History buffs are to be given unprecedented access to the Derbyshire home of the Victorian nursing icon Florence Nightingale, thanks to a new website being launched by researchers at the University of Nottingham.
The new site, www.florencenightingale.org, will allow visitors to see inside Lea Hurst in Holloway near Matlock, which is privately owned and not otherwise open to the public. A 360-degree tour of some of the key rooms in the property, which was Nightingale’s childhood home from the early 1820s, will offer the chance to take a virtual walk in the footsteps of the Lady with the Lamp.
The website comes as part of a £830,000 research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which aims to explore the East Midlands roots of Nightingale and shine a light on her unique place in the history of nursing.
The project is being led by Professor Paul Crawford of the University’s School of Health Sciences in collaboration with Dr Anna Greenwood in the Department of History.
Professor Crawford said: “For the first time ever, visitors to our project website can see inside Florence Nightingale’s country home in Derbyshire. As part of our AHRC-funded large grant, visitors will be able to look around in 360 vision at the main rooms in the property as if they are there and imagine this great Victorian woman walking through the same spaces.”
Visitors to the website being launched today will also find a number of other resources relating to Nightingale’s life and work in the Midlands. This includes a car and walking tour of key Nightingale-linked sites around Derbyshire and lots of information about the research being conducted into her life at home and its influence on her major contributions to healthcare, not least in creating the nursing profession.
Dr Greenwood added: “It is wonderful to have this website as a hub for this seminal regional study. As we approach 2020, the 100thanniversary of her birth, the AHRC project team has been working hard to highlight the local Derbyshire roots of the Florence Nightingale story, not least as this aspect of her life has hardly been academically examined before.
“On this research journey we have been amazed at the wealth of local knowledge about, and enthusiasm for, Nightingale. Our experiences to date really show how local histories can feed into bigger national stories: Nightingale’s experiences in Derbyshire created attitudes and networks that were to endure for her entire life and beyond.”
The University of Nottingham researchers will work with colleagues at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Florence Nightingale Foundation and the British Library on the study.
The project will examine Nightingale’s long-standing connections to Derbyshire and the wider East Midlands from both a literary and historical perspective - an area which has been previously largely unexplored.
Although famously born in 1820 in the Italian city after which she was named, Florence moved as a baby with her family to the East Midlands in 1821. The Nightingale family was wealthy and well-connected and Florence’s father William Shore had inherited the Lea estate (and with it the right to change his surname) from his uncle, Peter Nightingale.
On their return to England, the family built Lea Hurst, a 15-bedroom family home in Derbyshire, where they lived until 1825 when they moved to Embley Park in Hampshire. Lea Hurst remained the family’s summer home and Nightingale returned there consistently throughout her childhood, teens and twenties, continuing to regularly visit throughout her long life.
She played a key role in the 1860s in advising on the redesign and management of the biggest hospital in the area, the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, which opened in 1869 with a wing named in her honour. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Nightingale returned to Lea Hurst for extended periods to nurse her dying mother while undertaking charitable work in the nearly communities of Holloway and Whatstandwell.
Nightingale had strong connections to Derbyshire industry – her great uncle Peter had made a fortune in the area’s lead mining industry and was a financier of Richard Arkwright, one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, whose factory was located at nearby Cromford. Peter Nightingale also built a successful cotton mill in 1784. Later sold to John Smedley, Lea Mills is the oldest continuously-operating factory in the world.
The researchers are keen to hear from people who may have information or resources related to Florence Nightingale in Derbyshire or the wider East Midlands.
Anyone with any information can email email@example.com keep up to date with the project at www.florencenightingale.org.
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