Victorian Hospitals

During the Victorian Era, hospitals were claimed to be "the house of death" because people who would walk in could smell rotting flesh and vomit and can hear people screaming as doctors would be working on them without an anesthesia. Before 1850's, there was a high chance in spreading communicable disease within the hospital. It was believed that the gross smell from the air caused infection. But, then it wasn't until the middle of the century that doctors and nurses thought spreading diseases was challenged blaming the spreading of the disease on germs. Hospitals were designed with small rooms because it was thought that smaller rooms would help prevent the spread of germs and diseases from people to people. Small rooms didnt do anything though, it made spreading germs faster and easier because these small wards would overflow. Surgeries would also be super painful since anesthesia was not available then and so they started to reduce surgeries because the success rate would be so low. There were many victorian hospitals that were made for patients. First, there was a victorian voluntary hospital that was started as an instautional charity for the poor community at no charge. Then, starting around 1850-1860's there were hospitals called specialist/cottage hospitals. Specialist hospitals were there to serve the need for caring people with certain medical conditions which were excluded by the voluntary hospitals. The cottage hospitals were built in rural parts of an are for communites to drive a small distance vs long distance to get to a hospital. Finally, during the victorian era, there were infectious disease hospitals where it would only carry patients that had infectious diseases. These hospitals were sometimes run under the local medical officer of health. In some instincaes at the infectious diseases hospital, charges to patients were no charge which would encourage patients to protect themsleves and not infect other people.

While watching the Middlemarch series, there was a scene in episode 3 where Dr. Lydgate and Mr. Crabstone went to a patients house to do surgery to take out a tumor in the abdomen which ended up to be a cramp according to Dr. Lydgate. Details spotted during this scene was that the place to do surgery was in a very small room with beds right next to eachother and neither Dr. Lydgate and Mr. Crabstone were not dressed to well. 

Works Cited

Victorian Hospitals - 1876 Victorian England Revisited,

“Medical Act 1858.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2019,

“An Appointment at the House of Death: the Horror of the Early Victorian Hospital.” HistoryExtra, 26 June 2019,

NHS Choices, NHS,

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. Jun 1858

Parent Chronology: