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Winsford Centre

The History of the Winsford Cottage Hospital

Winsford Centre
The Winsford Cottage Hospital

In April 1899 Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857 - 1941) was commissioned to design the Winsford Cottage Hospital in Halwill, Devon. Although it was a public building with a private benefactor he did not automatically develop a new architectural vocabulary, and given the strong philosophical base and careful reasoning behind his style it would have been surprising if he had done so. Instead, he took into account the rural location and the small scale for the building and he designed a hospital, which from the outside might easily have been mistaken for a Voysey House.

It is a single storey building with a deep delabole-slate roof and projecting wings with a sheltered veranda between them. The building is set close to its boundary on the north side with a clear straight path to the front door, asymmetrically arranged in a gabled bay.

The Benefactor

Winsford plaque
Porch Plaque

The Winsford Cottage Hospital erected in Memory of George Webb Medley by his wife Maria Louisa Medley 1900

A plaque in the gable gives details of the benefactor (Maria Louisa Webb-Medley) but from the lane the first glimpse of the hospital is of a long low roof half hidden behind a boundary hedge.
The hospital was quite unlike a Voysey house inside. It was conceived to combine sanitary and practical considerations with a perspective understanding of the requirements of patients and nursing staff alike. Voysey gave particular attention to providing draughts only where they were beneficial; "the floors of the wards are boarded on solid beds of concrete, so that there is no cold damp air or any harbour for rats below," and "Cross-ventilation is provided in each ward by means of separate air flues." The floors were all on one level so that wheel chairs and beds could be moved with comparative ease, and they were cheerful as well as practical: the hall, corridors and veranda were paved with a yellow mosaic tile, contrasting with the green painted doors, and the kitchen floor was made of massive slabs of slate.

Architectural Plans

Winsfod Plans
Architectural plans

Voysey's drawing dated October 1899

The image you see of Voysey's drawing dated October 1899 is signed by Mrs Medley and M White, perhaps Medland White, a local builder. RIBA drawings and archives collections, SB106/VOY.

The plan was arranged with a row of small utilitarian rooms along the north elevation, with the mortuary at one end, the nurses' room at the other and the operating room next to the entrance hall towards the middle. There were four generous wards: a men's ward and an accident ward in one wing, and a women's ward and children's ward in the other wing with only two beds in each (apart from the accident ward which was designed for a single bed). Both the men's and women's wards enjoyed southerly views across a garden to the landscape of Dartmoor beyond and Voysey was careful to arrange the children's ward so that it would overlook the railway which is the only entertainment near the site'.

"I mention these points," he told the Builder's Journal "as the hospital faddists are apt to forget them."