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#OTD 21 February 1918, afternoon tea at the Holy Cross Hospital

  • Holy Cross Hospital Haslemere Surrey GU27 1NQ United Kingdom (map)

#OTD Wednesday 21 February 1918

On this day, 100 years ago, a train and a fleet of ambulances transferred tuberculosis patients from St Catherine's Hospital, Ramsgate to the new Holy Cross sanatorium on Shottermill Hill, Haslemere. Both institutions were run by the religious order, the Daughters of the Holy Cross. The sisters were waiting to greet and care for those who had made this exhausting journey on a cold, late winter day. 

The patients included a vulnerable teenager, a girl born into poverty who had been orphaned and spent her life in children's homes and tuberculosis sanatoria. She came St Catherine's needing an environment that was able to offer care for her "advanced and chronic" condition. 

While her life ebbed away, World War I had come dangerously close to St Catherine's. Enemy bombing had already destroyed parts of Ramsgate; it was time to move inland, to the sanctuary of the surrey hills.

The Holy Cross would be her final destination, but it would go on to offer care and hope to many more tuberculosis patients before transforming into the specialist rehabilitation and long-term care facility for people with extremely complex needs caused by profound injury or a serious neurological condition. 

I am delighted to come back to Haslemere and give a very brief talk as part of the final celebrations for the centenary of the founding of the Holy Cross Hospital at Haslemere (1917-2017) in the presence of Mr Michael More-Molyneux, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and other distinguised guests.