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English nurse and hospital reformer


Florence Nightingale 1820-1910

Florence Nightingale, English nurse and hospital reformer, was born in Florence, Italy, in 1820, daughter of William Edward Shore, and Francis Smith who came from a fabulously wealthy unitarian family. Shore later changed his name to Nightingale to claim his inheretance.

On their return from Florence, the family had a new house built for them at Lea in Derbyshire, called Lea Hurst, where they lived until 1823. In 1825 the family moved to Embley Park in Wellow, Hampshire with Lea Hurst serving as a summer residence for the rest of Florence's life.

Florence Nightingale trained as a nurse at Kaiserwerth on the Rhine in 1851 and also in Paris. In 1853 she became a superintendent of a hospital in London for invalid women.

During the Crimean war she volunteered for duty and took 38 nurses to Scutari in 1854, where she established a military hospital, imposing strict discipline and standards of sanitation, which reduced the mortality rate amongst the wounded drastically. She became known as the 'Lady with the Lamp' because of her lamp lit tours of inspection.

She returned to England and with a testimonial fund of £50,000 founded nursing homes in London's hospitals, the first of which was St Thomas's. She was also instrumental in improving living conditions in the army.

Florence spent much of the rest of her life giving advice and wrote 'Notes on Nursing' which was published in 1859 and reprinted through many editions.

In 1860 Dr William Ogle was appointed to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary at a time when the mortality rate amongst patients was high. After much lengthy correspondence with Florence, it was decided to have a complete rebuild of the hospital along lines suggested by her. Designed by H.I. Stevens, the new DRI opened in 1869 with a new wing named after her, a chapel, operating theatres, kitchen, laundary and mortuary.

Florence Nightingale died in 1910 and is buried in the family grave at East Wellow. One of the great heroines of the 19th century, she had a lifeboat presented by the people of Derby, in her name, to the R.N.L.I. She was on the £10 note circulated for many years, and Derby has 3 statues of her, one outside the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, one in St Peter's Street and one above the Nightingale-Macmillan Continuing Care Unit opposite the DRI.

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portrait of Florence Nightingale
Portrait of Florence Nightingale
Lea Hurst
Lea Hurst

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