An antiques expert expert has described a signed letter by Florence Nightingale as one of the best finds he’s seen in Lichfield.
Adrian Rathbone was hosting a valuation event for Hansons Auctioneers at the Hedgehog Inn on Stafford Road earlier this week when the unique item was handed over for him to expect.
The letter is dated 1894 and appears to be written regarding a member of her staff.
Adrian said: “I was astonished to see this letter penned by one of the most famous women in British history at a free valuation day – it has to be one of my best finds ever in Lichfield.
“It’s a friendly, chatty letter to a Mrs Battersby and is dated May 26, 1894. The writing paper features a printed address, ‘10 South Street, Park Lane’. We know Florence spent the final years of her life in South Street, London.
“She died at the age of 90 in 1910 so this letter would have been written when she was 74 years old.”
Born in 1820, Nightingale came to prominence while training fellow nurses and tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Images of her holding a lamp as she walked through the wards have become iconic.
In 1860, she laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King’s College London.
In recognition of her pioneering work, the Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honour, and International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.
Adrian said: “The letter’s importance is derived from the fact that Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing – The Lady with the Lamp, a real Victorian icon.”
The Florence Nightingale letter will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers on July 2.