London Drum

Florence Nightingale Museum – St Thomas' Hospital

Where? Florence Nightingale Museum, St. Thomas’ Hospital, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, Waterloo · Web: Opening times? 10 AM to 5 PM (Wed-Sun); Last entry 30 mins before closing Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £10.00; Children £5.00; Family ticket £25.00 Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 30-45 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 12, 53, 76, 77, 148, 159, 211, 341, 363, 381, 543, 507, C10, RV1 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Waterloo Bakerloo Jubilee Northern Wat&City Other nearby stations: Lambeth North Train fares

Craig’s review… I’m going to be brave today and visit the Florence Nightingale Museum. I usually live my life by the rule of Clint Eastwood, you see, always asking myself what would Clint Eastwood do? And he definitely wouldn’t be nosing around a museum about a 19th-century nurse – but I’m hoping she can fix my busted knees.

St. Thomas’ Hospital

I end up sitting inside the little cafe at St. Thomas’s Hospital. There are lots of glum chats happening in here, lots of depressed relatives staring out of the window. One guy is obviously a patient because he’s wired up to a wheeled machine and his wife has got her hand clamped around his gown so it doesn’t blow open at the back.

Victorian nurse

If all you’ve seen of Florence Nightingale are those sepia-tinged photos from the 1850s then you probably think she was quite fierce and unforgiving, but she was actually quite fun when she was younger. She travelled the world, had a couple of suitors on the go (even had a couple of proposals), but once she got the calling that was that. It was nursing or nothing. The only men she was interested in after that were the ones covered in blood and lying on a stretcher.

The Crimean War

Her story gets a lot more interesting once she lands in the middle of the Crimean War. The facilities and conditions were so bad over there that she bombarded the politicians with hand-written letters to beg that something be done and Isambard Kingdom Brunel was eventually commissioned to build a field hospital for her, which, coupled with the strict hygiene rules that she introduced, dropped the death rate down to 2%. By the time the war was over she was one of Victorian London’s most celebrated names and she wrote a big book on nursing that still stands up today.

The museum has lots of objects from her war years, lots of books with faded pages, lots of scissors and saws and brown bottles with cork stoppers in the top, and plenty of reminisces from the soldiers that she saved.

It’s quite interesting to see how famous she became in her later years. They’ve got a little exhibition of pictures, paintings and porcelain figurines of the famous Lady with the Lamp which remind me of the pottery saints my grandmother used to pray to on her mantelpiece. You can see a few posed photos of her in her eighties as well, all old and crippled and propped up in bed, and looking a lot like Queen Victoria.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Fleming Museum (travel from Waterloo to Paddington via tube); Hunterian Museum (walk it in 22 mins or take a tube journey from Waterloo to Holborn); Old Operating Theatre (walk it in 28 mins or travel from Waterloo to London Bridge via tube) and Wellcome Collection (travel from Waterloo to Euston by tube). There’s also a good medical section at the Science Museum

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

tina Hello. How long will it take to walk to the museum from Waterloo station?

Craig Hi Tina. It's not very far, just a quick 10 minute walk

Amet A small but nevertheless interesting little museum that tells the story of Florence Nightingale, a famous Victorian nurse who carried a lamp. I learnt how important she was and how much change she brought to the profession, and she deserves to have a museum dedicated to her.

Leave a comment