Tetbury Cottage hospital opened in 1868, and was listed in a contemporary guide as having 3 beds. It was run on voluntary funds and was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948.
In 1866 a group of gentlemen in the town discussed the posibility of establishing a cottage hospital. A public meeting in November 1867, chaired by Mr Estcourt, was well attended by ladies and gentlemen of the town. Objections were that it would affect the infirmary at Gloucester (there were known to be under 10 subscribers locally); that it would be detrimental to the Tetbury Dispensary (there were only 21 subscribers); preference would be given to certain doctors to administer to patients to the detriment of the patients own doctor; or that preference would be given to those of particular religious denominations. A six bedded institution had opened the previous year, funded by Mr Estcourt, but with little advertisement had been little used - the cases were outlined in the newspaper report. Funding would come from the patients themselves and if in receipt of poor relief from the Board of Guardians the same sum would be put to the hospital for care. The subscibers would form a committee annually from all walks of society - gentry, clergy, farmers and tradesmen. Subscriptions were to be small so as to attract more small rather than few larger sums of money. Entry to the hospital was by recommendation upon a vacancy, unless sudden accident or emergency which would be received by the surgeon without recommendation. The aim was for a 20 bedded institution for which the present house was not sufficient and Mr Estcourt was committed to finding premises large enough or would even build one if needs be. An association was formed for the establishment of the cottage hospital, and some subscriptions taken. The full report can be read in the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard 9/11/1867 p.5
Annual Reports were read at the following annual meetings held in January of each year and these were generally reported in the local press, the most comprehensive being in the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard.
The first annual meeting reported that they had had 23 patients and all but one had recovered. The one fatality had been transferred to the Gloucester Infirmary and died there. Funding was coming in from various sources - bequests, donations, and fund raising concerts including one at Badminton House. The second annual meeting reported 27 patients of whom 19 had been cured. All but one of the others were greatly relieved. There was talk of seeking larger premises and amalgamating with the Tetbury Dispensary. A letter from Mr Estcourt was read out in which he stated that Mrs Estcourt had offered the full amount required for the building of a cottage hospital. There were three conditions: that the building was to be placed on a suitable site within the Estcourt Estate; that the architect was to be Mr Digby Wyatt and that the work to be conducted under the control and responsibility of the committee. It was resolved to thank the Estcourts and to write to Mr Wyatt for plans straight away. Mrs Estcourt was not to see the results of her benevolence as she died later in the year. Delays to the project were caused because a suitable site could not be found on the Estcourt estate.
By January 1871 the annual meeting reported that the building work was under way and by the 4th annual meeting the following year it was reported that the building was finished. All that remained was to fit out the inside and prepare the garden surrounding the building. Notice was given to George Sealy for the cottage that had been used for the previous years.
The builder was Francis Brown and after completion many visitors came to see the building, which met with approval. There was a central airy hall with easy stairs, which acted as a funnell allowing fresh air to circulate the rooms. One of the building materials used was concrete prepared according to the specifications given by Mr Tall which gave a finish as smooth as marble which could be washed down with mop or sponge, and allowed virtually no dirt or germs to settle.
Miss Browne had been appointed superintendent, having been trained at hospitals in London, and she was to begin work when the new building opened. It was also proposed that continuing treatment for those discharged could be continued at the hospital on the form of out patients. Tetbury Dispensary ticket holders had been seen by Dr Wickham at his home but could now be seen, on production of their ticket, in the dispensing rooms at the hospital. Before the new building patients averaged 22 per year but since the new building this rose to an average of 40 per year.
An annual Hospital Sunday was suggested in 1876 to enable funds to be raised and all denominations supported this fully. In 1877 Tetbury Dispensary was given permission to use the hospital surgery for their institution. It was also resolved to create a mortuary as it had proved inconvenient to have a corpse in the ward. In 1879 Miss Browne resigned and was replaced by Mrs Henrietta Walker who started work in April. Funding was becoming unsatisfactory resulting in the reserve funds being used. However during the year the largest number of patients were treated - 51.
On 17th April 1884 a fire broke out in the roof which destroyed it and damaged the wards. All patients were safely evacuated to their own homes. The insurance estimate was for just over £198 and the necessary repairs were carried out by Mr Francis Brown. The hospital opened again to patients on 16th July 1884.
Mrs Walker left in 1886 through ill health and was replace by Mrs Newcombe. She in turn became ill during 1888 and was replaced for six months by Miss Broadway. Mrs Newcombe finally retired in June 1893 after 7 1/2 years service. She had been deserted by her husband 10 years previously and in May 1893 he was found drowned near Slimbridge. The circumstances of his life in the missing years appear to be somewhat irresponsible. No wonder his now widow was taken so ill. Miss Thorold was appointed as her replacement.
In 1894 a midwife was engaged as well as extra nurses that enabled the out nursing work. Started in December 1893, with Miss Thorold, by March 1894 she had visited 41 cottage homes and made 500 visits. Only 2 people had declined her services. Miss Thorold left in July 1895 to marry Dr Ashdown, one of the doctors serving the Cottage Hospital. Miss Dover was appointed her replacement. A former probationer nurse, Nurse Sapwell, was sent for training in midwifery at Cheltenham. On completion of her diploma she was expected to work for six months without pay. She passed and after her six months was re-appointed as assistant nurse earning £25 per annum and dealt mainly with out nursing.
In 1900 matron Miss Brierley left to be replaced by Miss Jones. Three beds were made over to be used by injured soldiers, funding for this provided by Mrs Henry, wife of Col.Henry.
Two new operating theatres were added during 1905 at the suggestion of Dr Wickham, who after 38 years tendered his resignation. New medical staff appointed were Drs Mellish, Brodie and Walker.
1907 Miss Keeble started and was matron until 1910 when she was replaced by Miss Mackenzie. A horse ambulance donated by Mr Charles Harding (of Upton House) had been of great use it was reported in 1910. A telephone had also been installed. By 1930 Miss Southgate was matron.
The following extracts are from entries in the visitors book - the visitors it would appear were the trustees of the hospital, who would visit the patients and make comments about the state of the building.
6/8/1884 "First patient received after the rebuilding and repairs of the Hospital necessitated by the fire was admitted 16 July viz Leonard Fisher and still remains in the hospital."
28/4/1886 Queried as to whether Eliza Merchant was a "fit patient for the hospital as she appears to be affected in her head and is not amenable to treatment. have suggested that she be moved into the small ward."
"If Mrs Marchant becomes in any way unmanageable Mrs Newcombe should apply to Dr Ashdown to have her removed unless there is any prospect of her improvement. She must be put in small ward" Edmund W Estcourt.
10/1887 man appointed to try to find the cause of the stench from the stack pipe.
11/1887 general tidying up and planting of shrubs to tidy up appearance of the hospital.
21/3/1888 due to the bad state of the drains it was ordered to close the hospital and move patients to temporary accommodation. Mrs Newcombe, and the matron's servant were moved out on 1st March
25/4/1888 the improvement works at the hospital had not been done and the wait was described as 'annoying' by Mr Estcourt.
1/6/1892 Jane Mills had been admitted with whooping cough and was to be moved as soon as alternative arrangements could be made, (she should not have been admitted)
5/1893 Mrs Newcombe ill with bad legs and bedridden
28/6/1893 Nurse Bailey from Gloucester Infirmary took charge on Friday last. Mrs Newcombe to go to Weston super Mare to convalesce as soon as she is able to travel.
19/7/1893 Nurse Bailey leaving on 20th.
16/8/1893 Arthur Jones had to be discharged for misconduct having been found entering the women’s ward whilst the superintendent was absent. The windows of the hospital are being made to open properly by Mr Francis Brown.
27/9/1893 Committee room walls painted as room divided and due to be finished soon
13/12/1893 One patient taken to the workhouse this week.
17/1/1894 Nurse Hargreave came to relieve Miss Thorold for a time
21/8/1902 'wonderfully improved and brightened by the work which has recently been done. the wards and other rooms are all in excellent order'
8/1903 leak in the maids room - leakage in the gutter?
24/9/1903 T H Cardwell thought that when funds were available a stove should be put in the laundry room for the irons and drying
17/3/1904 T Cardwell found that there was still no stove in the laundry
14/1/1906 colouring and whitewashing of the office and other works ordered by the committee had been completed
28/2/1907 everything was found satisfactory under the 'cheery care' of the new matron
30/6/1908 lead on the stairs seemed dangerous, it was worn at the edges.
12/8/1908 matron on holiday and her sister Ethel Keeble in her place
7/1912 Annual Church parade took place to raise funds for the Cottage Hospital, organised by the Friendly Societies of the town.
1/5/1914 spring cleaning in progress. new linoleum on floors was reported as looking nice.
7/5/1914 E Edwards saw the 'capital new flooring in the wards and felt proud of our local hospital'
18/7/1914 two convalescent patients in the hospital spoke very highly of the institution
10/8/1915 noted that the linen required replenishing especially sheets and pillow cases. flower garden was looking rather neglected.
5/11/1915 bathroom ceiling needed whitewashing
20/5/1916 outside lavatory not yet completed
7/9/1916 one loose tile on front of roof requires attention
23/3/1917 floor of kitchen in very bad state and needs recementing in several places and a new rug. The water pipe in the outside WC has burst and need attention. this is obviously due to the extraordinary severe weather.
30/3/1917 the dome is in need of a coat of white wash
5/4/1917 the patients bath is unsatisfactory being made of tin which apparently will not retain the enamel. It is hoped that the garden will be planted this year with all kinds of vegetable. The scullery is very dirty but may be owing to damp walls.
17/4/1917 outside WC very defective. will see Holborow & Son about it
5/1917 nurses room damaged, dome needing decorating, signs of damp, general repair needed
6/1917 wards and bathroom need decorating
18/6/1917 painters decorating staircases and passageways
7/1917 looked at mortuary, roof inside needs looking at
6/10/1917 child’s cot is not in good state of repair
20/10/1917 damp in nurses room, linoleum in women’s ward needs adjusting so it lies flat, operating theatre signs of damp on tiles,
24/10/1917 ceilings in the bathroom need whitewashing and the maids room whitewashing and distempering.
31/12/1917 skirting in the nurses bedroom badly in need of repair and has been for at least 12 months and the walls in the maids room require a coat of colour wash
16/4/1918 windows in the wards open badly, in one case the sash line is broken and there is great need for better ventilation, this is especially necessary in the main ward as all the beds are full.
24/4/1918 16 patients including 2 officers
An extract from the ‘British Journal of Nursing’ issued 9/2/1907:
Tetbury Cottage Hospital. Miss Alice Edith Keeble has been appointed Matron. Miss Keeble received her training at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, Wigan, and she has filled various responsible posts in connection with that Hospital since the completion of her training. For the last three years she has been Sister-in-Charge of the Operating Theatre.
Handy book of cottage hospitals; Horace Swete; Published by Hamilton, Adams, 1870
Newspapers available online
Visitors' book HO 40/50/1 1881-1918