London Lock Hospital and Rescue Home

Scope and Content

The records of the London Lock Hospital, 1746-1948, include Board/Committee Minutes (neat and rough), General, Special and Annual Court Minutes, and Asylum Court Minutes; Minutes of other Committees such as the Asylum Committee, Lock Chapel Building Committee, Chapel Committee and Hospital Committee; Financial records; Printed Reports, including general reports and annual Reports; Bye- laws of the Hospital and Asylum; Patient Information such as drug registers, case notes, clinical notes and drawings; Statistics; Visitors Book; records of Dinners held; publications about the Hospital; and cuttings albums.

Administrative / Biographical History

When the London Lock Hospital was founded in 1746, by surgeon William Bromfeild, it was the first voluntary hospital for venereal diseases. It was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948 and closed in 1953.

The original building for the hospital was at Grosvenor Place, near Hyde Park, (1746 - 1841). In 1842 it moved to Harrow Road, Westbourne Grove. A new building was opened in 1862 at Dean Street and Harrow Road became "The Female Hospital." Dean Street was for male outpatients. A new wing was opened at Dean Street in 1867 to make room for all the referrals from the War Office who had no facilities to fulfil their obligations under the Contagious Diseases Act 1864, the number of patients significantly declined after the act was repealed in 1886.

The Female Hospital added a maternity unit in 1917 and at the request of the London County Council a special unit for mentally defective women with venereal disease was opened shortly after. An eye clinic, an electro-therapeutic department and an genito-urinary unit opened in the 1920's. The latter treated a wide range of gynaecological conditions which were not obviously venereal in origin. During the Second World War The Female Hospital was requisitioned by the War Office for use as a Military Isolation Hospital. Clinics continued during the war at Dean Street for both male and female patients.

In 1758 Revd. Martin Madan became the Honorary Chaplain and built a chapel, seating 800, which opened in 1765. The rent of pews provided income for the hospital. Madan, a follower of John Wesley, introduced singing of hymns by the whole congregation and published a book of hymns with music as used in the chapel. Madan was forced to resign in 1780 after publishing "Thelyphthora or Female Ruin" which advocated the solution to prostitution in polygamy. From 1889 the management of the chapel moved to the congregants and it was renamed "Christ's Church".

The Lock Asylum for the Reception of Penitent Female Patients (also known as the Lock Rescue Home) was proposed in 1787 and opened in 1792 with the aim of providing a refuge/reformatory for women with venereal diseases who had been treated at the Lock Hospital, but had no steady life to which to return. The girls were taught needlework and other skills which it was hoped would fit them for service. It originally occupied buildings at Osnaburg Row but moved to a building opposite the Cannon Bewery in Knightsbridge in 1812 and to Lower Eaton Street in 1816. However, Lower Eaton Street was felt to be too far from the chapel at Grosvenor Square. The Asylum moved to the new building in Harrow Road in 1849 and changed its name to "Rescue Home" in 1893. The full name of the London Lock now being the London Lock Hospital and Rescue Home.


The physical collection is arranged by record type. To improve clarity, this description is arranged into subfonds based on record function / activity and then chronological series.

Access Information


Custodial History

Transferred to Royal College of Surgeons in 1952 by the North West Regional Health Authority who had taken over responsibility for the Hospital in 1948

Related Material

"Lectures on Surgery delivered in London during the years 1790 & 1791 by John Pearson, Surgeon to the London Lock Hospital and to the public dispensary, Carey Street, Vol. 1". RCS Archives Ref. MS0494