Broad Street Wrington Village Records
Studies of the history of a Somerset Village

Wrington village hospital
Pages 72 - 74

Sources: First Annual Report (Bristol Reference Library).
Third Annual Report, and Report of 1892 Meeting (Wrington Parish Records).
Newspapers: Western Daily Press 19th & 2Oth July, 1864, 28th November 1892; Bristol Mirror, 23rd July 1864, 5th August 1865 (Bristol Newspaper Library); and Weston Mercury 5th August 1865.

The two annual reports of the Wrington Village Hospital seem to be purely chance survivals, and very little has hitherto been known about this village institution. The Hospital was opened on 19th July 1864. It was a cottage fitted up with five beds for patients and had an experienced nurse, and was one of the earliest cottage hospitals in the country. The site of the cottage is still a mystery. It was on view to the public for the first three days, and is advertised in the local papers:

WESTERN DAILY PRESS. Tuesday July 19th 1864. Public Notices :

Wrington Village Hospital

This Institution, on the plan of the Cranley Village Hospital, now successfully established more than four years, is ready for the reception of Patients suffering from Accident or severe Disease. It will be on view for the Inspection of Visitors Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the present week from 12 to 5 p.m. each day. Donations and Subscriptions thankfully received by the Secretary and Treasurer,

J. Godwin, Esq., Wrington.

WESTERN DAILY PRESS. Wednesday July 20th 1864.

The Wrington Village Hospital

A cottage fitted up with the necessary beds, baths, etc., founded on the model of the Cranley Village Hospital in Surrey (which has now been in operation more than four years and has been a source of great comfort to the surrounding neighbourhood) is now ready for inspection, and will be open for that purpose this afternoon, and also on the afternoons of tomorrow and Friday.

BRISTOL MIRROR. Saturday July 23rd 1864.

Cottage Hospital

A cottage has been fitted up at Wrington, with the necessary beds, baths, etc., as a village hospital. The cottage was inspected by many persons on Wednesday, Thursday and yesterday. Village hospitals are becoming popular, and they are calculated to do a great deal of good. The careful attention and nutritious food supplied at such institutions often restore the health of poor patients and save their families the pain of a bereavement. A crowded, ill ventilated 1abourer's cottage is often the cause of illness, or the aggravation of slight disease. The generous and benevolent promoters of the cottage hospital at Wrington will enable many poor persons to derive the benefits of quietude, cleanliness, proper diet and medical attendance. We wish the movement every success.

The first Annual Report, dated 31st July 1865, and its full coverage in the local paper, give details of the hospital's aims and management, as well as of the first year's activities. It was intended for the respectable labouring classes and small tradesmen, who were expected to pay a weekly sum towards their main-tenance in the hospital. This sum was fixed by the Committee according to the patient's means, and averages 3s. 6d. a week, "while the masters of servants in place paid the whole amount they cost the institution, 10s. a week". Except in cases of emergency, the patient applying for admission must bring to the committee a letter of recommendation from a subscriber of not less than 10s.

The difference between patients' contributions and the cost of their maintenance, together with the initial cost of furnishing the Hospital (which had amounted to £92 9s. 5d.) were met by subscriptions and donations from considerable numbers of local people, farmers and tradesmen as well as gentry.

Rule 7 stated that "Every requisite except personal clothing shall be provided in the Hospital", while the first annual report adds that "The Nurse has not only given great satisfaction to the Medical Officer and Committee, but has won the respect and gratitude of the Patients under her care" (her name was Mrs. Scantlebury) and also "Several Ladies have sent supplies of Old Linen, and Books for the use of the Patients". "The patients" it is also noted "have all cheerfully paid their weekly instalments towards the expenses of their maintenance".

During the first year 24 patients were admitted. Of these 16 were cured, two were "revived", 1 did not benefit, 1 was incurable and 2 died. Patients came from Wrington (4), Redhill and Broadfield (4), Cleeve (4), Blagdon (4), Churchill (2), Charterhouse (2), Winscombe (2), Yatton (1), and Congresbury (1). The average duration of cases under treatment was 33-35 days-quite a long time. Persons suffering from "Pulmonary Consumption and Infectious Diseases" were, under the rules, not admitted; and there was no outpatient department. The cases ranged from scalds (a baby of 2, died) to adder bites (cured), dropsy, farm hands with broken bones, acute rheumatism ("cured with Alkalies, opium and warm baths"), and a couple of severe injuries to Charterhouse miners.

The first year's expenditure amounted to £102 19s. 4d.; contributions made by the patients amounted to £14 1s. Od. The rest was sufficiently covered by subscriptions and donations, to leave a balance in hand of £9 6s. Od. The expenses were :

Rent                                                      £10   0   0
Nurse and Assistance ( ? domestic)           8 11   3
Coals and Wood                                        9 18   6 
Maintenance of Patients                         21   7 10
Wine and Beer                                          5   5   1
Medicine and Surgical Appliances             2 18 11
Printing and Postage                                2    8   0 
Fire Insurance                                                7   6 
Sundries                                                       12   3 
                                                                       £102  19   4

In 1867, according to the Third Annual Report, 28 cases were admitted, including two from Nailsea. No further annual reports seem to survive and the next notice of the village hospital is the report of a Public Meeting held in the National Schoolroom at Wrington on 26th November, 1892, about the building of another hospital. The report says that the old hospital had always paid its way, and was closed in 1870, its collapse being caused "neither by want of funds nor by lack of patients". We are therefore left to wonder why it had in fact closed at all : but closed it certainly had.

The Committee agreed that there was not a house suitable for the purposes of a hospital in the village, and a new one was to be built for £800, the suggested site being the garden of Mr. Abel Hardwick's cottage (i.e., adjoining the village school: see The Village School). In the sale catalogue of Wrington estate in 1895, however, this plot of land is still described as the "intended new hospital", and it appears never to have been built. A fever or isolation hospital was set up at about this time, in "The Gables" at Branches Cross, but this seems to have been quite a separate venture from the general village "cottage hospital". The money remaining from the original venture was placed with the Commissioners in 1915 for the use of the Churchill and Wrington District Nursing Association.