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The Blue Maids' Hospital School

Mary Arches Street

List of Exeter hospitals

Founded as a school for girls in 1656, it was used briefly as a military hospital when William of Orange entered Exeter in 1688. The weather had been bad when he landed and by the time his army of mercenaries had reached Exeter they were suffering from exhaustion and exposure. The Blue Maids' School was pressed into service to care for the sick and lame soldiers. By 19th November 1688, 156 mostly Dutch soldiers had been admitted with a variety of ailments including leg ulcers, convulsions, a rupture, violent pain in the heart and stomach and one case classified as 'stupid'.

The hospital staff consisted of a surgeon, Mr John Case, his two servants, an apothecary Mr Westcott and Mrs Waters in charge of housekeeping. They even provided two brewers, Mr Palmer and Mr Gandy, as beer was safer than water. The last record for discharges and deaths for the hospital was on 12th February 1689. It is interesting to note that the expenses charged to Prince William by the city amounted to £284 12s 6½d of which £34 10s was for Mr Case.

The school was again used as a hospital during the 1832 cholera outbreak, when a soup kitchen was set up to feed the poor. Actual cases of cholera were treated at home, to reduce the risk of infection. The school was situated in the open car park at Mary Arches Street, opposite St Olave's Hotel.

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