The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital, 1902–1935

  • A. W. H. Bates
Open Access
Chapter
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)

Abstract

The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital was one of the most highly visible pieces of early-twentieth century anti-vivisection propaganda. Designed to show that cruelty-free medicine was attractive to patients and donors, and could be operate without state support, the hospital faced opposition from the King’s Fund and the British Medical Association, which saw it as a threat to the funding of the laboratory work on which medicine increasingly based its authority. The hospital failed due to being boycotted by mainstream charities for upholding its anti-vivisection principles, and by anti-vivisectionists for compromising those principles.

What exactly was an anti-vivisection hospital? The question arose at an inquest into the death of a child, Mabel Florence Jones, in 1908. She had been treated at the National Anti-Vivisection Hospital in Battersea, South London, for ‘a clean-cut wound in her head’; a few weeks later, she suddenly became ill and was taken to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where it was discovered that her skull was fractured. According to the house surgeon at St Bart’s, the fracture would have been discovered sooner if the child had been ‘properly examined’ at Battersea, but Dr Ronald da Costa, the Anti-Vivisection Hospital’s resident medical officer, told the court he had examined the child thoroughly and that the fracture must have been the result of ‘a subsequent accident’. The background to the case suggests parental neglect: the child had been dirty when taken to hospital, and at Bart’s the surgeon had found it ‘extremely difficult to get a history’ from the mother, who first said that Mabel had been hit by a pickaxe carelessly thrown over a wall, and then that she had ‘knocked her head against the table’. Unfortunately, poor record-keeping left the Anti-Vivisection Hospital struggling to defend itself. Dr da Costa, a former Indian Army surgeon with 30 years’ experience, admitted his hands had been ‘pretty full’, as in addition to the hospital’s in-patients, he attended out-patients from six-thirty until eleven in the evening, seeing scores of patients who paid four pence each. Battersea, the court heard, was one of the poorest suburbs of London, and in Henley Street, where the Joneses lived, slum-dwellers were ‘huddled together like sheep’. 1

The Coroner tried to clarify the objects of the hospital that was treating so many poor South Londoners: ‘I see in your hospital’s annual report the words, “No experiments on patients”. What do they mean?’ he asked da Costa, who replied: ‘I don’t know. I don’t suppose any hospital has experiments on patients. We perform every kind of operation’. The hospital’s secretary (chief administrator), G.W.F. Robbins, explained that it meant no interventions for the sake of knowledge rather than the benefit of patients. To the Coroner’s suggestion that this implied other hospitals did experiment, Robbins answered ‘Not in the least’. 2 It seemed, however, that local people thought otherwise: one of the medical men present had heard that some people were afraid to go into hospital in case they were experimented on. The accounts of ‘human vivisection’ that sometimes appeared in British newspapers referred to therapeutic experiments in European hospitals rather than patients being dissected alive in Britain, but they probably stoked fears that London’s medical men did not willingly confine their researches to animals. 3 The Anti-Vivisection Hospital, by requiring its staff to sign a personal pledge not to experiment on animals or humans, was deliberately presenting itself as a safer alternative to Bart’s and other London teaching hospitals where vivisectionists worked.

Thanks to the indefatigable Stephen Coleridge, everybody thought they knew where London’s vivisectionists were. In 1901, he had published a list, The Metropolitan Hospitals and Vivisection, with a ‘blood-red band’ of ‘fearsome appearance’ against the names of the offending hospitals and schools. This caused serious concern to London’s teaching hospitals, which feared that the ‘stream of charity’ might be diverted away from them if donors thought they were paying for vivisection, and there ensued a convoluted public argument over how much, if any, charitable giving actually found its way into the laboratories of vivisectionists. To add insult to financial injury, Coleridge used the familiar anti-vivisection argument from the nineteenth century—that vivisectionists were, or became, callous and were thus unfit to attend patients—to imply that teaching hospital staff were blasé about using their patients for research: the London School of Tropical Medicine’s boast of ‘an adequate supply of clinical material for purposes of instruction’ was a circumlocution, he told his readers, for ‘the prostrate bodies of the sick’. 4 He knew that money was being raised for a new hospital that would promise freedom from experimentation, and to which donors would be able to give with the assurance that they were not supporting animal research.

Josiah Oldfield’s tiny, shabby, hastily conceived Hospital of St Francis (discussed in the previous chapter) was, though ground-breaking, scarcely a flagship for the cause, and Coleridge, its chairman, had plans to open a larger hospital once the money had been raised to buy suitable premises. St Francis’s had at least shown that it was possible for an anti-vivisection hospital to survive without the support of the medical establishment. Furthermore, it seemed to have caused them some anxiety: the great Sir Henry Burdett had taken the trouble to attack Oldfield’s ‘little hospital in the New Kent Road run on the cheap and simple plan of giving its patients no meat’, professing to find it ‘somewhat amusing … that Mr Coleridge, who poses as an opponent of experiments on animals, should be the chairman of a vegetarian hospital which exists for the very purpose of trying a very doubtful experiment on human beings’. Burdett’s financial acumen and blustering philanthropy were invaluable to the voluntary hospital system, and he was chary of anyone or anything that threatened its funding, particularly ‘[t]hose peculiar people who have chosen to associate themselves with the National Anti-Vivisection Society [of which Coleridge was secretary] and to set themselves in opposition to such great charitable movements as the [Metropolitan] Hospital Sunday Fund and King Edward’s Hospital Fund’. 5

The NAVS had been raising money for a hospital since the 1890s, when it set up a charitable trust with Lords Coleridge (1820–1894, Stephen’s father) and Hatherton (1842–1930), Dr Abiathar Wall (treasurer of the London Anti-Vivisection Society), Ernest Bell (1851–1933, later president of the Vegetarian Society and chairman of the NAVS) and the Rev’d Augustus Jackson as trustees. Helped by rich anti-vivisectionists (particularly the Dowager Countess of Portsmouth, who replaced Coleridge as a trustee), who donated as an alternative to supporting the ‘vivisecting’ teaching hospitals such as Bart’s, Guy’s, the London, Mary’s and St Thomas’s, the fund grew rapidly. 6 As usual among anti-vivisectionists, there were personality clashes—according to the hospital’s first medical director, Dr Alexander Bowie, ‘there were two sections who differed about it for a time and the money went into Chancery’—but in 1900 they agreed to buy, for seven thousand pounds, a large private house, known as Lock’s Folly, in Battersea, where, two years later, an out-patient department was opened in the former stables. 7

In-patients followed in 1903: there were ‘eight beds, three cots, and four medical officers, one of whom is also chairman of the hospital’. Its prospectus promised ‘No Vivisection in its Schools. No Vivisectors on its Staff. No Experiments on Patients’, and listed eleven ‘honorary’ medical staff who, as in all voluntary hospitals, were consultants who did not receive salaries but had the kudos of being associated with a London hospital, albeit in this case an obscure one, which supposedly helped their private practice. 8 In common with most voluntary hospitals, the Anti-Vivisection charged patients a small fee—which might have been paid by one of the hospital’s subscribers, an employer, or a provident association—but the bulk of the running costs were met by donations. South London was notoriously short of hospital beds and the local poor, who made up ninety per cent of the new hospital’s patients, had few alternatives; nevertheless, Robbins boasted that ‘[t]he special effect of our principles upon the sick poor is to attract them to our Hospital in which they seem to have complete confidence, as is proved by the rapid increase in our work’. 9

In an effort to entice patients, and donors, away from other institutions, the hospital spent some three hundred pounds a year advertising in anti-vivisection periodicals. 10 Its annual report described it as ‘a standing protest against cruel experiments on animals, and a concrete demonstration that these are not necessary for the succour of the maimed or the healing of the sick’. Its patients were reassured that ‘the whole of the medical surgical and administrative staff are pledged against vivisection’, that treatments such as Pasteur’s vaccines that were prepared using live animals were ‘absolutely shut out’, and that, except in an emergency, no operation would be performed without the written consent of the patient, a novel undertaking for the time, though no records survive to show whether or not it was adhered to. 11

The Anti-Vivisection Hospital and the King’s Fund

In 1906, Lord Lichfield (1856–1918) and the surgeon Sir William H. Bennett (1852–1931) visited the Hospital on behalf of King Edward’s Hospital Fund (the King’s Fund). They noted the ‘steadily increasing amount of work done’, which showed that ‘this Institution supplies a want’, and found it tolerably well equipped, with modern electrical fittings, though they thought the medical staff were ‘gentlemen who are hardly of the status of those who usually occupy positions on the staffs of Hospitals of repute in London’. They submitted a detailed report to the Fund, but the outcome was apparently a foregone conclusion, and the Fund ruled that further visits would be ‘a thankless task, which can be productive of no good’, since, ‘the anti-vivisection basis upon which the Institution is founded is in itself considered a sufficient reason for withholding help’. 12

The King’s Fund was one of three funds that distributed public donations to London’s voluntary hospitals, the others being the Sunday and Saturday Funds, which administered church and workplace collections, respectively. 13 The King’s Fund was the largest of the three, controlling an £140,000 annual distribution, which gave it great influence over practices and standards. It refused to tell the Anti-Vivisection Hospital why it had refused it a grant, but Sydney Holland (1855–1931), an outstanding fundraiser, founder of the Research Defence Society (see Chap.  6), and chairman of the London Hospital (one of the King’s Fund’s biggest beneficiaries), was more forthcoming. At a charity dinner in 1908, he called the Anti-Vivisection ‘a miserable hospital, miserably built and miserably equipped’ (perhaps not the soundest of reasons for not giving it money), and he later told Robbins that both the King’s Fund and the Sunday Fund were refusing to help because it was unfit, as a building, to be a hospital. 14 This was wrong both in fact—the hospital continued in the same premises until 1972—and as an explanation for the King’s Fund’s decision, and it appears that Holland, whose hospital had been among those accused of using charitable donations to pay for experiments on animals, was attempting to discourage him from seeking funds in future.

The Anti-Vivisection Hospital’s continued existence was, as it was intended to be, an irritation to the funds and the hospitals they supported: at the Sunday Fund’s annual meeting in the Mansion House (the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London) the self-congratulatory speeches were interrupted by the Rev’d Lionel Lewis (1867–1953), Vicar of St Mark’s Whitechapel, complaining, not for the first time, that the Anti-Vivisection had not received a grant. When the former Lord Mayor Sir John Bell (1843–1924), a wealthy brewer, responded that he would not bandy words with someone whose church had only contributed 3s 6d the Fund, the vicar replied, ‘Yes, my parish is a poor one’. 15 This vignette shows something of the patrician distain for anti-vivisectionists among the philanthropists of the City of London, whose liverymen controlled much of the capital’s charity.

The conservative Medical Times defended the Anti-Vivisection, which it described as ‘a small hospital for the treatment of the indigent sick’, against Holland’s criticisms, on the grounds that ‘Patients are not bound to go to the hospital…’, and noted that ‘[t]here are lots of hospitals in London doing excellent work which are ‘miserably equipped’, adding, ‘we are unable to understand why such a dead set has been made against the hospital. Enormous influence is being brought to bear to crush this modest attempt … with such success that the Distribution Committees of the great Hospital Funds in London have been induced to refuse … funds’. The Medical Times proposed that, as with the Homoeopathic and Temperance hospitals, the experiment should be allowed to proceed, the result being determined by whether the hospital proved viable or not. 16

The management of the Anti-Vivisection Hospital seemed genuinely unable to understand why the funds had refused them support, and continued to solicit inspections in the hope of getting the decision reversed. In the 1890s, when the hospital was being planned, it would have been reasonable to have anticipated that the Prince of Wales’s Fund (as the King’s Fund then was), instituted to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria, would be sympathetic towards anti-vivisection; indeed, had the hospital opened during Victoria’s lifetime, she may well have become its patron. Unfortunately, neither the future Edward VII nor the future George V, who as Princes of Wales chaired the King’s fund, shared Victoria’s anti-vivisection principles, and the medical men who made up the Fund’s committee all sympathised with vivisection even if they did not, like its chairman Lord Lister (1827–1927), practise it themselves. 17

At a public meeting to discuss the Hospital’s funding, Stephen Coleridge, an agreeable man in private life, was characteristically forthright: ‘these great funds had got into the hands of persons who deliberately disposed of them to forward the views they personally held’. 18 However, since the Anti-Vivisection Hospital had initially been put up as an alternative to supporting the funds, to allow anti-vivisection donors who wanted to give to a hospital to do so directly without ‘sacrificing their consciences’, its trying to claim from the funds as well looked like an attempt to have one’s cake and eat it, and it is not surprising that the funds were indignant. 19

The funds were, however, supposed to be impartial, and could not risk openly stating they were on the side of vivisection, so the Sunday Fund disingenuously said they had refused the Anti-Vivisection a grant because ‘the best treatment known’ (presumably antisera) was not given and the ‘Governing Body dictates the forms of treatment to be used by its medical staff’. 20 However, the latter was true of most of the voluntary hospitals supported by the fund, including the Homoeopathic and Temperance, and the National Anti-Vivisection actually had more medical board members than most, three doctors and a dentist in 1910, though these were all committed anti-vivisectionists like Lizzy Lind af Hageby (1878–1963), founder of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society (ADAVS), whose infiltration of the laboratories at University College London in 1903 had paved the way for the notorious Brown Dog affair. The prominence of women in anti-vivisection circles meant that they too were well represented (five out of eighteen) on the hospital’s board. 21

The Hospital informed the Sunday Fund that its rules banning vivisection and treatments derived from it were no different ‘to those which in a Homoeopathic Hospital prevent the appointment of Allopaths, and in a Temperance Hospital the appointment of alcohol drinkers, and which prohibit any alcoholic treatment’. 22 The Sunday Fund, however, said the difference was that patients understood what a homoeopathic hospital was, but not an anti-vivisection one, 23 to which the Hospital’s committee replied: ‘the poorer class in Battersea, who appreciate our Hospital … well understand its title. Possibly the statue of the dog erected there conduces to this knowledge’. 24

The reference was to an episode that the people of Battersea would have found hard to ignore: the Brown Dog affair (1907–1909), an anti-vivisection cause célèbre that prompted rioting on the streets as medical students attempted to demolish Battersea Council’s provocative—the British Medical Association thought libellous—bronze statue of a terrier allegedly ‘done to death’ in the laboratories of University College. Battersea’s menfolk came out in force to defend the dog and ‘guard’ the hospital; one perhaps rather fanciful account of the riots has them forcibly preventing an injured medical student—whose objection to the hospital had conveniently evaporated when he needed its help—from passing through its doors. 25 These ‘town against gown’ fights were clearly about more than just vivisection: they channelled the ‘pent-up hatred felt by certain classes towards medical science and medical men’, who, ‘brutalised by vivisection’, would not hesitate to experiment on the poor. The students’ reaction to hearing that their efforts to learn their trade were brutalising them was, with presumably unintended irony, to start a riot. 26 Whatever the rights and wrongs of the disturbances, the Sunday Fund’s claim that potential patients did not know about anti-vivisection was incredible; Battersea people would have seen and heard the riots, they were widely reported in London’s papers, and the dog’s statue close by the hospital served as a constant reminder.

Sentiment and Science

Some commentators have seen the Brown Dog affair as damaging to anti-vivisection because it overtly politicised it. By defending the dog, Battersea’s poor were fighting for more than their right not to be experimented on without their consent; they were using the fate of the dog as a symbol for the exploitation of working class men and women in ways that had nothing to do with vivisection. 27 Medical students were a particular target of the workers’ animosity because they represented the sort of unsympathetic middle class parvenus who, unlike the aristocracy, could not be relied upon to treat those who came under their authority with any decency. The students’ behaviour, which was tolerated, or even encouraged, by their professors, only reinforced these concerns: rowdyism in defence of science suggested that doctors who insisted upon experimenting on animals were indeed uncaring. One anti-vivisectionist who was present at a meeting disrupted by students shouting and breaking up the furniture wrote to the King’s Fund: ‘the disgraceful scene at Caxton Hall made by the medical students fills one with the utmost contempt and loathing for these cowardly “butchers” … if these creatures are our coming medical men, then I say—God help their unfortunate patients!’ 28 ‘Butchers’ was a common slur against unpopular medics, since butchers were proverbial for their lack of compassion (and thus reputedly banned from serving on juries), and to compare medics to them, as Lind af Hageby did in The Shambles of Science, was to deny medicine its claim to moral and ethical superiority.

The riots show that the medical exponents of vivisection were indifferent to public expectations that they ought to approach their work with compassion, and failed to take seriously concerns that there was a slippery slope from vivisection to experiments on patients. In their crudest form, these concerns were, indeed, no more than fantasies fed by popular fiction, in which mad surgeons with ‘elastic’ consciences, their appetites for cruelty ‘whetted’ by experimenting on animals, easily overcame their ‘natural prejudice against inflicting suffering’ and took to vivisecting humans. 29 However, not only impressionable folk who took such tales literally (they are reminiscent of the mid-nineteenth century tales of paupers dissected and made into ‘anatomy pie’) would have felt safer in the Anti-Vivisection Hospital, but also those who thought that medics prepared to sign an anti-cruelty pledge would probably treat their patients more sympathetically than most.

To be anti-vivisection was to reject the cold, rational, science on which the teaching hospitals based their reputation for excellence, and be guided by emotion: Lind af Hageby claimed she converted to the cause after the look of suffering on the face of a laboratory dog went, as she put it, ‘straight to my heart’. Medical men (and they were always men) complained about womanish emotionality (the American medical profession accused anti-vivisectionists of being literally mad with a mental condition called ‘zoophil-psychosis’ 30 ) but potential patients seem to have agreed with the National Anti-Vivisection Society that for a doctor to be called sentimental was an accolade. 31

To sign the pledge made, after all, no practical difference to animals—only a tiny minority of medical practitioners ever conducted laboratory experiments, and no busy district hospital had time for them—its purpose was to affirm the commitment of the Hospital’s staff to compassionate medicine, and it would have reassured not just patients with strong views on animal experimentation, but also those concerned that charitable hospitals were no longer the benevolent institutions they had once been, but testing-grounds, run for the convenience of an increasingly powerful and self-interested medical profession. 32

Even though it helped attract patients, for a doctor to sign the anti-vivisection pledge was professionally hazardous: an act of public dissent from the dogmas of the metropolitan medical élite that marked one out as a medical protestant. It was rumoured that ‘no one with pronounced anti-vivisectional principles would be elected to the Medical Staff of the larger London Hospitals’, and ‘[t]he retention of his appointment by anyone opposing vivisectional teaching would be difficult, if not impossible and his promotion unlikely’. 33 In view of this, it seems that some, perhaps most, medics who had qualms about vivisection did not voice them. As Walter Hadwen (1854–1932), a Gloucester GP who took over from Cobbe as president of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), told an audience of anti-vivisectionists in 1907, anyone prepared to made a stand ‘had to learn what it meant to be heterodox’, 34  and not all had the courage of their convictions: one anti-vivisection doctor described how ‘A young Doctor told a lady that he hated Vivisection, but did not dare express it, or he would have been hooted out of the Profession’. 35

The British Medical Association, the doctors’ trade union, treated anti-vivisectionists as enemies of the profession and smugly observed each year in its journal that the Anti-Vivisection Hospital had once more received nothing from the funds. As the size of each hospital’s grant was roughly proportionate to the number of patients seen and the cost of any new buildings, it served as an indicator of a hospital’s achievements, so the persistent withholding of an award might embarrass a hospital even if it did not bother it financially. In 1908, the Anti-Vivisection received a one-off payment of £440 from the Sunday Fund, given, according to Burdett, in the hope that ‘the [hospital] authorities would mend their ways, purge their methods, and, in fact, fall into line…’ It also gave him another opportunity to state in his journal that it was ‘pretentious humbug’ to employ modern methods that had been developed from experiments on animals and then boast of an anti-vivisection commitment, in response to which, Robbins challenged him to name a treatment whose development had depended on vivisection, an invitation to an argument that, though popular over the years with both pro- and anti-vivisectionists, was always unproductive, since even if it were agreed that a particular medical advance had resulted from vivisection (which it never was), it was practically impossible to prove that it could only have been made in this way and not by some other means. 36 Burdett also repeated the accusation he had previously made about the Hospital of St Francis, that ‘No experiments on hospital patients’ was nonsense since ‘the whole hospital is an experiment’, though he seemed disinclined to wait, as the Medical Times had suggested, for its outcome.

The King’s Fund’s concern that ‘anti-vivisection propaganda’ would lead to a drop in their income appears to have been justified: one irate correspondent cited ‘the devilish abomination called vivisection’ as the reason that ‘[m]y sister and I, together with several of our friends, therefore, do not intend to give one farthing to any other hospital; all the money we can spare we will send to the Battersea Hospital’, adding, [w]e also believe that where hospitals practise vivisection upon helpless animals they, naturally, will not stop there, it is not reasonable to expect them to do so’. 37 In 1907, the Fund’s committee, with the Prince of Wales in the chair, had discussed the problem and agreed ‘that [the Anti-Vivisection] Hospital should not be visited in future in consequence of its work being based on considerations which are not exclusively directed to the welfare of the patients’, and that this decision should be kept secret because ‘if communicated to the hospital it would at once involve a discussion’. 38

Their aversion from discussion suggests a lack of confidence in their ability to convince the public that an anti-vivisection hospital was not in the interest of patients. The statistics routinely returned by voluntary hospitals showed the Anti-Vivisection performing at least as well as its peers, with growing patient numbers and a low death rate, but, significantly, neither side showed any interest in comparing the results of cruelty-free versus conventional treatment (for example the Pasteur treatment of rabies versus vapour baths), which indicates that the dispute was not clinical but ideological: were patients best served by animal research to produce better treatments, or by making medicine more compassionate?

Burdett warned the King’s Fund that anti-vivisectionists ‘are difficult people to tackle, because they always evade the point’, though he did not say, and there was no consensus on, what the point actually was. 39 For experimentalists, what mattered most was that vivisection produced results, and they cited the work of Harvey, Pasteur and other medical celebrities to support their case. However, since the outcome of an experiment could not be known in advance, present-day researchers had to rely on anticipated benefits (and what scientist did not anticipate great discoveries?) to justify their continuing use of animals. While some hard-line anti-vivisectionists refused to admit that vivisection had ever led to any useful discovery in human medicine, most accepted that important information had been gained from it in the past, and took the Anti-Vivisection Hospital’s pragmatic line that all existing treatments developed through vivisection might still be used, but that no more animals ought to suffer for medicine.

It still took determination, and perhaps a dose of hypocrisy, to take the moral high ground and say of treatments, such as antisera, that were prepared using live animals: ‘I had rather die a hundred deaths than blacken my soul by consenting that such deeds should be done for my benefit’. 40 If, however, sick anti-vivisectionists lacked the courage of their convictions and accepted antiserum, this did not, as their opponents liked to argue, nullify their position: as the liberal politician Sir Robert Reid (1846–1923) wrote when asked whether he would permit vivisection to save his own family: ‘to save them, we might set fire to the nearest cathedral, though we knew it was wrong. Under strong emotion, good men do bad things’. 41

For anti-vivisectionists, it was, however, better to give into strong emotion than disdain it. The ‘forcible suppression of natural feelings of compassion’ that vivisection required was ‘a ruinous price to pay for knowledge’; ruinous both to the vivisector and to society, since the example of inhumanity was quickly spread. The consequences were particularly hazardous for medical men, since if their sense of compassion were allowed to atrophy they might become as callous to the suffering of patients as they were to that of dogs in the laboratory. 42 Vivisectionists, however, argued that it was they, by forcing themselves to do unpleasant but necessary experiments, who were truly ‘on the side of humanity’, while anti-vivisectionists selfishly spared their own feelings. 43 The crux of the matter was whether compassion and sympathy were more important attributes for a doctor than detachment and self-control. It was axiomatic that doctors should be caring and compassionate, but self-discipline and fortitude—for example, the ‘cool’ hand of the surgeon and the persistence of the anatomist during unpleasant dissections—were also essential qualities. 44 Were doctors and their patients forced to choose between sentimentality and science, or was the dichotomy a false one?

Defenders of animal research muddied the waters by pointing out that many anti-vivisectionists seemed indifferent to non-scientific exploitation of animals, such as meat-eating, hunting, and fur-wearing. 45 The British Medical Association, for example, had berated the Welsh landowner Lord Llangattock, a prominent anti-vivisectionist and vice-president of the Hospital of St Francis, for allowing shooting on his estate. 46 Though the BMA was mistaken in this case, there were other anti-vivisectionists who hunted and/or wore fur. In view of these apparent double standards, experimentalists complained that anti-vivisectionists only affected to sympathise with animals, while their true agenda was anti-science and anti-progress. 47 Though this was not entirely true—Oldfield, for example, seems to have been genuinely upset by the suffering he witnessed in slaughterhouses—the New Age movement certainly did aim to reverse the materialistic direction in which science was being taken, and anti-vivisection was an important strategy for doing so. Vivisection too had a socio-political agenda: the controversial nineteenth-century public vivisection displays had been a ‘protest on behalf of the independence of science as against interference by clerics and moralists’, 48 and formed part of a ‘successful struggle by doctors to free themselves and the practice of medicine from older moral and religious concepts and constraints’. 49

This separation of science from faith and morality proved highly controversial. In The Perfect Way, or, The Finding of Christ (1882), Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland (1824–1897) wrote of a ‘falsely so-called’ science that concentrated on superficial forms while ignoring the intellectual, moral and spiritual essence of things. 50 To Kingsford, vivisection’s brutal materialism was a ‘pseudo-scientific inquisition’, 51 and vivisectionists, ‘black magicians’, whose spreading of amorality would ‘work havoc’ with human souls. The vivisection controversy thus became the new battleground for two divergent views of science, whose proponents had been in conflict since the bodysnatching scandals a century earlier: must science be subservient to the moral codes that governed other human activities, or did its flourishing justify, or even require, setting the old morality aside? 52

Rallying to the Cause

When the Anti-Vivisection Hospital was incorporated (registered as a business) in 1910, it took a motto that expressed its wider purpose: Delenda est Crudelitas—‘Cruelty Must Be Destroyed’. 53 In its early years, the hospital sent representatives to anti-vivisection congresses, but the secretary became concerned that this might give the misleading impression they were anti-research. After some of his staff participated in the 1911 BUAV March against vivisection, Robbins went so far as to write to the anti-vivisection journals and popular press to explain that the hospital, which now had twenty-eight beds—twelve medical and sixteen surgical—did not oppose ‘legitimate and beneficent forms of laboratory research unconnected with Vivisection such as microscopical investigation of pathological specimens and bacteriological examinations necessary to the interests of medical progress’. 54 In the same year, a new twelve-bedded ‘cancer research department’, furnished with the latest electric ‘light and colour bath’, was opened under the direction of Dr Robert Bell (1845–1926). 55 The hospital board was fond of buying such novel pieces of apparatus, probably to show that they were engaging with the latest developments: the out-patient department boasted ‘the Buisson Institute for hydrophobia’, but no cases of this rare condition ever turned up, and when the inspectors called they found the cupboard in which the Buisson vapour bath was located full of rubbish. 56

The hospital’s death rates were ‘exceedingly low’—4.2% compared with the London Hospital’s 9.5%—though Robbins prudently told the King’s Fund this was not ‘a statistic which we would wish to press or labour’, presumably because the nature and complexity of the procedures performed in different hospitals would have to have been taken into account. 57 There were a few inquests at which the hospital was censured for poor practice, though it is unclear whether mistakes were more common there or whether its anti-vivisection policy earned it closer scrutiny. Following the death, in 1910, of a woman brought in after an illegal abortion, Dr da Costa was forced to admit in court that they were still not keeping any records, though the jury found the hospital blameless of her death. 58

Sloppy record keeping and other failings suggest that capable junior staff were hard to obtain, probably because many were unwilling to compromise their careers by linking themselves with anti-vivisection. The resident medical officer was often the only doctor in the hospital, and struggled to cope with its demands: on 4 July 1911, Dr James Hamilton Stuart left the hospital after luncheon, saying he would be back in half an hour, and returned a month later in ‘a deplorable condition having been in the East End’. The penniless medic was given breakfast and told to collect his things. 59 Standards among non-medical staff also left something to be desired: the hospital trained its own nurses and was justifiably proud when they passed their examinations, but once qualified they were often left unsupervised, and their work could be ‘casual’, as was that of the dispenser, who was found to be using an ‘extraordinarily large amount of Cocaine’. 60

Despite such lapses, Battersea’s ‘working men and women’ valued their hospital and organized dances, concerts and boxing tournaments to pay for it, with pro- and anti-vivisectionists working together for ‘so worthy a cause in helping the very poor’. 61 In spite of its earlier resolution, the King’s Fund did send more visitors, who noted that patients were being treated according to the latest principles, and that no attempt was being made to exclude treatments developed by experiments on animals, but they still refused to make a grant, explaining in an internal memo that: ‘The Distribution Committee decided not to give the arguments—which were that the principles restrictions at the Temperance and Homoeopathic hospitals are adopted because they are believed to be in the interests of the patients: those at the Antivivisection Hospital in the interests of the animals’. 62 The anti-vivisectionists response, had they seen the memo, would presumably have been that the principle of humanity was in the interests of patients. What the patients themselves thought would have depended on their views on vivisection, but it seems unlikely the average person would have considered a ban on animal experiments as a restriction, or else why would teaching hospitals have tried to conceal the presence of vivisectionists in their schools?

Whatever one thought of its principles, the Anti-Vivisection Hospital took them seriously: in 1912 an extraordinary meeting was convened to discuss why the resident medical officer, Dr Maurice Beddow Bayly (who by the time of his death in 1962 would be one of Britain’s leading medical anti-vivisectionists), had performed a major operation for breast cancer on a terminally ill patient who had shortly afterwards succumbed to surgical shock. There was no suggestion that the patient, who was unconscious throughout, had suffered, and her family did not make a complaint, but Bayly admitted he had not operated for the patient’s benefit, but because he had been ‘anxious to perform the operation’: in other words, he had practiced on a dying woman. This was the kind of ‘experiment’ that led patients to lose confidence in hospitals, and Bayly, whose conduct had been otherwise excellent, was severely reprimanded for failing to meet the hospital’s standards, and left shortly afterwards. 63 In 1926, a nurse was dismissed for ‘callous and brutal’ treatment of patients, and a visiting doctor was not allowed to demonstrate an Abram’s machine because he refused to sign the anti-vivisection pledge; later, a would-be honorary surgeon who tried to water down the pledge by inserting the word ‘unnecessary’ into the clause about not inflicting pain was not appointed, and a doctor who gave antisera to two patients was asked to resign. 64 Though the hospital was not anti-vaccinationist in the wider sense, vaccines and antisera prepared from live animals were specifically banned under its regulations.

The hospital’s supporters argued that it was the funds’ boycott, rather than hospital’s principles, that was harming patients. In 1914, Mary Culme-Seymour (1871–1944) wrote to the King’s Fund: ‘It can hardly be right that solely on account of the question for or against vivisection, the poor of a populous district should be left without the aid of a Hospital’. 65 Fortunately, the hospital had sufficient income from legacies and donations to remain solvent and even to expand, leaving the King’s Fund’s obdurate refusal to contribute looking increasingly ineffectual. In 1922, Richard Morris (1859–1956), the MP for Battersea North, called at the Fund’s headquarters to ask why they would not assist an institution that was ‘doing the work of a general hospital’: were they, he asked, ‘prejudiced by the views of orthodox medical men on the fund’? 66 That year, the hospital applied to the Fund once again, and was again refused.

It was typical of an anti-vivisection charity that many different kinds of people supported its work. 67 The hospital’s chairmen came from varied professional and political backgrounds, and included the libertarian economist Joseph Hiam Levy (1838–1913, chairman until 1905), John Prince Fallowes, Rector of Heene (d. 1941, chairman 1905–1911), the Liberal politician Sir George William Kekewich (1841–1921, chairman 1911–1914), hereditary peer Lord Tenterden (1865–1939, chairman 1914–1926), solicitor Alderman Robert Tweedy Smith (d. 1948, chairman 1926–1927), insurance broker S.C. Turner (chairman 1927–1928) and MP, novelist, theologian and sometime fascist Lord Ernest Hamilton (1858–1939, chairman 1928–1935).

From the beginning, the hospital enjoyed good relations with local trades unions: they thought it was doing ‘good work in Battersea’ and its committee was ‘indebted’ to them for helping to raise funds, repaying their support by insisting that hospital contracts went to local firms who paid their men the higher, union-approved wages. 68 There were also strong links with the Progressive Party borough council, which were cemented during the Brown Dog affair, when anti-vivisectionists found common cause with working-class activists. Most of the hospital’s funds came, however, from a few wealthy benefactors, notably, in its early years, Lady Portsmouth, whose death in 1906 deprived it of its most generous supporter. 69 Between 1900 and 1914, twenty-four individuals gave over £100 each, including £600 from Viscount Harberton and £500 each from Countess de Noailles and Maynard Geraldine Wolfe. In comparison to this, local street collections and donations from groups with anti-vivisection sympathies, such as the Ancient Order of Druids, brought comparatively little into the hospital’s funds, though they helped maintain good relations with the community. 70

The stereotype of the anti-vivisection donor as a wealthy widow with animals for company was not without foundation: more than two-thirds of the hospital’s governors were women, and at one point the hospital planned a charity appeal to ten thousand widows. 71 The preponderance of female supporters led to its becoming known as a women’s hospital, despite a lack of female doctors, which led to a costly misunderstanding over the will of a Miss Constance Edith Guerrier of Boulogne, who died in 1926 leaving her entire estate to ‘the Women’s Hospital, Battersea’. Her executors wrote to the ‘Women’s Hospital’ but as there was no hospital of that name, the letter was delivered to the borough council (now no longer under radical control), which claimed the legacy for its maternity hospital, though this had not existed when the will was written in 1919. The South London Hospital for Women, which was not in the borough of Battersea, then took legal proceedings against the council and won, which alerted the Anti-Vivisection Hospital’s Chairman Lord Tenterden, who put in his own claim for the money. Though it emerged during the proceedings that Guerrier, a woman of strong anti-vivisection views, had written to the South London Hospital for Women asking ‘if they carried on the Hospital on Anti-Vivisection principles’, and had been told they did not, the court ruled that this was the institution to which she had intended to bequeath her fortune, thus depriving the National Anti-Vivisection of £37,000. 72

In 1922, an inspection of the hospital, which by then was claiming to have fifty-two beds, found only nine beds and two cots occupied: one male ward, one female ward and the children’s ward had been closed since the war, along with the private beds in the cancer wing. A new out-patients building, completed in 1915 at a cost of £15,000, remained empty for want of equipment, and the old one was looking run down and antiquated; a faded card on the wall still proclaimed ‘RABIES SCARE BUISSON BATH TREATMENT’, but the bath had never been used and its gas pipe was not even connected to the mains. 73

The post-war period was difficult for many voluntary hospitals as there was less money available for charitable giving, and the Anti-Vivisection also suffered from declining interest in its cause. The anti-vivisectionists’ ageing demographic was, however, a rich source of legacies, which, typically for a voluntary hospital, were not always listed in its accounts, or even in the minute books. A bequest of £7361 in 1921 wiped off the debt under which the hospital had been labouring since the war, allowing the committee to begin a large building programme to accommodate the ‘ever-increasing applications for admission’, and to renovate, redecorate and reequip it ‘with every essential modern appliance’ until it had been ‘made as perfect as possible’. 74 1929 brought a further windfall of over £38,000 in the form of three large bequests. 75

Crisis and Compromise

In the 1920s, the hospital was treating over four hundred in-patients and forty thousand out-patients a year, but its reputation was damaged by a dispute that began in 1927 when a former honorary surgeon, J.F. Peart, author of ‘Foreign bodies in the rectum’, made a number of complaints. The hospital’s ban on antisera was well known, and Peart claimed that one of his patients had died of tetanus as a result. Furthermore, he told the King’s Fund, the hospital ‘more than discouraged’ the use of vaccines, two patients had died after straightforward operations owing to the use of infected cat-gut, and ‘there were two unqualified persons on the Staff’. 76 In addition, he sent letters, accusing ‘the women members of the board of management’ of interfering with medical affairs, to the Lancet and British Medical Journal , which printed detrimental reports. In reply, the hospital maintained that Peart had been aware of an arrangement for giving antiserum—by sending patients who asked for it to other hospitals—since 1922.

There are reasons to be sceptical about Peart’s allegations. He had been in bad odour with the hospital since 1924, when the ‘large fees’ he was charging private patients were brought to the attention of its committee. 77 The hospital minutes state he was dismissed after an argument with the matron, though he claimed it was ‘because I endeavoured to get the Board of Management to make reforms which the entire qualified Honorary Staff considered necessary’. 78 His claim that the hospital was anti-vaccination is not substantiated by any other sources, the board’s interference with clinicians does not seem to have been greater than at other hospitals, and deaths due to infected cat-gut were more likely the result of poor surgical technique than hospital policy. Peart apparently wanted to cause as much damage as possible: he was directed by the King’s Fund to stop the hospital receiving ambulance cases, and so decrease its patient numbers and prestige, and this he did by writing to London County Council, which immediately removed the hospital from its ambulance list on the grounds that it ‘prohibits the use of serums and discourages the use of vaccines’. 79

In response, the hospital board told the Council ‘that in cases of tetanus and diphtheria and all else medical officers are authorized to take all steps necessary for the preservation of life’. 80 It is not clear how long this compromise had been going on, but it was a damaging admission, as the hospital appeared either unsafe or hypocritical, depending on whether patients had actually been allowed to have antiserum. Some of its supporters, such as the abolitionist BUAV, deplored this concession to expediency, and resignations of governors followed. The County Council took 4 years to reinstate the hospital on the ambulance list, at which time the hospital secretary told the King’s Fund that ‘In the opinion and practice of the medical staff there is nothing in our constitution or Articles of Association which limits them in treating patients under their care in any way different from that which they practice in other hospitals in which they work. They maintain that sera are not the products of Vivisection’. 81 This removed any pretence that the hospital’s practices were different from the norm, which further alienated its core supporters, while making no difference to the King’s Fund’s boycott. 82

By the early 1930s, the hospital’s financial shortfall had become unmanageable. Eight board members resigned, and the sale of £4300 in investments failed to clear its debts. 83 Late in 1934, the mortgaged hospital received an ultimatum from Barclays Bank, and Lord Ernest made a desperate appeal to the King’s Fund: ‘My suggestion is that … you, as custodians of the largest British hospital fund, should take the hospital over as the Battersea General Hospital, without the objectionable title of “Antivivisection”’. He added: ‘Personally I should welcome relief from my position as Chairman which is burdensome and which occupies much of my time which could be more profitably employed’. The medical and nursing staff were, he wrote, ‘second to none’ and the building ‘modern and up to date in every respect’; it would be a ‘calamity’ for Battersea if it ceased to operate. 84 In February 1935, Sir Herbert Lush-Wilson (1850–1941) persuaded the Goldsmiths’ Company to give the hospital £100 in the expectation that it would soon abandon its anti-vivisection charter, though this was ‘not to be mentioned outside the Board Room’. Meanwhile, Lord Ernest continued secretly to negotiate with the King’s Fund, which accepted that the hospital was ‘geographically’ essential. 85

The Fund agreed to help only if ‘Anti-Vivisection’ were removed from the hospital’s title and charter, which required winding up the company. Realising that this was the Fund’s goal, Coleridge tried to press them into assisting immediately on compassionate grounds, but they refused. 86 The board tried to change the hospital’s name by a simple vote but this was blocked by the governors, and would in any case not have satisfied the King’s Fund, which complained that ‘the Hospital’s practice was not in accordance with its principles’. 87 Lord Ernest also appealed to various other medical charities, but without success:

The Battersea General Hospital is the only Anti-Vivisection Hospital in the London District and, because of its principles, it is debarred by the prejudice of those in authority from participation in King Edward’s Hospital Fund, The Metropolitan Hospitals Sunday Fund, the Charitable bequests of the City Livery Companies and other distributing bodies who generously contribute to the expenses of other London Hospitals. This attitude is unreasonable and unjust because the Battersea Hospital serves a large and very poor district and, by general consent, serves it admirably. … THIS IS PRACTICALLY IN THE NATURE OF AN S.O.S. 88

Then, in what was either an egregious act of disloyalty or an inept attempt at dissimulation, Lord Ernest told the King’s Fund that the governors ‘consisted mainly of fanatical women’, and the press that ‘[t]he “anti-vivisection” part of the name of the hospital is a meaningless term pinned to it many years ago, and is a great handicap’. 89  As the Lancet noted, this was ‘not easily reconciled with the provocative policy for which Battersea has stood in the past’. 90

Once the situation became publicly known, the King’s Fund started to receive complaints about its intransigence. As the Fund was entirely reliant on public money, it seems strange that they so readily ignored public opinion with regard to vivisection, though they may rightly have assumed that committed anti-vivisectionists were unlikely to be among their most generous supporters: they ignored a letter from Coleridge after a check of their records showed he had last made a donation in 1920. They were certainly aware of the problem, as their postbag included letters from exasperated members of the public accusing them of using their influence to ‘distort’ clinical practice, of failing to honour the memory of Queen Victoria—‘whose utter detestation of Vivisection was expressed in perfectly definite terms’ 91 —of ignoring the fact that some of their £240,000 annual income must have come from people who were ‘suspicious’ of vivisection, and of failing to point out when they collected money ‘that the Fund was only for the orthodox’. 92 A medical charity had never been less popular: H.R. Maynard, the Fund’s long-serving secretary, urged its members to refrain from making any comment about the Anti-Vivisection Hospital, as they ‘might not realise the dangers of talking about it outside’. 93  The Mayor of Battersea, a far cry from the outspoken radicals of the early part of the century, refused to allow a public meeting to discuss the crisis, fearing that local people would only use it ‘to ventilate grievances’. 94

The hospital’s nurses gave up their holidays to raise money and some local people gave their savings; there was talk of a ‘giant’ petition asking the Prince of Wales personally to intervene as the Fund’s chairman, and Lord Ernest wrote to tell him that ‘all Battersea is in a ferment’. 95  The King’s Fund sent its representatives to meet the Prince at Ascot races, and after hearing their reassurances, His Royal Highness ‘fully realised that it would have been impossible to go back on the previous decisions of the Council, which are based on logical reasons’. 96 There was now only one remaining option, and Lord Ernest told the press that ‘If we do not change our name we are dead’. 97 In an internal memo to the King’s Fund’s distribution committee, its Chairman, Edwin Cooper Perry (1856–1938), wrote: ‘Let it die, as it will of inanition if we go on saying nothing’. The ambiguous ‘it’ may have referred to the bad publicity, but he might just as easily have meant the hospital. 98 Cooper Perry was knighted later that year, for services to charity.

The End of the Experiment

In defeat, Lord Ernest vented his spleen to the press, condemning as ‘absolutely outrageous’ the ‘fanatical bigotry’ that had ‘killed’ the hospital. His outburst made good copy: it was a ‘blow for poor people’, he said: ‘If this hospital was in one of the smart well-dressed districts of London there would be no difficulty at all … But we are situated in a poor district on the wrong side of the river for fashionable sympathy’. When the hospital finally closed at the beginning of June, there were reports of ‘sad-eyed’ locals watching as ambulances ‘whisked’ the fifty remaining patients off to other hospitals. Dr John Robert Lee initiated the longwinded process of changing the hospital’s charter, informing the high court that in view of the general advance in medical knowledge it was no longer possible to run a hospital on anti-vivisection lines. Mr Justice Lee (no relation) replied that, while he sympathised with the hospital’s original aims, he agreed they were no longer practical. 99

A King’s Fund inspection at the end of 1935 found the reopened hospital fit for its purpose and concluded that it had come to grief because of overspending. 100 A number of factors, they felt, had conspired to prevent the hospital paying its debts: declining interest in anti-vivisection in general, disillusionment with the Hospital’s equivocation about the antiserum policy, and higher taxation that left the middle classes with less to spare for charitable purposes. 101 In addition, the hospital’s policy of paying local people fair wages had kept running costs high, and the anti-vivisection remit made it hard to recruit junior staff and necessitated paying more for those prepared to sign up. 102

Lord Ernest stepped down as chairman in favour of Sidney Parkes, a London builder and sports promoter, who disconcertingly promised that his strategy to restore the hospital’s fortunes would be ‘absolutely legal’. 103 Five board members resigned within a year of his appointment, and though he effected ‘every possible economy’—reducing the use of X-ray film, requiring attendees at board meetings to pay sixpence for tea and cake, and even accepting a legacy of £100 bequeathed to the (now non-existent) ‘Anti-Vivisection Hospital’, debts continued to grow. 104 Parkes had personally guaranteed a £6500 bank loan, but there seemed no prospect of repaying it and he resigned in January 1936, ‘anxious to be relieved of this responsibility’, and having discovered the hard way that ‘the Hospital had lost a great deal of income through abandoning anti-vivisection’. 105

Once its charter had been changed, the hospital’s honorary staff were obliged to resign and renew their contracts without the anti-cruelty clause. One who did not do so was Alexander Bowie, the hospital’s first chairman, who wrote to the board: ‘I remember that we began with one little girl patient. But it soon grew till the number was 100. I appointed the first house physician, a woman, the first nurse and the first medical staff. The hospital was obviously needed, and it has been successful so far as the treatment of patients is concerned…’. 106

Conclusion

The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital was a thirty-year experiment in putting anti-vivisection principles into practice. It did not directly save a single animal from vivisection, but as a standing protest against cruelty, it became a flagship of the anti-vivisection cause, providing a visible, viable alternative to conventional, ‘vivisecting’ hospitals and medical schools. For the first time, philanthropists, women’s rights activists, socialists, trade unionists, evangelical Christians and other champions of underdogs could help the sick poor without having to compromise their opposition to animal experiments. Like the short-lived but iconic statue of the Brown Dog nearby, the hospital was a rallying point for defenders of humane science, and a provocation to medical orthodoxy. If its efforts to look state-of-the-art by purchasing the latest gadgets looked unconvincing, it at least managed to provide facilities to match those of most conventional district hospitals. Its finances were intentionally kept complex, as like all hospitals dependent on charity it tried to appear needier than it was, but until the 1930s it remained solvent without the help of any of the state-apportioned funds that bolstered the rest of the voluntary system. The fact that there was enough anti-vivisection money to keep even one hospital going was an embarrassment for the medical establishment, and helped convince them that anti-vivisection had great public sympathy and almost unlimited financial support. 107

In its early years, the hospital made greater efforts to win South Londoners’ hearts than their money: ‘Give us your help’, read a flyer, ‘but, above all, give us your sympathy’. Sympathy was an old-fashioned virtue, out of step with the medical profession’s push towards dispassionate science, which anti-vivisectionists tried to block by preaching the populist message that knowledge won at the cost of cruelty was not worth the price paid. Experimentalists dismissed such views as sentimentalism or hypocrisy, and tried to shift the focus to what science could achieve rather than the character and methods of those who achieved it. As the twentieth century progressed, the old ideal of the humane, compassionate physician went the way of the honourable soldier and the noblesse oblige politician, supplanted by the utilitarian pragmatist who sought the best outcome for the greatest number by any means necessary. By the 1930s, medical scientists had put their case so insistently that it was widely, though perhaps regretfully, accepted among most educated Britons that, as the judge who revoked the hospital’s charter put it, medical advances were no longer possible without experiments on living animals. An Anti-Vivisection Hospital could never show that vivisection yielded no benefits: only that a hospital could be run effectively without it, and that there were sufficient conscientious objectors to keep it solvent.

In theory, nothing could have been fairer than the voluntary hospital system: each institution relied on personal philanthropy and received nothing from the public purse; each was governed by a committee answerable to its subscribers, and staffed by consultants who received no salaries. In practice, however, the interposition of the King’s Fund and other semi-official charity administrators between donors and recipients led to a system of state-approved patronage. The Fund was what would later be called a QUANGO (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization), answerable in theory to the Crown but in practice to no one outside its own board room (which was the dining room of Marlborough House). Burdett had a talent for getting his own way, but he had no need to persuade a committee that included the Lord Mayor, the Bishop of London, Lords Rothschild and Lister, the Governor of the Bank of England, the President of the Royal Society and the Presidents of the medical and surgical Royal Colleges to refuse support for a hospital that opposed vivisection. 108 The result was that, between 1897 and 1948, the London (later Royal) Homoeopathic Hospital received a total of £70,793, the National Temperance £127,595, and the Anti-Vivisection, nothing, 109 although of the twelve million pounds collected by the fund over that time, thousands must have been given by anti-vivisectionists.

Measured against the criteria used to assess other voluntary hospitals, the Anti-Vivisection held its own. In fact, its work as a hospital was perhaps too successful, since the board pursued their ambitions for growth at the cost of compromising their principles. There was truth in the King’s Fund’s allegation that by the late 1920s the hospital’s management were hypocritically preaching what they sometimes failed to practice, and it was this moral circumlocution, as much as the boycott by the funds, that killed the hospital by alienating its supporters. In 1935, the hospital’s board chose to abandon its ideology in order to survive as an institution: a betrayal for its staunch anti-vivisection supporters, but an act of compassion to the sick poor of Battersea, who had been caught up, willingly or otherwise, in an extraordinary and bitterly contested ideological conflict. Even after the board agreed to abandon anti-vivisection, the King’s Fund declined to intervene for the sake of the remaining patients, having determined to force the hospital’s closure to drive home its point that anti-vivisection was not a viable option.

Shorn of its anti-vivisection trappings, the revived hospital served the people of Battersea until 1972, when it finally succumbed to a National Health Service reorganization. It had been unique in the British hospital system in having been set up and run entirely with anti-vivisection money, but in later years its origins and ethos were purposefully forgotten: the British Medical Journal ’s obituaries of doctors who had worked there in the early days never mentioned the word ‘anti-vivisection’. The Hospital’s message, that medicine could be practised with compassion, and that some patients preferred this to the cold hand of science, had been so radically unsettling that the establishment wanted it silenced—perhaps the clearest indication of its importance to the anti-vivisection movement.

Notes

  1. 1.

    ‘The case of Mabel Florence Jones’, Lancet, 173 (1909), 124–126; ‘Hospital Treatment’, Times, 31 December 1908, 10 (Hospital Treatment 1908).

     
  2. 2.

    ‘“No experiments on patients,” but “every kind of operation”’, Nottingham Evening Post, 31 December 1908, 8 (No experiments on patients,” but “every kind of operation 1908).

     
  3. 3.

    ‘Child’s death’, Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 31 December 1908, 2. Many press cuttings on ‘human vivisection’ are preserved in a scrapbook in Well SA/LIS/E8 (Child’s death 1908).

     
  4. 4.

    Stephen Coleridge, The Diversion of Hospital Funds: A Controversy between the Hon. Stephen Coleridge and the ‘British Medical Journal’ (London: National Anti-Vivisection Society, 1901) (Coleridge 1901).

     
  5. 5.

    ‘Anti-vivisection methods’, The Hospital, 32 (1902), 244–245.

     
  6. 6.

    FRCS, ‘A guide for the charitable’, Times, 9 January 1902, 10 (FRCS 1902).

     
  7. 7.

    Extract from the register of unreported charities, LMA A/KE/245/04; ‘Hospital in a lawsuit’, Evening News, 28 December 1936.

     
  8. 8.

    Anti-Vivisection Hospital flyer (1903), LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  9. 9.

    Letter, G.W.F. Robbins to H.R. Maynard of the King’s Fund, 11 November 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  10. 10.

    Hospital board minutes, September 1927, LMA H6/BG/A1/4, p. 137.

     
  11. 11.

    King’s Fund memorandum, c. 1912, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  12. 12.

    Extract from visitors’ report (1906), LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  13. 13.

    On the history of the funds, see F.K. Prochaska, Philanthropy and the Hospitals of London: The King’s Fund, 18971990 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992) (Prochaska 1992).

     
  14. 14.

    Letter, Robbins to Sydney Holland, 18 December 1907; Holland to Robbins, 23 December 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  15. 15.

    ‘Ex-Lord Mayor and vicar’, Lancashire Evening Post, 17 December 1908, 2 (Ex-Lord Mayor and vicar 1908).

     
  16. 16.

    ‘The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital’, Medical Times, 11 January 1908, 24 (The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital 1908).

     
  17. 17.

    Prochaska, Philanthropy and the Hospitals of London, 53.

     
  18. 18.

    Gloucester Citizen, 24 September 1907, 4; Times, 1 October 1907, 10.

     
  19. 19.

    Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13 June 1904, 3.

     
  20. 20.

    Letter, Edmund Hay Currie of the Sunday Fund to Robbins, 15 July 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  21. 21.

    LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  22. 22.

    Memorandum, March 1930, quoting a reply from the hospital in 1912, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  23. 23.

    Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13 June 1904, 3.

     
  24. 24.

    Letters: Currie to Robbins, 15 July 1907; E.A.G. Pomeroy and Alex Bowie to Currie, 27 August 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  25. 25.

    Peter Mason, The Brown Dog Affair: the Story of a Monument that Divided the Nation (London: Two Sevens Publishing, 1997), 55. See also Lansbury, The Old Brown Dog; Margo DeMello, Animals and Society: an Introduction to Human-Animal Studies (New York: Colombia University Press, 2012), 183–186 and Joe Cain, The Brown Dog in Battersea Park (London: Euston Grove Press, 2013) (Mason 1997; Lansbury 2012; Cain 2013).

     
  26. 26.

    ‘The “brown dog” disturbances’, Medical Press and Circular, 85 (1907), 593.

     
  27. 27.

    Lansbury, The Old Brown Dog, 188; Debbie Tacium, ‘A History of Antivivisection from the 1800s to the Present: Part I (mid-1800s to 1914)’, Veterinary Heritage, 31, (2008), 1–9 (Tacium 2008).

     
  28. 28.

    Letter, Rose M. George to the Treasurer, King’s Fund, 22 May 1930, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  29. 29.

    ‘Under the seat’, Chambers’s Journal, 50 (1873), 147–149; A Citizen, ‘Vivisection’, Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 18 May 1899, 7.

     
  30. 30.

    Buettinger, ‘Antivivisection’.

     
  31. 31.

    Mason, The Brown Dog Affair, 8; R.T. Reid, On Vivisection (London: National Anti-Vivisection Society, 1902), 6. On anti-vivisection and feminine sentiment see Rob Boddice, ‘Equanimity in the Laboratory? The Sentimentalists versus the Sufferers in America c. 1900’, History of Emotions—Insights into Research, October 2013, doi: 10.14280/08241.10 (Reid 1902).

     
  32. 32.

    French, Antivivisection and Medical Science.

     
  33. 33.

    Letter, Pomeroy and Bowie to Currie, 27 August 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  34. 34.

    ‘Anti-vivisection meeting in Cheltenham’, Cheltenham Looker-On, 23 November 1907, 15 (Anti-vivisection meeting in Cheltenham 1907).

     
  35. 35.

    T. Waldron Bradley. Torture in Laboratories and Hospitals (Broadsheet, n.d.), Well SA/RDS A3.

     
  36. 36.

    Hospital board minutes, 6 August 1908, LMA H6/BG/A1/1; ‘The anti-vivisection hospital’, The Hospital, 25 September 1909, 677.

     
  37. 37.

    Letters: Savile Crossley to Davis, 21 December 1909, LMA A/KE/260/001; Rose M. George to the Treasurer, King’s Fund, 22 May 1930, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  38. 38.

    King’s Fund notes, 16 December 1907, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  39. 39.

    Letter, Burdett to Maynard, 28 September 1909, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  40. 40.

    J. Stratton, ‘Anti-vivisection and sport’, Medical Press and Circular, 83 (1907), 48 (Stratton 1907).

     
  41. 41.

    Reid, On Vivisection, 5.

     
  42. 42.

    Edward Berdoe, ‘Human vivisections’, Bristol Mercury, 4 June 1894 (Berdoe 1894).

     
  43. 43.

    ‘Anti-vivisection’, Medical Press and Circular, 69 (1900), 276–277; ’Anti-vivisectionists take note!’, Medical Press and Circular, (1901), 247–248.

     
  44. 44.

    Vivisection, like anatomy, was presented as a heroic exercise in self-discipline: see Bates, ‘Vivisection, virtue ethics’ and Simon Chaplin, ‘The heroic anatomist’.

     
  45. 45.

    This was true of many, though a significant minority were ethical vegetarians: Twigg, The Vegetarian Movement, 183–185.

     
  46. 46.

    F.R.S., ‘Lord Llangattock and the anti-vivisection society’, BMJ, 1 (1901), 1239 (F.R.S. 1901).

     
  47. 47.

    J. Keri Cronin, ‘“A mute yet eloquent protest”: visual culture and anti-vivisection activism in the age of mechanical reproduction’, in John Sorenson (ed.), Critical Animal Studies: Thinking the Unthinkable (Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2014), 284–297, on p. 290. For a dissenting view see Anne DeWitt, Moral Authority, Men of Science and the Victorian Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 127 (Cronin 2014; DeWitt 2013).

     
  48. 48.

    Edward Maitland, Anna Kingsford: Her Life, Letters, Diary and Work (London: George Redway, 1896), 340 (Maitland 1896).

     
  49. 49.

    Twigg, The Vegetarian Movement, 175.

     
  50. 50.

    Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland, The Perfect Way; or, the Finding of Christ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 31, 184 (Kingsford and Maitland 2011).

     
  51. 51.

    Mrs Algernon Kingsford, Violationism: or Sorcery in Science (Bath: 1887), 1; Pasteur, His Method and Results (Hampstead: 1886), 28; MA Cambridge, ‘The pseudo-scientific inquisition’, Ethics, 3 October 1903, quoted in Zoophilist, 23 (1903/1904), 155 (Kingsford 1887).

     
  52. 52.

    Legally there was no cruelty where there was justification: Bates, ‘Vivisection, virtue ethics’.

     
  53. 53.

    Hospital and general purposes committee minutes, 13 September 1910, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002.

     
  54. 54.

    Hospital board minutes, 6 December 1911, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, p. 151.

     
  55. 55.

    Special board minutes, 14 June 1911, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, pp. 99–102; Hospital board minutes, June 1914, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, p. 423. On the light and colour bath see J. Stenson Hooper, ‘A new light and colour bath’, Lancet, 2 (1903), 434 (Hooper 1903).

     
  56. 56.

    Visitors’ report, 1908, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  57. 57.

    Ibid. To this day, politicians and public fail to understand that a high death rate is a consequence of treating the sickest patients.

     
  58. 58.

    ‘Hint to hospital’ (newspaper cutting), n.d., LMA A/KE/260/001. It was not unusual at the time not to keep case notes, particularly for out-patients.

     
  59. 59.

    Hospital board minutes, 5 July 1911, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, pp. 110–118.

     
  60. 60.

    Hospital board minutes, 5 September and 3 October 1907, LMA H6/BG/A1/1.

     
  61. 61.

    Hospital board minutes, May 1922, LMA H6/BG/A1/3, pp. 344–346; Letter, J. Bench to King’s Fund, 26 March 1912, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  62. 62.

    Letter, Maynard to Robbins, 24 May 1912, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  63. 63.

    Emergency committee minutes, 21 August 1912; Hospital board minutes, September 1912, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, pp. 215–219, 224.

     
  64. 64.

    Hospital board minutes, March 1926, April 1926, March 1927, LMA H6/BG/A1/4, pp. 28, 33, 37–38, 106.

     
  65. 65.

    Letter, M.E. Culme-Seymour to Maynard, 1 June 1914, LMA A/KE/260/001. Mary, one of the two daughters of Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, was known for the scandal in which it was claimed she had secretly married the young George V.

     
  66. 66.

    Memorandum, 1922, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  67. 67.

    John Vyvyan, The Dark Face of Science (London: Michael Joseph, 1971), 95 (Vyvyan 1971).

     
  68. 68.

    Hospital board minutes, June 1914, LMA HO6/BG/A/01/002, pp. 415–422.

     
  69. 69.

    Hospital board minutes, 4 October 1906, LMA H6/BG/A1/1.

     
  70. 70.

    Hospital and general purposes committee minutes, September 1925, LMA H6/BG/A3/1.

     
  71. 71.

    There were 247 in total: list of governors, LMA H6/BG/A9/1; Hospital board minutes, June 1933, LMA H6/BG/A1/5, p. 244.

     
  72. 72.

    Hospital board minutes, May 1928, LMA H6/BG/A1/4, pp. 198–199.

     
  73. 73.

    Report of Sir Cooper Perry and Sir Frederick Fry following a visit to the Anti-Vivisection Hospital, 22 July 1922, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  74. 74.

    Memorandum, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  75. 75.

    Hospital and general purposes committee minutes, June 1929, LMA H6/BG/A9/1, p. 105. These were estimated residues of estates and may exceed the amounts actually received.

     
  76. 76.

    Letter, J.F. Peart to Maynard, 28 February 1927, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  77. 77.

    Hospital and general purposes committee minutes, Oct 1924, LMA H6/BG/A3/1.

     
  78. 78.

    Letter, Peart to Maynard, 28 February 1927, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  79. 79.

    Letter, Cox to the Secretary, Anti-Vivisection Hospital, 12 August 1927, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  80. 80.

    Hospital board minutes, 12 July 1928, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  81. 81.

    Letter, Cox to the Medical Superintendent, 17 March 1932, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  82. 82.

    Letter, Harry W. Woolven to Maynard, 18 July 1932, LMA A/KE/260/001.

     
  83. 83.

    King’s Fund papers, LMA A/KE/245/04; Hospital finance committee minutes, April 1933, LMA A6/BG/A4/1.

     
  84. 84.

    Letter, Lord Ernest Hamilton to Maynard, 19 December 1934, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  85. 85.

    Hospital board minutes, February 1935, LMA H6/BG/A1/6, pp. 26–27.

     
  86. 86.

    Letter, Thos H.D. Hogg to the Treasurer, King’s Fund, 28 May 1934, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  87. 87.

    Memorandum, 28 April 1932, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  88. 88.

    Letter, Aston Charities Trust to King’s Fund, 14 April 1934, LMA A/KE/260/002.

     
  89. 89.

    Memorandum of meeting between Sir Cooper Perry and Hamilton, 15 January 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04; ‘Hospital “killed” by a name’, Morning Post, 30 May 1935 (Hospital “killed” by a name 1935).

     
  90. 90.

    ‘The name of a hospital’, Lancet, 8 June 1935.

     
  91. 91.

    Letter from James Blackwood to Maynard, 9 July 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  92. 92.

    ‘Closing a hospital’, Star, 7 June 1935.

     
  93. 93.

    Letter, Maynard to Sir Harold Wernher, 19 June 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  94. 94.

    Memorandum of telephone enquiry from A. Bailey, 19 June 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  95. 95.

    ‘Battersea General Hospital’, South Western Star, 23 June 1935; ‘Battersea General Hospital fighting for life’, Star, 15 June 1935, 9; Letter, Sir Godfrey Thomas to Maynard, 11 June 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  96. 96.

    Letter, Wernher to Maynard, 22 June 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  97. 97.

    ‘Chance of life for hospital’, Morning Post, 31 May 1935 (Chance of life for hospital 1935).

     
  98. 98.

    Memorandum from E. Cooper Perry, 30 May 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  99. 99.

    ‘Alteration of a hospital’s objects’, BMJ, 2 (1935), 1055.

     
  100. 100.

    Distribution committee minutes, December 1935, LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  101. 101.

    ‘Boycotted Hospital: Battersea ceases to be anti-vivisectionist’, News Chronicle, 20 November 1935 (Boycotted Hospital 1935).

     
  102. 102.

    Memorandum of interview with Parker, January 1936, LMA A/KE/245/04; Report of inspection, February 1938, LMA A/KE/512(5).

     
  103. 103.

    ‘Hospital board’, June 1935, LMA H6/BG/A1/6, pp. 41–44.

     
  104. 104.

    LMA A/KE/245/04.

     
  105. 105.

    Hospital finance committee minutes, December 1937, LMA A6/BG/A4/1, pp. 84–91.

     
  106. 106.

    ‘Hospital in a lawsuit’, Evening News, 28 December 1936 (Hospital in a lawsuit 1936).

     
  107. 107.

    Letter, Medical Secretary, BMA to Secretary, MRC, 11 March 1927, Well SA/BMA/C86.

     
  108. 108.

    Prochaska, Philanthropy and the Hospitals of London, 19. The presence of even one woman on the committee might have helped the Anti-Vivisection Hospital.

     
  109. 109.

    Prochaska, Philanthropy and the Hospitals of London, 290.

     

References

  1. Anti-vivisection meeting in Cheltenham. (1907, November 23). Cheltenham Looker-On, 15.Google Scholar
  2. Berdoe, E. (1894, June 4). Human vivisections. Bristol Mercury.Google Scholar
  3. Bradley, T. W. (n.d.). Torture in Laboratories and Hospitals (Broadsheet).Google Scholar
  4. Boycotted Hospital: Battersea ceases to be anti-vivisectionist. (1935, November 20). News Chronicle.Google Scholar
  5. Cain, J. (2013). The brown dog in Battersea park. London: Euston Grove Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chance of life for hospital. (1935, May 31). Morning Post.Google Scholar
  7. Child’s death. (1908, December 31). Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 2.Google Scholar
  8. Coleridge, S. (1901). The diversion of hospital funds: A controversy between the Hon. Stephen Coleridge and the ‘British medical journal’. London: National Anti-Vivisection Society.Google Scholar
  9. Cronin, J. K. (2014). “A mute yet eloquent protest”: visual culture and anti-vivisection activism in the age of mechanical reproduction. In J. Sorenson (Ed.), Critical animal studies: Thinking the unthinkable (pp. 284–297 on p. 290). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.Google Scholar
  10. DeWitt, A. (2013). Moral authority, men of science and the victorian novel (p. 127). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ex-Lord Mayor and vicar. (1908, December 17). Lancashire Evening Post, 2.Google Scholar
  12. F.R.S. (1901). Lord llangattock and the anti-vivisection society. BMJ, 1, 1239.Google Scholar
  13. FRCS. (1902, January 9). A guide for the charitable. Times, 10.Google Scholar
  14. Hospital Treatment. (1908, December 31). Times, 10.Google Scholar
  15. Hospital “killed” by a name. (1935, May 30). Morning Post.Google Scholar
  16. Hospital in a lawsuit. (1936, December 28). Evening News.Google Scholar
  17. Kingsford, A. (1887). Violationism: Or sorcery in science, (Vol. 1). Bath.Google Scholar
  18. Kingsford, A. B., & Maitland, E. (2011). The perfect way; or, the finding of Christ. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lansbury. (2012). The old brown Dog; margo demello, animals and society: An introduction to human–animal studies (pp. 183–186). New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Maitland, E. (1896). Anna kingsford: Her life, letters, diary and work. London: George Redway.Google Scholar
  21. Mason, P. (1997). The brown dog affair: The story of a monument that divided the nation. London: Two Sevens Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. “No experiments on patients,” but “every kind of operation”. (1908, December 31). Nottingham Evening Post, 8.Google Scholar
  23. Prochaska, F. K. (1992). Philanthropy and the hospitals of London: The king’s fund, 1897–1990. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Reid, R. T. (1902). On Vivisection (p. 6). London: National Anti-Vivisection Society.Google Scholar
  25. Stenson H. J. (1903). A new light and colour bath. Lancet, 2, 434.Google Scholar
  26. Stratton, J. (1907). Anti-vivisection and sport. Medical Press and Circular, 83, 48.Google Scholar
  27. Tacium, D. (2008). A history of antivivisection from the 1800s to the present: Part I (mid-1800s to 1914). Veterinary Heritage, 31, 1–9.Google Scholar
  28. The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital. (1908, January 11). Medical Times, 24.Google Scholar
  29. Vyvyan, J. (1971). The dark face of science. London: Michael Joseph.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. H. Bates
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cellular PathologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations