Evelina London cares for thousands of children and young people every year, including in the community. The current hospital building, which sits alongside St Thomas’ Hospital, was opened in 2005, but the hospital is actually 150 years old.
A hospital born out of love
Evelina London was originally founded in 1869 on Southwark Bridge Road by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild – in memory of his much loved wife, Evelina. Ferdinand was born in Paris and educated in Vienna, but on 7 June 1865, he married Evelina de Rothschild – known as Evy – at her parents’ house in Piccadilly, London.
Evy had been his childhood sweetheart, and from the start, it seems to have been a very happy marriage. During their honeymoon, Evy wrote to her parents that Ferdinand was “a dear old duck” and she quickly became pregnant with their first child.
However, Ferdinand and Evy’s happiness was tragically short-lived. Their son was stillborn on 4 December 1866, and Evy died later the same day. The shock for Ferdinand was intense and he never remarried.
Originally, he had thought to open a maternity hospital in honour of his wife and child, but he was persuaded by his friend Dr Arthur Farre, an obstetrician and physician to the Queen, to open a children’s hospital for the poor. Children often ended up in the adult wards of workhouse infirmaries. Following his friend’s advice, Ferdinand built the four-storey Evelina Hospital for Sick Children south of the River Thames.
It was described as having “the very latest design concepts”, “with no expense spared to make this a model hospital”. In the first year, more than 300 children were admitted to the hospital’s 30 beds. By 1900, bed numbers had doubled, with over 1,000 admissions and more than 20,000 children visiting the hospital each year.
Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and Lord Fink, President of Evelina London, led the campaign that made the current awardwinning hospital building possible. More recently, the Eranda Rothschild Foundation has supported the new Fetal Cardiology Unit by providing specialist heart scanners.
Learn more about our history.