37 – Butleigh Hospital

The hospital in the early years
Aerial view from the 1970s – note extensions
Staff at the centenary in 1983
Butleigh ladies at the centenary

Sir George Bowles was a cousin of Julia Neville Grenville, the wife of Squire Ralph Neville Grenville, and, when he died, he left an endowment of £14,000 to provide a hospital for the sick of Butleigh, Baltonsborough, Compton Dundon, West Pennard, Barton St. David, Kingweston, Keinton Mandeville and West Lydford. The hospital opened in October 1883 and the architect was George Skipper who designed Shepton Mallet Hospital in 1880 as well as Crispin Hall (Street), Sexeys School (Bruton), the houses in Leigh Road (Street), and Clarks factory clock tower. By 1892, the hospital treated 55 in-patients and 280 out-patients.  The hospital was run from its inception by Governors and Trustees as well as a committee and, for over 60 years, Ralph Neville Grenville, his widow Julia, followed by Robert Neville Grenville were active in these positions. Though not required for military use in WW1, the hospital continued and grew in the period between the wars.  In 1948, the hospital was handed over to the newly created National Health Service and this was followed by the building of a nurses’ home and a children’s ward in 1949.  There were 25 beds in 1964 and a new physiotherapy unit opened in 1969, with a day hospital being added in 1979.
In 1983 great celebrations were held for the celebration of the hospital’s centenary and many villagers dressed in period costume for the event. In 2005 the hospital closed and the site remained empty for a number of years before the buildings were demolished to make way for a development of modern houses. The original stone crest from the front of the hospital is now incorporated into the end wall of the new terraced building.