Kings College Hospital Ward Name Derivations
By Sharon O’Connor

King’s College Hospital was established in 1840 when the physician Robert Bentley Todd persuaded the Council of King's College London to spend £25,000 converting a workhouse on Portugal Street, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, into a teaching hospital. It soon developed into a general hospital covering the slums in the nearby area and need was so great that patients soon slept two to a bed. In 1861 the workhouse was replaced by a new building costing over £100,000 but as the surrounding area was redeveloped the slums disappeared, leading to a decline in demand for the hospital so in 1913 King’s moved to Camberwell.

The new £500,000 hospital on Denmark Hill housed the latest innovations such as electric clocks, a telephone network and it also generated its own power. The wards were designed on Florence Nightingale’s principles as one large ward with smaller rooms attached such as a clinical room, a dayroom, side-wards, a kitchen and a sun-balcony. Attention was paid to every aspect of design. The wards were high-ceilinged, well-lit and well-ventilated with large windows which opened both externally and also onto the corridors. Each ward had a large central fireplace and there was plenty of space between the beds.

This article describes the origins of the ward and building names at King’s but is by no means exhaustive and more work is required for some entries.

Annie Zunz Ward    

Annie Zunz (1845-1896) was born Anne Sophia Bassett in Dublin. She married Siegfried Rudolph Zunz, a German-born iron merchant with the metals firm, Henry R Merton, and a founder of the London Metal Exchange. They were very happily married for 22 years but had no children and when Annie died in 1896 Siegfried was lonely and heartbroken. He died just three years later, bequeathing his large fortune to hospitals all over London that they might build hospital wards, name them after his beloved Annie, and so immortalise her. King’s received a bequest of £10,000 and a year later the Annie Zunz ward was opened. The Royal London, Bart’s, Chelsea and Westminster and Evelina are just some of the London hospitals with Annie Zunz wards and at the Royal Free a plaque commemorates Annie as ‘The best of wives whose whole life was spent in helping and aiding others’.

Arthur Levin Wing

Arthur Levin (1913-1999) was the son of an antique dealer. He studied medicine at Cambridge and Bart’s and in WW2 was in charge of medical services for senior officers in the army. After the war he became a medical advisor in industry, advising companies such as Rolls Royce and Texaco before going on to plan the Wellington Hospital in 1974. He was a pioneer of day surgery, believing it meant surgical procedures could be conducted with much less trauma. He joined King’s in 1984 and developed the NHS’s biggest day surgery wing.

Belgrave Department of Child Psychiatry

Belgrave was the name of a children’s hospital which opened in 1866 in Pimlico, taking its name from Viscount Belgrave, one of the titles of the Duke of Westminster who owned the land it was built on. It moved to Kennington in 1903 and after WW2 became part of the NHS under the aegis of King’s. It was closed following the opening of the Variety Children’s Hospital in 1985 but its name lives on in the department of child and family psychiatry.

Bessemer Building

Named for the road it stands on, which in turn is named for Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898), the steel magnate who lived in Denmark Hill.

Brunel Ward

The famous Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) built bridges, railways, ships, docks and tunnels, including the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping which now forms part of the East London Line. In 1855 he designed a 1,000 bed prefab hospital to be used in the Crimea which incorporated many of the principals developed by Florence Nightingale and subsequently used in hospitals throughout the land: open wards for easy monitoring, well-spaced beds arranged along the walls facing each other, windows on both sides for ventilation. His son, Henry Marc, attended King’s College.

Butlin Ward

The origin is unclear but as it was part of the original Variety Children’s Hospital it is likely this ward was named for Sir William ‘Billy’ Butlin (1899-1990), the founder of the holiday camps. He was three times president of, and an active fundraiser for, the Variety Club.

Byron Ward

Lord Byron (1788-1824) was a leading poet in the Romantic Movement. He spent two years at Dr Glennie’s academy which was on the site of the Grove Tavern at the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane. The ward name seems to have been an attempt to connect the new hospital with South London.


Robert Cheere (1810-1876) was a barrister and solicitor to King’s College. After his death a fund in his memory raised £5,000 and enabled the hospital to open a convalescent home, later renamed Cheere House.

Cheyne Wing

Sir William Watson Cheyne (1852-1932) was born in a storm at sea off the coast of Tasmania. He was brought up in the Shetlands and studied medicine with the idea of joining the navy but was talent-spotted by Lister and followed him to King's as house surgeon. Like Lister, he was greatly interested in bacteriology and studied under Robert Koch, translating his works from German and contributing significantly to the development of antiseptic surgery. He took over Lister’s positions at King’s when Lister retired, including professor of clinical surgery and was also consulting surgeon for the army in the Boer War.

Christine Brown Ward

Christine Brown. courtesy King’s College Hospital

Isobel Christine Stewart Brown, OBE (1924-1990) trained at Great Ormond Street and King’s and was chief nursing officer at King’s from 1970 to 1982 and president of the Nurses' League from 1970 to 1990. She masterminded the changes required to adapt nursing management following the first reorganisation of the NHS in 1974 and was also an adviser to the World Health Organisation.

Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care

Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005) trained as a nurse, medical social worker, physician and was a pioneer in the field of palliative medicine, being universally recognised as the founder of the hospice movement, opening St. Christopher's Hospice in 1967. The Institute is a partnership between King’s and her charity Cicely Saunders International and also houses the MacMillan drop-in centre, funded by MacMillan’s.

Coptcoat Ward

Malcolm Coptcoat courtesy BMA

Malcolm John Coptcoat (1955-1999) was a consultant urologist. He became one of the most proficient renal surgeons in Europe and pioneered ‘keyhole’ renal surgery. He was an outstanding teacher and a great lateral thinker and King’s named this ward in his honour as part of the celebrations of 100 years on the Camberwell site.

Cotton Ward

Leonard Cotton (1922-1992) trained, practised and taught at King’s where he was described as a superb surgical tutor. He was a consultant vascular surgeon and became dean of King's College school of medicine and dentistry in 1984, not only leading the successful resistance to the government recommendation that King’s be subsumed into Guy’s but also overseeing an expansion of the medical school. His wife, Joan, was a tireless fundraiser for the hospital, starting the ‘Kash for King’s’ lottery (‘win a King’s ransom’).

David Ferrier Ward

David Ferrier courtesy King’s College

Sir David Ferrier (1843-1928) was a pioneering Scottish neurologist and psychologist who studied medicine in Germany and Scotland and spent most of his career at King’s, joining in 1871 and creating the neurological department in 1889. Ferrier’s work had a direct bearing on the understanding of epilepsy but his research made extensive use of vivisection which was not without controversy. Ferrier was even brought to court at one stage together with other research scientists, though the prosecution’s case failed. He co-founded the journal Brain in 1878.

David Marsden Ward

Charles David Marsden, FRS (1938-1998) was professor of neurology at King's and the Institute of Psychiatry at the age of 34. He was an outstanding scientist whose pioneering work into Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders and whose co-founding of the Parkinson’s Society brain bank greatly increased our understanding of many neurological conditions. His world famous reputation drew researchers from around the globe to work at King’s and his lectures were described as ‘marvels of lucidity and precision’ It was said that, though sociable and gregarious, he never courted any establishment connections, achieving his career promotions solely through the quality of his research. In Who’s Who he listed as his recreation ‘the human brain’.

Davidson Ward

As a WW2 prisoner of war, William Mackay Davidson (1909-1991) cared for his fellow prisoners for four years. The German medical officer in charge so admired Davidson’s professional expertise that he provided him with a microscope. After the war Davidson was pathologist to the war crimes board in Germany before joining King’s as a pathologist in 1946 and spending the rest of his career there. He was one of its first professors of haematology and had a particular interest in blood changes in pregnancy and immunology. He kept a goat on the roof of the medical school to provide him with the antibodies he needed for his research.

Dawson Ward

John Dawson courtesy British Medical Journal

John Leonard Dawson (1932-1999) was trained and taught at King’s. He was made a consultant surgeon in 1965 and had a particular interest in the causes of post-operative kidney failure, winning a Nuffield research scholarship to Harvard. He helped establish the international reputation of the liver unit at King’s where he was an excellent diagnostician and his post-operative care was said to be ‘sympathetic and meticulous’. He succeeded Leonard Cotton as clinical dean, was president of the surgical section of the Royal Society of Medicine and surgeon to the Queen and the royal household. He was also Serjeant Surgeon to the Queen, an appointment that can be traced backed to the time of Henry VIII.

Derek Mitchell Unit

Derek Mitchell, second from left, opening the unit. Source: ELF

Derek Mitchell’s wife, Isobel, was treated at King's in the 1970s for chronic myeloid leukaemia and from Derek’s gratitude grew a successful fundraising effort. In 1977 he set up the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund (ELF) from the upstairs room of his pub, The Change of Horses, in Farnborough, Bromley. In 1988 ELF established the Isobel Mitchell DNA laboratory and later a leukaemia treatment suite and the charity is still active today. Before ELF’s involvement leukaemia patients at King’s were treated in a general cancer ward with no specific facilities for blood cancer patients. Since then King’s has grown into a centre of excellence and is renowned worldwide for its patient care and pioneering research programmes. See also ELF & LIBRA ward.

Donne Ward

Possibly named after the poet and dean of St Paul’s, John Donne (1572-1631), who lived for some time in Peckham and whose daughter, Constance, was Edward Alleyn’s second wife.

Edward Yates Ward Block

Edward Yates’ son left King’s £20,000, which at the time was the going rate to get a block of wards named after you.


In recognition of the continuing support received from the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund (ELF) and the Lions International Blood Research Appeal (LIBRA) since the 1970s, King’s named this ward in their honour in 2014 as part of the centenary celebrations of 100 years since the building of the Denmark Hill hospital.