DISCOVER THE QUEEN VICTORIA HOSPITAL (QVH) COLLECTION
In November 2009, East Grinstead Museum became the guardians of the collection of the former Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) Museum. The collection has tremendous local significance and includes objects, archives, books and images which had been retained, collected and cared for by Bob Marchant (Honorary Curator) since the 1970s on the suggestion of two surgeons that the Hospital have a museum.
The QVH can trace its origins back to 1863 as one of the first cottage hospitals in England, eventually moving to the present fourth and larger purpose built hospital in 1936. The collection traces the transformation of the hospital from these modest beginnings to an acclaimed plastic surgery and burns centre.
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It became particularly famous during the Second World War for the treatment of burned aircrew when Archibald McIndoe, the Civilian Consultant in Plastic Surgery to the Royal Air Force, established a Maxillo-Facial Unit at the hospital.
He pioneered a remarkable treatment regime for severely burned airmen, famously known as his “Guinea Pigs” who in July 1941 formed the Guinea Pig Club as a social support group.
Through McIndoe’s complementary holistic and psycho-social rehabilitation treatment, East Grinstead soon became known as the ‘town that did not stare’, referring to the townspeople’s active acceptance of disfigured and convalescing service personnel in their midst.
The collection, which had been placed in storage at a local furniture depository, was received uncatalogued, unlabelled and with little written information as to what it comprised.
The Museum’s Collection Team inventoried the collection in it’s entirety and each item was labelled, repacked and stored correctly to minimize damage. Details of each item have been added to the Museum’s collection database aside a photograph of the item, this is available to visitors on the computer in the Research Room.
A selection of items are now on display in the Museum and further items in the collection can be seen by appointment with our Curator. Find out what else we have been doing with the collection here.
The ‘Rebuilding Bodies and Souls’ project
We feel there is more we can do to make the collection accessible; we want to create a lasting legacy that tells the story of the Queen Victoria Hospital and the Guinea Pig Club the way it should be told so that every person living in East Grinstead and the surrounding areas can be proud to call their heritage.
That is why we are pleased to share our vision ‘Rebuilding Bodies and Souls’ project.
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