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London in 1839

Part Nine - Charities, Hospitals, Amusement and Recreation

Charities, Hospitals, &c.

The public charities and hospitals within the limits of the metropolis are very numerous, and many of them richly endowed. The royal hospitals of Greenwich for seamen and of Chelsea for soldiers are national establishments and wholly independent of private support. The revenues of Greenwich Hospital are derived partly from estates in Cumberland, on which lead mines are profitably worked, and partly from a payment of six pence per month stopped from the wages of seamen and in time of war from unclaimed prize-money. In Greenwich Hospital there are usually about 3,000 maimed and superannuated seamen, who are boarded, lodged, and clothed and provided each with one shilling per week pocket money. There are besides about 32,000 out-pensioners receiving various allowances from 3 pence to 1 shilling and 6 pence per diem. The great officers of state are nominally governors of the hospital ; but it is really managed by twenty-four directors, a governor, and a lieutenant-governor. Chelsea Hospital, which is for the army, accommodates about 400 in-pensioners, and a great number of out-pensioners. The expenses are defrayed by means of contributions stopped from the pay of every officer and private soldier in the army ; the deficiency, if any, being provided for by parliament. The establishment is under the direction of commissioners, a governor, and a lieutenant-governor. Connected with these two hospitals are the Royal Naval Asylum at Greenwich and the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea, the former for the education and maintenance of 800 boys and 200 girls, the children of seamen of the Royal Navy ; the latter for giving the same advantages to 700 boys and 300 girls, the children of soldiers.

The charities connected with the corporation of London are Christ's Hospital, better known as the Blue-coat School, Bridewell and Bethlehem Hospitals, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and St. Thomas's Hospital, all of which were founded by Edward VI. Christ's Hospital contains about 1,200 boys, to whom good classical, commercial, and mathematical instruction is given. They are also boarded and clothed : the annual expenses of the establishment amount to £30,000. The lord-mayor and corporation of London are directors of the hospital ; there are besides about 350 governors, each one of whom, at his election to the office presents £400 to the institution. The children are admitted on the nomination of the directors and governors, who exercise their privilege in rotation. Bridewell Hospital, which is under the management of the same board of governors as Bethlehem Hospital, is now used only as a prison, under which head it is noticed. Bethlehem Hospital, first erected in 1675 in Moorfields, was removed in 1814 to Saint George's Fields. It is employed for the reception and treatment of insane patients, of whom about 200 are constantly accommodated. This has lately been found inadequate to the wants of the poor who are thus afflicted in the city of London, and the building is at this time (January, 1839) receiving two additional wings.

St. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark, is governed by the lord-mayor, aldermen, and 12 common-councilmen of London, and 180 governors through donations of £50 and upwards. It is capable of receiving and usually contains nearly 500 patients ; besides whom it affords relief to a considerable number of out-patients, who receive advice and medicines gratuitously. There is a medical school attached to this hospital. Other corporations dependent on the corporation of London are, the corporation of the London Workhouse, The Commission of Sewers, Carpenters' School, &c.; and Gresham College, held in conjunction with the Mercers' company.

The other hospitals of the metropolis have been founded and are supported by private benevolence.

Guy's Hospital, St. Thomas's Street, Southwark, founded 1721, and richly endowed by Mr. Guy. A bequest of £200,000 was made to its funds in 1829 by Mr. Thomas Hunt. It contains more than 400 beds, and medical aid is gratuitously afforded to out-patients.

London Hospital, Whitechapel Road, established 1749, and supported by voluntary contributions and subscriptions, gives relief to upwards of 2,000 patients in the course year, the greater part of whom are surgeons' patients through accidents among the shipping on the river and in the docks, and the various manufactories in the eastern part of London. It has three physicians, three assistant-physicians, three surgeons, and three assistant-surgeons.

Charing-Cross Hospital, King William Street, West Strand, established in 1818, erected in 1831, is supported by voluntary subscriptions. It has an establishment of three physicians and two surgeons.

Westminster Hospital, established 1719 ; the present building was erected in 1833. It is capable of receiving 230 patients.

St. George's Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, instituted in 1733. The hospital has been recently rebuilt. There are usually nearly 300 in-patients, besides a considerable number relieved as out-patients. Four physicians, with an assistant-physician, an equal number of surgeons, two assistant-surgeons, a house-apothecary, and four visiting apothecaries are attached to this hospital.

Middlesex Hospital, Charles Street, Oxford Street, instituted 1745, is capable of containing 300 patients, and affords relief also to many out-patients.. Persons meeting with accidents are admitted at all times without recommendation. This hospital, which has an adequate number of physicians and surgeons, is supported by voluntary contributions and subscriptions.

The University College Hospital, built on ground opposite and belonging to University College, was opened in November, 1834. It contains beds for 130 patients, and is the hospital for the medical school of the College.

All the above hospitals have medical schools attached to them.

Saint Luke's Hospital, City Road, instituted in 1751, for the reception of poor insane persons, being parish paupers or others. With every parish-patient a sum of £4 must be paid to the hospital ; other patients must pay only £1, which is returned in case of death, or if the patient is discharged within a month. The hospital will accommodate 300 patients. The affairs are managed by governors contributing twenty guineas and upwards to the funds of the hospital.

Small-pox Hospital, St. Pancras, instituted 1746, is supported by voluntary contributions. Since 1799 vaccination has been adopted in this hospital, and upwards of 100,000 persons have been vaccinated by its medical officers. There is also a “National Vaccine Establishment” in Russell Place, having in connection with it eleven “vaccinating surgeons” residing in different parts of London and its environs.

London Fever Hospital, St. Pancras, adjoining the Smallpox Hospital, receives at all hours cases of typhus and scarlet fever without recommendation. It is supported by donations and subscriptions, and is at present increasing its means of accommodation.

Lock Hospital, Grosvenor Place, Pimlico, contains 80 patients beds, viz. 45 for males and 35 for females. It usually receives between 500 and 600 patients during the year. There are four Lying-in hospitals in various parts of the town, viz. : Queen Charlotte's, founded 1752, situated at Lisson Green, Paddington ; the British, 1749, Brownlow Street, Drury Lane ; the City of London, 1750, City Road ; the General, 1765, York Road, Lambeth.

A floating hospital was instituted in 1821 for the reception of sick and disabled seamen of all nations, who may present themselves without any recommendation. The Dreadnought, a ship of 104 guns, was given for this purpose by the government properly fitted up, and is constantly moored off Greenwich ; it is supported by voluntary subscriptions, chiefly from owners and masters of ships trading to the port of London.

There are two Ophthalmic Hospitals, one in Moorfields, established in 1805, the other in Chandos Street, Charing Cross ; two Royal Infirmaries for diseases of the Eye, one Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, the other in Little Portland Street, Cavendish Square ; an Infirmary for diseases of the Skin, in Blenheim Street, Oxford Street ; an infirmary for diseases of the Lungs, in Artillery Street, Bishopsgate ; a Royal Universal infirmary for Children, in the Waterloo Bridge Road ; a Royal Metropolitan Hospital for Sick Children, in Broad Street, Golden Square ; a Royal Dispensary for diseases of the Ear, in Dean Street, Soho ; and eighteen General Dispensaries, situated in various parts of the metropolis, and supported by the residents in the different localities where they are found.

The charitable institutions of the metropolis are so various and so numerous that only the following list of those which are most important can here be given, with the dates of their establishment, as far as can be ascertained.

Foundling Hospital, founded by T. Coram, incorporated 1739.

Scottish Hospital, for relief of natives of Scotland, founded in 1665.

Magdalen Hospital, for penitent prostitutes, established 1758.

London Female Penitentiary, for the same purpose, established 1807.

Hospital for French Protestants, established 1716.

Jew's Hospital, for aged poor and education of children, established 1803.

School for the Indigent Blind, established 1799.

Orphan Working School, established 1760.

Female Orphan Asylum, established 1758.

London Orphan Asylum, established 1813.

Infant Orphan Asylum.

Adult Orphan Institution.

British Orphan Asylum.

Clergy Orphan Asylum, established 1749.

Merchant Seamen's Orphan Asylum.

Sailors Female Orphan Home, established 1829.

National Benevolent Institution, founded in 1812.

City of London General Pension Society, established 1818.

East London Pension Society.

General Annuity Society, established 1827.

Philanthropic Society, established 1788.

General Philanthropic Society, established 1813.

Society for relief of distressed Schoolmasters.

Literary Fund for relief of Distressed Authors, established 1790.

Marine Society for reception of Poor Boys to be sent to sea, established 1756

Deaf and Dumb Asylum, established 1792.

Artist's Benevolent Fund, established 1810.

Artist's General Benevolent Institution, established 1814.

Royal Masonic Institution, instituted 1798.

Society for Discharge of Persons imprisoned for Small Debts, established 1772.

Corporation of the Refuge for the Destitute, established 1805.

Childrens' Friend Society, for Prevention of Juvenile Vagrancy, established at Hackney Wick, 1830.

Royal Humane Society, for recovery of persons apparently dead, established 1774.

St. Ann's Society Schools, established 1709.


The principal charitable establishments, for the purpose of instruction only, are :-

The Westminster School, established by Queen Elizabeth in 1590.

St. Paul's School, founded by Dean Colet in 1510.

Merchant Taylors' School, established 1561.

St. Olave's Free Grammar-School, founded by Queen Elizabeth.

Mercers' Free Grammar-School.

St. Saviour's Grammar-School, founded 1562.

British and Foreign School Society.

National Society for the Education of the Poor.

Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, instituted in 1699.


The educational establishments of a public character, but not charitable, are :-

University College, London.

King's College, London.

School of the Corporation of the City of London.

The Charter House, founded by Thomas Sutton in 1611, is an hospital, which has a school attached to it.

The University of London, incorporated in 1837, consists of a chancellor, vice-chancellor, and thirty-six fellows, who are empowered to confer degrees in arts, law, and medicine. The university chambers are at present in Somerset House. It is principally supported by grants from government. The first examination for matriculation in arts took place in November, 1838. The first examination for degrees will take place in May or June, 1839.


Of societies and establishments connected with science, literature, and the arts, the following are the principal :-

The British Museum.

The Royal Society, incorporated 1663.

The Society of Antiquaries, founded 1572.

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c., established 1754.

The Royal Academy of Arts, incorporated 1765.

The Royal Institution, incorporated in 1800.

The Linnaean Society, established 1802.

The British Institution, established 1805.

The Geological Society, established in 1813.

The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, established in 1826, incorporated in 1832.

The Horticultural Society, established 1808.

The Mechanics' Institute, in Southampton Buildings, established in 1823.

The Royal Astronomical Society, established in 1820.

The Royal Geographical Society, established 1830.

The Royal Asiatic Society, established 1823.

The Zoological Society, established in 1829.

The Architectural Society, established 1831.

The Royal Society of Literature, established in 1820.

The Society of Civil Engineers, established in 1828.

The Statistical Society, established 1834.

The Royal Institute of British Architects, established 1835; incorporated by charter 1837.

The London Institution, established 1806.

Sion College, incorporated 1630.

Entomological Society, instituted in 1806.

Phrenological Society.

City of London Literary and Scientific Institution.

College of Physicians, established in 1518.

College of Surgeons.

Company of Apothecaries.

And several medical societies.

Of late years numerous literary and scientific institutions have been established within the metropolis : their general objects are the same, being the communication of useful knowledge by means of lectures, classes, the formation of libraries, and collections of various kinds.

The principal places of public amusement in the metropolis are :-

The Queen's Theatre (Opera House), Haymarket.

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.

The Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

The English Opera House, Strand.

The Royal Adelphi Theatre, Strand

The Olympic Theatre, Wych Street.

The St. James's Theatre.

The Surrey Theatre.

The Victoria Theatre, Waterloo Road.

The City of London Theatre, Norton Falgate.

The Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel Road.

The Garrick Theatre, Goodman's Fields.

Astley's Amphitheatre.

Sadler's Wells Theatre.

Royal Fitzroy Theatre, Tottenham Court Road.

Vauxhall Gardens.


The places of general recreation are :-

St. James's Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the Regent's Park, and Greenwich Park, on the banks of the Thames at Greenwich. With the exception of Greenwich Park, they may all be considered to be in London, and are easily accessible to all the inhabitants of the metropolis.