford Union Workhouse in 1881 and next to him, the name Mary Ann Joyce, age 12, who was his step-sister.  Both children had been orphaned two or three years earlier, but only Walter would be part of the small party of children sent out to Canada to begin a new life.

Walter’s mother Kate May married William Joyce at St Nicholas, Guildford in 1866.  He was an Agricultural Labourer and by 1871 they were living in the area of St Catherine’s with their three children, William John Joyce, age 4, Mary Ann Joyce, age 2 and newly born Kate Elizabeth.  Sadly, Kate died within a few months and a year later their father, William Joyce, was buried in St Mary’s churchyard, aged 26.

The young widow, Kate Joyce, married again next year, this time to labourer Walter Henry Shires.  Their son, also called Walter Henry Shires was born shortly afterwards but there is no evidence of any other children born to the couple before Kate’s death in 1878.  At the age of 30, her funeral was held at St Nicholas’s.  With three young children to look after, Walter Shires senior entered Guildford Union Workhouse where he died a year after his wife, aged 37.

By 1881, the eldest boy William John Joyce was 14, so he was working as a farm servant in Hambledon.  The next time we find Mary Ann Joyce is in 1891 when she is living in Spitalfields with three other girls, all with no occupation, in the household of a Docker and a Laundress.

Meanwhile, young Walter Henry Shires was part of an experiment which hoped to give young people an opportunity of a better life in Canada than was possible, given their unfortunate start, in England.  By 1884 many stories were told by well-meaning ladies such as Miss Maria Rye, Miss Ellen Belborough and Mrs Burt about the success of taking destitute children via Liverpool to Canada where they were needed for employment as servants.

Miss Spottiswoode was particularly eager to give some of the children from the Union Workhouse this opportunity.  She believed, ”that if all unions adopted the means at their disposal for promoting the emigration of children, it would do much to stamp out pauperism in the country.”  She had been told by John T Middlemore of his receiving home in Ontario where he had begun to send children from his Children’s Emigration Homes in Birmingham.  He undertook to arrange transport of children from poor Law Unions in Guildford, Bermondsey and Wolverhampton via Liverpool.

Despite opposition from other members of the Board, based on the young age of the emigrants, the advantage of separating the children from mixing with the children of casual paupers, outweighed the arguments.  The nine orphans, aged 3 to 9 years were summoned into the Boardroom where they were asked whether they were willing to go to Canada.  The six eldest children, including Walter Shires, Alfred Curtis and John and Annie Walker, agreed, but it was decided by the Board that the youngest three should remain in Guildford.

Just over a week later the children set sail on “The Lake Winnipeg” en route for the Guthrie Home in London, Ontario.  From there, 12 year old Walter was sent to live with J D Crane, a farmer in Chatsworth, Ontario.  Each child was subject to one inspection to check that his new home was suitable.  Walter Shires was reported to be both honest and untruthful, stubborn, sulky and a source of trouble.  He was, however, “showing signs of slight improvement,” in his behaviour, although suffering from scalp disease.

In later years Walter married and had 2 children, before his death in 1937.  He was one of over 5000 children taken to Canada by the Middlemore Homes but there were many more children who were expatriated by Barnardos, the Children’s Friend society and other organisations adding up to approximately 100 000 emigrants.

It seems fitting to conclude with a quotation from the journalist of Guildford Jottings in the Surrey Mirror in 1885,

Although one feels almost guilty of expatriating the poor little ones by deciding to send them from our shores, it does not follow that it is not in reality, the very kindest thing it is possible to do for them.  They are at a premium in Canada, they are a discount here.  It’s just as well to get a premium on one’s wares where possible.”




Surrey Mirror May 1885 via www.findmypast.co.uk




Can you spot the workhouse boys?
Can you spot the workhouse boys?

From 1903, orphans and needy children, often with parents in the workhouse, were separately housed with ‘House Mothers’ in residential properties around Guildford.  There were seldom more than 12 children, either all boys or all girls (from the ages of 4 to 14 yrs) in each house.  This segregation led to families being further separated by age and sex of siblings. The houses were overseen by the Board of Guardians and under the day to day control of the Master of the Workhouse who employed a Superintendent and Matron as well as relief House Mothers. The administration was based at the Warren Road Children’s Receiving Home adjacent to the Workhouse, later known as the Homestead. Properties were rented on the corner of Addison and Cooper Road, in Woodbridge Road, Artillery Road, Springfield Road off York Road, Recreation Road and two other homes that we are currently trying to locate.

28 Artillery Road

We would be very interested to hear from anyone with a family connection or knowledge of children who were looked after in these homes.  Some children were sent to Canada, or to sail-training ships and industrial schools.  There are some fascinating life histories to uncover and we would be delighted to welcome any fellow researchers who have an interest in this field.

Image 3.13 Addison Rd WWI Dr 004 (1)

We were thrilled to receive an email from David Mayo, in response to our request for contacts whose family members were residents in two of the Guildford Scattered Homes.  In fact he was able to tell us about a whole family connected with Guildford Union from 1891 until 1911.  Read more of this story here.

Please contact our researcher Liz Lloyd on ealloyd@uk2.net if you too have connections to a Scattered home.


Copyright: Charlotteville Jubilee Trust 2014/2015