Washing Lockers

Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959)
National Trust Inventory Number 790193

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1929
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

This ritual of scrubbing bedside lockers at the Beaufort Hospital took place in the bathroom of Ward 4. This duty was often overseen by the fearsome Sister Hunter, who once caught Stanley’s brother, Gilbert, cleaning the floor with a mop instead of a scrubbing brush. ‘There are no corners to Spencer’s Ward’, she admonished.

Spencer shows himself squeezing himself between the bath tubs, where he was able to find some all-too-elusive personal space. For him, this menial task – like scrubbing floors - assumed a spiritual quality.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Washing Lockers by Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959), 1929. A bathroom at Beaufort Hospital. The lockers were wooden shelving units that were used at the bedside of the patients to keep their possessions, and are depicted submerged in the magenta wash house baths with orderly’s cleaning them. Spencer, as seen here, used to hide himself between the baths in order to escape tiresome duties or simply to work alone undisturbed. Spencer wrote at the time of Sister Hunter, a strict ward sister who demanded he searched rigorously for dust both under and inside the lockers. An early version of this was included in ‘Scrubbing the Floor and Soldiers Washing, Beaufort Hospital’.


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, Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester, 2013 - 2015
Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Somerset House, London, 2013 - 2015
Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 2013 - 2015


Bell 1992 Keith Bell, Stanley Spencer, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Phaidon Press, London 1992, p.422
Carline 1978 Richard Carline. Stanley Spencer at War, London, Faber and Faber, 1978, p.182
Stanley Spencer (ed. Keith Bell), Royal Academy of Arts, London with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980, p.112
Behrend 1965 George Behrend, Stanley Spencer at Burghclere, London, MacDonald, 1965, p.37
Pople 1991 Kenneth Pople, Stanley Spencer: A Biography, Harper Collins London, 1991, p.96-97,122, 258-9
Gough 2006 Paul Gough, Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere, Samson & Company, Bristol, 2006, p.128-129

Related items

Place of origin Burghclere (22)
Materials Canvas (10106)
Oil paint (8518)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12615)
Collection Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire (71)
Periods 20th century (180497)
Maker Sir Stanley Spencer, CBE, RA (Cookham 1891– Cliveden 1959) (36)
Object Type Oil painting (14400)

Record Status


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