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Our History

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Church 1900
Image: The Church in its new location in St John's Wood in 1900, after its relocation from Great Ormond Street. 

In 1856, St John's Hospice - which is part of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth - was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, an order of nuns who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean war. The Hospital was originally situated next to the church of St John in Great Ormond Street in the centre of London. From the start it pioneered the use of advanced nursing techniques to help the sick, the dying and the needy in the local community.

By 1897, the Hospital needed more space to accommodate ever larger numbers of patients, and a site in St John's Wood was acquired and work began to move the Hospital. The Hospital moved in 1899.

In 1900, the chapel was moved, brick by brick, to its present position.

In 1977, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Brampton Trust - which has helped to fund the Hospital since 1907 - started to discuss the possibility of having beds available in the Hospital for the admission of cancer patients both on medical and social grounds. However, it was not until 1980 that plans for the development of what was then known as the Catherine McAuley Unit began to take shape. From 1981 to 1984, the unit consisted of a five-bedded ward situated at the front of the Hospital overlooking Grove End Road.

In 1984, on May 19, the Hospice was formally opened after the success of the Catherine McAuley Unit led to the development of a ten-bedded purpose built unit which would become known as St. John's Hospice. It was situated where the Day Services Centre is now, with a four-bedded men's bay and a similar women's bay, plus two single rooms.

In 1987, the Hospice extended its work with the addition of a Day Centre and a major new development plan was drawn up to extend the Hospice and increase the number of beds.

In 1991, the new wing which included the new Hospice opened on 3rd July.

In 1999, a further wing was added to the Hospice, increasing the number of beds to the existing nineteen.

In 2010, on March 31, the Inpatient Unit was reopened by the then Secretary for Health, the Right Honourable Andrew Lansley MP CBE, after refurbishments which were funded by the Department of Health, The Wolfson Foundation and other supporters. The refurbishment included en-suite wet rooms for all single bedrooms, a new purpose-built entrance, an improved reception area and a new fully accessible courtyard for patients.


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