Celebrating 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale

Friday, May 01 , 2020

Celebrating 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale

It’s the 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale, the famous Lady with the Lamp, who changed nursing practices forever. But what has any of this got to do with Chilstone? Well read on to find out!

A life of service

Florence Nightingale was born in Italy on 12th May 1820 into an affluent, upper class family and named after the city of her birth. Her older sister was also named after her place of birth, Parthenope, a Greek settlement now in a part of Naples. The family moved back to UK a year after Florence was born to live at the Embley Park estate in Hampshire.

Florence Nightingale

As Florence grew up she was expected to marry well, but she rejected the traditional social conventions for women and educated herself with medical and scientific knowledge instead. Despite the furious resistance from her family, she trained to become a nurse the profession she is now famous for transforming.

Florence traveled extensively and worked in in many places abroad, including Germany, helping impoverished families. She returned to England and in August 1853, Florence took the role of  Superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street, London, although she wasn’t back for long!

Hearing the news of a lack of medical staff treating wounded soldiers in the Crimean War (1853-1856), Florence went to the front line in Istanbul. She was appalled by the conditions in the hospitals and she set about revolutionising nursing methods. She instigated a practice of good hygiene to reduce the horrendous infection rates. Prior to this change a surgeon’s skill was rated by the level of filth on his apron to show how many operations he had accomplished. Florence’s changes reduced the death rate from 42% to just 2% and established the basis of modern clinical hygiene practice.

Florence Nightingale was called the Lady with the Lamp after she instigated her nursing practices in the military hospitals during the Crimea War

Her work after the war

On her return home, Florence Nightingale collected evidence to prove to the Royal Commission that the military deaths were compounded by poor diet, a lack of sanitation and over work. She campaigned to improve conditions for the army and their families in peace time too.

Florence wrote a book, Notes on Nursing, to help train others with the easy-to-ready manual, which led her to invent the pie chart!

Florence established a nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital, the first secular practice of it’s kind. Her newly trained nurses went to work for the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary, now called the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Book by Florence Nightingale

RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in her honour

Due to the Covid-19 crisis the Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War. Garden designer Robert Myers had planned to create a garden in honor of Florence Nightingale to celebrate what would be her 200th birthday. The garden, called The Florence Nightingale Garden: A Celebration of Modern Day Nursing was designed as a restorative space, for a courtyard garden in a hospital. The idea was to nurture through nature, using the plants and design to represent her nursing practices. The pool reflects her introduction of cleanliness and many of the plants have medicinal uses and were found in Florence’s personal pressed flower collection. This year the RHS are taking the Chelsea Flower Show online with many designers and plant growers sharing content and videos of their plants and gardens.

Design for the garden in her honor planned for the Chelsea Flower Show 2020

Restoration project

This isn’t the only garden link to Ms. Nightingale and this is where we come into the story. Her family home at Embely Park is now a private school and the staff contacted us for our expertise for a restoration project.

It started when a teacher found a dilapidated, stone urn in storage at the school. They also discovered an old photograph of Florence sitting in the grounds beside the same styled urn. The staff asked if we could use our experience to  restore the garden ornament to it’s former glory.

Florence Nightingale pictured in the grounds of her family home.

Dilapidated urn Chilstone were asked to restore.

Our master craftsmen brought the decorations back to life, bring out each detail by hand.  The staff were delighted to have this piece of history brought back to life. The urn is displayed proudly in the grounds of Embley Park once more.

We were proud to work on something that was part of Florence Nightingale’s family home. The Florence Nightingale Urn is a best selling urn in our range. It commemorates this inspirational woman who made such a positive improvement to medicine and saved so many lives through her nursing methods. We cannot display our Florence Nightingale Urn at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, but we can share how it came to be part of our handcrafted range of garden products.


Florence Nightingale today

Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp is still a key nursing figure today.  The UK Government named the emergency, temporary hospitals set up to cope with the pandemic NHS Nightingale. 200 years on her methods still form the basis of nursing that we have build our health care system around. Thank you Florence!  We would also like to say a huge thank you to all the nurses and staff around our hospitals who are fighting to save lives as we battle to defeat Covid-19.



While many of us Stay home to do our bit to fight the virus, please join our gardening community online. We love seeing all the photos you have shared with #gardeningtogether across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Tag us, we want to see any plant, houseplant and garden pictures. Gardening is great for our mental and physical well being, so let’s grow together while we are at home in lockdown. You can always email your photos to office@chilstone.com and we can upload them for you if you need a hand.

Hibiscus flower sent in by the Bradford Family #Gardeningtogether

We will be back at Chelsea in 2021 and hopefully we will see the Florence Nightingale garden then. We will be posting Chelsea Flower Show content during Chelsea week online instead this year so watch this space!

Cast stone dove ornament, fountain and portico featured in RHS Chelsea garden by Chilstone

Chilstone’s stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

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