The Closing Years

Miss Nightingale was now to enjoy her old age, receiving many visitors, who she still continued to see on an appointment basis. She loved the company of her young nieces and nephews. Miss Nightingale run a very tight household with five maids, her own personal maid and an old soldier who was known as ‘Miss Nightingale’s messenger’. The duties to be performed in the house and in the kitchen at every hour through the day, were marked on a chart. She would check on her menu every day and comment on the meals the day before. Parthe had become seriously ill, and Sir Harry now eighty-two could not cope, so Miss Nightingale went to Claydon House to help. She had become fond of Sir Harry’s children, especially Frederick who had been ordained a deacon and did social work in London, also Margaret, many letters were to pass between them. Parthe was to die on May 12th 1890, [which was Miss Nightingales 70th birthday. Miss Nightingale felt that during their later years together a reconciliation had been complete.

Miss Nightingale and Sir Harry grew closer, they would write everyday. He was nearly ninety, and she spent a lot of time at Claydon. She showed an interest in the management of his estate, which need much improvement.

In February 1894, Sir Harry died, and then Miss Nightingale’s favourite nephew Shore in August 1894, it had only been a year before that she lost her good friend Jowett. As friends and relatives close to her died, so she remained more in London, she made fewer visits to Claydon, she had never returned to Lea Hurst after her mother’s death, and Embley was sold in 1896. Her sight was growing worse and she found it more and more difficult to write, by 1901 her sight failed completely. Her mind also began to fail, and she was not always aware of the surroundings. She now needed help in running her household and a Miss Cochran stayed with her for two years, before leaving to get married. She was replaced by Miss Elizabeth Bosanquet, who was to stay with her until Miss Nightingale’s death.

In October 1907 she was given the Order of Merit by King Edward VII, the first time it had been given to a woman. The following year she received the Freedom of the City of London. When people read about these award it came as a surprise that she was still alive. She received flowers and many letters of congratulations.

In May 1910 it was the Jubilee of the founding of the Nightingale Training School.

After February 1910, she no longer spoke, the end came on August 13th 1910. She had left an immensely long will, dividing her possession with meticulous detail. She had requested that she did not want a National Funeral, this was done, and she was buried alongside her parents at East Wellow. Her Coffin carried by six sergeants of the British Army. A Memorial Service was held at St Paul’s on same day a funeral.


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