Buckingham Hospital is probably the finest late Victorian building in Buckingham. Because it is set behind and above Buckingham’s High Street, it is often ignored. It’s worth making a detour and climbing its approach to see the carefully crafted vitreous brick facade in Jacobean style.
Until this century, Buckingham people said that the building had been designed by its local celebrity architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was born in Gawcott. But, our “Nursing Home” was built some 8 years after Sir George had died! No, John Oldrid Scott designed this fine building; John Oldrid was one of Sir George’s sons.
Buckingham’s cottage hospital is an accident of fate. Egerton Hubbard , son of Lord Addington, fell off his horse and was injured at Bent Hill on the outskirts of Buckingham. He was taken to a small Nursing Home in Castle Street set up by Buckingham Parish Church where he received good care.
After he had made a full recovery, his father, Baron Addington, of Addington near Winslow offered to pay for a better Nursing Home for the people of North Bucks. Was it a coincidence that Egerton Hubbard was elected M.P. for Buckingham in 1886, the year when Buckingham Hospital was being built?
Buckingham’s health at the end of the 19th century was safe in two pairs of capable hands: those of Dr George De’Ath (try omitting his apostrophe!) and his advisor, Florence Nightingale, who was a frequent visitor to Claydon House. Together they devised a scheme of “Rural Health Visitors”: ladies on bikes who would cycle around villages advising on simple ways to healthier living.
The world’s first Conference for Rural Health Visitors was held in the early 1890s at Buckingham Nursing Home. The scheme was a great success and spread throughout the world.
Buckingham people love and value their little hospital. I’m told that the quality of its care and its fine fresh food puts some larger hospitals in Bucks in the shade. Patients and visitors have also benefited from the beautiful grounds that have been tended by John Mullis, who retired in 2007 at the advanced age of 80 having served the hospital as porter and gardener for 25 years. There are so many reasons why residents support the League of Friends of Buckingham Hospital with such generosity.