The story of the Scottish Women’s Hospital’s “Dames de Royaumont”

The first Scottish Women’s Hospital (SWH) unit was run from within an abandoned French abbey built by Louis IX in 1228. Over the next four years, the vaulted ceilings and decaying walls of these secluded cloisters in Royaumont, France, were transformed into a fully operational 400 bed hospital overseen by Dr Frances Ivens. Its wards, named after preeminent women such as Millicent Fawcett, Joan of Arc, and Elsie Inglis, were to see the coming and going of hundreds of severely wounded allied soldiers, many from across the French and British colonies. As well as pain, grief, and loss, its inhabitants were also to experience some fleeting moments of happiness and respite in the hospital that one unnamed patient described as ‘a great big family’.


If you would like to research your own family connections with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, our collections include the personnel files of the many indomitable women who served with the Hospital between 1914 and 1919, including Dr Frances Ivens. The collection also contains a comprehensive list of SWH members organised by unit.


Go to the Glasgow Libraries Facebook page to see images of the unit at Royaumont Abbey, and look out for more SWH themed blog posts next year!

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