Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Landmark Birthday celebrated at Royal Victoria Country Park

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Royal Victoria Country Park celebrated a special birthday on Sunday 9 June as 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the site's former military hospital admitting its first patients.

To mark the occasion the park at Netley hosted a free event to reflect on the park's rich history. Cllr Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Education was helped by 'Queen Victoria' to bury a time capsule, plant a Mulberry tree and unveil a special plaque next to the Chapel to mark the occasion.

A Mulberry tree was chosen particularly because of its medical history. It is widely used in traditional folk remedies to treat ailments including fevers, headaches and asthma.

The time capsule included 2013 minted 50p, 20p and 10p coins, a 2013 first class stamp, Royal Victoria Country Park summer programme for 2013, a Hampshire County Council tie, and a poster of the 150th anniversary celebrations.

Cllr Edgar, said: "Royal Victoria Country Park is such a valuable historical site. It is wonderful that we can mark this significant historic 150 year milestone with this tree and plaque which everyone, especially children, can learn from. This will help all of us to understand the important part the former Hospital played in the service of our country. These symbols will help keep in the forefront of everyone's minds the sacrifices that were made by the wounded and sick soldiers who came to this pioneering military hospital on this beautiful waterfront site. It will also remind us of the care they received and the work of the doctors and nurses who cared for them."

From 1863 until 1966, the site was home to the Royal Victoria Hospital. It was more than a quarter of a mile long and the British Army's first purpose-built hospital which devoted more than 100 years of service to caring for sick and wounded soldiers from across the world. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone herself on the 19 May 1856 and visited the site over 20 times in her lifetime. The Army demolished most of the building in 1966 except the former Chapel to the hospital.

The site was acquired by Hampshire County Council and in 1980 Royal Victoria Country Park was opened to the public.

Following the weekend's celebrations, members of the public are still being encouraged to share their stories, memories, family connections or photos of the former military hospital and Country Park by posting them on the park's Facebook and Twitter pages @RoyalVictoriaCP.

Recollections will be recorded for prosperity.

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