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Author Topic: Sheerness Foul Bill Quarantine Station. Stangate Creek. Chetney Hill Lazaretto  (Read 18985 times)

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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Sheerness Foul Bill Quarantine Station. Stangate Creek
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 11:19:28 »
Thank you Herb Collector, this was extremely interesting and detailed.

I found that the link to Froggatt's article didn't work for me, a blank page with no PDF download.

However there are page by page scans that are easy to read at


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Re: Sheerness Foul Bill Quarantine Station. Stangate Creek
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2011, 21:09:21 »
From Great britain. Report on Quarantine. London: H.M.S.O., 1849. Pages138-140. Stangate Creek, for example, which is in the Hoo Union, one of the districts the most severely visited by epidemic diseases in the county, and where the mortality of the ordinary population is about the highest in Kent.
On the influence of this locality on health, and its obvious tendency to predispose to disease, Mr. Bowie gives the following evidence:-

"On visiting the guard-ship at Stangate Creek." He says, "I was informed by the officer in command that the principal medicine used by them is quinine, ague being a frequent disease on board; that he himself (the officer) had suffered from ague a few months before, and that it was the common disease of the ship. The medical officer of the hospital ship, moored near the guard ship, gave me a similar account, and told me that the principal disease on board that ship also was ague. Intermittent fever must indeed necessarily be the common disease of that country, which consist of marshes intersected with ditches. The banks of the creek are exceedingly muddy, so that the vessels appear to be moored in a ditch. I was informed by the surgeon of the hospital ship, that his orders were positive and strict not to go on board any vessel in which there was a case of cholera; that he could not therefore, on any consideration, go on board such vessel; and that before he received these positive orders, if on going on board a vessel he found a suspicious case of any description, he immediately hoisted his yellow flag, thereby putting his own vessel under Quarantine.

"I do not believe,"
continues Mr Bowie, that the system of Quarantine, as lately practised at Stangate Creek, afforded any protection to the country; on the contrary, I am firmly of opinion it inflicted much suffering to the sick, if not loss of life, and was more apt to foster and increase disease than to prevent it.
"When cholera prevailed in this country before, it is well known that while vessels were detained at Stangate Creek or other Quarantine stations, medical men, nurses, and the families of those affected with cholera were allowed to go at large; and that while a passenger by a ship would be detained if from an infected port, he might travel in any way he pleased on land. If there could be any method better calculated to prevent an individual resisting epidemic influence than another, it was to alarm him by entertaining suspicions of his safety, and placing him under the combined depressing effects of having nothing to do, and exposed to the unhealthy atmosphere of a small and by no means clean forecastle of a vessel; surrounded, as at Stangate Creek, by a bare, dreary, swampy, country, and floating on a river abounding in mud.

"Captain Miller, of the 'Felicity' of Limerick, on board of which vessel cholera first appeared in London, gives the following account of his experience of Quarantine efficiency in February, 1832, and it does not seem to differ much from what I learned a few weeks ago was then the prictice:-
"On Tuesday the 13th, Captain Millers mate having died of cholera on board, the 'Felicity', was put in Quarantine between the tiers in the river; and on Wednesday, the 9th, about 2 or 3 o'clock, sent down to Stangate Creek, and reached it about 1 o'clock on Thusday morning.
"At 7 o'clock the body was sent on board the hospital ship 'Buffalo', the 'Felicity' having been placed within 100 yards of a ship the 'Goshawk', of Newcastle, on board which two men had died of cholera.
"Captain Miller says, 'I was once on board the hospital ship between docks, and thought her more like a convict ship than an hospital ship. Men taken ill of cholera are not removed on board the hospital ship unless the captain gives security that all the expenses, whether of medicines or provisions, shall be paid; without this the sick men are allowed to die on board of their own ship. I asked repeatedly of what disease the mate had died, but the doctor put it off with a laugh, and refused to give me any information. A lieutenant told me they could not tell, the returns not having come from London. The doctor used to come to the side of my ship in a boat, and look at the tongues of my crew at a distance.
'For my own part, it is my decided conviction that there is far more danger of malignant diseases breaking out on board of shipping from the filthiness of the vessels themselves, want of ventilation, and being moored in unhealthy localities, than will ever arise from importation."

Hometown Blues Syd Arthur


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Re: Sheerness Foul Bill Quarantine Station. Stangate Creek
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2011, 19:21:30 »
Sheerness Foul Bill Quarantine Station, Stangate creek, 1709-1896.
In September 1709 Stangate creek "on the south shore of the Medway, opposite the Isle of Grain, Sharpfleet creek and the lower end of the Hope" was appointed as a quarantine site by an order in council, this following quarantine orders issued in August 1709, after an outbreak of Plague in the Baltic.
During this time the merchandise was exposed and aired in sheds at Hoo fort, while the crews stayed on board ship.
In 1743, due to a plague epidemic in Messina, all Thames bound ships were ordeded to Stangate creek, where temporary buildings were used to air the merchandise.
In 1752 the first suggestion was made to build a lazaret at Chetney hill, towards the south end of the creek.
Until this was built a cause in the Levant trade act required that vessels bound for the UK from the Levant with a foul bill (ie, coming from a country where plague existed) had to perform their quarantine and air their cargos at lazarets in the Mediterranean.
This act ceased in July 1799 due to the French presence in the Med, and ships with foul bills were again allowed to perform their quarantine at Stangate.
The detention of such a vessel was usually around 60-65 days.
In 1800 two ships carrying hides from Morocco and suspected of carrying the plague were ordered to be sunk in the Nore, the owners receiving 15,000 indemnity.
In 1788 by order of the privy council, all ships liable to quarantine, in case of meeting a vessel at sea, or within four leagues of the coast of the UK, should fly a yellow flag in daytime and show a light at night under penalty of 200.
From 1846 onwards, the quarantines establishments in the UK were gradually reduced, the last vestige of British quarantine law removed in 1896.

The Lazaretto on Chetney Hill
The lazaret was first proposed in 1752, the decision to build repeatedly put off until June 1800 when Parliament voted 65,000 for "erecting a lazaret on Chetney hill", the expense to be met by placing a levy on all ships under quarantine in Britain. The plans and estimates were prepared by James Wyatt, surveyor of HM Board of Works.
The design of the buildings is unknown, as the plans and papers were destroyed in fires of 1814 and 1834.
What is known of the design is detailed in D Froggatts paper p 53-54 (link below) The aerial photo in the same paper shows the "foundation footings of what was certainly a considerable building running north-west to south-east."
Work on the lazaret started in 1801 and continued to 1806, when building work was abandoned due to "the ground was found to be so marshy that they could not get a foundation or attempt to erect a superstructure upon it." (select committee 1824)
The total cost was 94,754 of which only 15,000 was recovered by public sales of the materials in 1815, the buildings being finally dismantled between 1819-1824.

From 1755 hulks, old warships, were used as floating lazarrets manned by twelve to sixteen hands including the Master and quarantine guardians.
Known hulks at Stangate creek.
HMS Blenheim built 1813 74 guns
      Hospital ship 1831 quarantine service.
HMS Duke built 1777 90 guns
      1799 harbour service as lazaretto broken up 1843.
HMS Brunswick built 1790 Deptford 74 guns
      Quarantine service  18?? broken up 1826.
HMS Rhin French frigate captured 1806
       Refitted at Chatham as a lazaretto 1838, saw service at Stangate until 1879.

Thanks, references and sources.
Daf Charman
The Lazaret on Chetney Hill, P. Froggatt.
A detailed and well researched account.
Hometown Blues Syd Arthur


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"Our course up Channel was rapid, from the strong south-west gales that blew, and we arrived off Dover just after sunset in a dark December day, where firing a gun and making the usual signal for a pilot with lighted lanthorns at the peak, we soon received one on board, who was terrified, however, at learning that we had a foul bill of health, and that the plague raged at Smyrna when we left it, through none of the men had suffered the least illness during the voyage.
The fact, however of our not having a clean bill of health, obliged us to run through the Downs with the yellow flag and a black ball in the centre, donoting the plague spot, at the main, and anchor in Stangate creek, the usual quarantine ground, instead of proceeding direct to London."

From the Autobiography of James Silk Buckingham, Volume 2 1855. Page 89.
To find out what happened when they reached Stangate creek visit
Hometown Blues Syd Arthur


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