As well as the wonderful explanation of our history below, please do view the flickbook version of our Heritage Centre too.
1900: Arrival of Sisters in Hackney
- At the turn of the century, living conditions were grim in the crowded tenements of Hackney.
- On June 27 1900, five Religious Sisters of Charity (Irish Sisters of Charity as they were known at that time) arrived in Hackney – Winefred Sugrue, Mary Sabas O’Connor, Mary Uriel Duffy, Catherine O’Flynn and Agnes Aloysius Martin.
- They were invited initially by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vaughan.
- Their arrival was largely due to Father Peter Gallwey, an Irish Jesuit priest, who through a wealthy contact was able to raise enough money for a Foundation.
- The Foundation was funded by the generosity of Grace Goldsmid
- In 1901 as a result of a bitter winter and widespread unemployment needy mothers and children arrived at the convent door. Nobody was turned away.
1903: Cambridge Lodge
- In the spring of 1903, the Sisters moved into 6 Cambridge Lodge.
- In June 1903 the Cambridge Lodge Estate was put up for sale. However the Sisters did not have enough funds to buy it.
- On December 4 1903 the Estate was sold to an anonymous buyer for £10,000.
- On March 25 1904, the anonymous buyer handed over the property to the Religious Sisters of Charity for use as a Hospice for the Dying.
1905: St. Joseph’s Hospice Opens
- Necessary renovation work (funded by the Religious Sisters of Charity) was completed in January 1905.
- A day before the opening a tram driver, Mr Richard Whelan, was carried in by work colleagues. Suffering from tuberculosis he died two weeks later.
- St Joseph’s Hospice opened quietly on January 15 1905.
- Among the Patrons were Queen Alexander and her daughter, Princess Victoria.
- From the very beginning, the Hospice welcomed patients of all faiths and none.
- In 1907, the first Annual Report was produced. In the two years since opening 212 patients had been admitted.
- The Sisters were kept also busy serving the people of Hoxton and Hackney in their own homes and witnessed the poverty and suffering first hand.
- They also served breakfast to the men and women of the roads every day from the huts at the back of the Hospice.
- In 1909, St. Joseph’s Hospice was feeding starving people in conditions of high unemployment and harsh weather.
1911: Hospice Expands
- The first building project was the construction was of a chapel, just 45 feet long by 24 feet wide, with outer walls of corrugated iron. It cost £450.
- In 1922 three new wards were built. These housed patients with tuberculosis.
- In 1923, the hospice was recognised by the Ministry for Health as a home for “the reception of advanced cases of pulmonary tuberculosis”.
- In 1927, 8 King Edward Road, just around the corner from the Hospice, was purchased as a nurses’ home.
1932: The Permanent Chapel Opens
- In 1932 a new chapel, designed by John Sterrett, connecting the convent to the hospice was opened.
- This chapel still exists today and is the oldest remaining part of the present day building.
- In 1939, the hospice was requisitioned for defence purposes. Hospice patients and equipment were moved to accommodation in Bath which was owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity.
- Bombs fell on Hackney damaging parts of St Joseph’s Hospice.
- In 1945, following this time of conflict, improvements were made to update facilities and increase the comfort of patients.
- The Sisters also embarked on plans for a new hospice wing to meet the increasing demand for beds.
1950 – 2000: A New Era of Expansion
- Following the reconstruction of 1945, a new chapter began in the life of the hospice.
- There were now 25 nuns, a large staff of doctors, nurses, ancillary workers and volunteers.
- In 1958, Cicely Saunders (founder of St. Christopher’s Hospice) began working on her clinical studies at St Joseph’s Hospice.
- In 1969, the Day Centre and Occupational Therapy Unit was opened.
- The hospice was caring for 120 patients in their own homes, and contained 112 in-patient beds that accommodated between 600 and 700. patients each year.
- At its peak, St Patrick’s wing also housed up to 60 long stay patients.
- Herman House rehabilitation and respite care unit was opened in 1977 and had 26 residents.
- In 1975, Home Care (MacMillan Cancer Support) was launched by Dr Richard Lamerton and Sr Antonia.
- In 1979, Dr James Hanratty (pioneer of hospice medicine and co - founder of Help the Hospices) became St Joseph’s first Medical Director.
- Under his leadership, the hospice expanded and multidisciplinary meetings were introduced for patients and families.
- In 1984, the Norfolk Wing Education Centre and Day Hospice was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
- September 26 1990 saw the inaugural meeting of the Board of Management.
- In 1996, the first issue of St. Joseph’s Newsletter was produced.
The 2000s: An Expansive and Modern Hospice
- The twentieth century saw St. Joseph’s transform from a modest establishment providing solitude and care to the dying poor, people of all faiths and none, to an expansive modern hospice including palliative care, education and research.
- Over the course of a century, St. Joseph’s Hospice has demonstrated that it can adapt and change with the times, while still maintaining its original mission and remaining rooted within its local community.