History of The Bromptons

  

The original Brompton Hospital (now 'The Bromptons', Rose Square') was built and run entirely on charitable endeavor. The driving force behind this achievment was a solicitor, Sir Philip Rose (1816 - 1883).

Rose was 24 years old in 1841 when a clerk in his office contracted tuberculosis but could find no hospital in London willing to treat him. Spurred on by this, Rose formed a committee with a view to founding a hospital dedicated to treating diseases of the chest.

The Duke of Richmond became the first President of the charity and there were several notable Vice Presidents at the outset, including the Duke of Norfolk. Queen Victoria became a Patron in 1841.

The hospital was temporarily located at the Manor House in Chelsea with an outpatients department at Great Marlborough Street in the West End. In 1844 the hospital acquired a three acre site in the parish of Brompton from the Henry Smith Charity Estate. An architectural competition was held for the new building, which was won by another 24 year old - Frederick Francis.

The foundation stone for the new building was laid by Prince Albert in June 1844 and the ceremony was followed by a fund raising bazaar sponsored by Queen Victoria in the gardens of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

The first phase of the building - the western end and main entrance tower - opened in 1846. The eastern end up Sumner Place was completed in 1854. The total cost of the building was around £25,000.

Prince Albert visited again in 1848 and Queen Victoria visited several times over the years. Their signatures in the visitors' book are now on display in the building.

A separate chapel was added to the Hospital between 1849 and 1850. It cost £2,500 and was paid for by the Reverand Sir Henry Foulis, Chairman of the Hospital Committee of Management from 1849 until 1875. The chapel was designed by Edward Buckton Lamb, widely seen as a maverick in the gothic revival movement.

In 1871 a long time suporter of the Hospital, Cordelia Angelica Read, left it £100,000 in her will.This would equate to over £50 million in todays' money. Her distant relatives contested the will on the grounds of her madness. This was because she lived in squalor, survived on penny buns and biscuits and was an avid collector of bits of string and paper bags. A post-mortem revealed no brain disease so the hospital inherited the fortune as she intended. The money was to build a new block, directly opposite on the Fulham Road.

The Read Bequest also included a collection of late 18th century and early 19th century paintings. These were hung in the original Hospital Boardroom and copies are now on display in The Bromptons, Rose Square.