Sick City Project

'Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be'

Anatomy of the City 11 – The London Lock Hospital

Death By Water 12 main image final (519x800)In the mid-nineteenth century  the corner of Dean Street and Bateman Street in Soho was home to the largest venereal disease hospital in the city – the London Lock Hospital.

The first ‘lock hospitals’ were established in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The name derived from the ‘locks’ or dressings used to cover syphilitic ulcers. But these hospitals also had a punitive aspect. Prostitutes found to be infected would be brought forcibly to the lock hospitals, and confined until a physician judged them cured.

In 1746 a group of religious philanthropists opened a new lock hospital for ‘females suffering from disorders contracted by a vicious course of life’. Initially located in Grosvenor Place, the London Lock Hospital opened a male ward on this site in 1862. Inmates received medical treatment, but were also made to work hard, and to listen to sermons on the evils of lust.

The foundation of the London Lock Hospital reflects the rise of Soho and Covent Garden as the centre of London’s vice trade. By the eighteenth century between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand prostitutes, of both genders, were working in the city. And from 1757 visitors could purchase Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies – a guidebook which graded prostitutes by age, health and abilities.

One comment on “Anatomy of the City 11 – The London Lock Hospital

  1. Bernice
    May 3, 2014

    Amusing! Great post

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This entry was posted on August 2, 2013 by and tagged , , , .
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