Florence Nightingale’s lamp up for auction

An auction house worker dressed as Florence Nightingale holding a 150-year-old lamp that belonged to the pioneering health reformer.

An auction house worker dressed as Florence Nightingale holding a 150-year-old lamp that belonged to the pioneering health reformer.

0
Have your say

A 150-year-old lamp belonging to Florence Nightingale is going under the hammer.

The rare brass lamp would have stood on the pioneering health reformer’s writing desk rather than being the famous hand lamp she carried while tending the injured soldiers in the Crimean War.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said it was a “remarkable” find, originating from the family home in Derbyshire. “If only it could talk, it could tell us so much about the passion Florence had for her work and the well-being of others,” he said.

Nightingale’s experiences nursing soldiers in filthy conditions during the Crimean War drove her to campaign for far greater sanitation and cleanliness in hospitals.

She recounted in her own memoirs how her work with the troops, as she made night rounds of field hospital wards full of the injured, earned her the nickname “the lady with the lamp”.

Back in England, she worked to turn nursing into a profession, founding a school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

The family home, Lea Hurst in the Derwent Valley, near Matlock, was used by the Victorian heroine as a summer residence away from London, and it was there she wrote of her experiences in the war. Mr Hanson said of the candle lamp: “I suspect it was flickering over many hours each night.”

He added that the lamp had “wonderful provenance” and could be traced to two sisters who had been in service to Nightingale at Lea Hurst in the 1850s.

Mr Hanson said that when the Nightingale family left Lea Hurst, the sisters were given the lamp and told “to take best care of it”, which is how it came to be with the current owner, who is now offering it for auction.

The lamp will be available to view on June 25, before going under the hammer at the auction house in Etwall, Derbyshire, the following day.

Back to the top of the page