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Royal Sea Bathing Hospital

A Grade II Listed Building in Westbrook, Kent

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Latitude: 51.3853 / 51°23'7"N

Longitude: 1.3661 / 1°21'58"E

OS Eastings: 634310

OS Northings: 170520

OS Grid: TR343705

Mapcode National: GBR WZY.45Z

Mapcode Global: VHLG6.MFKV

Entry Name: Royal Sea Bathing Hospital

Listing Date: 22 February 1973

Last Amended: 9 December 1998

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1088987

English Heritage Legacy ID: 356499

Location: Thanet, Kent, CT9

County: Kent

District: Thanet

Town: Thanet

Electoral Ward/Division: Westbrook

Built-Up Area: Margate

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Find accommodation in
Westgate on Sea

Listing Text

TR 37 SW

Royal Sea Bathing Hospital


Former sea bathing hospital. 1793-6 by the Revd. John Pridden, one of the hospital's founders, with additions of 1816, c1820, c1853, 1857-8, c1880 by James Knowles Jnr. Early buildings of yellow stock brick with stone dressings; hipped slated roof. Knowles additions of red and black brick with pink terracotta balustrades. The original block, greatly altered, remains in the quadrangle behind the present entrance forming the eastern arm. A southern, single storey wing was added 1816, the northern, 2-storey wing (facing the sea and forming one arm of an H) in the 1820s. c1853 the buildings were transformed into a handsome and uniform piece of Greek Revival classicism by raising the stories to 2 throughout and adding to the west-facing entrance front a monumental, tetrastyle Doric portico (the columns were said to have come from nearby Holland House, at Kingsgate). At the same time the north and south wings were added the 2 single-storey cross-plan extensions to the western ends of the north and south wings; these were designed as wards for children (northern, girls ward now raised to 2 storeys). James Knowles Jnr. Added the long, single-storey block of wards adjoining the old hospital to the west and thus forming an enclosed quadrangle in the centre. These are in red and black brick with a terracotta balustrade. As a result the Doric portico was moved to form a new entrance front to the south (1816) wing facing Canterbury Road. Adjoining the wards to the south was Knowles indoor, heated, salt-water swimming bath (now converted to a ward). This is a domestic style block in red and black brick with stone dressings, well-lit by 2 stories of windows. The current entrance front is a 2-storey block of 9 sash windows fronted by the Doric portico. The entablature is inscribed "Royal Sea Bath Hospital Founded 1791". Flanking this are two single storey pavilions, each with 2 sashes and an inscribed pediment; the left inscribed "1858", the right "1882". History: The Royal Sea Bathing Hospital was a pioneer hospital in the use of open-air treatment for patients suffering from tubercular complaints. It was founded in 1791 for the scrofulous poor of London by Dr John Coakley Lettsom, a Quaker physician. The new hospital was designed from the outset with open arcased and verandas for patients and anticipated by more than a century the open-air treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Initially the hospital was only open during the summer months, patients bathing actually in the sea from a bathing machine, but the addition of an indoor bath in 1858 allowed the wards to be open all year round. c1880 Sir Erasmus Wilson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons and director of the hospital gave £30,000 for the enlargement of the hospital which included Knowles ward wing, his indoor heated salt-water pool and chapel. Wards were only used for sleeping in during inclement weather, otherwise beds remained on the verandah day and night and the flat roof of Knowles' wing was used as a promenade. The hospital continued to treat surgical TB until the early 1950s when improvements in treatment, preventative medicine and the unprecedented rise in the standard of living made TB an uncommon disease.

Listing NGR: TR3431070520

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