HRH The Countess of Wessex GVCO will be visiting the newly renovated Chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park on Monday 12 November, to mark its formal opening, and unveil a plaque which will be placed on the original hospital foundation stone.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome The Countess of Wessex to one of our most iconic Grade II listed buildings. The historic chapel is all that remains of the British Army’s first purpose built military hospital, and with her own military links and interest in nursing, we hope she will find her visit really exciting.
“Her visit follows a £3.5 million project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hampshire County Council to lovingly conserve the Chapel for future generations and give access to many areas for the first time.”
On her visit, The Countess will take a tour of the chapel, before signing a scroll which will be placed in a time capsule and buried under the original foundation stone of the hospital. This moment will recreate history from when Queen Victoria laid the same foundation stone in 1856, along with a time capsule containing the plans, which has now been recovered and conserved. Since the hospital’s demolition in 1966 the foundation stone, weighing an impressive 2.5 tonnes, has been on display at the Royal Army Medical Museum in Aldershot. As it returns, for the first time in 52 years, it will be laid in the exact some spot it was taken from.
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “This is an exciting moment for all the staff, volunteers and members of the project team who have worked on conserving the Chapel to make it one of Hampshire’s top destinations.
“Work has seen the conservation of the original Victorian interiors, the creation of a new exhibition, installation of a new lift enabling visitors to visit the tower, visitor facilities and outdoor information points. The Countess of Wessex will be able to explore the unique military past and walk in the footsteps of the patients, doctors and nurses of the once vast and imposing Royal Victoria Military Hospital told through its remarkable exhibition.”