Controversy over possible cuts in services at Warwick Hospital and complaints about accessibility to the new University Hospital at Coventry are conducive to nostalgia about the old Warneford in Leamington, now supplanted by flats and houses. From the Southam side it was easily accessible by a ten minute bus ride. It was a good general hospital with a maternity block; in fact a lot of people from the Southam area were born there.

The hospital was named after Samuel Warneford, who was instrumental in its inception, building and later maintenance. He was a very wealthy man and a considerable philanthropist, descended from an aristocratic family several members of which, including his wife, had died and left him and his sister Philadelphia a great deal of money and property. In 1810 he gained a Doctorate in Civil Law and had already been ordained as an Anglican clergyman. His home was at Bourton on the Hill in Gloucester. It was while he was staying in Leamington Spa in 1831 having spa water treatment for gout that the idea came to him to build a new hospital in the town.

Most visitors to Leamington paid for their spa treatment, but there were charitable societies that helped to provide care for the poor. There was also a small voluntary hospital in a house in Regent Street. Samuel Warneford's intention was to provide a General Hospital built and maintained by voluntary contributions.; either donations or regular subscriptions from the better?off to provide treatment for those who could not afford*This would include spa water therapy. The initial cost was estimate to be £4000. Of this amount Dr Warneford and Philadelphia contributed £3000. The foundation stone was laid with great ceremony in 1832 and the first in?patients were admitted to the wards in 1834. Samuel Warneford continued his generous donations and took a dominant part in the management of the hospital until he was in his late seventies, regularly making the fifty mile round trip from Bourton on the Hill to Leamington. Even after his death in 1855 the hospital benefited from Trusts he had set up.

Neither in?patients nor out?patients were admitted to the wards by a doctor’s recommendation, but by a ticket obtained from a donor or regular subscriber to the hospital funds. The entire existence of the Warneford Hospital depended on voluntary contributions. For every two guineas subscribed or ten guineas donated the donor was given two outpatient tickets.

For every twenty guineas donated the giver received one in?patient and two outpatient tickets. Would?be patients applying for tickets were favoured if they were clean and respectable and not suffering from any infectious disease. So great was the fear of fever and infection in those days before the general use of antiseptics that they figured largely in a list of those who could not be admitted, as follows: No woman far advanced in pregnancy, no person in confirmed consumption (TB), no person afflicted with typhus, scarlet fever, smallpox, itch or other contagious or infectious disorder, nor with epilepsy, fits, the venereal disease or scrofula (running soresfrom the neck, known as "T he King's Evil" because an anointed king was supposed to be able to cure it by touching). In later years, of course, all these were treated. As the nineteenth century progressed new wings were added to the original building and new specialisms were added, such as ophthalmic and dental departments; and in 1896, only a year after Roentgen published his work on Xrays, an experimental Xray department was established, believed to be one of the first in the country.

There was a wide variety of donors and subscribers, led by the wealthy upper classes; among them the Earl and Countess of Aylesford, Lord and Lady Willoughby de Brooke, the Earl of Warwick, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Marquis of Northampton and Lords Dormer, Leigh and Percy. Professional people contributed. In 1870 subscribers numbered seven Army captains, two majors, eight colonels and three generals. Lawyers, clergymen and medical men gave freely, including the celebrated Dr Jephson, who at one time was Vice? President of the hospital Management Committee. Directors of companies subscribe in order to obtain tickets for their workers. These included builders who worked on the hospital, two of the big Leamington stores, Burgess and Colborne and Francis and Sons, the Leamington brewery, Lucas and Co., also Nelson and Co. and Greaves, Bull and Lakin, lime and cement manufacturers at Harbury, Stockton, Bishops Itchington and Long Itchington, and two railway companies.

Friendly Societies such as the Ancient Order of Foresters and the Oddfellows subscribed. Trade associations such as the Leamington Master Bakers , the Stonemasons and the Licensed Victuallers contributed. Charitable institutions subscribed and one of the largest subscriptions came from the Southam Eye and Ear Hospital, with the impressive sum of £52 10s per annum. The Poor Law Unions, which were responsible for the Workhouses, generally did not subscribe but those at Rugby, Southam and Warwick did. Individual subscriptions from ladies of private means made up a very respectable amount of the funds collected.

Some very generous donations were acknowledged by naming a ward after the giver. Mellor Ward was named after a lady who donated £50 annually for many years and left £5000 in her Will in 1890. Timms Ward was named after a tailor and clothier on the Parade who gave annual donations and left £5687 in his Will in 1893. Ryland and Leigh wards were named after a generous donor, Miss Ryland of Barford and Lord Leigh who was President of the Trustees.

The Cay Maternity Unit was named after Mrs Annie Cay who for over thirty years raised huge amounts of money for the hospital She set up the Ladies Visiting and Samaritan Committee, the Ladies Linen League and the Ladies Village Association which collected weekly donations from the villages surrounding Leamington. As a member of the Board of Management she oversaw the creation of the new Maternity block giving an initial donation of £1000 and another £1000 when it was opened in 1939.

Some gifts remained anonymous to the general public. The Victoria and Helena wards were named after the Queen and one of her daughters, but the money to build them was given by Mrs H. Hamilton in memory of her husband. The West Wing of the hospital was largely built by a donation from Mr John Oldham of Southam He and his wife gave generously to charities. A sum of £182D was needed to build the new wing which would add a children's ward, staff accommodation sanitary facilities and an operating theatre to the hospital. The Warneford Trustees contributed £300, private donations raised £450 and the £1150 remaining was taken from a legacy bequeathed by Mr Oldham. Fetes, balls gymkhanas and sporting events were held to raise money for the ever?expanding work of the hospital.

In Southam an annual football match took place between the customers of Bill Stephens, the Southam barber and men's hairdresser, and the customers of the Bull Inn. The match, played on a Good Friday, was called "Froth versus Lather" and the winning team received a tin cup made by a local tinsmith. Churches in the district took part in the Sunday Fund in which collections one one Sunday every year were given to the hospital.

When the hospital first opened there were three physicians and three surgeons in attendance., the numbers increasing as the services expanded. They were all appointed on an honorary basis and gave their part?time services free. The one permanent member of the staff was the House Surgeon who was in overall charge. A good deal of the treatment was by hydrotherapy, in accordance with Samuel Warneford°s original intentions. There was a Matron in charge of general domestic management and of the nursing staff. In the early days it was part of a nurse's duty to clean the wards before 7.OOa.m. and to serve breakfast as soon as this had been done.

Professional training of nurses began in 1866 and a Nurses' home was built in 1881. At first, visitors were only allowed on Sundays between 1.30?4.00p.m. They had to be adult relatives and no child under 14 was admitted, for fear of infection. Over the years these stringent rules were relaxed. The spiritual needs of the patients were not forgotten. From earliest days a Chaplain was appointed who held regular services in the wards and in the outpatients Admissions Hall. A Chapel was built in 1868. Many members of the Management Committee were clergy.

Beginning with the Boer War the hospital played its part in nursing wounded soldiers. In the first and second World Wars up to 100 beds were available for members of the three Services, and the War office contributed funds for their care. Many of the staff went to take up nursing and medical posts in such organisations as Queen Alexandra's Imperial Nursing Service, the British Red Cross and the Royal Army Medical Corps. Civilians injured in bombing raids were also cared for.

With the advent of the National Health Service the Warneford Hospital's days as a voluntary hospital ended. It was handed over to The ministry of health on 5th july 1948. From then on it continued its tireless work for the community until September 1993 when the growing impetus to wards centralization decreed that all its patients should henceforth travel to Warwick and Coventry for treatment.

Its demise was much laminated at the time and it is still remembered with gratitude and affection. In this short article I have only touched on a few aspects of the life of the old hospital. Anyone interested in discovering more should read the comprehensive history of the hospital written by Dr. Craig D. Stephenson, from which I have obtained mech of my information.

This article has been kindly written by Irene Cardall

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