Inspiration to Genius
Newly discovered Nightingale family letters and objects
At Lotherton Hall there will be a display of newly discovered Nightingale family objects which include letters, paintings, jewellery, books, furniture and dresses. ‘Inspiration to Genius’ has been co-curated by the local community and tells the story of how Nightingale, through her faith and family connections, rose to influence and encouraged people from all nations. This includes Tsuda Umeko who pioneered education for women in the Meiji period in Japan and Sir Douglas Galton, the father of Gwendolen Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall.
Sir Douglas Galton had a productive partnership with Nightingale, together they designed healthy homes and hospitals. In 1869 Leeds General Infirmary was opened and was the first civic hospital built on Nightingale’s ‘Pavilion Plan’. On display at Leeds General Infirmary will be the correspondence between Nightingale, Galton and the surgeons of Leeds discussing the design of the lying-in (maternity) wards.
A large part of the research and curation of the display at Lotherton was done by Holly Megson, who at 17 years old is the youngest member of community group, the Lotherton History Group. Holly transcribed Nightingale’s letters which are part of an important new gift to Lotherton from the Wingfield family.
The Wingfield family are cousins of Sir Alvary Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall. When Sir Alvary died in 1970, he left personal items and papers to the family. In 2018 the family decided to present this collection to Lotherton as a gift. Included are:
• family papers
• personal documents
• letters, paintings and sketches of Florence Nightingale, Marianne Nicholson and their cousins from the 1830s to 1850s;
• a child’s book inscribed on the front cover ‘to Alvary from Miss Florence Nightingale 1890’
• Correspondence between Nightingale and Sir Douglas Galton
• letters, dolls, toys and personal items belonging to Marianne Nicholson and Gwendolen Gascoigne relating to their close family relationship with Nightingale.
Lotherton Hall tells the story of the young Florence Nightingale, Flo, a member of a club affectionately called the Cousinhood. The members of this club were the Nicholsons, Nightingales and Bonham Carters, the grandchildren of William Smith, abolitionist.
William Smith was a leading independent British politician, sitting as MP for more than one constituency. He was an English Dissenter, a member of the Clapham Sect of social reformers and a friend and close associate of William Wilberforce. He was at the forefront of many campaigns for social justice, prison reform, philanthropic endeavour and most notably the abolition of slavery.