Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 and is thought to have made her first visit to Malvern in 1848 because a trip to Europe was cancelled due to the revolution taking place there.
She completed a nurse’s training course and during her time at the Institution of the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London, she felt that her skills were being wasted and wished to find a more challenging role.
Once the British and French troops arrived in the Crimea in September 1854, reports of terrible conditions found their way back home. She was asked to go to help and once she arrived in November, she was met with an overcrowded hospital, poor sanitation, vermin, fleas and a rotting corpse in her living quarters.
During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale worked with her nurses to try to improve the poor conditions of the hospital, this was accomplished by ordering scrubbing brushes for the wards, washing patients’ clothes and insisting she would be the only one to patrol the beds in the evening, which eventually earned her the title “The Lady with the Lamp”.
After her return from the war, she received recognition from the Queen and money from the British Government, which would then be used to contribute to setting up St Thomas’s Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses.
From the illness she dealt with in the Crimea and the workload for her report for the Royal Commission investing the healthcare of the Crimean War, she would eventually fall ill. After visiting her doctor in London, who advised that she did not travel to Malvern for hydrotherapy treatment, Florence decided to visit Malvern anyway serval times for treatment, returning in 1857 and 1858 to seek an improvement in her health by taking the water cure. The water cure focused on getting fresh air, relaxing, a sensible diet, exercise and no alcohol to improve people’s health. She also returned in 1867, much of the time between being spent in quite poor health. Whether the water cure helped or not, in later years her condition did improve, and Florence went on to live a busy and influential life until she died at the age of 90 in 1910. Indeed she once claimed "I owe three years of (not useless) life to the Water Cure at Malvern". She would go on to be remembered as a nursing reformer, whose example would encourage women into the profession. Her thoughts on sanitation, military health and hospital planning would leave a legacy for years to come.
2010 marked the centenary of the death of Florence, and a number of events were held in Malvern to celebrate her life and her links with the town. The Malvern Museum hosted an exhibition about Florence Nightingale and the Malvern Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque to commemorate her visits.