New Bridgwater Hospital agrees to keep ‘Mary Stanley’ name

Castle Street
Castle Street

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed that the proposed name of the midwifery unit at the new Bridgwater Community Hospital will be The Mary Stanley Midwifery Unit thereby maintaining the link with old Castle Street Nursing Home (right) where many Bridgwater children were born until it was closed in the 1980’s.

Cllr Brian Smedley, who lives in the former building, now flats, welcomed the news saying, “When they tried to close down the original Nursing home we organised a major campaign against it with the result that although we didn’t save it we managed to retain a delivery suite at the Salmon Parade Hospital with the same name. When the Town Council learnt that the new hospital was planning to ditch the name we raised the issue of historical continuity and this time that was all that was needed.”

Get the right Mary Stanley!!!

Cllr Smedley added a word of caution, “Much has been claimed of Mary Stanley’s illustrious past-but often without much actual thought or research. For instance on the Bridgwater Mercury website this week you’ll see them repeating a wikipedia page about a totally different Mary Stanley (one who came from Cheshire and was in the Crimean War with Florence Nightingale). This one isn’t ours…although several former Bridgwater historians – including Roger Evans in his book ‘Bridgwater with and without the E’ claims Mary to be the Crimean Stanley. In fact as her death records show that she died in 1920 aged 77 it means she would have been born in 1843 and therefore 9 when the Crimean war started. Our Mary Stanley was in fact the eldest daughter of a famous Whig (Country gentry 19th century liberals) who became Lord Taunton and MP for that town. She was therefore part of the landed gentry in Somerset living at Over Stowey, related to the Tory dynasty of Heathcote Amorys and eventually married Tory MP for Bridgwater EJ Stanley who also has a street named after him and who was part of the vicious Lord Salisbury Government which often used troops to break up strikes-including in 1896 in Bridgwater. In fact Stanley only had that street – up in Hamp- named after him in the early 90’s after I named a street there Frampton (after the 1896 Brickyard workers strike leader Robert Frampton ) and another councillor added Stanley (the MP of the day) …’for balance’….although not much balance was shown by the troops who cleared the High street of strikers at bayonet point.”

However, the new facility will be named after Mary Stanley as this was felt to provide an association with the existing community hospital and acknowledgment of the support given to the social welfare of women by the Mary Stanley during her lifetime and it’s true that it’s a fondly remembered place in the hearts of many Bridgwater people lucky enough to be born there..

The new £32 million pounds Bridgwater Hospital is currently under construction on land just off Bower Lane, and is due to receive its first patients in April 2014. It will replace the town’s existing community hospital which was opened in 1813.

The Mary Stanley who died in April 1920 has her death records online here: