Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre

Historic nursing poster
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The Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre is home to Europe’s largest nursing specific collection of materials.

In 2013 we opened an exciting new space which includes publicly accessible exhibitions, a cafe and a shop within the Library space.

Also publicly accessible is a new space celebrating our Nursing History Collection – enabling visitors to browse nursing history texts, access some of our historic printed collection and to browse smaller exhibitions curated with the RCN History of Nursing Society.

A programme of public events is planned for 2014.

Venue Type:

Library, Museum

Opening hours

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm (closed during August)

Admission charges

Entry is free, and no booking is required. There may be a charge for some services.

The Collection dates mainly from the 1850s onwards, though some earlier items are held. It comprehensively collects English language materials, focusing on nursing in the UK:
• 60,000+ Books and Pamphlets (dating from 1666 to present) including a significant collection of rare books and of grey literature
• 350 + Journals (1888 to present) print copies of journals, newsletters and magazines (in addition there are 1000+ contemporary e-journal subscriptions)
• 1,000+ Theses (1950s to present)
• RCN Archives (1890s to present)
• 725+ Personal Archives (1817 to present) including certificates
• 20 Organisational Archives (1887 to present) from organisations such as Commonwealth Nurses Federation; National Council of Nurses; Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses
• 625+ Interviews, Oral History Collection (1986 to present)
• Objects Collection: including 5,000+ photographs and lantern slides; 3,000+ medals and badges; 150+ audio recordings; 105+ videos and films; 150+ objects

Collection details


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Unknown nurse

Exhibition: Those Who Served

  • 1 April — 4 September 2015 *on now

An exhibition commemorating the individual nurses who died during the First World War, bringing to light previously hidden stories of their lives and experiences. Many of these nurses were among the first members of the Royal College of Nursing, founded in 1916.
(opening hours as LHC, except Thurs pm)

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age
Christie Watson Book Cover

Christie Watson: Nursing and Art come from the same place

  • 23 June 2015 5:30-7:30pm

Registered nurse Christie Watson won the Costa First Novel award for ‘Tiny Sunbirds Far Away’ (2011), which followed the story of Blessing, a young girl growing up in Nigeria. With a career in writing and a second novel, ‘Where Women are Kings’ (2013), Christie nonetheless continues to maintain her nursing registration, working freelance as a resuscitation officer.

In this special public event, she will talk about her novels, journalism, and short fiction, as well as nursing, and explore the links between them, and the questions that drive both: life and death, love and loss, and what makes us human.

This free public event is supported by the RCN Foundation


Purbeck Lounge, Bournemouth International Conference Centre
Exeter Road

Additional info

Tickets must be printed and presented at the venue entrance


5.30 - 6pm Arrivals
6 - 7pm Talk and Q&A
7 - 7.30pm Drinks reception and book signing


Nursing postcard

WW1 Series: Women’s Poetry in the Great War: Poetry and Music

  • 3 July 2015 6-8pm

Women’s poetry related to the experiences of the First World War has been seriously neglected. This performance includes women poets of different backgrounds making their voices heard, at a catastrophic time.

Many of these women were nurses and VADs, and their poems explore the experiences of nursing the wounded; of loss, pain, hopes and dreams. The music throughout the concert adds in an extra dimension to the poetry. The performance will be followed by a drinks reception.

A performance by nurse and poet Audrey Ardern-Jones with music by international musicians Lucas Jordan (flute) and Fabricio Mattos (Guitar)

Suitable for

  • Any age


Booking: Tickets cost £15 (£12 for RCN members) and can be booked online (via the link below) or by contacting RCN Event Registrations on 029 2054 6460 or


Nurses WW1

WW1 Series: Military nurses during the Gallipoli Campaign

  • 27 August 2015 5:30-7pm

Some of the most remarkable journeys were taken by nurses who served in the First World War: in Egypt, on hospital ships in the Mediterranean, on the Island of Lemnos and in Salonika. Many nursed the sick and wounded of the Gallipoli Campaign, caring for men suffering from injury and concurrent serious illness. Some wrote memoirs of their experiences, explored in this talk by Professor Christine Hallett. Refreshments will be provided.

Suitable for

  • Any age


The talk is free of charge, but space is limited and places must be booked in advance via the link below.


Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre
20 Cavendish Square
Greater London

logo: Museums at Night




0345 337 3368

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.