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Record details

BCC record ID:0689300000
Type of record:Monument
Summary:Red Cross hospital whose first complex of buildings was demolished at the end of the First World War. The site was reused during the Second World War, finally decommissioned in 1985 and demolished in 2006.
Grid Reference:SU 91304 84424

TAPLOW, South Bucks, Buckinghamshire

Monument type(s)

  • (Former) MILITARY HOSPITAL (Modern - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • (Former) MILITARY HOSPITAL (Modern - 1939 AD to 1946 AD)
  • (Former) GENERAL HOSPITAL (Demolished 2006 Modern - 1947 AD to 1985 AD)

Associated finds: none recorded

Public access information

Is the site accessible to the public?No
Is the site visible from a public viewpoint?No

Full description

In November 2001, in advance of redevelopment plans for the site a detailed survey of the complex's history and surviving buildings was carried out to determine their significance. The survey noted that four different types of hospital have occupied the site. The first, based in the covered tennis court, was offered to the Government by Waldorf and Nancy Astor the owners of Clivedon estate in August 1914. The tennis court had been built in the late 19th century on former common land. Plans were drawn up for 100 beds, but in November 1914 Charles Hodgett, London Commissioner of the Canadian Red Cross Society, became involved and plans were expanded. The official opening was on 12 February 1915 and in March the hospital received its first patients from overseas. Taplow Lodge became staff accommodation, whilst nurses were accommodated in the Cliveden house itself. Later in 1915, Major Charles Skipper was employed to design an extension which brought the number of bed spaces to over 1000. His other hospital design work included the National Red Cross Hopsital at Glasgow, the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in France, and additions to West Norfolk and Kings Lynn General Hopsital. The treatment of victims of chemical warfare was the thrust of the hospital's research actvivites duing WWI. In November 1918, the Astors were turning their minds to re-letting Taplow Lodge and began to request that the hospital be dismantled and the site returned to a green field. In October 1939, plans were once again put in place to re-use the site. This time without utilising the Tennis Court which was to be left free for recreational purposes. A F B Anderson and Robert Atkinson were the principal designers and J Jarvis & Sons Ltd were the contractors appointed with work well underway by January 1940. The final cost of the building was some £300,000 and the hospital treated some 25,068 patients during WWII. After the war, the Cliveden Estate passed to the National Trust and the hospital was presented to the Canadian Red Cross Society for use as a research centre for rheumatism in children under Professor Bywaters (Sir Frederick Bantling, inventor of insulin treatment, was to have takenover the research activity at the hospital but he was killed in 1941). It eventually came under the wing of the National Health Service and was closed in 1985. The survey noted some 77 specialised buildings/rooms. The buildings are connected by covered walkways with the administration block standing at the centre of the site. It has two storeys and an open portico surmounted by a pediment. To the left of the admin block are several single storey buildings consiting of two officer's bloaks with a central dining hall, a small boiler house, a pathology lab, operating theatre, eye and ENT department, X ray department, dispensary and dental clinic. To the right was the main dining room and kitchen, staff common rooms, boiler house and quartermaster's stores. Beyond that was a decontamination unit, the orderlies and NCO's quarters. There is a row of fifteen, 36-bed wards, seven connected by air-raid shelters and one standing along with a shelter on its outer side. At the end of every ward was a sunroom. The mortuary was beyond the covered tennis court building (B1).
Further building recording (7 buildings) and watching brief during demolition and ground reduction carried out from November 2005 to March 2006 by Museum of London Archaeology Service. Wards 12 (building 33) and 13 (building 34), the mortuary (building 47), the Orderlies and NCO's residential block (building 21) and 3 Nissen huts (buildings 52-54) were surveyed. Ward 13 was found to be the only unaltered ward of the original 15 wards and together with ward 12 had formed a specialist Chest Unit following WWII. The 1940s Nissen huts were the only survivors of 5 original huts arranged around the NCO's block. One of the huts appeared to have been used for storage and another as a workshop. The mortuary building included a chapel and autopsy room and had been converted to office use by the National Trust in 1986. The watching brief identified demolition debris resulting from the clearance of WWI buildings and the whole site had been extensively truncated to natural during construction of the hospital. See report for detail (B9).
Buildings report dated Oct 1991 - Mar 1994 held at NMR (B10)

Sources and further reading

<1>Unpublished document: Dr James Moir (Finial Associates). 2001. The Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Cliveden. Vols 1 & 2.
<2>Unpublished document: Gary Marshall, Sandy Kidd and NMR. 1999. Copies of material in holdings of NMR for Canadian Red Cross Hospital.
<3>Article in serial: 1915. Emergency Military Hospital Construction. No 3176.
<4>Article in serial: Robert Atkinson and A F B Anderson. 1943. Canadian Red Cross Hospital.
<5>Unpublished document: Sandy Kidd (BCC). 2000. Report of site visit to Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Cliveden Road.
<6>Bibliographic reference: Royal Commision on Historical Monuments. 1998. English Hospitals 1660-1948: A Survey of Their Architecture and Design. pp99-101,197
<8>Unpublished document: RCHME. 1991-4. Canadian Red Cross Hospital (National Buildings Record no. 100104).
<9>Unpublished document: Museum of London Archaeology Service. 2006. The Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Cliveden, Taplow: Standing building survey and watching brief report.
<10>Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2006. NMR Buildings Reports. BF100104

Associated excavations and fieldwork

  • EBC16337: Site visit
  • EBC16338: Building recording
  • EBC16725: Building recording and watching brief (Ref: BU-CXM05)

Related monuments


Vertical aerial photograph of Canadian Red Cross hospital at Cliveden  © RAF