Victorian Stained Glass Restoration


The Stained Glass at the Heart of Our Victorian Heritage

The Assembly Room with original stained glass at the RHN
Hospital for Incurables Assembly Room circa 1900 showing the original stained glass

When The Assembly Room was built it had the most exquisite stained glass installed. The windows were destroyed in bombing raids in the Second World War.  After the war limited funds meant that we had to replace the broken windows with plain glass. The windows and frames have become worn and they are now so badly in need of repair that they are boarded up.

Working with the Heritage of London Trust and Chapel Studios, the foremost stained glass specialist in Europe, we are  planning to return stained glass to the Assembly Room, restoring this once grand Victorian Hall to its former beauty, so that it can be enjoyed by patients, residents and the wider community.  To do this we need to raise £108,000.

Please help us with the restoration by donating here.

The Assembly Room, past and present

For over 150 years, the Assembly Room has been at the heart of the hospital and its community. It is the location of the twice weekly Christian service presided over by the RHN’s chaplain, Geoff Coyne.

Chaplaincy in the Assembly Room
Thursday morning worship with chaplain, Geoff Coyne

The Assembly Room is still used daily as a space for meeting, socialising and being entertained. The vast range of activities and clubs for patients that take place in this room, include the Saturday morning boccia group with an additional sports group on Mondays; Making Music involving singing and dancing for people in wheelchairs; weekly film screenings, comedy club and regular live music. When not in use for an activity, the room is used by patients and family members as a place to relax and spend time together.

“It’s quite dark in the Assembly Room now that the windows are boarded up and can feel a bit gloomy sometimes.  It would be lovely to have some colourful stained glass to brighten up the room.  I enjoy going to Making Music, playing Boccia and attend two church services in the Assembly Room every week. I think the new windows will make the room much nicer and make everyone who uses it feel happy.” An RHN resident.

Please help us with the restoration by donating here

When the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN) was established in 1854 our founder, Dr Andrew Reed,  was determined to provide the best environment possible for people living with severe disability.  For this reason The Assembly Room was added in the 1870s to provide a day room for patients and their families, and for over 150 years it has been at the heart of the hospital. Research by the King’s Fund shows that a beautiful hospital environment boosts the well being of patients, can promote healing and provide a soothing effect.  We think that the biophilic designs of the stained glass windows and the increased light and colour in the room will help to connect patients with nature, giving a better sense of well being.

Track our progress as the stained glass gets coloured in

£76,983 raised so far

Please help us with the restoration by donating here.

More about our Victorian history

Established in 1854 as the ‘Hospital for Incurables’, the RHN is firmly rooted in Victorian philanthropy. Our close association with high profile Victorians Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale is something of which we are immensely proud. You can download a PDF of one of Florence Nightingale’s letters to the RHN using this link.

Andrew Reed was a prolific Victorian philanthropist who was moved to establish the hospital following an appeal by Charles Dickens in 1850

‘It is an extraordinary fact that among the innumerable medical charities with which this country abounds, there is not one for the help of those who of all others most require succour, and who must die, and do die in thousands, neglected, unaided. There are hospitals for the cure of every possible ailment or disease known to suffering humanity but not one for the reception of persons past cure. There are, indeed, small charities for incurables scattered over the country…but a large hospital for incurables does not exist.’

Charles Dickens – Household Words

Responding to this call to action, we were the first hospital in Britain, and one of the first in the world, to offer long-term care for people who were living with chronic or incurable illness.

Dickens went on to write the first fundraising campaign for the hospital and in 1863 the hospital’s board of management secured the purchase of Melrose Hall, an 18th century villa on West Hill in Putney, to establish a permanent home for the hospital and its patients.

The building was extended in 1868 and again in 1879, the year that the Assembly Room and the wing in which it sits were built. Nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale advised Reed on how to layout and staff the hospital wards These buildings remain in use today.