By Matthew Goodwin

THIS year marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS and to celebrate this fantastic occasion we’ve delved into the archives to find some interesting, and sometimes rather strange, documents about medicine and health.

On 24 August 1686 the famous philosopher and physician, John Locke, wrote to Margaret, Countess of Shaftesbury, and within the letter also sent a ‘nephriticall stone’. John Locke states ‘Tis true the nephriticall stone, I herewith take the boldness to send your ladyship, has such a reputation, sometimes to produce extraordinary effects, that it affords me some pretence, and excuse for this confidence. The use of it is, in pain and fits of the gravell, to binde it on some part of the naked skin of the arme, whereby it often helps the expulsion of the stone, or other matter out of the Kidney & give sudden ease.’

An 18th century Hampshire farm account book contains recipes for custard puddings alongside cures for piles and rheumatism and remedies for livestock. The recipe for piles needed the juice from bruised bark mixed with cream and then to be used ‘according to discretion’ and that it was ‘recommen’d as an excellent oil for the piles and to be made in the May month’. Hopefully, nobody confused the custard pudding recipe for the piles remedy.

The Royal Hampshire County Hospital was founded in 1736 by Alured Clarke in Colebrook Street, Winchester. It was the first of its kind outside of London and opened with 60 beds before it moved to Parchment Street in 1759 and to its present site in Romsey Road in 1868. The first subscription paper for the hospital from 1736 records that ‘many sick persons languish for want of necessaries and too often die miserably, who are not entitled to a parochial relief’, and those who receive parish relief may suffer from a lack of medicines or unwholesome accommodation’. In 1861 Robert Rawlinson, a civil engineer, reported on the hospital’s sanitary condition as ‘the subsoil is saturated with the accumulated refuse of the Hospital ever since it was established’. It was decided that a new hospital was needed and the minutes of the building committee for the hospital on Romsey Road record in detail letters sent by Florence Nightingale. She comments on how improvements can be made to the plan, including the layout of the day rooms, but finished by saying ‘I think you may firstly congratulate yourselves on having planned a model hospital.’

On July 5, 6.30pm-9pm, Hampshire Record Office will be hosting a special event to celebrate 70 years of the NHS.

Dr Andrew Oswell will look into the history of the hospital with his talk ‘Plagues, pilgrims, and politics: a history of Royal Hampshire County Hospital’. A display of original documents, including the aforementioned items, letters by Miss Nightingale and more will be on display, alongside a short archive film show.

Tickets: £12. Advance booking required by phoning 01962 846154 or online, with admission including a drinks reception.

Matthew Goodwin is an Archivist at the Hampshire Record Office in Sussex Street, Winchester.