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Miss Florence Nightingale, 1820 - 1910
People who lived in the Matlocks : Photographs, Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Miss Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910)
                Photograph of Florence Nightingale is reproduced here courtesy of The Florence Nightingale Museum, London.

Courtesy of the Florence Nightingale Museum, London
The 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale was celebrated on 12 May 2020.

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Pedigree of Nightingale

Florence Nightingale and Lea Hurst

Anna Neagle starring in the film "The Lady with the Lamp".

Florence Nightingale is probably the most well known of the past inhabitants of the Matlock area, apart from Sir Richard Arkwright. Her great determination and total dedication to her profession completely changed the quality of nursing care in Britain and the British Army. She is regarded as one of Britain's greatest heroines and her life has been well documented.

She was the younger of two sisters, daughters of William Edward Shore Nightingale and his wife Fanny, and Florence was named after the city where she was born.

Florence's father descended from his great grandfather Peter Nightingale, a Derbyshire lead merchant and yeoman through the female line. When his great uncle, also called Peter Nightingale, died unmarried and without a male heir in 1803 he changed his surname to that of Nightingale and was known as W.E.N.
See the Nightingale pedigree.

In 1903 Benjamin Bryan noted that "The Nightingale family has long resided at Lea Hurst; previously they were at Wood End and Lea Hall"[1]. The family lived at Lea Hall, on the edge of the parish, until Florence was about five years old. They then moved to Lea Hurst. The Nightingales later only used the house during the summer - too cold otherwise, too small and too remote for Mrs. Nightingale, though Florence loved it.

Her father supervised the education of both Florence and her sister Parthenope and she was well educated. She began hospital visiting in 1844 and trained as a nurse at Kaiserwerth on the Rhine. In 1853 she was appointed a nursing superintendent at the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London. The hospital was later renamed and became the Florence Nightingale Hospital for Gentlewomen.

At the outbreak of the Crimean War (1854-6), having learned of the terrible conditions at the hospital at Scutari, Florence was asked by the Secretary of State for War, Sidney Herbert, to take a party of nurses, some professional and others from religious orders, to help. They encountered opposition from medics and officials, discovered that even the most basic sanitation was nonexistent and found the storage of food utterly disgraceful. The women, with Florence leading them, transformed the hospital by sheer hard work and perseverance but it took a long time to do and some of them also succumbed to disease (cholera, dysentery and typhus) as well as frostbite. Florence herself, assisted by orderlies, tended the wounded at night, which is how she was given the affectionate title of "The Lady with the Lamp". In Derby, near the former Royal Infirmary, there is a white marble statue of her dressed as she would have been in the Crimea and carrying a lighted torch (see right).

She returned to Derbyshire in August 1856, having travelled home from the Crimea with her aunt Mai - as Mrs. and Miss Smith - and apparently unnoticed by fellow travellers[2]. The Derby Mercury's editorial (20 Aug 1856) commented that she "returns to her Derbyshire home as quietly as if her two years' absence has been nothing more than a two week visit to a friend ... she took precautions against the time and manner of her arrival becoming publicly known". Arthur Mee later wrote that "One summer's day in 1856 a lady left a convent on the banks of the Thames, took a train to the nearest station to Holloway, and walked from the station to her home. She was unattended and hardly expected when she opened the door of Lea Hurst to reveal herself to the astonished household. She was Florence Nightingale home again, and was the most talked of woman in Europe[3]". Whilst Mee's story makes a romantic, and modest, ending to her Crimea experiences it is seemingly not an entirely accurate account of her homecoming. Another local paper stated that "Miss Nightingale has arrived at Lea Hurst" ; she had arrived on Friday last and on the platform was "met and greeted by Lady Auckland"[5].

Matlock Bath and Cromford residents celebrated the end of the Crimean War with a parade "down Water Lane, returning by Scarthen-row, and by Scarthen Tors, through Matlock Bath to the Railway Bridge and passed by the Old Bath Royal Hotel". Amongst all the banners was an effigy of Florence Nightingale to express local admiration "for that excellent lady"[6]. Goodness knows what Florence made of it. There were similar celebrations in Matlock Town. "From the great number of children and women of the neighbourhood of Matlock, tea, plum-cake, buns and bread and butter could only be thought of, which was most abundantly provided"[6].

Statue outside the former Derby Royal Infirmary site,
London Road, Derby[3].
It was unveiled in June 1914[4].
The statue was given a much needed clean in 2017.

A fund had been set up in November 1855 and, as a result of the money raised, the Nightingale School for Nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital, London was established. As a result of her Crimea work, and her later interest in the British Army in India, living conditions for those in the Army improved enormously. She received several awards for her work and in late November 1907 was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit. By Command of King Edward VII, Colonel Sir Douglas Dawes, the Registrar and Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, visited her home to convey the insignia to her[7]. On 16 March, 1908 she received the honorary freedom of the City of London, something almost unheard of for a woman to have been awarded at that time[8]. Regardless of her poor health she still managed to get through a great amount of work.

Florence visited Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Balmoral in September 1856, accompanied by her father, and they attended a dance there[9]. The Queen gave her a number of items, including prints of both Victoria and Albert as well as one of Landseer's "Highland Nurses". Her Majesty also gave her a signed copy of the Life of the Prince Consort and a volume of Prince Albert's speeches that she had also signed[10].

She was frequently ill after her return from the Crimea and reports of her state of health were often alarming. In 1859 she was so "extremely ill that the worst results are apprehended"[11]. The following year, in March 1860, "last prayers were offered in all the garrison chapels of England on behalf of Florence Nightingale, now dangerously ill. What testimony could better express the gratitude of Englishmen towards that incomparable woman", .. "we are told she had been laid prostrate by exhaustion consequent of her many efforts ... she had gone into their tents and barracks; her hands have been busy at their pallets; she has watched the preparation and administration of their food; she has ministered to them body and soul, her comforting voice has been to their hearts what Sir Philip Sydney calls "a sweet medicine of cherries" ..."[12]. Her "Notes on Nursing" had just been published. Six months later it was reported that "for several months past, she has been confined to her rooms in town, we are happy to state has recovered far as to bear the removal to one of the healthy suburbs in London".[13]. In 1861 she was "too ill to walk across her room".

Despite illness, Florence corresponded with many people over the years. One interesting letter was to a gentleman in New York, who had asked for her advice with regard to a system of training women for nurses. Her response was to advise all young ladies who wish to follow a particular vocation to qualify for it, as any man would do[14].

Almost thirty years after the Crimean War Florence was to be amongst the first recipients of the new order of the Royal Red Cross, founded by Queen Victoria. A number of Sisters from the Mercy convent in Bermondsey, who had accompanied her, also received the award - a gold cross of crimson enamel, edged with gold and bearing the words "Faith, Hope and Charity"[15].

Florence was in London when she celebrated her ninetieth birthday on 12 May 1910[16]. Amongst the messages of congratulation was a telegram from the new King, George V, offering his heartfelt congratulation and trusting that she was in good health[17]. The Suffragists added their own thanks and appreciation: "she, like Elizabeth Fry and Josephine Butler, has set us an example of what a woman can accomplish, and has supplied us with an unanswerable argument against those who still assert that women cannot take part in public life[18]."

She passed away two months later and was interred in the family vault in the little country churchyard of East Wellow, Hampshire, near the Nightingale family home at Embley Park after a private ceremony on 20 August, 1910. A wreath from Queen Alexandra, the Queen Mother, was at the head of the coffin, with a handwritten note attached:

"To Florence Nightingale.
In grateful memory to the greatest benefactor to suffering humanity, by founding the Military Nursing Service in the year 1853 by her own individual exertions and heroism –– August 20, 1910. –– From Alexandra.[19]"

"The coffin was covered in a white Indian shawl, often worn by Miss Nightingale, and on it lay a wreath of red sword lilies from Dr. Shore Nightingale and the family, a wreath of roses from the Lea Hurst garden, sent by Mrs Shore Nightingale, a wreath of heather and bracken, from her grandchildren, and lilies of the valley from Miss Nightingale's secretary, Miss Elizabeth Bosanquet[19]." There was a memorial service held on 23 Aug 1910 at St. Paul's cathedral, too[19].

The following was on the coffin's lid:
Florence Nightingale (only her initials, F.N., are on the family memorial)
Born 12 May 1820
Died Aug 13 1910[19].

Shortly afterwards Arthur H Robbins, former vicar of Holloway, called for a village institute hall for reading and recreation and a village hall for meetings and entertainments to be erected in her memory[20]. The foundation stone for the Florence Nightingale Memorial Village Hall was eventually laid in 1932 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII)[21].

Florence in later years
Florence Nightingale in later years,
with a pile of correspondence on her lap.


There have been a number of books written about Florence Nightingale, though some question the success of her work in the Crimea. Three, with good illustrations, are:
- Strachey, Giles Lytton (1918) "Eminent Victorians. Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Arnold, General Gordon" London : Chatto & Windus.
See: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Eminent Victorians, by Lytton Strachey. Use "Find", as Cardinal Manning's Name comes before that of Florence Nightingale.
- Huxley, Elspeth (1975) "Florence Nightingale" Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London ISBN 0 296 76771 2
- Small, Hugh (1998) "Florence Nightingale Avenging Angel" Constable and Company Limited, London ISBN 0-90-479840-0

More on site information about both Florence and the Nightingale family.

Matlock Biographies: see NIGHTINGALE, P (snr) and NIGHTINGALE P. (jnr.)
Dethick, Lea and Holloway (Kelly's 1891 Directory)
Photo of Lea Hurst amongst scanned images in "Souvenir of Matlock Bath" can be seen on this site.
Read Longfellow's poem about Florence Nightingale on Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets.
Hall's "Days in Derbyshire", mentions Lea Hurst and Holloway. There is a steel engraving of Lea Hurst and a wood engraving the Nightingale "Jewel" she was presented with after the Crimean War.

External Links
National Portrait Gallery - search the collection

The vignette of Florence Nightingale is reproduced here courtesy of The Florence Nightingale Museum, London.
I am extremely grateful to the Museum for their generosity.
"Florence Nightingale". Reproduced by J. Palmer Clarke, Cambridge (by permission). Postcard - Ann Andrews collection.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited

[2] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 5 Sep 1856 and "Derbyshire Courier", 6 Sep 1856. It had also been reported in the "Daily News".

[3] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country", The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London, p.157. His assessment about her being the most talked about woman in Europe is factually accurate - her story was in every newspaper of the day.

[4] "Belper News", 19 June 1914. The Duke of Devonshire unveiled the statue.

[5] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 15 Aug 1856.

[6] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, 4 June, 1856.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 30 November 1907. "Globe", 30 November 1907. (Miss Florence Nightingale. Order of Merit Conferred.) "Ashbourne News Telegraph", 20 December 1907.

[8] "The Times", 17 Mar 1908. Only one other woman had received the honorary freedom before Florence was honoured.

[9] "The Times", 25 September, 1856. Court Circular (Balmoral, Sept 23). The Nightingales had travelled incognito, arriving via Aberdeen ("Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser", 27 September 1856)

[10] "Buxton Advertiser", 5 November 1910. Miss Nightingale's Will. Royal Gifts and Orders. The items given by Victoria and Albert were bequests in the Will.

[11] "Derby Mercury", 6 July 1859.

[12] "Volunteer Service Gazette and Military Dispatch", 24 March 1860. Florence Nightingale.

[13] "Brighton Guardian", 26 September 1860.

[14] "Glasgow Evening Citizen", 5 November 1868. Miss Florence Nightingale on Female Vocations.

[15] "Derbyshire Courier", 5 May 1883. A notice was also posted in the "London Gazette".

[16] "ibid.", 14 May 1910. Also 1910. Birthday Congratulation From the King.

[18] "Votes for Women", 20 May 1910.

[19] "Derbyshire Times", Miss Nightingale's funeral. Simplicity Itself. Also "The Times", Monday, Aug. 22, 1910. Queen Alexandra's wreath was said to have been placed at the foot of the coffin in The Times article.

[20] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 26 August 1910.

[21] "Derbyshire Times", 4 June 1932. The foundation stone of the Hall was from Meadow Wood, a farm property that had been part of the Lea Hurst estate for many years.