Archive Education Service
Hampshire Record Office
Table of Contents
C H A P T E R 1
The Nightingales move to Hampshire
C H A P T E R 2
C H A P T E R 3
Florence growing up
C H A P T E R 4
Florence and the Crimea
C H A P T E R 5
Florence after the Crimea
B I B L I O G R A P H Y
The following chapters are intended to provide background information
on Florence Nightingale’s life for teachers. It is recommended that
teachers use a child-friendly story book with pupils, such as Emma
Fischel’s ‘Florence Nightingale’ which is part of the Famous People
series published by Franklin Watts (ISBN 0-7496-3913-
There are a number of important points to bear in mind when drawing
children’s attention to a famous person in history. For example, those
people chosen for study may act as role-models for today’s children.
The choice of person can therefore have an effect on the children’s
judgement about how certain personalities or types of individual
influence people’s lives - warriors, industrialists, artists etc.
It is important therefore, to balance the role of the individual in the
contribution to society as part of change in health care through the
ages, rather than as symbolic of the virtues desirable in women and/or
nurses. Remember too that Mary Seacole played a similar and equally
important role in the Crimean War.
Using pictures and photographs as evidence
remember Florence Nightingale? You could begin by telling the story of
Florence Nightingale (perhaps using Emma Fischel’s book from the
Mary Seacole), placing her work in context with health care in the past.
This could be followed by a simple washing-line timeline showing
Florence as a child, in the Crimea, and in old age using photographs
from this resource booklet alongside excerpts from the story book.
You could build up a profile of Florence, her family, and life using the
booklet, getting the children to answer questions such as:
• what did she look like?
• what were her distinguishing features?
• where did she live?
• what sort of person was she?
• did she marry?
• what is she remembered for?
Using the illustrations in the resource booklet you could ask children to
• why did people in the past have their portraits
• what do they think a particular picture/photograph is
• where do they think the photograph was taken?
drawn/painted or the photograph taken?
• what can the picture/photograph tell us about life at the
drama and role-play.
The Nightingales move
Florence Nightingale’s father, William Edward Nightingale (always
known as WEN), changed his surname from Shore to Nightingale in
1815 upon inheriting property at Lea in Derbyshire. Florence’s
mother, Frances Smith (known as Fanny), was one of a family of ten
from Essex. The Nightingale family consisted of two girls - Frances
Parthenope (named after the Greek name for Naples in Italy where
she was born in 1819), she was always known as Parthe; and
Florence (named after Florence in Italy where she was born on 12
May 1820), she was always known as Flo. Although Florence was
named after the city in which she was born, it was at that time a
In 1821 Mr Nightingale brought his family back from Italy to England,
Derbyshire proved to be too cold a place in which to spend the whole
year. In 1825 Florence’s father bought Embley Park, near Romsey
in Hampshire, as a winter retreat. Lea Hurst is now a retirement
home and Embley Park a school. Embley Park was described as:
Georgian period, the situation warm and sheltered,
the gardens very large and exceptionally fine. The
shooting was good, London was reasonably near,
Waverley Abbey near Farnham and Mrs Bonham-
Carter at Fair Oak, near Winchester, were within
By the time Florence was five the pattern of the Nightingales’ life was
remainder of the year at Embley Park, and twice a year during the
spring and autumn seasons visits were made to London. Three or
four times the Nightingale, Nicholson, and Bonham-Carter families
holidayed together at Seaview on the Isle of Wight, where the
children bathed and sailed. Christmas was generally spent with the
Nicholsons at Waverley Abbey, where the children held a ball of their
own and put on a play.
especially children. She was convinced at an early age that she was
different to everyone else, and it is said that Florence heard the voice
of God calling her to do his work. As a child Florence wrote many
letters to her grandmother, aunts, parents and sister. Her
unhappiness at being confined to Embley is clear from early letters
and notes. Florence and her sister Parthe did not always get on well
together as they were very different in temperament and ability:
“Flo led and Parthe followed, but Parthe followed
Flo, wanted Flo’s entire devotion, could not bear Flo to
have another friend, but she was bitterly envious of Flo”.
Mrs Nightingale made a practice of sending the children to stay
brought about by their father’s plan for their education. A governess
taught the girls music and drama, whilst they learned Greek, Latin,
German, French, Italian, History and Philosophy from their father.
They were expected to work long hours, and eventually Parthe
garden. Florence struggled on alone with her father. Parthe
resented the companionship between her father and sister and, in
later years, supported her mother against Florence’s plan to become
Florence (Flo), 94M72/F697/11.
Florence growing up
well-to-do Victorian household. She was proposed to by no fewer
than 3 suitors: Harry Nicholson, her cousin, was rejected by
Florence, which upset the Nicholsons and a coldness developed
between the two families thereafter; Richard Monckton Milnes
courted Florence for nine years before she eventually rejected him;
Sir Harry Verney first proposed to Florence and, after her refusal of
him, formed an attachment to her sister - Parthe married Sir Harry at
Wellow Church in June 1858. Illustration No 3 shows Florence as a
young woman with her pet owl Athena. Florence continued to be
bored and frustrated with her life at home and was determined to
somehow break free from the monotony of visitors and daily routine.
Sketches of Florence Nightingale drawn by her sister Parthe,
Florence and the Crimea
where Florence met Sidney Herbert, the man who later, as Foreign
Secretary for War, asked her to take a party of nurses to the Crimea.
In 1851 Florence served a short 3 month apprenticeship at a nursing
pastor at Kaiserworth in Germany, despite the disapproval of her
mother and sister. It soon became clear to her family that Florence
was determined to make nursing her chosen career. In 1853 they
consented to her appointment as superintendent of a small nursing
home in Harley Street, London, known as an ‘Establishment for
Gentlewomen in Illness’. Florence’s father gave her an allowance of
£500 a year to assist her in her independent lifestyle. Her
permanent association with Embley was at an end and it was never
to be her home again. A year later, in 1854, she left for the Crimea.
When Florence and her team of 38 nurses arrived at the main British
barracks housing 10,000 sick men, with dirt and filth throughout the
hospital. Patients were lying in the corridors as well as in the wards,
from battle wounds.
Above, the Burial Ground at Scutari, from ‘Scutari and its Hospitals’,
When it rained, water poured in through the roof; the food was
buildings were vermin-infested; the atmosphere in the hospital so
foul that to visit the wards brought on diarrhoea. Florence and her
nurses scrubbed the hospital clean, washed the sheets, blankets,
and towels, cleaned the hospital’s kitchens, and prepared better,
wholesome food for the patients. Most important of all, she got army
engineers to repair the hospital’s drains and improve its supply of
drinking water. By the spring of 1855 Florence was physically
exhausted from the working conditions in the Crimea but as a result
of her efforts the survival rate at Scutari rose sharply.
Above, sketches of Florence Nightingale with wounded soldiers in a
Florence after the
On her return to England in 1856, Florence devoted her life to the
School and Home for Nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital, which
opened in 1860, with the aid of a fund of £50,000 subscribed by a
grateful public. In that same year her book ‘Notes on Nursing’ was
published followed by other influential books and articles. The
example set by Florence in starting a training school for nurses was
eventually followed by other hospitals and the standard of nursing
care improved immeasurably, to the benefit of patients, doctors, and
Above, Florence Nightingale on her return from the Crimea,
August 1856, 94M72/F697/7.
London became Florence’s base upon her return to England and, in
where she lived for 45 years until her death in 1910. Florence made
a number of visits to Embley in 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872. On one
of her visits to Hampshire she was able to use her influence in the
siting of the present Royal Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester
on its airy hilltop instead of a proposed site low down in the town.
Florence also tried to influence the redesign of a new military
Victoria laid the foundation stone for the The Royal Victoria Hospital,
Netley on 19 May 1856, and work was completed in 1863 at a cost of
£350,000. It had 138 wards and beds for over 1000 patients. From
1865 ships carrying wounded troops could dock at a pier on nearby
wounded to and from Netley.
Above, a steam train bringing wounded soldiers to the Royal Victoria
brought wounded troops to a pier close to the hospital.
Above, wounded soldiers from the Boer War in South Africa in the
Florence saw the plans for the hospital when she returned from the
windows in the wards and the very long corridor which ran in front of
the wards, which she thought would become ‘a permanent
receptacle for contaminated effluvia’. However, apart from some
changes to the windows little was done to meet Florence’s criticisms
of the planned hospital.
The success of using nurses during the Crimean War led to The
for the new Nursing Service. Netley became the largest military
hospital of its time, and was full to capacity during the First World
War. The hospital was handed over to the Americans during the
Second World War.
of Nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, c1900. 92M91/2/4
Florence’s last visit to Embley Park was in the summer of 1891 at the
to bed for much of her old age, largely as a result of the illness she
suffered in the Crimea. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross in
1883 by Queen Victoria, and became the first woman to receive the
Order of Merit in 1907.
Florence died at her London home on 13 August 1910, and she was
Embley Park. She had not wanted the full State funeral she justly
deserved. Large crowds gathered in the narrow lanes as her coffin
was carried to her grave by six sergeants from the Guards.
Photographs of Florence Nightingale’s funeral, 1910, 97M81/23/23
Following her death many monuments and plaques were put up in
Lady with the Lamp. People continued to remember Florence’s
achievements long after her death and many commemorative events
took place in the years after.
Above, the cover from a commemorative programme of 1937
from a painting by Jeremy Barratt, 94M72/F614/24.
P R I M A R Y S O U R C E S :
1. Bonham-Carter MS. H.R.O. 94M72.
3. H.R.O. 132M84.
S E C O N D A R Y S O U R C E S :
1. Florence Nightingale 1820-1910, C. Woodham-Smith.
compiled by J.E. Benham, Wellow History Society. H.R.O. Top.
East Wellow 1/3.
W E B S I T E S :