Aug 102020

100 Spring Gardens, EH8 8EY

Else Inglis

This hospital memorialises Dr Elsie Inglis. Inglis moved to Edinburgh aged 14 and obtained her medical degrees in Scotland, later founding the Medical College for Women and teaching gynaecology there. During WWI, Dr. Inglis started the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH), independent hospital units staffed by women in France and Siberia, and went to Siberia as the Chief Medical Officer. She was captured and interned there in 1916 and died the day after she returned home to the UK in November 1917. Funds from the SWH were used to build this Memorial Hospital, which operated from 1925 to 1988. The gates of this hospital were built in honour of Alexandra Chalmers Watson. Chalmers Watson, the chief controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) during WWI, worked with Inglis and was involved in founding this hospital.

The Else Inglis Memorial Hospital with nurses and patients in early 20th century.
The Else Inglis Memorial Hospital is now a residential building (2012, CC-SA by Kim Traynor)
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