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HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITAL

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
For Homoeopaths....whomsoever they may be......

On or about the year 1796, Hahnemann published his famous "Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Remedial Powers of Medicines," and modern homoeopathy—a system of medicine which has for its formula "Similia similibus curentur " ("Let likes be cured by likes ") is the result of the great German scientist's researches and conclusions. The formula itself dates back to the days of Hippocrates, who admitted the occasional fitness and truth of the law of similars.

It is on record that when homoeopathy was first introduced into Birmingham in 1845 only two gentlemen could be found in the town so far convinced of its truth as to aver their readiness to be treated by it in acute illness. Its establishment here was due to the energy and skill of the late Dr. Fearon, through whose advocacy of the adaptability of Hahnemann's theory to the practical requirements of suffering humanity, the first Homoeopathic Dispensary was opened in Great Charles Street. In May, 1847, the Dispensary was removed to No. 2, Upper Priory, the corner house in the Old Square demolished a few months ago to make room for the present temporary Winter Gardens Pavilion. At that time the medical officers were Dr. Fearon, and Messrs. Lawrence and Parsons, and the chemist was Mr. C. Corfield.

For several years the institution made little progress, although it gradually came to be recognised as a useful addition to the minor charities of the town, but its sphere of usefulness was considerably extended when in 1860, on the receipt of a legacy of £500 bequeathed by Mr. E. J. Shirley, M.P., a vigorous effort was made to obtain additional pecuniary support, with the result that sufficient funds were collected to open the Institution as a hospital for the reception of in-patients.

At that time the trustees were Messrs. Edwin Bullock, R. L. Chance, Henry Christian, A. Dixon, Josiah Mason, and Henry Van Wart; and Dr. Gibbs Blake had just joined the medical staff.

By the death of Dr. Fearon in the same year the cause sustained a severe loss, but Dr. Blake, who succeeded to his and also to Mr. Parsons's practices, and Dr. Wynne Thomas, who shortly afterwards came from Wolverhampton to follow his profession in Birmingham, threw themselves heartily into the work, and under their united and able leadership homoeopathy, at first regarded as a temporary fad of a few local crotchet- mongers, has become an accepted system of medicine numbering thousands of adherents in Birmingham and its vicinity.

It may be interesting to note in passing that it was in a Birmingham publication— the Bazaar Gazette, printed and published in the Town Hall at a bazaar held there on behalf of the local Volunteer Rifle Corps in October, 1863—that the well known jeu d'esprit entitled " Homoeopathic Soup" first saw the light. The verses were subsequently inserted in Punch, but want of space admits of an extract only from them here :—

Take a robin's leg—
Mind, the drumstick merely—
Put it in a tub
Filled with water nearly:
Set it out of doors,
In a place that's shady,
Let it stand a week—
Three days for a lady.

When the soup is done,
set it by to clear it,
Then three times a day,
Set the patient near

If he chance to die,
Say that Nature did
If he should get well,
Give the soup the credit.

In 1866, the necessity for increased accommodation being apparent, it was decided to build a new Hospital. Mr. R. L. Chance and Mr. (afterwards Sir) Josiah Mason promised munificent aid towards the scheme and a strong committee was appointed to carry it out. It proved up-hill work, however, to raise the desired funds, though in 1869 over £1,2oo were obtained by means of a sale of work in the then newly erected Masonic Hall in New Street, and a performance in the Theatre Royal given by the Birmingham Amateur Dramatic Association. It was. in the days when the town and district were depressed by severe and wide-spread financial stagnation and commercial disasters, followed by the great Franco- German conflict which drew away the stream of practical English charitable and philanthropic benevolence in the direction of the Continent, and it was not until 1872 that a general canvass of the friends of homoeopathy was attempted and successfully achieved. A site was secured in Easy Row, and on 23rd November, 1875, one half of a new building, designed by Mr. Yeoville Thomason, was formally inaugurated by the Earl of Denbigh, the President of the Institution.

Since its establishment in Easy Row, the Hospital, as regards one half of it, has been housed in old private residences altered and patched from time to time to meet the needs of the staff and patients, but none the less the Birmingham homoeopaths have steadily held their ground, though little of sensational interest has transpired to agitate their ranks. Dr. Blake, who on first coming to the town found considerable difficulty owing to the unorthodoxy of his views on medicine in obtaining membership of the Union Club, was after some years of ostracism discovered to be a capable English gentleman whose acquaintance was worth cultivation. Afterwards when the Medical Institute was founded he was asked to join it, and on a resolution approving of the admission of homoeopaths to that institution being proposed it was carried in the affirmative by a large majority.

The Hospital participates periodically in the proceeds of the "Hospital Sunday" and “Hospital Saturday" collections throughout the city and suburbs.

It seems scarcely creditable to local homoeopaths that the Hospital building, which to the city at large is the principal outward and visible sign of the Hospital's prosperity, or otherwise, should remain for so many years in an unfinished condition, or, as the Chairman at the Annual Meeting termed it, "A Castle in Spain." Those who have dared and weathered so much should surely make a supreme effort to regard outside appearances, and, were it our province, we would commend to those whom it may concern the old adage '' Never do things by halves."




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Easy Row 1903.jpgEasy Row Broad St corner old.jpgHomeopathic Hospital Easy Row.jpgHomeopathic Hospital map 1889.jpegPoem copy.jpgBalance Sheet copy.jpg
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
Dennis,

As always, I go straight to the small print! The credit to "Mr Sterndale Bennett" for the photograph probably relates to the photographer W. Sterndale Bennett of Gloucester, who is most probably related to the composer Sir William Sterndale Bennett and his granddaughter. the actress Joan Sterndale Bennett. Quite a large family, who all seem to have done well, though I have failed to find a Birmingham connection anywhere.

Maurice :cool:
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Dennis,

As always, I go straight to the small print! The credit to "Mr Sterndale Bennett" for the photograph probably relates to the photographer W. Sterndale Bennett of Gloucester, who is most probably related to the composer Sir William Sterndale Bennett and his granddaughter. the actress Joan Sterndale Bennett. Quite a large family, who all seem to have done well, though I have failed to find a Birmingham connection anywhere.

Maurice :cool:

Around 1890 there was a Sterndale Bennett at 255, Broad Street, advertising photographs in fancy dress.
 
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