Catalogue description ROYAL EYE HOSPITAL

This record is held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London

Details of H15/RE
Reference: H15/RE
Description: Administration Records: Committee of Management; Medical Committee; School Sub-Committee; Social Committee; Annual Reports; Articles of Association; Rules and Bye-Laws; Papers and Correspondence. Patients Administration: Admission Registers; Admission and Discharge Registers; In Patients Case Books; In Patients Case Books (Southwark); In Patients Case Books (Surbiton); In Patients Case Books (Lambeth); Diagnostic Index; Baptism Certificate. Matron's Office: Nursing Brochure; Registers of Nurses. Financial Records: Research Fund Petty Cash book. Miscellaneous: Visitors Book; Histories of Hospital; Special Events; Ophthalmology; John Zachariah Laurence; London Gardens Society. Photographs: Staff and patients; Royal Eye Hospital, Soutwark; Royal Eye Hospital, Surbiton; Surgeons; Special Events.
Related material:

The records of King Edwars's Hospital Fnd for London which have been deposited here include reports and files o the Royal Eye Hospital (re. A/KE/255/, A/KE/528/4, A/KE/542/11, A/KE/556).

Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

South London Ophthalmic Hospital, 1857-1860

Surrey Ophthalmic Hospital, 1860-1863

Ophthalmic Hospital, Southwark, 1863-1869

Royal South London Ophthalmic Hospital, 1869-1892

Royal Eye Hospital, Southwark, 1892-1980

Access conditions:

As these records are public records, all items are closed to public consultation for 30 years and patients' records are closed for 100 years.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records of the Royal Eye Hospital (formerly the Royal South London Ophthalmic Hospital) St George's Circus, London SE1, transferred by the Special Trustees of St Thomas' Hospital to the Greater London Record Office, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB, 24 - 26 July 1984 and 18 December 1984, Acc 2001)

Custodial history:

A list of the archives found at the hospital was prepared in February 1978. The records were subsequently moved to the General Lying-In Hospital before being deposited in the Greater London Record Office in 1984. Unfortunately the present whereabouts of some of the records listed in 1978 is not known.

Publication note:

For further information see the Royal Eye Hospital 1857 - 1957 by Arnold Sorsby and Leonora Maclean and the Royal Eye Hospital by Patricia Mowbray (ref. H15/RE/Y/02/002-004).

  • Ophthalmology
Administrative / biographical background:

The Royal Eye Hospital was founded in 1857 by John Zachariah Laurence with the assistance of Carsten Holthouse. It opened with two beds in a house in St George's Circus, Southwark, under the name of the South London Ophthalmic Hospital. It was enlarged in 1860 by the addition of an adjoining house and changed its name to the Surrey Ophthalmic Hospital, the first in a series of name changes. In 1863 it became the Ophthalmic Hospital, in 1869 the Royal South London Ophthalmic Hospital, and in 1892, on the opening of a new enlarged hospital building still in St George's Circus, the Royal Eye Hospital. In 1906 the first organised teaching course in connection with the hospital was started, The first full time Chair in Ophthalmology was established at the hospital in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons in 1943. Arnold Sorsby was the first professor.


The hospital was badly damaged by bombing in May 1941 forcing the closure of the In-Patient Department. This re-opened in March 1942 in a house acquired by the hospital in Upper Brighton Road, Surbiton. Out-Patients continued to be treated in Southwark. The Surbiton hospital started its own small out-patient department in 1943. The Southwark hospital was able to re-open twenty eight beds for in-patients in December 1944. These were supplemented by beds at Lambeth Hospital which were made available by the London County Council for the use of Royal Eye Hospital patients.


The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and became part of King's College Hospital Group. This association was terminated in October 1956 at the request of the Royal Eye Hospital which then became part of the Lambeth Group of hospitals within the South West Metropolitan Region. The Lambeth Group amalgamated with the Wandsworth Group in 1964 to form the South West London Group. In about 1973 the Royal Eye Hospital, Southwark, was transferred to St Thomas' Hospital Group which in 1974 became St Thomas' Health District (Teaching). The Royal Eye Hospital, Surbiton, passsed to Kingston and Richmond Area Health Authority.


The Southwark hospital ceased to admit in-patients in 1976 when the Royal Eye Hospital Ward opened in the new St Thomas' Hospital ward block. The out-patient department closed in 1980. The hospital buildings were taken over for administrative use first by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority and then by Lewisham and North Southwark Health Authority.

Link to NRA Record:

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