Dr. HELEN BOYLE 1869 - 1957

Helen Boyle

Helen Boyle was born in Dublin in 1869 and spent most of her early years with relatives her parents travelling a great deal. Her education was patchy, not helped by the father’s declaration of bankruptcy in 1882 and in 1887 Helen returned to England. She entered the London School of Medicine for Women in 1890 and qualified as a doctor in 1893 as Licentiate of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow in 1893 (L.R.C.P.S.) She gained her M.D in Brussels in 1894 and went to work at Claybury Mental Asylum from 1894 - 1897 where she became interested in the treatment of Nervous Diseases which became her life’s work.

She moved to Hove in 1898 with Dr Mabel Jones, with whom she had studied at the London School of Medicine and they went into General Practice together at 3 Palmeira Terrace, 37 Church Road. Mabel attended very much to the daily patients and the practice and Helen devoted much of her time to the Lewes Road Dispensary for Women and Children in Islingword Road, Brighton which they had founded with the help of Mrs Martindale. From this beginning sprang the Lewes Road Hospital at 101 Roundhill Crescent, Brighton in 1905, which became the The Lady Chichester Hospital for Women and Children with Nervous Diseases in 1912 before its removal to Hove.

Dr Mabel Jones left Hove in 1908 and moved to Glasgow where she worked in several local hospitals. After the First World War she was awarded the “Queen Elisabeth Medal” in 1918 by the Belgian authorities but it is not known whether she worked in Belgium as a doctor, or remained in Scotland caring for the many Belgian refugees. Her Medal and Citation remain in Hove, presumably finding their way back to Dr Boyle after her sudden death in 1923 when falling from a train in Northampton. She was travelling to Bexhill to visit her sister.

The Lady Chichester Hospital was very successful, achieving country wide recognition for its advanced treatments which included hydrotherapy, massage and electrical treatments as well as psychotherapy and “the full benefit of Brighton sunshine and sea breezes.” Dr Boyle’s work was critical in the acceptance that mental illness could be identified and treated before it became so bad that certification was required. In 1919 the Lady Chichester Hospital for Women and Children became a limited company and moved to Aldrington House, New Church Road, in Hove. The house today is still a day centre and run by the local NHS Trust.

In 1915 Dr Boyle saw active service as a doctor in Serbia with the doctor and surgeon Sir James Berry and was made a member of the Order of St Sava by King Alexander of Serbia. On her return she moved her General Practice to 9 The Drive, Hove and continued to work in Hove as well as consulting in at 49 Harley Street in London twice a week. Dr Boyle became the first woman Consulting Psychiatrist at the Department for Nervous Disorders at at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

In 1929 she moved into a cottage on the hills near Pyecombe just outside Hove and lived there with her secretary and chauffeuse Rita du Pré Gore Lindsay until her death in November 1957 aged 88.