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Nurses quarters under construction at Bexley hospital in 1928

Nurses quarters under construction at Bexley hospital in 1928 (Reference: Collage 226224)

​Stacey Harmer, an archivist in the Collections team at LMA, describes the archive of Bexley Hospital, which she has catalogued.

Bexley Hospital as a health asylum

Bexley Hospital was founded in 1898 in Old Bexley Lane, Bexley (it is not the Bexley Hospital in Bexleyheath which was founded in 1884). In 1948 the Hospital had 2195 beds (985 male, 1210 female). In 1950s the numbers held steady at around 2200, but fell gradually thereafter (source: HA/SE/322). The hospital closed in 2001.

The records of Bexley Hospital were transferred to LMA in 2006 and have now been fully catalogued under the reference H65.

Medical superintendent’s report books

One series of volumes which is worth special mention is the medical superintendent’s report books (H65/A/01/001-004). These include information on staff (mainly appointments, promotions and leavers), frequent references to the hospital farm (with headings such as ‘cow sick’), and notices of dramatic events in the lives of the patients (such as casualties and attempts to escape, the details of which are likely to have been missed in other records). For example, the report for 21 October 1908 (H65/A/01/001) includes this note: “Patient Edith Chambers: Dr Collins had an interview with Mr Mockridge and I understand that the gentleman still desires to marry this patient and … he will attend before the Sub-committee today”. Unfortunately, although names of staff members are indexed within each volume, those of patients are not.

In order to find a particular patient in the records, it is best to start with the alphabetical registers, 1898–1911, 1928-87 (H65/B/01) or the registers of patients, 1898–1957 (H65/B/02). The alphabetical register for 1899–1911 (H65/B/01/010) provides Miss Chambers’ reference number (2857) and her date of admission (8 August 1906). Further information about patients can be found in the admission and discharge registers, civil registers, registers of discharges, removals, transfers, deaths, and burials, case books, medical registers, and post mortem books (H65/B/04-15). The series of case books (H65/B/10) is incomplete, but can be invaluable. The entry for Miss Chambers in the case books gives a full medical report and regular progress reports, as well as three photographs. She was 21 years old when she entered Bexley Hospital and the examination report on her admittance states that “she is restless, irritable & troublesome. She wonders about the place, talks in a stupid manner & will not help herself. She is untidy & neglected. She has only left our lunatic asylum a few days”.

There is an 85-year closure period on all the records, except for H65/E/01/001 which is closed for 100 years as it includes children.

The records of London County Council, South East Thames Regional Authority, and King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London also include records relating to Bexley Hospital.

Further information

Documents consulted

You can search the records of Bexley Hospital on our online catalogue under reference H/65. Other sources quoted above can be found under the following collections:

  • LCC/MIN/00807-00847 - Minutes for Bexley Asylum from the London County Council.
  • LCC/PH/MENT/4/011-012 - Admission and discharge registers for Bexley Hospital.
  • A/KE - The King Edwards Hospital Fund for London (specifically under A/KE/736/2 and A/KE/716/048).
  • HA/SE/322  - Records of Bexley Hospital from the South East Thames Regional Health Authority.

Links

  • A useful and interesting website has been set up by two former employees of the hospital giving a detailed history, photographs, memories and a few documents of Bexley Hospital.
  • You can see images of the hospital on the Collage website.

Find out more about our collections relating to the care of the sick, dispossessed and destitute on our collections pages.​​

Published:
16 May 2012
Last Modified:
29 August 2018

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