Aug 102020

92 Whitehouse Loan, EH9 1BD

Portrait of Dr Sophia Jex-Blake.

This is the site of the Bruntsfield Hospital. Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first women to be enrolled at a British university and the founder of the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women, lived and practised here in Bruntsfield Lodge with her partner Dr Margaret Todd. When Jex-Blake retired in 1899, the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children established Bruntsfield Hospital on the site. The hospital was closely linked to Elsie Inglis’ hospital “The Hospice” and, when the two merged in 1910, The Hospice was dedicated to obstetric and infant care and Bruntsfield hospital was responsible for all medical, surgical, and gynaecological work. The hospital closed 90 years after its initial move to Bruntsfield Lodge in 1989 and has since been converted into residential units.

The exterior of Bruntsfield Hospital.
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Apr 032019

219 High Street today

219 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PE

On this site, in 1904, Dr Elsie Inglis opened a hospital for women and children, known as The Hospice, and run only by women. Dr Inglis began her study of medicine in 1886, not long after women were first allowed to study the subject, at the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women, under the tutelage of Dr Sophia Jex-Blake. While at the School, Elsie helped found the Scottish Association for the Medical Education for Women. As well as being a pioneer in maternal care and a prominent suffragist, Elsie sat on the governing board of the Edinburgh Charities Organisations Council, under which name the Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor was then known, and organised a series of lectures for health visitors and also for mothers. When the First World War was declared in 1914, Elsie was almost 50 and unwell. She offered her services as a surgeon to the War Office only to be told ‘my good lady, go home and sit still.’ Dr Inglis refused to sit still, however, and instead came up with the idea for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, which went out to France as well as to Serbia to help the soldiers there. In 1916, Inglis become the first woman to receive the Order of the White Eagle, the highest honour Serbia could bestow.

219 High Street today

Plaques on wall at 219 High Street

The Hospice in the High Street – from Elsie Inglis by Eva Shaw McLaren, 1920

Portrait of Dr Elsie Inglis

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, Ema Smekalova, The History Company, Wellcome Collection

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