UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Margery Ling

Margery Ling (born 1916– died 1982). Miss Ling came to the National Hospital in 1943 as nurse–tutor and was appointed matron in 1946.

She was a formidable but humorous and remarkable person, whose priority was the care of patients. She remembered their names and visited most on each ward once or twice daily. She employed young, often handicapped, women with epilepsy ‘from good homes’ as domestic staff in order to provide them with shelter, employment and a sense of dignity and belonging. Many of these women worked at the hospital for 30 or 40 years, despite having regular epileptic fits.  She did a round every day and knew everyone, including porters and kitchen staff and their stories, held tea parties each afternoon for selected doctors and senior staff members, and was known to take patients out in her vintage open-topped Sunbeam tourer for a ride around London. Every Christmas, she held a party for the children of staff and patients, which sadly also came to an end on her death. She also played a prominent role in the organisation of the centenary celebrations and was one of the hospital’s most dedicated servants.

Her influence extended beyond Queen Square and, in 1948, she had led a tour of nursing staff to the MRC Nutritional Field Station at Fajar in the Gambia. In 1950, Miss Ling visited the Claremont Hospital for Nervous Diseases in Belfast to investigate the possibility of providing assistance with training. A scheme was devised whereby a few trained nurses would be sent to Belfast, and Queen Square would receive many untrained nurses in exchange, at a time when the perennial shortage of nursing staff in London was particularly acute. This was a mutually advantageous arrangement and, in 1963, Miss Ling was made honorary life governor of the Claremont Street Hospital.

Always preferring the title ‘matron’ and refusing to call herself ‘chief nursing officer’, she declined any official farewell or presentation on retirement in 1981. Margery Ling had made the hospital her life and she maintained the traditional values of nursing which had descended directly from Florence Nightingale. Because of her influence, nursing standards at the hospital were very high.

Queen Square: A History of the National Hospital and its Institute of Neurology https://www.nationalbrainappeal.org/product/queen-square-history-book/