Winsford Cottage Hospital is a Grade II* Listed Building of great Architectural Merit and of National Historic Importance. The Hospital designed by CFA Voysey, one of the leading figures in the Arts and Crafts movement, is an understated gem and one of only a few non-domestic commissions completed by the architect in a remarkably distinguished career. The hospital was repaired, reinstated and pre 1914 layout and carefully converted to provide holiday and community accommodation.
Designed by the brilliant Arts and Crafts architect C.F.A. Voysey, the Grade II* listed Hospital has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2009 and is declining daily. Once restored, the main spaces of the building will become a comfortable and welcoming Landmark for six, while four rooms in the east wing will be set aside for community use.
The advent of the cottage hospital in the 19th century transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. One of the very finest was the Winsford Cottage Hospital in Devon.
Built by wealthy philanthropist Maria Medley as a gift to the local community, it enabled ordinary people to receive affordable medical treatment near to their homes for the first time.
Designed by the pioneering Arts and Crafts architect Charles Voysey, Winsford opened its doors in 1900 and welcomed thousands of patients over nearly a century of service.
A century before the creation of the National Health Service, the prospects for a farm labourer or shopkeeper, shepherd or weaver, who was injured or unwell, were bleak. Doctors’ fees were prohibitively high and the few metropolitan general hospitals were large and often unsanitary places, located in distant cities. For want of proper care, ordinary people often died at home from entirely treatable conditions, prompting wealthy philanthropists, like Mrs Medley, to build miniature health facilities like Winsford, in the heart of their communities.
Visitors from across England flocked to see the hospital when it opened, and the Visitors’ Book records their reactions. One wrote ‘If I am to be ill, please may I be brought here’. Many said how much they would like to live here permanently. ‘it is no exaggeration to say, that this is the most perfect institution of its kind I have ever seen: a true model! I call it…Maximum in parvo!’
When war came in 1914, Winsford was called into service as a home for the sick and wounded from the Front. They convalesced sitting peacefully on the sunny, south facing verandahs, looking out across a rose garden to the rolling Devon countryside beyond. The building continued to be used as a hospital until 1998; its use spans the creation of District Nurses, the development of maternity units and the establishment of the NHS in 1948.
After the hospital was closed, a small local trust was founded to keep the building in community use. Despite their best efforts, this task has now proved too great and rescue by the Landmark Trust is now Winsford’s only hope.
Extract from Landmark Trust website: https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/Properties-list/winsford-cottage-hospital/Appeal/