Shield of St Barts

The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew

The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew

Guild History

Our History

  • In the early days our work parties made sisters’ and nurses’ uniforms  and clothing for inpatients – pyjamas, dressing gowns and other garments – as well as dressings, children’s nappies and padding for splints and crutches
  • Between the wars the Guild expanded its scope to help develop the Medical College at Charterhouse Square, a  very important feature of Barts
  • During the Second World War the Guild collected donations of clothing for local people who had lost their homes in the Blitz and sent parcels to Barts men who were prisoners of war
  • The Guild’s Princess Alice Garden, next to St Bartholomew’s the Less, the Hospital’s own church, is a haven for patients, visitors and staff of Barts
  • The trolley shop, which also now delivers newspapers to inpatients, has been in operation since 1946
  • Every year inpatients receive Christmas parcels from the Guild, containing a variety of small gifts
  • The Guild produces a wall Calendar which is distributed free of charge throughout the Hospital
  • An illustrated history of the Guild’s first 100 years has been published in ‘A Century of Service: The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew 1911-2011’ by Ann Wickham, price £15, ISBN: 978-0-9570547-0-7. Available from the Guild shops at Barts, or please for an order form.


Guild Timeline



The wives of five Barts consultants launch the Women’s Guild ‘to make and provide clothing for the use of inpatients and to supply “necessitous patients” with appropriate clothing when they were discharged’

  •  Work parties are set up in members’ homes to make the garments and raise money to purchase materials


8 May: first Annual General Meeting held: over 1,200 garments had been made or donated in addition to grants made to the Hospital for clothing, linen and feather pillows


 The First World War: the Guild provides clothing and comforts for wounded soldiers at the Base Hospitals in Camberwell and Boulogne

  • In 1917 the Guild launches an Embroidery Scheme to keep wounded soldiers busy, embroidering regimental badges and ‘blotting books’


The Guild holds its first and very successful fundraising Bazaar in the Great Hall at Barts, attended by HM Queen Alexandra and other members of the royal family


To commemorate the Hospital’s 800th anniversary the Guild endows one bed and one cot

  •  Work continues with Guild members making nurses’ uniforms, dressing gowns for patients, and children’s nappies, and making and padding splints and crutches


The Busy Bees appear – a junior branch of the Guild; the Lady Mayoress gives them an inaugural party at the Mansion House


The Guild donates a substantial sum towards the cost of the new King George V block


Funds are raised by holding a jumble sale and fair towards the purchase of the Charterhouse Square site for new medical college buildings


 New initiatives include a scheme for collecting ‘bun pennies’ to raise money (these were coins showing the young Queen Victoria with her hair in a bun)


The Guild’s Hogarth Fair in the Great Hall commemorates the bicentenary of the Barts’ Hogarth paintings and raises considerable funds for the Hospital


 HRH The Duchess of Gloucester accepts an invitation to become the Guild’s President and Patron, and remains so until her death in 2004


The Guild inaugurates a Sister-Tutor scholarship to encourage applications to Barts

  • Scholarships and bursaries are made available to members of the League of Barts Nurses


The première of Gunga Din starring Cary Grant held in February at the Gaumont Theatre, Haymarket, raises a large sum for the Hospital


The Second World War: the Guild extends its range of activities

  • 1940: Barts becomes one of the largest casualty clearing stations in London; nightclothes are supplied by the Guild to military personnel as well as civilians
  • The Barts Bazaar on Little Britain is a new venture, collecting clothes and other goods for sale and to help those losing their possessions in the Blitz. The Guild sends parcels to Barts men who are prisoners of war


The trolley service is launched, and continues to this day, much appreciated by patients on the wards


The NHS comes into being, and the Guild has a new mission to fund projects which would not be available under the new regime

  • These include in the early days a Christmas tree for outpatient children, a Turkey Fund and a Taxi Fund


 A new outreach project: the Guild begins supporting the Alexandra Hospital for Children in Luton and takes over the Hospital’s Linen Fund; this will continue until the Hospital’s closure in 1958

  • The Guild extends its trolley service to an outpatients’ canteen; HRH the Duchess of Gloucester pours the first cup of tea


 After supplying flowers in outpatients and casualty registration for several years the Guild establishes a garden for patients’ use on top of the Surgical Block


John Betjeman is the guest speaker for the AGM, on the topic ‘The Joys of Living in the City of London’


The Guild opens its own Flower Shop


The Guild’s Golden Jubilee: work parties are still active but production is limited to surgical dressings and bed socks!


 A garden is opened behind St Bartholomew the Less


 Outings to the seaside and the countryside for elderly people from the wards and outpatients are a great success


The Guild Shop in the basement opens. Soft drinks, tinned food, biscuits, cosmetics, tights, stationery, soap powder are offered for sale; knitted articles are in great demand


Constitutional change with the aims of the Guild now ‘To help the Hospital by personal service and by the provision of such amenities for the patients, staff and students as would not be available for them under the NHS’


Finally, the Women’s Guild admits men as members and becomes ‘The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew’


The first of the Guild’s annual fundraising carol concerts takes place, with singers from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden


The Guild joins forces with Barts and Great Ormond Street Hospital to provide accommodation for parents whose children are receiving treatment in the Oncology Department at Barts

  • Surgery House opens in the grounds of Barts for parents of children receiving treatment at Barts or Great Ormond Street


The Hospital invites the Guild to take over the distribution of newspapers around the Hospital; a newspaper shop is opened


Helpers’ luncheons are introduced to ‘show how much all the volunteers from the shops are appreciated’

  • Food and wine are initially provided by members of the Guild Committee; later the event becomes a tea with guest speaker

The Guild’s new logo, designed by Ann Wickham, makes its appearance


The Guild celebrates its 80th anniversary with a Thanksgiving Service at St Bartholomew the Less in the presence of HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester


Management of the Hospital Souvenir Shop is taken over by the Guild


Barts is saved from closure after six years’ intense effort by the Save Barts Campaign in which the Guild has played an important part


Refurbishment of the garden is started; it is named the Princess Alice Garden in honour of the Guild’s Patron’s 100th birthday and will be ‘a haven of peace and rest for the patients, their visitors and the staff of Barts’.

  • In 2010 sponsorship from Fidelity International enables new planting and improved garden maintenance

Guild volunteers take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show for the first time


The Constitution is revised and a new one adopted


Presentation of long-service certificates to volunteers becomes a part of the AGM


HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO accepts an invitation to become Patron of Barts Guild following the death of his mother, HRH Princess Alice, in 2004


Historian and film-maker Michael Wood is the guest speaker at the Centenary AGM talking of Barts Hospital's history, its founder Rahere and Smithfield.


The Guild celebrates its Centenary

  • Publication of ‘A Century of Service. The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew 1911-2011’ by Ann Wickham, dedicated to all Guild members and volunteers, past, present and future.

ISBN 978-0-9570547-0-7; available from the Guild shop at Barts or by mail order


Guild's Centenary Concert of Handel's celebratory music attracts an audience of 400 to Holborn's City Temple Church.


A revised constitution is approved.