©Wellcome Library, London

This cubicled ward was designed not only to give patients privacy but also to retain heat around the bedside. A large stove burns in the centre of the ward which is devoid of any decoration. The hospital was built to accommodate 435 patients, and a matron, Anne Rowney, was appointed in 1725 at a salary of £50 a year. In 1752, the duties of the nurses and sisters were little more than domestic chores. They were expected to ‘wash or cause to be washed all weak peoples' clothes without taking money or reward ... To attend the Surgeons during the whole time of Dressing - to stupe [poultice] as often and in such manner all such patients as the doctor shall direct. To scour and make clean all bedding that be foul and to wash all foul rowlers [bandages] and rags and to see that none of the said rowlers be wasted or destroyed through [their] neglect'. In addition, nurses ‘must attend the Butler at the ringing of the Beer Bell and not suffer such patients as carry the beer to embezzle it by the way - in like manner at the ringing of the Bread Bell and also of the Cooks Bell'.

Engraving by John Bowles.