Florence Nightingale was born in Florence on May 12 1820 so the bicentenary year of her birth seems the perfect time to celebrate the life and work of this extraordinary woman, who single-handedly revolutionised world-wide healthcare reform. Florence Nightingale was so much more than the familiar image we have of ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ – she was a social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing.
From a very young age Florence was an active philanthropist looking after the ill and the poor who lived in the village close to her family’s country estate. By the time she was 16 it was clear that nursing was her calling and she believed it to be her ‘divine purpose’. Her parents were not pleased, nursing was not a respectable profession in those days, but Florence was determined to pursue her calling.
On our special walking tour with Blue Badge Guide, Janice Liverseidge, we learn about the life and work of this iconic woman, who turned down many marriage proposals in order to fulfil her calling. We’ll hear about her pioneering and transformational work to improve the unsanitary and inhumane conditions in military hospitals during the Crimean War (1853-1856), and about her pioneering lobbying to improve conditions in healthcare worldwide and to promote the role and status of the nursing profession.
After our walking tour we pause for a cup of tea/coffee/biscuits before continuing on to St Thomas’s Hospital to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum which has just opened a special bicentenary Exhibition – ‘Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places’ which, amongst many fascinating items to do with her life, has on show the original lamp she used while nursing during the Crimean War.
Image credit: Main picture – coloured lithograph – ‘Florence Nightingale with her lamp’ – artist after Henrietta Rae
Image credit: Photograph by Henry Hering c. 1860
Need to know
Meeting point: Outside The Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane
Nearest tube station: Hyde Park Corner
Walk ends: 4.30pm at St Thomas’s Hospital (nearest tube station – Westminster)
Price includes: Tea/coffee/biscuits (half way through) & entry fees