The Chairman's Report

March 2015

I previously described 2013 as “hugely eventful”, something of an understatement as far as 2014 went. Events dictated that we launch a campaign to “Save Barts Great Hall”. The enclosed Briefing Paper summarises the recent history. 2014 was marked by highs and lows: the Hopkins plans were approved by the City Planning Committee on 29 April and our Annual Dinner in the Great Hall on the same day, was a splendid occasion with some 160 guests. Then the re-submitted Maggies’ plans were approved by one vote in July.

In the run up we rode through insults, misleading lobbying tactics, and our arguments being traduced : we were never against Barts having a cancer care centre, just against the location of the building and its impact on the North Wing. The advice to go for Judicial Review had the immediate effect of getting the parties- the City Corporation, Barts NHS Trust and Maggies- to sit up, listen and find a way forward. Miraculously, a solution, which in the spring of 2013 was said to be impossible, was found. (See plans overleaf). Without the threat of a submitted Judicial Review, this would not have happened. The Friends can feel proud that their efforts have secured a future for the North Wing but at the expense of wasted time, effort and money (public and charitable). 

The Project Board, with two members of the Friends on it, is now at work; demolition of the Finance Block, and construction of the cancer centre, modified to accommodate the “virtual bustle” servicing the Great Hall, will be underway in March. We are actively involved in setting up the Heritage Trust to ensure that the Grade 1* buildings and the Archives are preserved, protected and enhanced.

Finally, it was a great pleasure to welcome Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex for a Reception in the Great Hall in September, instigated by patients unable to come to my Farewell luncheon last Spring, organized by Wellbeing of Women. The Countess talked to guests aged from 4 to 92. Sir Victor Blank, Chairman of Wellbeing spoke and the Countess was presented with a David Gentleman print of the Square and the North Wing. The funds raised were shared between the Friends and Wellbeing.

Without your continued support we could not have got this far – THANK YOU!

September 2014

I am pleased to give you an update on what is happening on the planning front since my last report. 

As you will be aware, The City of London Planning Committee approved plans to build a Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre tacked onto the end of The North Wing by the narrowest of margins (11-10 votes) on 17th July 2014. These plans were essentially unchanged since their rejection (11-8) in 2013 and our objections to them have not been assuaged, especially after the unanimous approval of the proposed plans by Hopkins Architects. Our many attempts to find room for compromise with The Trust and with Maggie's have been frustrated. It is in this context that The Friends see no way forward other than to object to the planning decision by instituting a judicial review.

What we are NOT against:

  • We are not against having a Maggie’s cancer caring centre at Barts.
  • We are not against modern architecture.

So - what are we against?

  • We are against the siting of the proposed building.
  • We are against the NHS plans that will prevent the necessary renovation and protection of the building.
  • We are against the NHS plans to transpose the main entrance of the building away from the Hogarth Staircase to the secondary west door entrance.
  • We are against the NHS plans to place toilets and cloakrooms at the west end 
  • We are against the NHS plans that will prevent the essential improvements to the Archive and its storage.
  • We are against the NHS plans that will prevent the improvements to the catering facilities.

Why are we against this?

These changes would cause irreparable harm to the historical setting and future viability of The North Wing and its Great Hall.

What have we been doing?

  • We have engaged Solicitors and Counsel
  • A Statement and Grounds to the Court requesting Judicial  Review has been served.
  • We have agreed to a proposal from the City of London Planners' solicitors to initiate an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This is a mediator-led process. Response of other parties awaited.
  • We continue to seek and to offer compromise with other parties on an informal basis, in an effort to negotiate ways forward that might prevent harm to the Grade I Listed building.
  • We continue to hold informal meetings with supportive individuals and heritage organisations, such as SAVE British Heritage, in order to facilitate these negotiations
  • Hopkins Architects have assisted us greatly in continually reviewing and ensuring that the statutory responsibilities of conserving Listed Buildings are not overlooked, whilst also providing flexible suggestions to ensure that essential improvements are incorporated in all plans.
  • We have sought to improve our financial position; your continuing support with this is invaluable.

We expect that these processes will take time to work through in this difficult phase. Our resolve is as strong as ever and we will continue to keep our friends and supporters up to date as developments evolve.


July 17th 2014

The City of London planning committee today approved plans for a Maggie’s Centre next to the Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital by 11 votes to 10.

During the hearing, the committee heard from Sir Marcus Setchell and David Selby of Hopkins architects, who had proposed a rival plan in which the Great Hall could be preserved and a Maggie’s Centre built elsewhere. Both individuals made passionate statements emphasising the detrimental impact the Maggie’s plans will have on the famous Great Hall, designed by James Gibbs.

The campaign to save the Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital has been supported by a long list of celebrities, doctors and historians, such as David Starkey, Edward Fox and Dame Eileen Atkins.

Sir Marcus Setchell commented:

"We are disappointed by the committee's decision, particularly as the plan was only passed by one vote. We are frustrated that the Barts Trust has demonstrated little understanding of its heritage responsibilities. 

"We are considering our options, including pushing for a judicial review. 

"Without a sustainable future, this wonderful asset that is the Great Hall will deteriorate further and be a drain on the Trust's finances, which are already in a parlous state.

“A very big thank you to all our supporters. We will keep you posted about possible future actions.”


June 2014: URGENT

URGENT CHAIRMAN’S UPDATE & CALL FOR HELP ON PLANNING APPLICATIONS (abbreviated instructions can be found here)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Most of you will know the good news that the Friends Planning Application of the Hopkins Plans for  the North Wing and Great Hall was unanimously  approved by the City of London Planning Committee  on 29th April 2014.

We knew that the battle was not  over: Maggie’s Trust  has re-submitted  plans (14/00319/ FULL, or 14/00320 /LBC) , and  the  Barts NHS  Trust has submitted plans by Donald Insall Associates (Conservation Architects) (14/00278/FULL, or 14/00279/LBC) . The Maggie’s plans are unchanged from those which were rejected last year, except that they now do not attempt any access from the east end of the North Wing. The NHS/Insall  plans attempt to  provide a ramp at the West end to provide access for people with disabilities and to re-fit existing basement toilets including the provision of one disabled WC for the whole North Wing. This is an attempt to compensate for the new Maggie’s building being built at the East end, which would prevent these being placed in a more logical location close to the main entrance to the Great Hall. As a consequence there would be no cloakroom facilities and no provision for improved catering facilities. In addition,NO account is taken of the needs of the Archive collection which is badly in need of improvement

Many of you  (almost 50  to date) have written cogently and effectively to object to the Insall’s plans.  The Maggie’s Plans are now open for comment.  There are already over 100 names supporting the Maggie’s application. Almost all  focus on the need for a Maggie’s Cancer Centre and  assert that the building will not harm the Great Hall. 


This can be done elecrtonically through the city of london website here AND here

OR  in your own words, quoting REFS 14/00319/FULL and 14/00320/LBC and post to :

Ted Rayment, 

Assistant Director (Development Management West), 

Planning Department, Department of the Built Environment,

City of London, PO Box 270, Guildhall,

London EC2P 2EJ 

Among the important points to make are:

1. That Cancer Caring Centres such as Maggie’s provide  solace and comfort to cancer patients is  not questioned  BUT we most strongly object to the site chosen by the NHS Trust for the Maggies Centre, because it will prevent the implementation of the essential improvement works to the North Wing as provided for in the ALREADY APPROVED Hopkins Plans . The Hopkins Plans enable both the preservation and essential functional improvements to the North Wing  AND make provision for a Maggie’s Centre in the Princess Alice Garden nearby. 

2. Entry for people with disabilities away from the main entrance is against current Planning regulations except in “wholly exceptional circumstances”. Under the Insalls/Maggies proposals however it would mean people with disabilities entering through the west end, taking the lift and entering the Hall through the servery or kitchen. This raises issues of health and safety and food hygiene and deprives disabled people from sharing the experience of the Hogarth staircase with everyone else.

3. The Insalls/Maggies plan includes re-fitted Toilets for the fully able and  the provision of one disabled WC, located in the basement at the western end. This would mean that to access those WC’s visitors would have to pass from the Great Hall through the servery ,  resulting in congestion in the narrow staircases and lift, or they would need to go down to the ground floor  and outside to enter the west end and back again to return to the Great Hall.

4.Any opportunity to enlarge the Archives storage and display area would be prevented.

5. Present or Future developments of kitchen/catering areas would be prevented. 

6.The integrity of the neo-Palladian James Gibbs architecture would be damaged, whereas the Hopkins Plans take advantage of the once in a century opportunity to restore this. This fine heritage asset deserves better than the compromised solution proposed by the NHS Trust and Maggies, which is solely due to their choosing the wrong site. Had they taken note of the 2009 study which they commissioned from Hopkins Architects they would have realised their error in doing so.

It is also worth quoting any particular events or aspects of the North Wing and Hall that you find especially historically, aesthetically and architecturally valuable on a personal or public level. Use reasonably temperate language in any criticism of the Maggies’ design; our objection is to the site of the proposed building, which is wrong, and precludes the all-embracing improvements of the Hopkins Plan ever being attained.

With thanks and best wishes,                                                                   

Sir Marcus Setchell, KCVO



May 2014

Dear Friends,


Many of you will now know that the Hopkins plans submitted by the Friends were unanimously approved by the City Planning Authority on 29 April 2014.

This is a first step in our battle to save the Great Hall and North Wing.  The Planning Approval is hugely welcome, and on behalf of our small Committee I would like to thank all of you for  your support and interest, and particularly to those who wrote letters of support to the Planning Authority and those who donated to the Fighting Fund. Without all this we would not have been successful. 

But we cannot be complacent, as there are still some dark clouds which we are certain can be made to lift…………

The NHS Trust continues to support the plans for a Maggie’s Centre to be built on to the east end of the North Wing, despite the fact that their planning application was rejected last June.  One of the principal objections was that their building would have prevented access and toilets for the disabled via the main entrance to the Hogarth staircase and Great Hall.

Two more sets of plans have therefore been submitted for planning approval to try to overcome this:


Barts NHS Trust  commissioned  Donald Insall Associates to draw up plans for  Disabled Access with toilets in the basement reached by a lift at THE WRONG END of the North Wing, ie by the door at the west end. So they would then have to be wheeled into the Great Hall  via the Servery or kitchens.

We therefore need robust objections to this Planning Application (an abbreviated how to guide can be found here).

You can view the Application on the City of London’s website, and hit the link to view and comment on current applications , which then invites you to SEARCH. Then  place in the relevant box : Ref. 14/00279/LBC  to view the whole plan details, and then click on the Make a Comment box, which you must do by 14 May 2014, and it tells you how to do it  on-line, by e-mail or written letter.

We need the The Friends to object strongly to these proposals as they  are a half-baked attempt by the Trust to shore up its support for a Maggie’s Centre and overcome the  objections to the original Maggie’s plans. It will not work because:

  • the facilities and services are inadequate and on the wrong side
  • Disabled access that is not immediately adjacent to the main entrance discriminates against disabled people, and is against current guidelines for all Planning Authorities. 
  • In addition , English Heritage comments point out that the Insall proposal is  damaging to the symmetry and front elevation on to the Square. 
  • There is total disregard for the need to expand and improve storage and display of the Hospital ‘s historic Archives. 
  • There is no capacity to improve and enlarge the catering facilities

The Friends have not formally  been consulted about these plans.

Please help us to get these plans rejected by sending your objections (in your own words) to these specific plans by 14 MAY 2014

I will write separately about the Maggie’s plans when I have more detailed information about the timetable, giving advice about the important points to make in opposing this separate Planning Application.

With kind regards,

Sir Marcus Setchell, KCVO, FRCS, FRCSEd, FRCOG


PS I am also attaching some information about the PRESS LAUNCH of the Save Barts Great Hall campaign to be held in the Great Hall on Thursday 15th May at 12.30 p.m.  We would be very pleased if many of you could join us if you don’t have too far to travel. BBC and ITV News will be there along with many journalists and others interested , and we want them to feel the strength of support we have.


Please view this information here


January 2014

2013 has been a hugely eventful year for the Friends, its Committee, and  for Barts, (not to mention your Chairman!). The year nicely divides into two halves.

Very importantly, in the first half , the numbers who signed up and joined the Friends steadily grew. We had a very happy and enjoyable dinner, with entertainment in April. 

The Committee quickly realized the importance of numbers of Friends as well as their loyalty, when it became clear we needed to develop a well co-ordinated opposition to the proposed siting of the Maggie’s Centre. You, the Friends rose to the occasion magnificently, as we all grasped the nettle and put our thoughts into action, writing by letter and e-mail to the City Of London Planners with polite but firm logical opposition. Appearing at the Guildhall for the very formal Planning Committee Meeting on 4th June was another maturing experience, resulting in rejection of the Maggie’s plans by an 11-8 vote. 

The Maggies tactical withdrawal of the plans within a day or two, set the Friends on a tortuous attempt to find a middle way of compromise, but our attempts fell on deaf ears. This led on to taking the verygrown-updecision to commission Hopkins to complete the preparation of plans and submit an Application to the City. The support and help of the whole team at Hopkins has been absolutely unswerving. Many of you who came to Sir Michael’s captivating Archive Lecture felt the depth of his passion, and the brilliance of his plans, which even include a potential site for Maggies in the landscaped gardens to the north and east of the North Wing.

Due to the technical knowledge, expertise and energy of Julius Bourke and his team, we have finally moved into the 21st century with our website , which will help the Friends to develop and mature, and most importantly attract a younger generation to join us as supporters of the Heritage Project. 

This is just a brief summary of a very busy year.  You will find further details inside. I shall write to you all again as soon as we hear that our  Planning Application is open for Comments. With this in mind it would be a huge help if every single Friend could send us an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. just confirming that we have your up-to-date contact details correct.

Finally the Committee would like to applaud and thank all of you who have donated to the Fighting Fund so generously; without this we could not have got this far.  (But it’s not too late if you haven’t done!!). The next year looks even more exciting.

The Chairman of The Friends

Sir Marcus Setchell, KCVO, FRCS, FRCSEd, FRCOG 


Contact The Friends

Write to us at:

Friends of the Great Hall & Archive
of St Bartholomew's Hospital
Ground Floor
12 Cock Lane

The Barts Charity

We are working with Barts Charity, Registered Charity No 212563 barts_charity