A Visit to Marylebone Workhouse
The article below is an abridged compilation of three articles by Mrs Emma Edwards, published as part of the series 'Workhouse Life in Town and Country', in the magazine Sunday at Home in 1889.
A Visit to Marylebone Workhouse
Before starting on our tour of inspection, we were given many interesting facts by Mrs. Douglas, the matron, who subsequently conducted us over the whole building.
We learned that utter destitution is the only recommendation required for admittance into the workhouse, that no one is too old, too young, too wicked, or too depraved to be admitted; and once in, they cannot be turned out, nor can they be refused, however often they come back, if they present the overseer's order.
All cases are received: the old and infirm, children, lying-in cases, sick and insane. The two last, however, are passed on, one to the infirmary, the other to the asylum, except when the disease is not serious, and yields to treatment. The workhouse is certified to take in eighteen hundred inmates. Among them are representatives of many classes. Here, for example, occasionally may be seen a prince, a count, a barrister, a doctor of music. Here, too, we saw a skilful dressmaker from one of our best London houses, who had found her way to this workhouse several times — the cause, Drink. People of many nations have drifted here: French, Germans, Russians, Egyptians. and Chinese, the three last speaking no word of English.
We further learned that the able-bodied women are by far the most troublesome of the inmates. As a rule they object to going out to service, but now and then will yield for the sake of the outfit. They soon get tired of a respectable way of living, behave badly, are sent away, and drift back to the house.
There are twelve female paid officers, among whom are two for the lying-in ward, one for the insane, one for the old and infirm women, including the Temporary Sick Ward (which is kept for cases of sickness occurring in the house, or for persons brought in sick by the police without notice), a laundry superintendent, a labour mistress, and a receiving officer.
Owing to the lack of a common dining-room, the work is greatly increased, for the food has to be carried to twenty-one halls and wards. One consequence of this arrangement is that it is almost an impossibility to give proper supervision to the inmates at meal times. Of course a room must be large indeed to accommodate all the inmates at one time, for this workhouse is one of the largest in London.
We commenced our inspection with the chapel, which has been fitted up in one of the wards. The Roman Catholic service is held here at eight o'clock on Sundays and on special days. The priest also attends on Fridays, and he gives his services gratuitously.
The Church of England service is held every Sunday at eleven and three o'clock, and in the evening of every day but Monday; and the wards are regularly visited by the chaplain.
The few Nonconformists are permitted to attend their places of worship on Sunday.
The chaplain has charge of a library, and supplies books to about a hundred of the inmates every week.
Fifteen ladies and gentlemen visit the aged and infirm twice in each week.
All the Roman Catholic women have been placed on the chapel floor in order to facilitate matters; but they do not like it, and would far rather be mixed up with the Protestants in the old style.
We found the beds in this ward were very clean, and arranged down the three aisles. The walls were covered with bright pictures and texts. A pleasant temperature was kept up by means of hot pipes round the rooms; and there was excellent cross-ventilation through the ceiling.
The women, who were mostly very old, were collected round the tables in the three large bow windows. They were occupied, some in reading the papers and books provided, but the majority of them were working busily at shirt-making. The shirts were beautifully made, and the matron astonished me by saying that the work done by the women for firms outside the house amounts on an average to 35l. a quarter.
Two were sitting apart, making shrouds, which is the work they prefer; and one woman, an exceptionally good worker, was making an elaborate music-case.
In one ward we noticed a bright-looking old woman reading a newspaper. On asking her age, she answered--
" Only ninety-two, my dear! "
Clean sheets and pillow-cases are supplied to each bed every week, and once a year each piece of bedding is thoroughly cleansed. Nothing is forgotten for the comfort of the old people; a bag containing a brush and comb hangs at the head of every bed, together with a towel which the woman takes with her to the bath-room.
We were allowed to take a look into the sewing mistress's room at the end of the ward, which she has made pretty with her own little treasures. The dark curtains drawn in front of the bed give her a little sitting-room at the same time. She is with the women from half-past seven in the morning till twelve, all the afternoon till half-past four, and then again until eight in the evening. The receiving-officer takes charge of them at meal-times.
We noticed that the passages outside this ward were artistically painted, and heard that they had been done by an old inmate over seventy.
We went through many such wards, and were struck throughout with the cheerful content expressed in the faces of the old women, their cleanliness and neatness, the quick way in which their fingers moved, and the bright ready smile with which they greeted the matron's entrance. On every floor, and at the end of each ward, there are bath-rooms heated with stoves, lavatories, all sweet, clean, and fresh, and amply supplied with water.
We next went to the kitchen, a huge place, with quite an army of cooks busy in preparing the immense number of dinners.
Being Friday, it proved to be fish they were cooking, good fresh haddocks, and very appetising they all looked. When cooked, they were laid in rows on trays and covered with large sheets of clean white muslin to keep the steam in and preserve the heat.
Large good potatoes, cooked to perfection, were also waiting to be served, and the place was as busy, orderly, and cheerful as could be.
Parted off from the kitchen is a sort of larder where the bread is kept, all of which is made and baked in this department. It is made in rations like so many French rolls, so that, as the matron laughingly remarked, "Betsey Brown cannot say she has all the crust while Sally Smith has all the crumb, since each little loaf is exactly alike." And very good white and sweet bread it was.
We next came to the laundry, a comparatively new building, and of which the matron is very proud.
The superintendent of this department, together with all the paid officers in the house, wears a dark brown dress, white cap and apron. She has forty workers under her, selected from the more respectable of the able-bodied women who like the laundry work better than any other in the house.
All is done here by machinery, which is of the best kind. Eighty shirts, for example, can be washed in a quarter of an hour. The wringing-machine has a basket underneath to receive the clothes, which are almost dry when they fall out.
The drying-room is provided with sliding cupboards, such as we have seen in our visits to the hospitals. Every bit of linen is marked — for example, K Ward,25 — so that there is no possibility of the inmates wearing each other's clothes. We were glad to hear that every person over fifty years of age wears flannel underclothing. The delivery-room was stacked up to the ceiling with clean linen. Two thousand five hundred sheets are washed every week. From beginning to end the laundry work is excellent.
From this beautiful modern laundry, where such a vast amount of work is done daily, we stepped out into the cold air, and made our way to the old married couples' quarters.
They are on two floors — four rooms downstairs, six up. They open on to a long balcony. Each room is furnished with a double bed, a toilet table and glass, and an iron washstand furnished with a plugged basin, and hot and cold water. The matron has with her own hands made for each a scarlet night-dress bag which keeps the room neat, and looks pretty. The toilet cover is of scarlet American cloth, another of the matron's ideas, which she says can be wiped free of all dust and looks cheerful.
Bright pictures and comforting texts cover the walls, and in some case11, little ornaments stand on the mantelpiece.
All the ten rooms were alike, and the sanitary accommodation is of the best.
Attached to these rooms is a day room, where the old people may read or work, and take their meals. It possesses arm-chairs and tables, and is very comfortable.
Imagine the comfort it is to these old couples that they may make their own five o'clock tea -- a privilege which they alone in the workhouse are permitted. There is a cupboard under the stairs where they keep all things for this purpose, and it is like everything in this house, clean and orderly.
The matron told us that the selection for the privilege of occupying these married couples' quarters is made with the utmost care — generally from the new-comers, as those who have been long in the house have become accustomed to the old way and like it best.
The old Paddington burial ground, on which these rooms open, has been given them for a recreation garden by the vestry, and seats are placed about so that the old folk can sit and rest.
On our way to the men's wards, we passed through the cutting-out room where the assistant matron was busy cutting and giving out work.
All the clothes used and made in the house, except the men's outer garments, are cut out by the matron and her assistant-a giant work even if it stood alone.
A bale of three hundred shirts ready cut out was standing in the room.
We came into the men's wards just as they were sitting down to the dinner we had seen in the course of preparation, and so were able to witness the cleanliness and dispatch with which it was being served.
Large trays of the smoking fish, and huge pails of potatoes stood on the tables, and two haddocks and three large potatoes were served to each person.
We were amused at the sight of a pail of melted butter being carried round and ladled out.
One blind old man made his way up to the table with his three potatoes in his hand, and complained that they were small and therefore not sufficient, and on being served with a large one extra, went back to his place satisfied. One could not help thinking of poor Oliver Twist asking for" more," and how differently his appeal was met — the two cases forming a very good illustration of the difference between old times and the present.
We come next to the dormitories. There were seventy-five beds in the first, a comb and brush bag hanging on each; and everything thoroughly clean and sweet, the beds and their coverings being also exposed to our view.
The matron said that all the paint and whitewash was house labour, and exceedingly well done it was.
On the men's side, the day room is apart from the dormitories, but wherever we went, we found the same air of cheerful comfort reigning.
We were admiring the bright pictures and engravings on the walls, which caused the matron to remark that when she and her husband (the master) came there thirty years ago, there was nothing on the bare whitewashed walls, and she well remembered the joy they both felt when Lady Radstock sent them some printed texts to hang up in the wards.
We next visited what had been the children's ward, but in which fifty able-bodied women slept now. Rather close quarters, but when the new building which is in course of erection is finished, these premises will be vacated.
We passed through what was formerly the children's garden railed off, one side for girls, and the other for boys, and into the day room where the able-bodied women were having their dinner. These are the people who give the most trouble.
Entering the men's imbecile ward, while they were at dinner, I was surprised to see them using knives and forks; they were, however, what are termed lunatic instruments. The paid officer in charge had. his little room at the end. of the ward. which he had. made bright, and there he uses his spare moments in mechanical contrivances.
The next ward visited was that of the bedridden old women — both they and their surroundings were as clean as possible. One old woman was a great politician, and knew all about the questions of the day. She had formerly been a Scripture reader.
Another, who was as fragile as she could be, and extremely old, announced her intention of getting up and going out into the world again soon; while yet a third who had evidently enjoyed her meal, and was busily engaged folding up the little cloth which had been spread on the bed, on being spoken to by the matron repeated unceasingly: "Yer very kind to me; I'm very grateful ter ye, my dear."
Another old woman, ninety-eight years old, has been in her bed twelve years, and she has not even a scratch on her skin.
We left this ward. with its pathetic sights and sounds behind us, and found ourselves in the oldest part of the whole building, and. after mounting the narrow stairs, arrived at the lying-in-wards. A little babe had been born that morning. There was the weighing machine for the baby, and the wheeled chair in which when well enough the patient is taken into a second room well provided with carbonised bed and bedding. A midwife and nurse are in attendance on these patients, and the doctor visits them morning and evening.
I could not help thinking how cruel an heritage it is for a woman to bestow on her child, that of birth in a workhouse — but I comforted myself by the thought that at least a few so born had made their mark in the world.
A notice hangs up in this ward, giving the address of a lady from whom the women can seek advice and help on leaving the house. We peeped into the superintendent's quaint low ceilinged room, with a door opening on to a long stretch of leads, which made one believe oneself in a foreign southern city.
Our next visit was to the female imbecile ward – where the officer in charge was a bright, pleasant, trusty-looking girl. One could not help feeling surprised that she should have chosen such a branch of nursing, but she evidently understood it, and performed her duty well, for her patients were well cared for and quite comfortable. The day room of these patients opens on to a garden where they can sit in warm weather, and there are two padded rooms in case of violence or fits.
The superintendent has her room at the end of the ward from which she can see every one. It was in this ward we saw the superior dressmaker I mentioned before; and here too was a poor blind child eaten up with disease who had lately been brought in, and was even now, I heard, much better.
The workshops are interesting, where the able-bodied men are occupied in tailoring, carpentering, book-binding, wood-chopping, etc., each trade working under supervision.
We came next to a small room occupied. by what are known as remand boys; that is boys accused of begging in the streets or such like, and who are to appear before a magistrate in a week or ten days.
It is far better for them to be taken care of here than to be in prison herding with bad men. There were only three on this day, and a man had charge of them.
From this I begged the matron to be so kind as to use her latch-key and take us into the casual wards, which are quite apart from the workhouse and have a separate entrance.
There is a covered shed with seats in the yard where those wanting shelter can come in at four o'clock if they please and rest until the time for opening the wards, which is at six o'clock.
If a casual has not been seen in any other casual ward in the metropolis, he or she .is kept two nights and a day and allowed to leave early in the morning.
The cells, for one person only, are clean and neat, provided with an electric bell, iron bedstead and bedding. There is a rather larger cell at the end of the passage, in case a mother and child should come in together.
For supper each casual receives a pint of gruel and six ounces of bread, after which a compulsory bath and then to bed. The water is changed for each person, the days of pea-soup baths for the poor creatures, such as the "Amateur Casual" had at Lambeth, are things of the past.
The clothes they arrive in, if wet, are dried and disinfected during the night. In the morning they are called at a quarter to seven, and receive for breakfast the same as they had for supper, gruel and bread. We saw for ourselves that both were good. Those who have to pass the day there are set to work, the women to house-cleaning or to shirt-making for the workhouse, but the superintendent said the latter was doubtful help. If incapable of either of these tasks, a woman is set to pick oakum, two pounds being the allowance for the women and four pounds for the men.
It is easy to see if the arrivals are used to this work, the untried hands are hours over their tasks, while the others get it done before the morning is over.
The dinner for the casuals is eight ounces of bread and rather less of cheese. Of course many grumble at the food, but the matron said they would most likely do that if they were fed every day on ham and chicken. We thought the store room much too small for the needs of this part of the house.
Of course everything has to be under lock and. key, for among the casuals are often those of the lowest class who would not scruple to appropriate anything they saw about.
We felt very thankful that those of a better class, whom misfortune or accident had driven in, need not associate with the vicious ones as formerly. At all events each has a room to himself or herself, and can rest in peace. The superintendent of the casuals seemed very pleased that she had been allowed to add some tins of condensed milk to the stores for the babies, who are often brought in late at night when it is impossible to get fresh milk. The last thing we saw was the ambulance waggon standing in the yard ready for every emergency.
Two things impressed me greatly in going over this workhouse: the first was the large-hearted, tender sympathy shown — especially for the old and infirm — and the unceasing energy and supervision that must be exercised in order to keep everything as we found it. There was not a dirty corner in the place, and every face brightened as the matron appeared. I was extremely tired after the inspection, and yet she had been through every part of the house previous to our visit, and would do the same again in the evening!
The second thing which impressed us is the great care the master has taken for the proper classification of the inmates. To use his own words, "a well classified workhouse is a necessity to enable the guardians to deal effectually with pauperism. It affords protection to the deserving, and is a deterrent to the undeserving."
Speaking of the workhouse for a whole year the master said that not a single ounce of ale, porter, gin, whisky, or brandy had been ordered by t he medical officer, and except on Christmas Day no fermented or spirituous liquors had been consumed by the inmates.
One of the great advantages of removing the sick from the workhouse besides the direct benefit to the sick themselves, is the space secured for other purposes. It is now set apart for occupation; suitable to old men inmates. Two hundred old men, for example, whose ages vary from sixty to sixty-six, work in the wood-shed. The amount of wood leaving the house is about thirty tons a week, and the revenue realised from this department during one year is 2,764l
Thus the Marylebone institution may be taken to represent workhouse life under the most favourable conditions.
The Marylebone Infirmary is situated in the parish of North Kensington, near to Wormwood Scrubs, about half an hour's drive from the workhouse proper.
It is an imposing collection of red-brick pavilions guarded by iron gates, and a porter's lodge. The main building is on the right of the entrance and the Nurses' Home on, the left.
This last was built later than the infirmary, and. was opened in 1884 by Princess Christian, who, for a long time past, has thrown her whole energy and interest into the subject of nurses and nurses' homes.
This special home, which is a training school for nurses, was the first of its kind attached to a poor-law infirmary, and it is carried on under the combined direction of the Nightingale and Infirmary Committees.
It is hardly a digression to state that this home affords a grand opportunity to Protestant ladies who are desirous of becoming nurses. The training obtained here is quite as extensive and varied as in any of our London hospitals; and it will probably be considered a privilege that the nurses attached to this infirmary are not required to do any housework, their duties being confined strictly to nursing. Ladies offering themselves to the infirmary are of the same class, if not of a higher, than those in the hospitals. The matron told me that, roughly speaking, she has three hundred applications in a year.
There are sixty-six nurses and probationers, whose salaries are paid by the Nightingale Fund, and twenty-four staff-nurses and five sisters in the infirmary, all of whom were trained here.
The probationers start with a salary of 10l. and the gift of a uniform. After being trained for a year they, in due course, become nurses and ward-nurses in the infirmary, which means a transfer of themselves to the Local Government Board, which henceforth pays the salaries. Each one so passed on to the infirmary leaves a vacancy in the home.
About fifteen probationers are trained here yearly, and are much sought after. One is now at the Paddington Infirmary, a second at Southampton, and others in various places. It is very desirable that all corning for training should remain three years. Efficiency cannot be obtained without it.
This home is three stories high, and contains forty rooms, one of which is a large and airy sitting-room, and well fitted-up as a lecture-room.
Its chief attraction lies in its cupboard well-stocked with specimens, and containing a large lay-figure1 for experiments and demonstration. (Half the expense of this was borne by Miss Nightingale.) The table-drawers again are filled with numbered divisions, occupied by bones, for the clearer and better understanding of the lectures which are given frequently by the medical superintendent, and twice a week by the assistant matron. Here too the nurses are taught bandaging, and the position of the main arteries, and how to apply pressure for the preservation of life, which, the matron said, had been done successfully by several of them.
Whether probationer or nurse, each has a simply-furnished, clean, and airy bedroom. The only difference between one and another is in the personal belongings scattered about.
The fourteen night nurses are separated from the day nurses and probationers by a red baize door, and great care is taken not to disturb their rest which is taken between half-past eleven and seven.
There is a small sitting and bedroom, set apart for the use of any nurse or probationer who may break down in her work and require special care. Both doctor and matron said that so much depended upon the nurses, it was needful to take great care of them, for many broke down in hospitals, not because they had been reared in luxurious homes, but because they worked beyond their strength.
The dress of both nurses and probationers is a bluish grey gingham, a quaint white cap, something like the Sister Dora cap, and a brown holland apron for the nurses, and a cheque cotton for the probationers.
The home is warmed by hot-water pipes and is well ventilated; and the fire-hose in the passages simply arranged and quite easy to set in motion.
By those who have not gone into the matter thoroughly, it has been thought that trained nurses are an extra expense and mean a heavier burden on the ratepayers, but it has been proved to be quite the opposite, owing to the quicker and more thorough cure of the sick in the unions.
We now crossed the road and entered the main building through an archway. It is considered a very perfect specimen of what an infirmary should be. The cost of building, fittings, etc., was 143,000l., that is to say, about 192l. per bed (seven hundred and forty-four beds).
On either side of the archway is a receiving-room, one for men and the other for women, with a bath attached, where the patients, if not too ill, are bathed before inspection. These rooms are under the care of a man and his wife and are kept scrupulously clean.
We come next to the medical superintendent's office or library, an interesting room full of books and papers, among others a register of all the acute cases within the last six months, the nurses' reports, notes, and temperature charts, for to take these correctly is part of their training. These charts, taken every four hours, look so pretty with their small squares, dots, and fine lines, that they might be termed the fancy work of a nurse's occupation. On one side of this room there are several pigeon-holes for giving out papers, books, and notices for the various wards, for no nurse, under any pretence whatever, is allowed to enter either this or the dispensing room.
We next go into the steward's room, with its lining of lockers and huge tins. This officer controls all the stores, whether of food, furniture, or material.
Everything is found in the house, and everything must be accounted for: thus so many yards of calico, given from this room, must make so many garments, which, when made, must be brought here, entered, and stored till wanted.
The matron withdraws all worn out clothes two or three times a year; tells the steward how many new ones she requires, and receives them from him direct.
No nurse can obtain any article for the patients, not even food, without a written order, defining size, amount, quantity; this card, being first checked off in the library, is brought to the steward and entered on a large sheet neatly divided and subdivided, showing the material used, the quantity and value. This is signed by the doctor, the steward, the nurse, and the clerk. These sheets are bound up into a book and are so clearly and beautifully kept that even an unpractised eye can see the amount and cost of any special article used in a year. I never saw such clearness and neatness, except in the papers kept by the sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in the Milan hospital.
We cross the passage and pass into the kitchen — an immense place worked by a female cook and four assistants. There is only one gas-stove, all the rest being ordinary coal grates. They send out from here every day seven hundred dinners of meat, potatoes, and rice pudding, seventy fish diets — eight ounces making one diet — and hash for one block, beside a large quantity of broth and beef-tea. Breakfast and tea are prepared in the wards. The first meal is taken at seven o'clock, lunch at ten, and dinner from twelve to one, tea and bread and butter at half-past four, and supper at seven. The food is carried to the various wards on large hot-water tins, having many divisions, so that the patients get it hot and appetising.
The meat comes in fresh every morning from the market, and the bread is made and baked in the house. The oven is immense, and well it may be, for eleven sacks of flour are made up every week.
The amount of milk which comes in twice a day is sixty-nine bar gallons [a bar gallon contains 16 pints], and it is kept in a cool pleasant dairy lined with white tiles and provided with slate shelves.
We now go to the engine-room in the basement to see the three twenty-four horse-power engines, which supply all the water used in the infirmary. The amount used daily is fifty-five thousand gallons, and it is supplied by an artesian well, five hundred and two feet deep.
From here we pass through one passage where the oil stores are kept, into another devoted to mustard, salt and such-like articles, on to a room used for the storage of household goods in the shape of brooms, brushes, pans, pails, crockery and glass. Nothing is given out but in exchange, that is to say, the old broom or brush must be brought back before a new one goes out, and if the bristles are gone, the handle must be given in, and the same with all articles required. The last room in the basement was occupied by soap, huge columns of which were stacked from floor to ceiling. It struck me as good management so to utilise all the space underground.
We next come to the laundry, a very important department, and managed with the same care and efficiency as marked the rest of the infirmary. It is worked by a head laundress, two laundry-maids and eighteen women helpers from outside. Thirty-five scrubbers are also employed in the Infirmary from seven till eleven o'clock daily.
Fourteen to fifteen thousand pieces of linen are washed here every week. The dirty linen is washed in an upper room, just under the water tower; it is then sent down a shaft to the open-air drying-ground, which occupies three sides of a square, also high up in the building, from whence one obtains a splendid and extensive view. From here it is sent down a shaft again to the mangling, ironing, and sorting rooms. When sorted it is packed into large square baskets and run on trollies to the various wards. The drying presses are on the same principles as those we are accustomed to, but they are deficient in number.
Having seen with what care and good management the necessities of the sick are considered, we proceed to the apartments of those who devote their young lives to them.
The nurses' lavatories, provided with swing basins, and hot and cold water, are excellent. Their dining-room, and that for the sisters, which is separate, are large, airy, and cheerful.
The recreation-room is a bright and pleasant apartment, looking out on a garden, and it is supplied with pictures, piano, and American organ.
Next let us look into the dispensary, which is supplied by contract.
The stock mixtures, or those most generally needed, are kept in a row of neat shining barrels, each with a little white cup underneath to catch the drops. There is a small glass aquarium containing leeches; and a huge tub of linseed meal. There is one dispenser; and as no nurse is allowed inside the dispensary, a window with a sliding glass shutter is provided where medicines can be asked for and obtained.
In an inner room the laughing-gas is kept, and, here, also, in a cupboard lined with green baize, are rows upon rows of terrible looking shining surgical instruments.
Beside it hangs a card, whereon can be seen at a glance, if and where any instrument has been taken for operations. Here, as elsewhere, the most perfect order prevails.
And now through the well-warmed passages we pass into one of the wards with twenty-eight beds. Noticing the quantity of flowers and plants we heard that a small sum is allowed for them, but this is supplemented out of the sisters' and nurses' own pockets, who take a pride in their wards. Last Christmas some gentleman gave ten pounds' worth to the infirmary.
Pictures and engravings adorn the walls, and are the gifts of friends who take an interest in the poor.
The committee allow the daily papers and books in the wards, so we found many of the patients sitting up in bed reading, particularly on the men's side. The women were occupied for the most part with various kinds of needlework; and we were told by the matron that every garment, sheet, and pillow-case used in the infirmary is cut out and made up by the nurses and patients.
One old woman has the privilege of darning all the stockings, which she does beautifully.
Some of the men also were doing needlework, putting in gathers in a wonderful way.
It is easy to see, in passing from bed to bed, that the diseases of the people admitted here are, as a rule, of a chronic character.
In the centre of each ward is a stove with fire back and front, and a vase on the top containing water, which being warmed a slight vapour arises and moistens the air. The flues from each stove descend and pass right and left under the floors to the outer walls, in which they are continued to the chimney-shafts above the roof. It seems an exceedingly clever arrangement. [This system was the invention of the architect Saxon Snell.]
We found in each ward several pretty bright screens made by the nurses, and covered with Christmas pictures and cards.
Wheel-chairs are provided for those who cannot otherwise get about. Patients, who feel sufficiently well, are allowed to clear away the meals and help wash up in the little scullery attached to the ward. It both amuses and occupies them.
The pottery used in the infirmary is white; that for the patients has a blue badge, and that for the nurses a red one.
On each floor is a bandage-cupboard, full of the neat little rolls with which, by this time, we are familiar, and each ward has its own inventory. It has, too, its own medicine-cupboard with the POISON shelf clearly marked to prevent mistakes.
There are smaller wards for the more serious cases, containing only two or three beds, where the patients can have special attention. The male patients, who are well enough to get up, have a recreation-room, in which they can sit and read, and a garden also, where they are allowed to smoke.
The male and female wards are in all respects the same; the latter, perhaps, looked brighter, because of the red shawls wrapped round those who were sitting up. There is no special ward for the children who are scattered about among the adults. One poor little girl of twelve or thirteen, we saw, who is paralysed, and who will never be able to sit up or walk all her life.
The eye-ward was darkened with green curtains. .
Lady visitors are permitted in the wards, and are a comfort to the patients. Many were looking for scripture references, and trying to find answers to questions put by the ladies in their last visit.
The women convalescents have a garden, which looked gay with the children in red hoods and the women in red shawls. They have also a dayroom, where they sit and work or read.
There is a corridor, which connects two portions of the building, over which is an open balcony, making a pleasant promenade for the old people in summer.
The chapel is a beautiful building, in which services are held both on Sunday and week days; but why it has been placed so high I cannot imagine. It is reached only by a high flight of stone steps, which to the sick and weary must indeed be a penance; it seats two hundred. The handsome lectern was given by Mr. Debenham, and the nurses subscribed for the stand to match. The chaplain attends daily, holding Bible-classes and services in the wards beside those in the chapel.
The Roman Catholics have their service in the wards.
We asked the matron as we came away if there was any special thing she needed for the inmates. Her answer was that she would be thankful for story-books in Moon's type for the blind patients.
The amount of valuable knowledge to be gained in an infirmary like this, and of a character not to be found even in hospitals, makes one sorry that medical students are not admitted as in hospitals, but perhaps this will come later.
The order, control, and discipline, which pervades every corner of this large infirmary should be a matter of deep thankfulness to the rate-payers in the metropolis. The old and the sick are cared for, neither pampered nor neglected.
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