Grand in conception, magnificent in design
Royal Haslar’s prestigious and splendidly preserved historic Georgian buildings have stood the test of time. Designed by Theodore Jacobson in the 18th century, they are a monument to classical design and traditional workmanship. Royal Haslar’s restoration offers a unique opportunity to live in modern comfort amongst these elegant buildings, a daily reminder of Britain’s distinguished past.
Set in 62 acres of mature parkland on the south coast overlooking the English Channel, Royal Haslar is at the heart of 17 miles of waterfront, marinas and beaches. Boasting wonderful views of the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and the Solent, Royal Haslar’s serene sea-front location is a breath of fresh air with a wonderfully rich history.
After submissions to King George II, led by the Earl of Sandwich and the Admiralty, planning for the hospital commenced in 1745. Haslar was to be one of three proposed hospitals to provide care for sailors of the Fleet. The building of the hospital took 16 years and was completed in 1762.
Haslar was designed by Theodore Jacobsen, FRS, in the manner of the Foundling Hospital (London). Building was under the direction of James Horne, a surveyor, and John Turner, a Master Carpenter from Portsmouth Dockyard. Although no record of a formal opening of the Royal Hospital Haslar can be traced, it is believed to have opened on the 12th October 1753.
Many famous men and women have served at Haslar, among them James Lind, the ‘father of nautical medicine’ who discovered a cure for scurvy. Lind continued his studies whilst Senior Physician at Haslar, for in his time ships routinely landed with many of their crew suffering from scurvy. In 1797 the First Lord of the Admiralty visited Haslar and asked to see a case of scurvy, but not one could be found.
St Luke’s church was built facing the quadrangle, completed in 1762. It served staff, their families and patients. Surgical and Medical patients were to be seated either side of the nave with staff and labourers seated in the gallery.
During the nineteenth century many Army casualties from the Peninsular campaign (1809), the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and the Crimean War (1853-56) were admitted and treated at Haslar. Such was the fine treatment given by Haslar to the Army that the hospital was held up as a shining light to Nursing by the Army authorities.
Famous Royal visitors to Royal Haslar have included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (in 1855, Queen Victoria returning in 1882), the Duke of York in 1897, King George V and Queen Mary in 1910 (Queen Mary enjoying the tram railway); Queen Mary in 1917 to open the Canada House; Princess Mary (1943), Lord Mountbatten (regularly between 1955 and 1965 when he was First Sea Lord then Chief of Defence Staff); HRH Princess Alexandra (1969) and the Prince of Wales in 1982 to visit the injured from the Falklands Campaign.
During the many wars of the twentieth century and especially the First and Second World Wars, Haslar was a busy hospital. During and after D-Day, both Allied and enemy Troops were treated at Haslar in great numbers, and Royal Navy surgeons were joined by US Army surgeons in treating the wounded.
When Haslar entered its fourth century it opened a new chapter in its history, joining in partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust in 2001. Blending the best of Medicine in the NHS with the best of Military Medicine at the same time, it was sophisticated hospital with advanced medical technology, housed in a prestigious and splendidly-preserved historic Georgian building.
Times quickly change: on the 31st March 2007 the Royal Hospital Haslar ceased to be a Ministry of Defence-managed hospital, and 254 years of continuous military medical care came to a close.
With thanks to Haslar Heritage Group for all of the information in this section, researched and compiled by Eric Birbeck. For more information on the history of Royal Haslar, please visit the Heritage Group's website at www.haslarheritagegroup.co.uk
We are delighted that the Haslar Heritage Group have been granted the use of the Old Medical Supplies Agency building to eventually become a Heritage Visitor’s centre.