Limbless Hospital patients and their nurses, 1916-1920.
Towards the end of his life, George the Fourth suffered from very poor health. He was very overweight, and unable to climb stairs, so his bedroom was moved here, on the ground floor, where he was pushed around on an early type of wheelchair.
While it’s true that the Indian appearance of the Pavilion was down to George’s love of exoticism, he did have a more concrete link with India, in the form of Sake Dean Mahomed, who had served with the Bengal Army before coming to Cork in 1782 and later opening the Hindostanee Coffee House in London, reputedly the first Indian restaurant in Britain. In 1822 he became the Royal Shampooing Surgeon – derived from the Hindustani word champo, and nothing to do with shampoo as we know it. He treated the king with a form of vapour bath combined with therapeutic massage designed to treat various ailments including gout and asthma.
Patients at the limbless hospital had very different challenges, of course, and the Pavilion hospital was only part of their rehabilitation. After they were discharged from here, they were sent to Roehampton Hospital, where they were fitted with prosthetic limbs. Andy Maxted.
‘The continuing narrative is about how far technology seems to progress during war, so that the prosthetics being fitted or available at the beginning of the war are completely different by the end of the war. The sorts of things people are dying from at the beginning of the war, apparently if you suffered a major break in an upper long limb in the war, something like 90% of people died, it’s a ridiculous statistic, whereas 90% of people survived at the end of it. The problem was of course gangrene. I mean a lot of amputations took place because gangrene set in very quickly. What’s a terrible waste is that, you know, if we’d been able to treat gangrene there wouldn’t have been anywhere near the number of amputations that there were.’