The Fountain and The Grove

St George's 2The Grove HospitalPevensey RoadEdith

Whilst many of the homes of the Summerstown 182 still exist, others have completely disappeared, literally swallowed up by new development and modern progress. If you head down Pevensey Road towards Tooting today, you walk straight into the monolithic St George’s Hospital. In 1914 this road ran straight into another road called Tooting Grove and dissected a vast site which was home to two hospitals, The Fountain and The Grove. James and Emily Wilson lived at 48 Tooting Grove. Their son James, a soldier of the East Surrey Regiment was killed on 24th March 1915. If you were heading up Tooting Grove towards Summerstown, The Fountain Hospital would have been on the right and The Grove on the left. As part of the establishment of the National Health Service after the Second World War, St George’s Hospital Medical School moved from Hyde Park Corner and took over the two old run-down hospitals. In 1973 building began on a huge new hospital complex which swallowed up the top part of Tooting Grove. The bottom bit still exists but the houses were rebuilt in the thirties. You can still follow the course of the road by entering the Medical School via Cranmer Terrace, and by my reckoning, James Wilson’s old home is somewhere in the Lanesborough maternity wing. The Grove Fever Hospital opened in 1899 specialising in the treatment of infectious diseases. During the First World War it was requisitioned by the War Office and in 1916 became the Grove Military Hospital with 550 beds. Before closing in September 1919 it had treated 2,499 officers and 13,459 enlisted men. A number of the Summerstown 182 buried in the adjacent cemeteries very likely passed through. On the other side of Tooting Grove was The Fountain, also originally a fever hospital. At the turn of the century, a vicar’s daughter from Norwich called Edith Cavell trained as a nurse there. She later worked in Belgium and was notoriously executed on October 12th 1915. Her statue stands just to the north of Trafalgar Square opposite the National Portrait Gallery. In 1912 the Fountain became a centre for the treatment of mentally ill children. In 1959 it relocated to St Mary’s in Carshalton and the building was demolished in 1963. A support group called the Friends of the Fountain Hospital developed into the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and today is known as Mencap.

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