Our heritage

QVH is proud of its history and heritage.

The origins of our hospital date back to 1863 when the East Grinstead Cottage Hospital was founded. Following a number of incarnations as a small community hospital, the Queen Victoria Hospital, as it became known by the 1930s, moved to its current site in 1936.

In 1939 a surgeon named Archibald McIndoe started work at the hospital. Less than 10 years later, New-Zealand born McIndoe was knighted in recognition of his pioneering plastic surgery techniques and holistic approach to the treatment of allied aircrew during World War II. These young men, who became known as the ‘Guinea Pigs’, had been badly burned or crushed in their planes, many during the Battle of Britain.

The achievements at QVH both during, and following the war, were very much a collective endeavour, with nurses, orderlies, anaesthetists, as well as McIndoe’s surgical colleagues and trainees all having crucial parts to play. You can find out more about Sir William Kelsey Fry, Group Captain Ross Tilley, Benjamin Rycroft in this blog written by West Sussex Record Office [click here to read].

McIndoe’s legacy lives on to this day as QVH remains the regional centre for specialist plastic and reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation. The modern-day QVH burns unit continues to develop pioneering techniques for the treatment of burns.

We have maintained strong links with military patients and regularly treat service men and women injured in Afghanistan and other campaigns. In addition, QVH Consultant plastic surgeon Tania Cubison also serves as a Lt Col in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

QVH has also continued to build on its foundations as a provider of community services for the local population of East Grinstead and surrounding villages. Our modern day Minor Injuries Unit and sleep disorders centre are both situated in the handsome, red-brick Jubilee Centre built in 1936.

A collection – comprising several thousand objects including equipment, surgical instruments and prostheses, photographs, paintings and other memorabilia from the time of Sir Archibald McIndoe can be found at East Grinstead Museum in a permanent exhibition called ‘Rebuilding Bodies and Souls’. To find out more click here.


QVH’s historical collections also include a unique collection of records, patient files, drawings and photographs that document the history of the hospital and the development of modern plastic surgery techniques. The archives include the handwritten research notes and papers of Sir Archibald McIndoe and the medical records of his famous Guinea Pig Club patients.

This archive is now held at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester. Thanks to a Wellcome Trust awarded a grant, a project to catalogue, preserve the archive as a whole and digitise selected records has been completed by the Record Office in partnership with the Trust, the Guinea Pig Club and East Grinstead Museum. It will enable this important collection to be preserved and made accessible for future historians and medical research.

Sir Archibald McIndoe in theatre here at QVH

Sir Archibald McIndoe in theatre here at QVH

Members of The Guinea Pig Club with Sir Archibald McIndoe

Members of The Guinea Pig Club with Sir Archibald McIndoe


Download a collection of images from the hospital’s history (1.55Mb pdf)

Download a copy of the hospital’s centenary souvenir brochure (2Mb pdf)

Images of McIndoe and The Guinea Pig Club

If you would like more information about using images of Sir Archibald McIndoe and The Guinea Pig Club for a project you are working on, please contact the team at East Grinstead Museum by email at info@eastgrinsteadmuseum.org.uk or call 01342 302233