First studying botany and later food adulteration, Dr. Arthur Hill Hassall’s career was interrupted by pulmonary tuberculosis. But not before he sounded the alarm about chalk being added to loaves of bread to make bakers an extra shilling.
The distinguished Victorian scientist-physician found his health miraculously restored after a near fatal bout of consumption upon moving to Ventnor, Isle of Wight in 1866. On his return to the Big Smoke, his colleagues were shocked to see him still breathing.
The revitalising climate of the undercliff motivated him to establish a hospital for other “poor brethren suffering from Diseases of the Lungs.” The National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest opened in 1867 pioneering the open air method of tuberculosis treatment.
Patients were removed from the carbon laden air of urban hospitals and wheeled outside onto balconies and verandas in their beds in all seasons to soak up fine airs in our botanical haven.
By 1928 35,320 patients from every corner of the British Isles had come to Ventnor in hope of escaping their illnesses. Ventnor, a growing resort, was busy “selling” hours of sunshine to the new industrial middle class – 22% more than Kew Gardens. In 1905 the the average stay patient stay was 66.5 days and most patients were in their twenties.
Lucky for us the discovery of the cause of TB and antibiotics led to the demise of the Hospital in 1969 and opened the way for our unique plant collection and its towering Eucalyptus trees.
Our tagline, “Britain’s Hottest Garden,” says it all. The subtropical plants growing outside in our immersive landscapes benefit from the microclimate just like Hill Hassall did. Sticking with the respiratory theme we planted out the largest outdoor collection of Eucalyptus trees in the country in the 1990’s.
Once a Community Interest Company took over the Garden in 2012 we started searching for ways to secure the Garden’s future. A walk with our Medicinal Herbalist and Curator led to the creation of the Dr. Hill Hassall’s brand.
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