The Hospital For Consumption

Disease was a major killer in the Victorian metropolis, and, for that matter, throughout the whole of Victorian Britain, and all manner of methods were utilised to fight against it, especially when it came to the poor of London.

One of the biggest maladies to afflict the populace of the age was pulmonary consumption, and, on Saturday the 18th of April 1863, The Marylebone Mercury published the following article that gave details of attempts that were being made to alleviate the sufferings of those afflicted with it:-


On Sunday morning last a sermon was preached by the Bishop of Rochester at St. Mark’s Church, North Audley-street, in aid of the funds of this charity.

The Bishop took for his text St. James, chapter ii., verses 14 to 17, and, towards the end of an excellent discourse upon the subject of faith and works, said that a case of peculiar urgency had been entrusted to him to plead.


Our country, with all its advantages of climate, was subject to great and sudden vicissitudes of temperature, which, probably in some degree, accounted for the prevalence of a deadly malady, viz., pulmonary consumption, a disease of so lingering and destructive a nature that its victims have been generally, and on principle, excluded from the hospitals which abound in this country.


About two-and-twenty years ago some benevolent persons resolved to do something for the relief of this large class of sufferers.

Enquiry proved that of the 65,000 deaths occurring annually in England and Wales from slow and lingering diseases, about 39,000 were probably due to consumption, and as the average duration of the disease was about two years, it followed that nearly 80,000 persons were constantly suffering from consumption.

In the metropolis itself it was calculated that little short ot one-fifth of the adult mortality resulted from this fatal disease.

The question, therefore, arose, why should it not be possible to alleviate or diminish this amount of suffering? Why should not in time another Jenner be found to mitigate the fatality of consumption, as had been the case with the once deadly small-pox?


Humane efforts were in consequence made, from which sprung, in spite of some prejudice, a hospital and asylum specially devoted to the relief of persons suffering from consumption and other chest diseases.

Eventually the noble and well-contrived building at Brompton was raised, and 210 in-patients were now accommodated within its walls.


Upwards of a thousand persons had had the benefit of treatment as in-patients during the past year, and more than five times that number as out-patients.

The number of applicants was steadily increasing, and the experience of the last one and twenty years had abundantly proved the value of the hospital in alleviating suffering and in arresting disease.


The institution has been found to be no less important as affording the means of conveying to the inmates the truths and consolations of religion, in illustration of which fact the Bishop read some interesting extracts from letters of former patients.

He stated also that in the case of the working classes and the poor, unventilated workshops, overcrowded and ill-constructed dwellings, and vitiated atmosphere were amongst the most fertile causes of consumption, but that no condition of life was exempt from this insidious malady.


He therefore most strongly and earnestly appealed to his hearers to show their sympathy for their poorer brethren by giving their liberal support to this hospital.

He hoped that they would not say to the sick and destitute brother or sister, in the words of the text, “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,” but would show their faith by the exercise of Christian charity and liberality.

The hospital was greatly in need of help.

To provide for the large number of patients, even with the strictest economy, a yearly sum of between £8,OOO or £9,000 was required; the annual subscriptions scarcely exceeded half this amount, and the balance must be made up by church collections, donations, and legacies.


The Bishop closed his sermon by urging his hearers not to compel the managers of this admirable institution to use parsimony owing to any lack of funds.

The collection amounted to £49. 13s. 4d., including two new annual subscriptions, and a liberal donation from the right reverend preacher.