Hospital ward, 1890s

Hospital ward, c. 1890

The photograph shows a spotless hospital ward in the 1890s that is decorated with flowers in vases, flawlessly polished furniture, and attended by nursing staff in crisp, white uniforms. The environment reflects the contemporary vision of best practice in healthcare, mirroring a well-to-do home environment, albeit with more daylight and less upholstery for hygienic purposes. The ceiling height and the tall windows allowed good ventilation and maximised sunlight to help combat infections.

The emphasis on cleanliness and order in every detail from uniforms to furnishing allows us to see what values were prioritised. The uniforms and furnishing are similar in line to contemporary fashion, even if they are simpler in surface design.

Image courtesy of Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.