A Healthier Reception

Hammersmith Reception
@Ronrybs (7302)
London, England
November 2, 2016 7:59am CST
Victorian London was swept with waves of cholera, its many victims mainly came from amongst the poor, slum dwelling class. When a family member died, until enough money was saved for a funeral, the body remained at home. Home being a single room with several generations living it and the body could be there for up to three weeks. As part of an improvement for public health, 'Reception Houses' were built and bodies would be stored here, on stone shelves, until burial. The one in the picture, built in 1869, is at Hammersmith's Margravine Cemetery and only last week given protection as a Grade II listed building. By the 1880s these buildings had gone out of use, with the widespread establishment of undertakers. Now, this is the only example in London and until recently was thought to be just an unusually shaped tool shed.
10 people like this
9 responses
@LadyDuck (147051)
• Switzerland
2 Nov 16
Oh my goodness I cannot imagine living in a room with a corpse for all those weeks, with the risk of contamination, not to mention the smell.
4 people like this
@TheHorse (62141)
• Pleasant Hill, California
2 Nov 16
My thoughts exactly.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (147051)
• Switzerland
2 Nov 16
@TheHorse I understand it was cold, but they smell bad anyway.
3 people like this
@TheHorse (62141)
• Pleasant Hill, California
2 Nov 16
@LadyDuck Not a pleasant thought.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (118544)
• Bunbury, Australia
2 Nov 16
I find stuff like this really fascinating so thanks for sharing. What a quaint little building. I was thinking it would make a great cubby house but maybe not now I know its real purpose. :)
4 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
2 Nov 16
Yes, once you know its true purpose, it does kinda put you off!
2 people like this
@JohnRoberts (52062)
• Los Angeles, California
2 Nov 16
That is a fascinating bit of history. "Reception Houses" has such a genteel ring considering their use.
4 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
2 Nov 16
I've not found out how they got the name, but with a bit of luck I should stumble across it one day
1 person likes this
@Fleura (7112)
• United Kingdom
20 Nov 16
It's amazing really just how much has changed in the last 150-odd years. The organisms causing disease (or even the idea that organisms did cause disease) hadn't yet been discovered so of course how to prevent the spread of diseases was unknown as well. In fact it was one doctor's study of cholera that revealed that it was one water pump that was the source of the disease, leading to improvements in public health. The idea of germs only came later. People had all kinds of ideas, thinking that cholera came from damp air while malaria was caused by eating too many watermelons.
2 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
21 Nov 16
Ah, you beat me. I was going to do a little write up on Dr Snow. I have a piccie (somewhere) of the water pump he locked. It is not the original, but one that is a bit of a momument to his efforts. There is a pub across the street from the pump named after him
1 person likes this
@Fleura (7112)
• United Kingdom
21 Nov 16
@Ronrybs Write it anyway, it's a fascinating story and it demonstrates just how far medical knowledge has come and what a difference just one person can make.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
7 Nov 16
fascinating if grim historic reminder of such awful times
2 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
8 Nov 16
Yes, glad it has been listed
2 people like this
@Tampa_girl7 (24898)
• United States
3 Nov 16
That was very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing.
2 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
4 Nov 16
I'd have liked to see inside, but I suspect it was not super interesting
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@TheHorse (62141)
• Pleasant Hill, California
2 Nov 16
Interesting that nobody knew! Didn't bodies get "ripe" after a few weeks?
2 people like this
@Ronrybs (7302)
• London, England
2 Nov 16
Indeed and as disease was beginning to be understood, so Reception Houses came into existance. I suspect it was more to protect the well to do, as once an epidemic started it didn't care about your class.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (40502)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
3 Nov 16
Huh. Interesting.
2 people like this
@marlina (71213)
• Canada
2 Nov 16
Extremely interesting to read about the "Receptionn Houses" in England.
2 people like this