Something for the archive!

“I have something a bit special for your collection” he said, keeping his hand in his left coat pocket.  “Can you guess what it is?”

Photograph showing the original Spike keys
These gigantic keys, found in the Spike, have been dated to pre-1840s. Could these be the original keys to workhouse (founded in 1838)?

This is a bunch of old keys with a story.  The two smaller keys had been saved by a carpenter at the hospital who worked in what is now the education room, in the 1970’s.  He kept them because they were just lying around and would doubtless have ended up in the skip.

The large key was saved from being thrown away in the late fifties. The gentleman who saved it is now 90 years old and passed the key on after a chance conversation in the pub about the St Luke’s Hospital Heritage project.

He noticed the key because it is a lovely thing. (He also reportedly said that he would have taken the lock it was in as well, if he’d had the right screwdriver with him!) The key and lock were in one of the doors in the cell block of the Spike.

The keys have now been returned to the Spike Heritage Centre and have since been dated to pre-1840s! Could they be the original workhouse keys?

(J Thomson)


‘Workhouse – segregated lives exhibition’

Don’t forget to visit the ‘Workhouse – Segregated Lives‘ exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum! They are showcasing some items from the Spike Heritage Centre, Guildford including the stone breaking goggles as featured in the Guardian!

Dates: 28th February – 5th July 2013

Key dates:

Thursday 14th March – Dissecting the Workhouse Dead
Historian Ruth Richardson will explain the terrible fear of the pauper funeral, its historical roots, and its long shadow into our own times.

Thursday 24th April – Contagion in the Workhouse
Historian Andrea Tanner examines how workhouses cared for the unfortunate victims of infectious diseases that raged through the streets of Victorian London.

Thursday 9th May – ‘Down and Out’: The Lives of Tramps and Vagrants (1750 – 1950)
Simon Fowler will look at the experiences of vagrants and the attempts to help or hinder them in the bleak casual wards of the workhouses.


Louisa Watson Tulloh (1860-1952)

Guildford War Hospital’s Matron, Miss Louisa Watson Tulloh is, as far as we are aware, the only nurse to have been decorated with the Royal Red Cross, twice!

Photo of Louisa Watson Tulloch in 1899
Photo of Louisa Watson Tulloh in 1899, who became Matron of Guildford War Hospital during WWI. With kind permission from the Royal College of Nursing Archive.

Tulloh started her nursing career in Egypt in 1888. The work was tough with no clean water and high temperatures:

“The hospital was a stable diverted from its proper use for the time being, and the Sisters’ quarters were a mud cabin and they hung up a blanket at the entrance for a door. The temperature was then 100 to 120°, so the heat may be imagined. The only water for the use of the patients was Nile water, which, as the river was rising, was very muddy. It as filtered, and necessarily so, for the Sisters had to undergo the unpleasant experience of seeing dead camels and donkeys floating down this, there only supply of drinking water. A live camel is an unwholesome looking object enough, but a dead one, in one’s drinking water, must be a sight calculated to make one extremely moderate as to the amount one consumes. In additional to the heat, and the dead camels and donkeys, there were mosquitoes and sand flies to reckon with, so that the trials of the time were very real.” (Nursing Record & Hospital World, 7th Oct 1899, 290-291)

In recognition for her services – tending to the sick and wounded in Egypt – Louisa Watson Tulloh received her first Royal Red Cross in June 1887, and her second in September 1901 for services in the Boer War. As highlighted at the time, being honoured with two Royal Red Crosses must have been a unique occurrence!

Tulloh moved to Guildford to become Matron of the Guildford Ward Hospital during The Great War. Again, she was awarded for her services with a Bar to the Royal Red Cross for war services (March 1919).

Louisa’s scrapbook and medals can be found at the Army Medical Services museum in Keogh Barracks

Nursing Record & Hospital World 1889 7th October, 290-291
The Edinburgh Gazette 1897 22nd June, 1897
The Edinburgh Gazette 1901 1st October, 1094
The London Gazette 1919 14th March, 3583.
The London Gazette 1919 May 20th
The London Gazette 1919 20th May