At the end of the 17th century, land on the high-ground to the north of the castle, was mainly caricaturised by small enclosed fields know as a ‘close’.
With the demolition of the castle, much of this land was acquired from the Crown by the Duke of Newcastle, who went on to build a grand house on the site of the inner baily. The completion of this house made it fashionable for the gentry and ‘well to do’ to begin building their own residences around the Duke’s estate.
Ironically, it was in part this building fashion and the expansion of the City and its industry which led, in 1781, to the building of Nottingham’s first purpose built hospital.
The need for the hospital was expressed in the following lines written in 1856:
“The rapid extension of the town of Nottingham, the increase of casualties from building and from the introduction of machinery, as well as the development of late years of epidemic diseases and fevers….”.
Funds for the building of the Hospital were raised by public subscription, with an initial donation of £500 coming from a single benefactor, – Mr John Key.
The site chosen for the new building was on the forepart of Standard Hill by Park Row. This land, – donated jointly by Thomas Pelham-Clinton, 3rd Duke of Newcastle and the Town Corporation, – included the site of an ancient camp and more famously, the spot where Charles I raised his standard at the beginning of the Civil War.
The building, in the style of a grand Italian mansion, was designed by architect John Simpson. Built of brick with string courses of stone it was raised to the height of three storeys, with provisions for further levels to be added as and when needed. The magnificent frontage was enhanced with a large clock. To one side, a colonnaded terrace walkway led to a chapel to the rear of the building. The whole building was set in two acres of gardens which included a fountain.
These grounds were not just for show, but provided the hospital with a practical amenity. Along with the indoor ward a general dispensary was provided for use of outdoor patience, – the origin of the word out-patience.
It can only be imagined what the ‘sick and lame poor’ must have thought when presenting themselves for treatment at the Hospital. However, the treatment received was accomplished with the best that medical science could provide at this time.
Whatever the patience thought of the new hospital, the original 44 beds proved insufficient and in 1787 the building was extended with the opening of the Derbyshire wing. The anticipated fourth story was not added until 1855.
There is no doubt that the Hospital was a success. The year 1854 to 1855 saw 1,423 in-patience and 6,868 out-patience treated with and annual return of £1,101 5s 7d.
The Hospital continued to expand and in 1879 the Park Row frontage was added. The year 1900 saw the addition of the Jubilee Wing with its unique circular ward was built. Provision for staff was made in 1923 with the building of the Nurses Memorial Home. Later buildings include; The Player Wing 1931, The Castle Ward, 1943. By 1948 the Hospital boasted 423 beds and some of the finest facilities for patient care in the country.