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‘Neither curable nor incurable but actually dying’: the history of care at the Friedenheim/St. Columba's Hospital, Home of Peace for the Dying (1885-1981)

Broome, Helen Isobel (2011) ‘Neither curable nor incurable but actually dying’: the history of care at the Friedenheim/St. Columba's Hospital, Home of Peace for the Dying (1885-1981) University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 394pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This thesis fills a manifest gap in the history of end-of-life care in England through an exploration of the circumstances, position and importance of the Friedenheim, Home of Peace for the Dying (1885-1981), thought to be the first proto-hospice in this country. As yet virtually unexplored in published works, the nature of this hospital and the ethos of care provided there are demonstrated through evidence drawn from a multiplicity of sources, including archival records and personal testimony. By definitively establishing the chronological evolution of the institution, its locations and facilities, discrepancies in current lists and commentaries are clarified. Analysis of the nature, scope and influence of this hospital, which offered specialised care only for the terminally ill, illustrates and informs the emergence of specialised care for the dying in England.

The thesis tests the accepted primacy of the institution by an examination and comparison of coeval establishments for the sick and dying. The founder, Frances Davidson, sought to provide a place for the poor to die and the space thus provided for clinical, spiritual and social care is explored. The complexities of managing this philanthropic institution and sustaining its financial viability are exposed through consideration of its administration and evolution. Analysis of patient profiles, morbidity data and referral statistics furnishes insight into the evolving nature and place of the hospital within London’s medical and philanthropic worlds. Details of the clinical, social and spiritual attention given to the patients reveal the breadth of care provided for them. Finally, the thesis discloses links with Cicely Saunders and challenges the received assumption that the Friedenheim, by now called St. Columba’s Hospital, played no part in the establishment of the so-called ‘modern’ hospice movement.

The extensive and detailed results of this research confirm and justify for the first time the Friedenheim’s accepted place as the London pioneer of dedicated institutional care for dying people and place it at the inception of specialised care in England for those at the end of life.

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Published date: July 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology


Local EPrints ID: 208197
PURE UUID: 970bd226-401a-4870-a337-d6cf9a13849e

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Date deposited: 19 Jan 2012 15:34
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:49

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Author: Helen Isobel Broome
Thesis advisor: BERNARD J HARRIS

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