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Florence Nightingale Museum (London)

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3 Reviews

The Florence Nightingale Museum is located at St Thomas' Hospital, which faces the Palace of Westminster across the River Thames in central London. It is open to the public seven days a week. The museum tells the story of the life and work of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing in the United Kingdom. In 1860, four years after her famous involvement in the Crimean War, Nightingale founded the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital.

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    3 Reviews
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      02.09.2011 16:31
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      Fascinating in my opinion, but not to everyone's taste.

      Florence Herself and Why She Fascinates Me:
      Florence Nightingale holds a peculiar sort of fascination for me, and it's not because of what she's generally remembered for - as the 'Lady with the lamp' but because she became ill later in life with what is now believed to be CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) which is very similar to the Fibromialgia Syndrome which I have, and her birthday is celebrated as national ME day because of this. When I was involved in my local support group I learnt a bit about her in order to write a piece for our local newsletter, and so when I recently got the opportunity to visit the museum I was thrilled with the idea as you can probably imagine.

      The Museum (Times, Costs etc.):
      The museum is located in the grounds of the St Thomas' Hospital and is open daily from 10am till 5pm and it costs £5.80 for adults and £4.80 for kids and concessions. As well as giving you access to the museum, it also gives you access to the free audio tour as well. You can also buy a family ticket for £16 which covers 2 adults and up to 5 kids.

      The Audio Tour:
      The audio tour is quite an important feature of the museum and there are actually two different tours - one is for adults and the other for kids - I think this is a great idea in many ways as I think adults and kids find different facts interesting and this allows kids to get everything within their own comprehension level, and at the same time as adults we get to hear more in depth stuff.

      When you go in you're given a sort of stethoscope thingy which you wear to hear the various different bits of information. (looking on the website, they do an 'eye spy trail' for under 7's to follow as they go around the museum to stop them feeling left out, but I've no experience of this). The audio tour is given via different points around the museum where you stop and listen, often to Florence's own words about her life.

      What There is to See:
      There are loads of different things to see here, from personal belongings and toys from when she was a kid through to her pet owl which is now stuffed and on display here, as well of course as lots of stuff to do with the Crimean war and her legacy to nursing.

      The items that fascinated me most were things like her medicine chest that she carried with her which had weird items you just wouldn't expect to see in a first aid pack today... some were kind of normal like carbonate of soda, but some were a bit out there like powdered rhubarb and ginger. There are also loads of letters and other papers that she wrote (Did you know she invented the pie chart? - she did!), some of which are really interesting.

      The museum is organised as a kind of biographical history if you like - starting with her childhood, and then proceeding on through the various aspects of her life including the places she travelled to with side steps where you get extra information about things like the Crimea and people like Mary Seacole as well as later on information about early nursing training and so on.

      Accessibility:
      The museum is completely accessible for wheelchairs, and has a nice clean and beautifully accessible disabled toilet. There's also a loop system in place for anyone using a hearing aid. Car parking locally isn't brilliant - you've got to park in the St Thomas' Hospital car park, and you're very definitely inside the congestion zone here too (If you carry a disability blue badge you can apply in advance online for a free pass for the congestion zone, but you need to do it a bit ahead of time or you'll get caught out with it not arriving when you need it!).

      Other Thoughts:
      The museum doesn't have its own eatery or anything but you can go into St Thomas' where there are refreshments available though I have to say the thought of hospital fare didn't appeal to us much so we sought out somewhere a little way outside the hospital grounds to have our cuppa when we visited.

      I have to say this is quite a small museum and not one it will take you very long to walk round. It took us maybe an hour and a half I'd say, so not really something you want to plan as a full afternoon activity or anything, but being located where it is there's plenty of other things locally that it can be combined with. Overall we very much enjoyed our experience (me more than hubby I think), and I would recommend it, although if you're very limited on the time you have in London, it's not going to be at the top of your list unless you have a specific interest in Florence or her works I think.

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      • More +
        21.05.2009 12:10
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        Worth a visit but allow yourself plenty of time. Two hours was not enough for me.

        The Florence Nightingale Museum is situated at St, Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1.

        It's one of those places that I had heard of but never had the opportunity to visit. I was actually at St. Thomas' so I decide it might be worthwhile taking a look and I wasn't disappointed.

        Florence Nightingale is famous for the huge impact she made on modern nursing practise.

        This museum covers the Crimean War and her tremendous contribution to caring for the wounded and her dedication to her vocation.

        Admission is £5.80 which sounds quite a lot, but I thought it was worth it as it not something that I will probably ever do again.

        A family ticket for 4 is £16. Opening times are 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4.30pm on bank holidays. There is wheelchair access for anyone who requires it, although the entire museum is on ground level.

        There is such a lot inside. For the kids there's special section where they can find out about Florence Nightingale in an easily understood and understandable way. (The web site at www.florence-nightingale.co.uk has lots of useful information.)

        There is a cafe and a restaurant in the hospital grounds and lots more along the South bank and around nearby Waterloo Station.

        There is a permanent collection here including things that belonged to Florence Nightingale like her slate, a Turkish lantern that she used in the Crimea. There is also a register of nurses who were sent to the Crimea and many other reminders of the Crimean War.

        The museum is not just a collection of Florence Nightingale memorabilia, it traces the history of nursing and the brave women who helped to develop it to days high standards.

        This is a fascinating place to go.

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          20.04.2009 11:54
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          A very good resource for the life and times of Florence Nightingale

          Finding myself in London with an afternoon free and wanting to make it worthwhile having spent the usual extortionate amount to pay for the pleasure of riding in a noisy, crowded and dirty train I wanted to find somewhere cheap that I could spend my time in a constructive way.

          Having consulted the 2 for 1 offer booklet for all ye long suffering locomotive travellers (you can probably tell that me and trains do not see eye to eye) I stumbled across the Florence Nightingale Museum for a mere £5.80 (with two of us going that worked out at £2.90 - nice!). Thinking that yes, since there was such a huge gap in my Florence Nightingale / Crimean War knowledge that this was indeed the place to go.

          At only about a 10 minute walk from Waterloo Station it was in a good location, although we did struggle to find it at first, it taking us a little while to locate the first signpost (although in all fairness I struggle to get anywhere without Sat Nav or divine intervention) but from then on it was plain sailing!

          Estimated perusal time was about 1hr 30 mins and in this time you are taken through the complete journey of her life, starting from her childhood, through to her young adult years ,then the Crimean War and finally to the remainder of her life devoted to improving hospital care.

          This museum was well ordered and had a lot of nice memorabilia from the time period so it wasn't just boring text to read all the time. There were a few opportunities to try on hats and dresses from the time period and (something I think every good museum should have) an interactive display where you can press buttons to light up a map - this particular one being of the Crimean War.

          I have to confess, I always forget her devoted work after the events of the Crimean War which helped lead to a complete restructuring of the hospital system and to instigate massive improvements into the general sanitary conditions in hospitals, but the museum provides a nice insight into just how influential her work really was.

          One final thing this museum manages to do is to dispel the common misconception of her doing her rounds about the hospital with a single candle when in fact it was a Turkish camping lamp (how could anyone get that wrong?). But when you think about it, walking round a draughty old hospital with the power of one candle light to see which could have been blown out with one overly eager breeze no longer seems all that plausible.

          There is plenty at this museum for both adults and children, with some funny anecdotal quotes for the adults and some outrageous Papier Mache structures to please the kids, although there was not much to buy in the gift shop afterwards.

          I came out knowing a lot more than before I went in, so if you're interested in either Florence Nightingale or the Crimean War this museum will not disappoint.

          Prices:

          Adult: £5.80 per ticket
          Child: £4.80 per ticket
          Family: From £16.00 per ticket
          Concession: £4.80 per ticket

          Opening times:

          Monday - Friday 10.00 - 17.00 last admission 16.00. Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holiday Mondays: 10.00 - 16.30 (last admission 15.30)
          Closed: Easter/Christmas

          Address:
          St Thomas Hospital
          2 Lambeth Palace Road
          London
          SE1 7EW

          Telephone: +44 (0)20 7620 0374
          Fax: +44 (0)20 7928 1760

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