Tea in the Hospital Ward

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)
National Trust Inventory Number 790189

Category Paintings
Date 1932
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 1054 x 1854 mm
Place of origin Burghclere
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire
On show at Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire, London and South East, National Trust

Tea-time must have been one of the highlights in the daily routine at the Beaufort Hospital. The contemplative figure in the bottom left-hand corner suggests that it was a quiet time, although a photograph in the Glenside Hospital Museum shows a reality quite different to the cosy scene evoked by Spencer, with formal, serried ranks of patients sat at trestle tables.

This scene did not feature in Spencer’s original scheme and was the last of the predella canvases to be painted in 1932.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Tea in the Hospital Ward by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1932. Wounded soldiers in their blue suits receive generous helpings of white bread and jam at a table in a ward at Beaufort Hospital, whilst other soldiers remain at their beds too tired or injured to move. The painting evokes Spencer’s nostalgia and memories of returning home from the Slade in time for bread and jam prior to the war. This scene did not feature in the original cartoon for the series, replacing another indeterminate ward scene and was the last of the predella canvases to be painted in 1932.


Given with the chapel by John Louis Behrend (1881- 1972) and Mary Sandham Behrend (1884 - 1977), 1947

Makers and roles

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), artist

Exhibition history

Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Somerset House, London, 2013 - 2015, no.13


Bell 1992 Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Phaidon Press, London 1992, p.423
Stanley Spencer (ed. Keith Bell), Royal Academy of Arts, London with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980, p.109
Behrend 1965 George Behrend, Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, London, MacDonald, 1965, p.37
Gough 2006 Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Samson & Company, Bristol, 2006, p. 131-132

Related items

Place of origin Burghclere (22)
Materials Canvas (10037)
Oil paint (8292)
Category Paintings (12642)
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire (68)
Periods 20th century (175384)
Maker Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959) (36)
Object Type Oil painting (12274)

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