News & Features

My Ward
by Wendy Mathews

The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has comprised St Thomas’, Guy’s and the Evelina Children’s Hospital since 2004. Much has been written of the Hospitals’ histories but, to the best of my knowledge, there is no other reference book detailing the origins of the ward names.  Yet, over the centuries, the names of the wards give a fascinating insight into general and medical history and the preoccupations and changing values of the Hospitals and their times. 

This work details the history of the ward names of the Hospitals over the centuries, providing some insight into why these names were chosen. Wards and other listed names are printed in bold type. 

When I entered the Physiotherapy Training School in 1954, I could not foresee that St Thomas’ would always be an important element in my life.  After qualifying and 10 years of marriage, my husband John began to share my interest in St Thomas’.  His clinical training had been at Guy’s, but he became Senior Registrar and subsequently Consultant in Rheumatology at St Thomas’. Rheumatologists and physiotherapists were in adjacent departments and, from 1978 – 1984, I worked in the Physiotherapy Department on research projects directed by my husband.  From 1983 until the present day I have been involved with plans for, and in volunteer support of, the Florence Nightingale Museum (FNM). 

From the outset of my association with St Thomas’ I was interested in its ward names. Early in their training the physiotherapy students undertook one month of ward nursing duties. The current Sister Charity was not over-charitable when it came to my poor ability at bed-making but thanks to her my enduring loyalty to the Florence Nightingale tradition began.  I became a life-long member of the St Thomas’ family and as tour guide and lecturer for the FNM and the Hospital enjoy enthusing others about its history and legacy. 

With the advent of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust (subsequently Foundation Trust), my loyalty has, of necessity, expanded to cover three Hospitals.  The scope of this book therefore encompasses the original ward names and the developments which led to changes in those names at St Thomas’, Guy’s and the Evelina Children’s Hospitals.  Smaller hospitals have been subsumed over the years.  Where ward names have been adopted by the parent hospital, I have sought their origins too.  

Over the centuries there has been dispute concerning the spelling of St Thomas’.  St Thomas and St Thomas’s are variations which have been used but which have now been dropped in favour of St Thomas’ which is therefore used throughout this book. 

I have referred extensively to past works on the histories of the Hospitals and am grateful to those who undertook research into primary sources.  Without their efforts, this book, and the fully referenced concise history which is lodged at the London Metropolitan Archives, would not have been produced. 

I hope this book provides as much pleasure and interest to others as its compilation has given to me. 

Wendy Mathews
London   October 2009

Please follow this link for information about how to purchase 'My Ward'. Proceeds from book sales will go to benefit the Guy's League of Nurses, The Friends of Guy's Hospital, and the Florence Nightingale Museum, among others.