Photo of Florence Nightingale: Florence Nightingale from Carte de Visite circa 1850s
Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, Florence Nightingale was a dominant figure in nursing. She revolutionised the way in which military hospitals were administered and used statistics to reinforce her ideas – quite unheard of for a female of Victorian society!
One of her biggest achievements was the introduction of professional nursing in workhouse infirmaries. Before these reforms, workhouse inmates cared for their fellow sick – what a job!
Nightingale was also interested in hospital design. The ‘Nightingale Ward’ system featured heavily in new Victorian hospitals – including new workhouse infirmaries such as the Guildford Union Workhouse. These long wards allowed for the circulation of fresh air and to admit sunshine in.
We found the new exhibition an interesting perspective of life within the workhouse and we were curious to see how a project of similar theme can be displayed for the public. We were most excited to see our workhouse coin, protective goggles and oakum – from the Spike Heritage Centre – on prominent display for the first time. The Spike goggles even featured in an article in The Guardian, which was very exciting! It’s certainly given us food for thought and we can’t wait to put together our own exhibition showcasing our research of St Luke’s Hospital – from a workhouse infirmary to a NHS hospital.
The ‘Workhouse – Segregated Lives’ exhibition is on at the Florence Nightingale Museum until the 5th July.