History & general
The French Hospital has been at the forefront of supporting Huguenots in need since we were founded in 1718. Today, we provide affordable sheltered accommodation, primarily for those of Huguenot descent, which allows our residents to live full, dignified and independent lives in Rochester, Kent. We are committed to ensuring that people in need can lead active lives in the local community with access to healthcare, leisure and education.
We have a dedicated and experienced team of staff and trustees who support the running of The French Hospital and we strongly believe that home is at the very heart of everything that we do here. We help change lives by providing an affordable, safe, secure and stable living environment.
The French Hospital was founded nearly 300 years ago to provide support for Huguenots in need. Huguenot refugees first came to England in the mid-1500s, fleeing the Continent’s persecution of Protestant people. By the end of the 1600s nearly 250,000 Huguenots had been forced to leave their homes in France and the Low Countries, never to return. Almost 100,000 Huguenots migrated to England by the early 1700s, and many found themselves in need of support. In 1718, our founders opened the doors of The French Hospital, creating a unique approach to the care of Huguenots in need, and that spirit continues today. The French Hospital was established so that persecuted Huguenots could be understood, embraced and cared for with love and dignity. As one of the earliest foundations to support immigrants in London, and one of the first in Britain to provide sympathetic care for the mentally ill, our founders’ foresight and determination lit a beacon of compassion for those in need.
The French Hospital moved to Rochester in 1959. The site was originally 19 terraced houses on Theobald Square that were in need of complete restoration and rearrangement to make 39 self-contained flats. Fourteen new flats were added in 1974, and in 1983, four more flats were built, along with the Common Room. 1983 also saw the development of the Huguenot Garden, in which flowers and shrubs associated with the Huguenots were planted; and this garden still thrives today. The last addition to The French Hospital was in 1988 when three flats were added.
The French Hospital moved to Rochester in 1959. The site was originally 19 terraced houses on Theobald Square that were in need of complete restoration and rearrangement to make 39 self-contained flats.