On March 11th…

Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley, Hampshire: from the harbour. Line engraving by T.A. Prior, 1857, after E. Duncan.

The Royal Victoria Military Hospital Netley began accepting patients on March 11, 1863.

Construction began on the hospital in 1856, with the first stone ceremonially laid by Queen Victoria. The inscription on the stone read:

This stone was laid on the 19th day of May in the year of our Lord, 1856, by Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland as the foundation stone of the Victoria Military Hospital intended for the reception of the sick and wounded soldiers of her Army.


In their book A Curious Collection of Dates, Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”) write:

Some thirty million bricks later, the hospital with its 1,000 beds was the longest building in the world. Unfortunately its design sacrificed practicality to grandeur, and by the time medical professionals such as Florence Nightingale were able to offer their suggestions, it was too late to make substantial changes. As a result the lovely grounds and the independent infrastructure (including a reservoir and generator) were counterbalanced by dark patient wards, more ventilation and unpleasant odors. Despite its problems the Royal Victoria served Britain through its wars and conflicts until a fire in 1963 destroyed a large section of the main building. With the exception of the chapel the hospital was demolished in 1966. Today, it serves as the Royal Victoria Visitors Center and Country Park.


We may be most immediately familiar with Netley from Dr Watson’s very first words to us, in A Study in Scarlet:

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy’s country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties.

Information from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), with additional information of the stone inscription courtesy of QARANC’s Netley Hospital Information Page.

Posted by The Dynamic Duo Ron (JHWS “Chips”) aka Ron and Beth (JHWS “Selena”)

2 Replies to “On March 11th…”

  1. Your posts, Chips, have so enriched my understanding of the canon and its times. Your choice of topics and use of the scholarship have added depth and enjoyment to my attachment to Holmes and Watson and the stories. Perhaps the Queen will gift you with an emerald tie pin one of these days. Cheers and a cuppa to you, Daisy

  2. The posts now being used are part of a cooperation of myself and my new co columnist Selena aka Beth who deserves this compliment also. We appreciate your kind words. WE are trying hard and burning midnight oil and it is nice to hear that our readers enjoy our work. Thank you, Daisy

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