The Homeopathic Hospital
Reprint of an article that appeared in the Winter 2010 Edition of Common Ground.
Tunbridge Wells Homoeopathic Hospital was originally established in around 1890 at premises in Upper Grosvenor Road. However, in 1903 the hospital authorities purchased a large Georgian building called Silwood House. This faced The Common, but stood slightly set back from the London Road frontage, and was approached by a carriage drive from Church Road.
The local Architect C.H. Strange was entrusted with the dual tasks of re-modelling the old domestic accommodation to suit the new use, and designing new additions to provide an operating theatre and other necessary hospital facilities. Thus started a long programme of work to the hospital by C. H. Strange, which, eventually, led to complete rebuilding.
In 1920, part of the old Silwood House was removed, and a fresh wing built in its place, containing a new Women’s Ward. This was opened in June 1921 by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise. Then, in 1932, the remainder of the old house was replaced by a new West Wing, with a large balcony overlooking The Common.
The West Wing was opened in June 1932 by the Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, who described homoeopathy as a “sound health method” that was “so sane and logical”. Her remarks were echoed by Sir John Weir, Physician Ordinary to the then Prince of Wales, In a speech that was described by the Courier as ‘racy”. ‘Some insurance people”, he said, “give reduced rates to temperance people, but I think they ought to give them to homoeopaths”.
In his design for the new West Wing, C. H. Strange followed the general form of the old Silwood House, with its large roof and three dormer windows. As a result, the free-Georgian style building sits comfortably in the important setting it enjoys among its older neighbours. Although parts of the building are still used for health purposes, its long term future seems worryingly uncertain.
By Philip Whitbourn.