The History of Admirals House

Built in 1804 on the Royal Naval Hospital in Stonehouse (now part of Plymouth), which itself was built in 1758, Admirals House was designed by the architect Daniel Alexander Asher who also designed Dartmoor & Maidstone prisons.

Architect Daniel Asher Alexander

It was built for the man in charge of the hospital at the time – Captain Richard Creyke who came in the late 1700’s as the first ‘ships captain’ to run the site rather than a medical officer having found the medical officers not keeping order properly, moonlighting outside of the Naval Hospital and a good number of ‘undesirable activity’ taking place within the hospital grounds.

Captain of the Royal Naval Hospital Stonehouse

The Royal Naval Hospital was of Historical Importance and of great influence. It’s pattern of detached wards, to maximise ventilation and reduce spread of infection, foreshadows the pavillion style of hospital made popular by Florence Nightingale 100 years later.

Royal Naval Hospital Stonehouse Etching showing the hospital wards and bell tower

It once housed 1,200 patients in 60 wards, and patients would be brought in by boat to a stone jetty that still remains today. The water they came up was known as Stonehouse Lake (now filled in and turned into playing fields) but going back in time it’s said that because it didn’t flow, it developed a certain stench… leading it to be known locally as ‘shit lake’… because the patients were brought by boat and the standards of Georgian medicine weren’t quite up to modern day standards, if you were too ill to paddle this probably didn’t bode well and this is where the saying ‘Up shit creek without a paddle’ comes from.

The royal naval hospital Stonehouse 1960 ish

The site was run as a hospital by the Navy until 1995 at which point it was sold and is now residential with some businesses and a school but thankfully still looks much as it did 200 years ago!

As for Admirals House – I’m still trying to piece together the history. It’s said Admiral Nelsons body was brought here after Trafalgar.. and that in the garden stands the oldest Mulberry tree in the South West of England. It was originally one house but was split into two (with 2/3rd’s being mine) we think some time in the Victorian era.

The oldest mulberry tree in the South West of England – it’s seen better days!

In the late 1800’s the inhabitant of my place was Sir Henry Frederick Norbury who was the Honorary Surgeon to the King and became the Director-General of the Royal Naval Medical Department. Here he is looking rather dashing by the rear stairs down to the garden of Admirals House…

Sir Henry F. Norbury at the Royal Naval Hospital Stonehouse

And here’s me in the same place with my chosen weapon (an SDS drill!) because well…. you’ve got to have a giggle among the dust and the chaos sometimes!

Manwithahammer in a tuxedo!
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