Cottage Hospital to Castlewood

Cottage Hospital
Woolwich, Plumstead and District Cottage Hospital

The hoardings around the former Cottage Hospital on Shooters Hill have come down, revealing a restored and spruced up Queen Anne style house where not so long ago there was a boarded-up, vandalised wreck. Like other nearby historic buildings such as the Police Station and the Royal Military Academy, the Cottage Hospital has been transformed into housing by combining a converted and restored old building with new houses and flats. The picture at the top shows how it looked in its heyday, and that at the bottom how it is now – post-restoration and conversion.

I love maps, especially old ones, so it was fascinating to see the history of the building illustrated in a sequence of 6 maps from 1869 to 1991 in a “map regression” presented by developers Turnhold in their Supporting Statement for the planning application. The maps clearly show the hospital develop from its original T shape with the addition of wings and annexes over the years. The statement also contains an interesting set of photographs of the building before it was restored. The early history of the hospital is described on the Lost Hospitals of London website:

The Woolwich, Plumstead & District Cottage Hospital was founded in 1888 by Mr. William Woodford, who remained its Honorary Secretary until 1912.

Memorial stone at Castlewood
Memorial stone at Castlewood

A half-acre site on Shooters Hill was leased from the Secretary of State for War in December 1888 and the foundation stone for the building was laid by the Duke of Cambridge in September 1889.

The Hospital opened in November 1890. The 3-storey building contained 12 beds, two of which were reserved for private patients.

By 1912 the Hospital had 12 beds and 2 cots. Schoolchildren referred by the LCC for removal of tonsils and adenoids accounted for a great number of admissions. The Hospital also undertook herniotomies and minor operations. Out-patients were also seen, although there was no formal Out-Patients Department.

The Cottage Hospital buildings stopped being a hospital in 1928 when patients were transferred to the newly opened War Memorial Hospital further up Shooters Hill.

English Heritage have recently released a draft of Volume 48, Woolwich, of their Survey of London. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in local history, and covers the story of  Woolwich in marvellous detail. It’s a pity it doesn’t cover more of Shooters Hill, but Chapter 10 does bring the story of the Cottage Hospital up to date:

The cottage hospital was adapted as a training school and home for nurses. After subsequent use as a carpenters’ workshop, in 1962 Bexley Hospital extended and reopened the premises as Castlewood Day Hospital. Final health-service use in the 1990s was as the Signpost Castlewood Centre, for the rehabilitation of teenage drug-users. Turnhold Properties acquired the disused hospital and, after a period of dereliction, the buildings were converted in 2011–12 for Family Mosaic, a housing association, with the Hill Partnership as developers and contractors. Forge Architects supplied designs, with details and subsequent work by Saunders Boston, architects. The result was Castlewood, a complex of five flats and six houses incorporating a new pale-brick terrace to the rear, of two and a half storeys.

So the building’s name is now Castlewood, presumably because it was once the Castlewood Day Hospital. Not to be confused with the mansion named Castlewood, shown on 1914 and earlier maps, which once stood in Castle Wood to the south of Severndroog castle, or another former mansion, Castle House,  home of Major Charles Phillips who donated the land for the War Memorial Hospital.

Former Cottage Hospital
Former Cottage Hospital today

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