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History of the Haslemere Hospitals

Significant dates


  • 1896 Letter in the Haslemere and Hindhead Gazette of 30th September proposing Cottage Hospital.

  • 1898 Haslemere’s first cottage hospital opened; a gift to the town from John Penfold.

  • 1922 Hospital in Church Lane built by public subscription to replace the original.

  • 1923 Hospital opened by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Cave, on 20th January,

  • 1929 Margaret Rose Children’s Ward provided by Sir Richard Garton.

  • 1948 NHS formed, Haslemere Hospital nationalized.

  • 1973 A&E downgraded to Minor Injuries unit.

  • 1976 St Georges Wood Maternity Annex beds transferred to ex-Children’s ward.

  • 1985 Princess Margaret Ward for Maternity closed,

  • 1980 Haslemere Health Centre opens in the grounds of the Hospital.

  • 1986 Operating Theatres closed.

  • 1988 Godwin Unit opened for Neurorehabilitation.

  • 1990 New Physiotherapy unit opened in Princess Margaret Ward.

  • 1996 Ambulance station moves from Grayswood Rd. to the former doctors lodge in the hospital grounds.

  • 2004-5 Brand new Minor Injuries Unit built.

  • 2002 Marjorie Grey redeveloped as Dementia Day Service.

  • 2009 Planning permission granted for further new Car-park off Beech Road.

Haslemere Hospital Today


The Haslemere Hospital provides the community with:

  • Minor Injuries Unit. Open from 8am-5pm Monday-Saturday.

  • Blood testing facility.

  • Godwin Ward for male patients

  • Elizabeth Ward for female patients

  • Ultrasound tests and X-ray facilities

  • Full range of Physiotherapy, OT, Podiatry

  • Over 35 different Consultants hold Out-patient clinics

Management and Governance

There have been changes to the adult community health services in Guildford and Waverley. Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust is now in Partnership with Procare Health, and manages all the Adult Community Services, which were previously managed by Virgincare. Procare Health is a Federation of General Practices across Guildford and Waverley areas. The Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group remain the responsible organisation for the commissioning of our health care. However, they work in a partnership with North-West Surrey and Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group called Surrey Heartlands. It is hoped that this model of working will create a real partnership that will make a positive difference to local people.

Haslemere Hospital Minor Injuries

Haslemere Cottage Hospital and Nursing Home 11th Jun 1898- Jan 1923

Haslemere’s first cottage hospital was built as a response to an article in The Haslemere and Hindhead Gazette which read, in part, as follows,


“The fatal accident that, not so very many weeks since, befell a soldier cycling down one of our hills, will still be fresh in the minds of our readers... To come to the point; which of our readers, we wonder, is prepared to have suddenly thrust in at his or her door, this very day, the blood-stained and unconscious body of some unfortunate stranger? Is it fair to delicate women to ask them to turn their bedrooms into surgical wards, and their houses into mortuaries? For ourselves, we feel convinced that our readers have only to know how easily, how economically, a Cottage Hospital may be started and maintained, and they will no longer delay to put the matter in hand”.

It was a gift to the town from John Penfold and his sisters Katherine and Susanna as a memorial to their parents. and was built at the top of Shepherds’ Hill only 100 yards from John Penfolds house which it overlooked. It opened by Viscount Midleton on the 11th June 1898. There was an opening ceremony . The Surrey Times reported "A guard of honour, consisting of three officers and 50 rank and file, with band, were furnished by F Company, under the command of Captain the Hon. A. G. Brodrick, on the occasion of the opening of the Haslemere Cottage Hospital, by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey (Viscount Midleton). On Saturday, June 11th at 4 p.m...."

Haslemere Cottage Hospital
Haslemere Cottage Hospital
Haslemere Cottage Hospital 1899
Wall plaque from the first hospital, now displayed in the entrance foyer of the current Haslemere Hospital
Haslemere Cottage Hospital opening plaque

From the first there was full occupancy of the beds, so that within a few years extension was required.

By 1900 it had been renamed to "Haslemere and District Cottage Hospital". In 1901 the site was enlarged to accommodate 10 beds (two being designated as 'private paying') and two cots, and 'a large operating room on the latest scientific principles'

Current Hospital 20th January 1923-date

By the early 1920s accommodation had become inadequate. The routine of life and health had been severely disrupted by the 1st World War. The strain imposed on the civil population, as well as the wounds sustained in mind and body by those who had fought, demanded more need for hospitalisation.
The chosen plans, designed by architect Herbert Reed, and built by the local firm of Chapman, Lowry and Puttick, cost £35,000, raised by public subscription. The hospital was opened by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Cave, on 20th January 1923 and Matron Davenport [Elizabeth Mary Davenport - 1870 - 2 Aug 1961] took charge of the hospital.
Initially there were 35 beds but by the end of the 1920s further additions included a children's ward, X-ray and massage rooms and more accommodation for staff. The nurses hostel was at "Kemnal" on the Grayswood Road. 

St George's Wood, the maternity home closed in 1977, and the Princess Margaret Rose children's ward at the main hospital became the maternity ward. By 1948, when the hospital was nationalised it had 82 beds and provided a pretty comprehensive medical service (for the time) for the residents of Haslemere and environs.
Between 1948 and 1982 the hospital underwent many changes in management and for much of this time it was part of the Guildford Group of Hospitals which included the Royal Surrey County Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital.
In 1982 it became a Community hospital, along with other cottage hospitals throughout the country, separate from the large Acute hospitals that in our case was the Royal Surrey County Hospital
In 1984 a long and, in retrospect, misguided, campaign started to keep the baby unit in Haslemere in which the League of Friends, medical and nursing staff and residents from a very wide area fought in all the ways they could, including a protest march down the High Street. But the battle was lost and maternity services were transferred to St Luke's, Guildford. The Princess Margaret ward was now redundant and it was decided to relocate the physiotherapy department there. In 1990 the League of Friends donated £26,000 for a lift to reach it on the lower floor.
In 1982 it was agreed that a ground floor extension was needed for the busy outpatients department. Initially the public felt that the upper floor should be used for this as the future of the hospital, even at that time, was uncertain. However, it proved impossible and the League gave £22,500 towards the full cost of £35,000. At the time the League's funds were in a National Savings account earning 11%.

In 1987 the operating theatre was closed. Eight long term patients were transferred into George Ward at Haslemere from Holy Cross. The remaining beds were used by new patients and patients who received hospitalisation in Milford Hospital. George Ward was renamed 'Godwin Unit' after Mrs Alma Godwin who was Matron in charge of the Hospital in 1988. The Godwin Unit treats disabled young people (aged under 65 years), some of whom have been involved in serious accidents; others suffer from multiple sclerosis or strokes.
In 1993 plans were drawn up to provide parking spaces on part of the garden. This was the quickest project ever undertaken, the work being completed within 6 months and the League providing the full £20,000 for the job.
Another campaign to save the beds became part of the town’s history in 2000 when over 2000 people joined a march pushing a hospital bed through the High Street. Several public meetings were held, the Haslemere Hall being full to overflowing as people clamoured to be heard.

In 2005 the “Fit for the future” policy was introduced. This money-saving exercise had the effect of putting community against community as supporters of Farnham, Cranleigh, Milford and Haslemere Hospitals all fought to prevent their beds being closed. Packed meetings were held in Haslemere Hall and Wispers School where the local doctors and hundreds of residents showed their support. Good media coverage was gained through a “Pyjama Protest” when around 100 residents, dressed in nightwear, gathered outside the Haslemere Hall holding banners and chanting “Saving our Beds”. The League manned a stall outside Tescos for a whole week, during which time signatures were collected, and these, together with lists left in individual shops, added up to 12,000 names. Our reasoned arguments and barrage of letters and petitions seemed to win the day when it was decided Haslemere Hospital should be “saved”, Haslemere beds gained a temporary reprieve when Option 1 was adopted. However, as a result of improved financial situation, new stroke & other national guidelines and a failure to demonstrate that closing anything improved patient care, the plans were scrapped.
As of April 2011 it looks as if Milford, the initial loser, will be saved as a specialist rehabilitation unit, Haslemere Hospital will become one of 4 (community) Hub hospitals, with a defined catchment area of about 40,000 inhabitants, but nothing is certain; even the NHS Health Bill currently going through parliament is uncertain. Meanwhile though, local opinion remains resolute.
We want our hospital and will fight to see it retained and developed!

Haslemere and District Hospital 1930
Haslemere and District Hospital 1923
Haslemere and District Hospital 1923
Haslemere and District Hospital 1930

Cottage Hospital Land Sale

On 25 Jun 1923 the land was sold which became the site of the mother and baby home of the association known as the Home of the Good Shepherd, Shepherd's Hill, Haslemere. New wards and a chapel were added to the home in 1933 when the old chapel was converted into a maternity ward. A further maternity ward was added in 1934.
In Nov 1957, the Home of the Good Shepherd was sold because it had become too costly to run. The purchaser was Thomas Anderson Crookes. The building was divided into 5 Flats (1-5 Anderson Court, Shepherds Hill, Haslemere GU27 2NE) In 2007 planning permission was refused to knock down the old hospital mortuary, a small building located the north east corner of the grounds.

Haslemere & District Hospital, opened 20th Jan 1923

In his book "Haslemere" G. R. Rolston wrote

"Accommodation for sick persons had now also become inadequate. The routine of life and health had been severely disrupted by the War. The strain imposed on the civil population, as well as the wounds sustained in mind or body by those who had fought, demanded more need for hospitalisation. The Cottage Hospital on Shepherds Hill given by the generosity of the Penfold family was unsuitable for the needed enlargement. A strong committee to raise funds for a new hospital was quickly formed, and a fresh site was looked for. The end of the Pound Corner lease to the Recreation Committee was the fortunate opportunity for those seeking to build a new hospital. Plans were soon drawn up for a building in brick and tile, though one farseeing doctor on the Committee begged that it should be built of wood. His reason for this was that in ten to twenty years, extensions would be required, or new ideas incorporated. To do this in stone or brick might prove costly or impracticable, but a wooden building could always be burnt down and a start made on a clean and modern type of design. He was, of course, correct in his estimate of the future as regards hospital needs, but the novelty of his idea was too much for the solid but well meaning traditionalists—and we are still suffering. The new hospital was opened by Viscount Cave, C.M.G., in January 1923, and Matron Davenport with nursing staff came proudly down from Shepherds Hill to take charge. Haslemere was again fortunate that she was able to remain as Matron till 1927. Ably supported by the House and Medical Committees, she set the pattern which has since persisted and, indeed, been insisted on, that the patient is a person and not just a bed number. In the years since its opening, many people from other areas have been patients, and have found time or desire to comment on the care and attention given, apart from any question of skill."

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