Shed auction to save Nightingale museum

Television auctioneer Charles Hanson is to hold an online sale to help save the Florence Nightingale Museum from closure – taking bids in his Derbyshire garden shed.

Lots have been donated and include a photograph of Nightingale (aged 86 in the bed she spent most of her last years confined to) seen here, a Florence Nightingale Barbie doll, a Fortnum & Mason’s hamper (Fortnum’s used to send consignments of beef tea to her in the Crimea), a Downing Street book signed by Boris Johnson and a tour of her family home in Hampshire. The auction on Friday, June 19, starts at 6pm and bids can be registered at where the catalogue can also be found.

The loss of income through the Covid-19 lockdown has left the independent museum facing permanent closure, and though it has raised £85,000 it needs at least £160,000 to ensure its future.

"Ironically the pandemic and associated lockdown has devastated what we expected to be a bumper year for the Florence Nightingale Museum” said its director, David Green. “For Nightingale's bicentenary year, we had built global partnerships to help us celebrate the birth and achievements of the 'Mother of Modern Nursing'; our 2020 bookings diary was full with exhibitions and events. We enjoyed our busiest ever day in February half-term, but soon after the effects of the pandemic kicked-in and we had to close.

“Prolonged closure and decimated tourist markets for the foreseeable future now threaten the future of the museum, as we rely heavily on admissions and retail income to support our small charity, which receives no core funding from government or elsewhere. 98% of our income is generated by visitors to the site and every day we are closed costs us thousands of pounds, which we needed to repay the investment we had made to meet public expectation for the bicentenary of a true international icon. I’m very grateful to Charles Hanson. We’ve been overwhelmed by support for the Florence Nightingale Shed Auction; lots have flooded in. Now we just need plenty of keen bidders.”

The Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the best-known figure in nursing history, who was born in 1820 and died in 1910. It opened in 1989 and sits in the grounds of St Thomas’s Hospital as a key part of London’s medical heritage. Its galleries look beyond the mythical “Lady with the Lamp” tale to present a fully-rounded picture of a visionary reformer, tireless campaigner and inspirational world leader in her field. Nightingale believed and taught that prevention of infection through hygiene was far better than having to treat and cure a disease. Her work leading 38 nurses to bring cleanliness and order to the British army’s Crimean War hospital base at Scutari in Turkey began a lifetime of dedication to improving nursing and reducing the spread of infection.  While the Florence Nightingale Museum is close, its new online exhibition, Nightingale in 200 Objects, People & Places, is open for viewing at

Charles Hanson and his Derbyshire auction shed

“I was horrified when I heard that the Museum could close” said Hanson, familiar from Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip on BBC TV. “Florence lived for a time in my native Derbyshire. She’s an iconic British historical figure we should all be proud of. Her story must be preserved, not least because it inspires children to take up nursing as a career. David Green and his team have worked incredibly hard to source a fascinating and eclectic mix of lots. I would like to thank everyone who has donated to this auction and I very much hope the great British public will tune into our bidding platform - - and help us make as much money as possible for the Nightingale museum.” @florencemuseum @florencenightingalemuseum florencemuseum #Nightingale2020

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