Connaught Mews

A Short History of Connaught Mews

Connaught Mews is situated just outside the heart of Woolwich and contributes a lot to the rich history of the area forming part of the local Millennium Heritage Trail.

The first building of Connaught Mews was built in 1780 (now Lantern House) and originally formed the Royal Artillery Maternity Hospital, England's first military hospital. In 1801 John Rolo MD was the Surgeon General and you can read his Short Account of the Royal Artillery Hospital at Woolwich on Google Books. This gives a fascinating insight to the life and the early history of the Mews.

In 1801 the site was extended to include 2 new buildings, which are now Artillery and Nightingale Houses. In 1816, the site was extensively extended to the north, but that section has been demolished and is now Claydown Mews.

When the Royal Herbert Hospital (now the Royal Herbert Pavilions development) opened in 1865, the Royal Artillery Hospital became the Connaught Barracks.

Between 1991 and 1992, the three original buildings were converted into flats. The brick wall that now surrounds Connaught Mews is part of the original dating from 1806.

The wrought iron lamp holder that stood over the original entrance has been preserved and now stands over the central steps leading onto the courtyard area in front of Lantern House. The base of the lamp having been made from old canons.

Florence Nightingale had also been reputed to have been involved at some level with the Mews with the middle block now called Lantern House to reflect this possible association.

The Mews sits adjacent to the Woolwich Artillery Barracks - this having the longest Georgian facade of its kind in Europe. The barracks is still very active, and was the home of the Royal Artillery from 1716 to 2007. It now houses soldiers from the Guards Regiments.

In 2012 The Survey of London covered Woolwich and visited Connaught Mews to document our history in Volume 48. A PDF version is available to download and Connaught Mews is covered in Chapter 7, starting on page 33.

An account from a signalman

25th March 2006

Dear Connaught Mews,

Whilst searching the Internet, I happened to come across the Connaught Mews website. Here is some information on what was at the time called the Connaught Barracks (now the Mews). I hope you take this as helpful history.

I was stationed at the Connaught Barracks from 1954 October to June 1956. I was in the Royal Signals N01 War Office Signals Squadron. It was a courier service and SDSs (Special Dispatch Service). I was a dispatch rider, one of forty. The triangle containing Grand depot road, round to the old Hebert hospital contained 3-400 soldiers.

We often travelled to Northumberland House (by Trafalgar Square), to deliver high security messages. We also delivered to Buckingham Palace, The Treasury and Downing Street. I also once delivered to Harold Macmillan. Our guardhouse was opposite the main parade square of the Royal Artillery.

Our signalmen in 1951 started to open up these old buildings. One told me it was the first time it had been opened up since Florence Nightingale was there. The small building (like a rotund) as was seen when you came up from Woolwich Station was her mortuary. I was stationed in the tall block facing where the old Herbert Hospital was.

In 1962, the barracks were sold for redevelopment.

This is information partly from myself and partly from my fellow Signalmen. I hope you are as happy being there as we were.

Ken Moore

Site last updated : 12th Feb 2020.
© Connaught Mews SE18 Management Company Limited 2004-2020.

Registered office: 20 Lantern House, Connaught Mews, Woolwich, London SE18 6SU. Registered in England. Number : 3408173.

Part of the local
Millennium Heritage Trail

The Royal Artillery Hospital
- now Connaught Mews

Old aerial photograph
(click to enlarge)

Woolwich Artillery Barracks

Preserved lamp holder