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FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE MEDAL: Florence own Medals


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During her remarkable life and career Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale) was decorated with many unique and beautiful awards. These rarities are currently on display in National Army Museum, London. Here they come together with museum narratives.

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Sometimes referred to as the “Nightingale Jewel”, this brooch, the design of which was supervised by Prince Albert The Prince Consort, is engraved with a dedication from Queen Victoria, “To Miss Florence Nightingale, as a mark of esteem and gratitude for her devotion towards the Queen's brave soldiers, from Victoria R. 1855”.

The brooch was not intended to serve merely as a piece of jewellery, but rather, in the absence of a medal or established decoration suitable for presentation to such a female civilian, it stood as a badge of royal appreciation.

Brooch was made by jewelers of R and S Garrard and Co in gold, encrusted with diamonds and beautifully enameled.

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This magnificent diamond and cornelian stone bracelet was presented to Florence by the Sultan before her return to Britain on 28 July 1856. The gift was accompanied by a financial donation for the nurses and hospitals. In a letter from Queen Victoria to the Secretary of State for War, Fox Maule, 2nd Baron Panmure, dated 27 July 1856, the Queen refers to Nightingale's application for permission to accept these presents:

The Queen returns this letter of Miss Nightingale's. She had already heard of the gifts of the Sultan's, through Lord Stratford, who communicated with Lord Clarendon on the subject, and asked the Queen's permission for Miss Nightingale to accept the bracelet, as well as the sum of money for the Nurses and Hospitals. The Queen entirely approves of the intended distribution of the money.”

On her death in 1910, this bracelet was one of a number of items, along with the “Nightingale Jewel” and the marble bust of Florence

were donated to the Royal United Service Institution by the executors of her estate, in accordance with her desire that they should be “where the soldiers could see them”.

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Florence Nightingale was among the first 31 recipients of the Royal Red Cross, instituted in 1883 as an award specifically to females for special devotion in nursing sick and wounded servicemen.

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The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was incorporated by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria in 1888. It is generally given in recognition of voluntary work in hospitals, ambulance and relief work. It has undergone many changes and is now divided into six classes under the Sovereign and Grand Prior of the Order. The Order was presented to Florence Nightingale in 1904.

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Since its institution in 1902, the Order of Merit has to date only admitted eight women, of which Florence Nightingale was the first. This highly prestigious Order, of which British membership is limited to the Sovereign and a maximum of 24 others at any one time, comprises six admirals, six generals and twelve civilians eminent in the fields of art, music and literature.

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