Florence Nightingale Museum
Florence Nightingale Museum
This is where the Lady of the Lamp founded her School of Nursing in 1860, and the museum details her work to improve nursing standards and hygeine.
Florence Nightingale's influence on the history of nursing and medieval treatment for soldiers cannot be overstated. Though she is remembered first and foremost for her role during the Crimean War as 'The Lady with the Lamp', it was actually her efforts after the war ended that helped change our attitude towards treatment of wounded soldiers and hospital treatment in general. After the Crimean War ended, Nightingale wrote a meticulous report, using statistics which proved beyond doubt that more British soldiers had died from disease than from wounds suffered in combat. Her report led to a Royal Commission, and reforms in the way soldiers were treated. Those reforms eventually led the way to our modern concept of nursing care.

In 1860 Nightingale founded the Nightingale Training School of Nursing here at St Thomas Hospital in London. Among the objects on display are many of Nightingale's personal belongings, including the slate she used as a child and the Turkish lantern she used during the Crimean War. The museum also has over 1,000 handwritten letters, though only 100 or so are on display.

The museum has a regular programme of exhibits. Some current and forthcoming displays include 'Notes and Swearies: Obscene Language in Soldier's Speech', and 'Edith Cavell: Nurse and Patriot'.

When I visited I thought the museum was rather poorly signed, like a bit of an afterthought, tucked away on one side of the entrance to St Thomas Hospital. Having said that, it is fairly easy to get to, just over the bridge from the Houses of Parliament, and just along the river from the London Eye. It is amazing to think just how much influence this one courageous woman had, overcoming entrenched beliefs and stifling beaurocracy to create a more humane and sensible way of caring for ill people - not just soldiers.