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A hospital born out of love


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Love is at the heart of everything we do

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 over 150 years old. Learn more about our history.

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 award-winning hospital building possible. More recently, the Eranda Rothschild Foundation has supported the new Fetal Cardiology Unit by providing specialist heart scanners.

Watch a film we made to celebrate our 150th birthday

In 2019, we celebrated 150 years of caring for children and young people. Find out what our young patients think of Evelina London.

Celebrating 150 years of Evelina London – video transcript

I’ve been coming to Evelina since I was about three or four.

I’ve been coming to Evelina since I was two and a half.

I’ve been coming here ever since I was two.

I’ve been coming to Evelina for three years now.

Mummy, how long have I been coming to Evelina Hospital?

[TEXT] We have been changing the lives of children and young people for 150 years.

No one in the world is a hundred and fifty!

The original Evelina Hospital for Sick Children opened in 1869.

I knew it had been around for a long time, but I didn’t realise it had been around for that long.

They don’t wear the hats or the aprons, they put plastic ones on now.

[TEXT] Today we’re called Evelina London and we care for children in hospital and our community. We are here when children and family need us most.

I need these drugs and they help me grow.

I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, it’s a type of muscular dystrophy.

[Whispers] Sickle cell.

Because she has sickle cell.

I have cerebral palsy.

One leg is bigger than the other.

Chronic renal failure, so my kidneys don’t really work.

[TEXT] We care for children as if they were our own.

Coming to Evelina is like another family, because I’ve been coming for quite a long time, you kind of get to know people.

The staff here are really nice, they’re very caring.

And they’re patient, and they’re gentle, and they listen.

I like Mr Kokkinakis because he’s funny.

Sarah is my favourite because she does fun stuff with me.

The nurses are kind and caring and funny, and cheer you up when you’re feeling down.

It’s stayed a caring and lovely place, just got a little bit bigger.

[TEXT] Help make our birthday really count. Join us in celebrating the big difference we make to children’s lives. www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/Evelina150

Happy birthday Evelina London!


Over 150 years of history

Learn more about our history

‘You’ve got this’ blog

We’ve given young people a platform to share their stories and give an insight into living with a range of conditions.
See our 'You've got this' blog, written by patients we help in their own words.

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