The Hertford British Hospital was founded in 1871 by Sir Richard Wallace for the medical and surgical treatment of "indigent and sick British nationals in and around Paris". It was named after his father, the 4th Marquess of Hertford.
Sir Richard was a philanthropist and a great connoisseur of art, of which he acquired a valuable collection that became the "Wallace Collection" in London. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897, following his death in 1890. The collectiion is displayed at Hertford House, one of the family's London properties in the nineteenth century.
Sir Richard Wallace achieved fame during the during the Franco-Prussian War and the great siege of Paris (1870/71) for his notable acts of charity, which included providing medical care for the citizens ansd ensuring that they had access to clean water. Many of his water fountains, "les fontaines Wallace", erected in 1870, can still be seen to this day.
The Hertford British Hospital was opened on its present site in rue de Villiers in Levallois-Perret in 1879 and served the British public for 85 years under the Deed of Covenant of 1892.
During the two World Wars, the Hospital was used principally for military purposes and after evacuation in 1940, came successively under the protection of the Swiss Embassy, the French Croix Rouge and the British Red Cross. In 1952 the Hospital was closed, re-opening in 1957 as a military hospital for SHAPE. It was run by the RAMC, staffed by the Queen Alexandra Royal Nursing Corps and the buildings were enlarged and modernised.
In 1961 the Hospital returned to the civilian sector but it struggled with insufficient income and eventually in 1977 it was contracted into the French state health scheme. However, it remained a private, non-profit making charity in the now delapidated buildings most of which dated from the the Hospital's foundation in 1879.
At this stage the Committee of Management worked hand-in-hand with the British Ambassador and the Embassy staff to raise funds to rebuild the Hospital. Through the intervention of Simone Veil, French Minister of Health at the time, a grant was made to the Hospital that enabled the construction of the new Hospital building. This was opened by Her Majesty Quen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1982; she had been its faithful Patron since 1937, a role she kept until her death in 2002.
The 9th Marquess of Hertford has replaced the Queen Mother as Patron of the Corporation thus continuing his family's connection with the original Charity.
Now the hospital serves a new role. The French authorities, as part of a national plan, have encouraged the two hospitals in the Levallois area to regroup. The medical activities of the neighbouring Hôpital Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours and the Hertford British Hospital have been merged to create the Institut Hospitalier Franco-Britannique. Both charities were founded in the 1870s, and the new Institute is run by trustees of the two charities under the supervision of the French Health Authorities.
At 4, rue Kléber is the main Accident and Emergency unit and the departments of general medicine, orthopaedic and digestive surgery, cancerology, rheumatology .
At 3, rue Barbès are the departments of gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics and neo-natality. In addition there are radiology departments, medical laboratories and physiotherapy facilities on both sites.
At 12, rue Barbès are other activities under the auspices of the Charity including the International Centre for Dermatology, specialising in melanoma screening, and local clinics of the Family Planning and Mother and Infant Protection organisations. The Charity also provides premises at this address for the British Charitable Fund.
For those seeking to learn more about Sir Richard Wallace and the history of the Hertford British Hospital, one of the Corporation's Trustees, Peter Howard, has written a complete history of the Hospital, entitled "Sir Richard Wallace - Le Millionaire Anglais de Paris - and The Hertford British Hospital." The proceeds of this work go to the Charity