Scutari Hospital, Turkey, 1857.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Contemporary watercolour showing the interior of the Scutari Hospital, near Istanbul, Turkey. Scutari was the main British military hospital during the Crimean War of 1854-1856. The British public had been scandalised by newspaper reports of the appalling conditions at the hospital, where more men were dying of disease and infected wounds than were actually being killed in action. As a result, the Secretary of State for War asked Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) to go to Scutari to take charge of nursing at the hospital. Despite Nightingale's undoubted devotion to her task, the death rate at Scutari remained dreadfully high, largely due to poor sanitation, the importance of which was only just becoming understood in the 1850s.