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Today we expect the State to provide a national Health Service: in the nineteenth century things were very different. Religion was central to most aspects of life and not unnaturally the church was a provider of health care,especially to those least able to provide for themselves.....In this book Kay Syrad describes how the Hospital came to exist and what was done there. She ends her story at a time when the Hospital's future is uncertain. Her words should provide a firm basis for the debate that is now essential as a new use is sought for the Hospital buildings and especially for Woodyer's spectacular Chapel.
Dr John Elliott, The University of Reading, November 2002.

All Saints Hospital was opened in 1869. The All Saints Sisters of the Poor led by their Mother Superior, Harriet Brownlow Byron, delivered care to the patients with devotion and tenderness.Their philosophy has continued over the years and the principles of care at the Hospital are the same today..........I wanted the history of All Saints Hospital under the management of Harriet Brownlow Byron and her successors to be recorded with the intention of celebrating her vision before the Hospital closes.
Bob Mulvey, General Manager, All Saints Hospital, November 2002.

.......a high incidence of typhus and consumption amongst the overcrowded poorer classes, plus periodic outbreaks of smallpox and cholera, combined to bring the problem of the sick poor to the attention of medical observers.....

The English Ambulance
The War in France 1870
The English Ambulance in the Field, showing All Saints Sisters. Later there was a great deal of support amongst liberal-minded women for the cause of Garibaldi and Italian unification, partly inspired by the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the artist Barbara Leigh Smith who organised medical aid for Garibaldi's troops. By the end of of the Franco-Prussian war, to which eight All Saints Sisters travelled in 1870.

All Saints Hospital Meads, c.1869, before the Chapel was built.
When the foundation stone of All Saints Convalescent Hospital was laid on 19 th July 1867, the site consisted of cornfields, the Downs were yellow and red with mustard and poppies, oxen could have been ploughing the fields.

All Saints Album
Photograph from Pte. Worth Davis' All Saints Album, 1917-18.
By May 1916 there were just 22 patients left in All Saints and later these civilian patients were moved to an empty girls' school in Bolsover Road. All Saints was then equipped and staffed by the Canadians to take a maximum of 700 cases.

St. Peter, detail from Chapel window
St. Peter, detail from Chapel window.
(Photograph © Bob Mulvey.)

The German (Mayer) windows in the Chapel are much more romantic; they have a pre-Raphaelite, theatrical and literal quality: huge soulful eyes, rich, dark colours, a kind of reckless voluptuousness.
In this thoroughly researched and beautifully written book, Kay Syrad both brings to life the pioneering work of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, who established All Saints Convalescent Hospital at Meads in Eastbourne in 1869, and takes the reader on a mesmerizing architectural journey through the hospital and its exquisite chapel.

Copies of 'A Breath of Heaven' a history of All Saints Convalescent Hospital 1869-1959 can be obtained from the following Eastbourne shops:

Temple Bird & Co, 40 Meads Street
Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital Shop, District General Hospital, Kings Drive

The Meads website extends thanks to Kay Syrad for kindly allowing extracts from her book to be published on the internet and to Bob Mulvey for the use of his photographs of All Saints Convalescent Hospital.

Thanks also to All Saints Sisters of the Poor, Eastbourne County Library Services and Martha Walcot

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