Hubert von Herkomer (1849 - 1914)

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The Radcliffe Infirmary
8 5/8" x 12 3/8"
INV. #:
Original. Presented in a 20" x 16" acid free museum mat.
Justification du triage. No. 281 a 1050 sur papier velin. Printed on fine vellum paper stock in 1897.
About The Radcliffe Infirmary:
“The first proposals to build a hospital for Oxford were made in 1758 at a meeting of the Radcliffe Trustees, who administered the estate of Dr John Radcliffe (1650-1714), physician to Queen Anne. The sum of £4000 was released for the new hospital, which was constructed on land given by Thomas Rowney, MP for Oxford 1722-1759.

The honorary physicians and surgeons gave their services free, maintaining themselves by private practice, although there were junior doctors on the paid staff. The hospital depended on voluntary giving, and larger donations conferred the status of Governor, with the right to elect officers and recommend patients. A patient could only be admitted on a Governor's 'turn', a system which was ended officially in 1884. Some of the Governors continued to claim their right to admit patients until 1920, when 2d a week Contributory Scheme was introduced. Within three years this was providing 60% of the hospital's income.

The hospital opened on St. Luke's Day (18 October) 1770. On 30 November 1770, the Bishop of Oxford consecrated the Radcliffe Infirmary's burial ground (long since buried itself), and the congregation prayed that it might be the 'only useless part of the Establishment'. The hospital stood on a five acre site in the open fields of St Giles, which was then well away from the city, and had its own three acre garden. There were just two wards, male and female, but such was the demand by patients that another was opened by the end of the year and three more in October 1771. Such heavy use might seem surprising given the fact that many conditions were barred by the rules. Patients suffering from smallpox (or any infectious disease), epilepsy, ulcers, inoperable cancers, tuberculosis or dropsy were not admitted; neither were pregnant women, children under seven (except for major operations) or the mentally ill.

The rules on admission were relaxed during the nineteenth century. While the Radcliffe still did not cater for particular conditions, it was often associated with the development of separate specialist facilities. The Warneford Hospital (now part of the Oxfordshire Mental Healthcare NHS Trust) was originally the Radcliffe Asylum, founded as a sister institution. Infectious diseases were accommodated from 1824, but the fever wards were never adequate and eventually gave way to the city isolation hospital at Cold Arbour.

Two years later, in 1886, the Oxford Eye Hospital took over the original fever ward. A designated children's ward was opened in 1877. Maternity care was first provided in 1918, and shortly after this orthopaedic work began on the site of the Infirmary's convalescent home at the Wingfield Hospital, now the Nuffiled Orthopaedic Centre.

In 1919 the Infirmary purchased the Manor House estate, on which the John Radcliffe Hospital was eventually to be built. When the Churchill Hospital was no longer needed by the American forces who had used it during the first years of the Second World War, it was taken over the Radcliffe Infirmary.” - © Copyright Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust 2005,