A small door in an old building conceals a chapel to the memory of the man who founded a great hospital. This is the West Wing of the original Guys Hospital, which was built between 1774 and 1777, with the Chapel being completed in 1780.
The interior was designed by Richard Jupp, and is almost (but not quite) square, and is painted with Wedgewood blue and white decoration. It’s a very Georgian style, quite simple and plain compared to the Gothic revival that was to come.
It’s also now the only 18th century hospital chapel in England, and is now Grade II* listed.
At the back of the chapel is a gigantic white marble monument to Thomas Guy, erected in 1779 and was made by John Bacon. It’s set in a semicircular-arched surround made of green marble, and shows a sick person being rescued from the gutter by Guy, and you can see the man being carried into the hospital on a stretcher in the background.
This was the core difference between Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’s — in that the aim of Guys was to treat the poor who couldn’t afford to be treated across the road in St Thomas’s.
Back to the chapel, and around the walls are mosaics dating from 1900 showing a Pre-Raphaelite design which was fashionable at the time. All of them depict women who were connected with the theme of service, possibly due to the School of Nursing being based at the hospital at the time.
There are also an awful lot of brass plaques around the chapel, most commemorating doctors who worked in the hospital.
The chapel houses the tomb of Thomas Guy in the crypt, which is not normally open to the public, although if you have a particularly pressing reason to visit, then apparently it can be arranged.
At the moment one side of the chapel is also covered in knitting, which adds a dramatic splash of colour to the otherwise simple decoration. Do also look for the two cast iron heaters at the back of the chapel.
The chapel is open daily to visit.
Article last updated on July 4th, 2021 at 09:34 am