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Our history

When the Hospital was founded in 1828 it relied entirely on charitable donations not just for day to day running but to develop the pioneering research for which it has become famous. The hospital has always accepted charitable donations and legacies and today the Royal Free Charity manages these donations,including those to Barnet Hospital Charity and Chase Farm Hospital Charity, that support all areas of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Key dates

15 April 2016


The Mayor of Enfield was locked in the garden at Chase Farm raising funds to support the dementia garden project.

9 Feb 2016

Nesta Health Lab presentation demonstrating how Nesta funding has enabled the expansion of youth volunteers, the health benefits of volunteering and best practice which is resulting in great retention figures.

3 Feb 2016

Celebrating the success and achievements of the Young Volunteers Programme which was launched in 2015. Hosted by Tulip Siddiq MP at Portcullis House.

Jan 2016


This month marked the launch of the Charity’s massage therapy service at Chase Farm Hospital, focusing on rehabilitation, oncology and haematology patients to help reduce pain and anxiety.

Aug 2015


Planning approved for the Charity to build the 1st European Institute of Immunity & Transplantation at The Royal Free London, Hampstead site.

June 2015


Barnet Hospital Charity and Chase Farm Charity launched officially.

April 2015

Massage therapy for cancer patients started at Barnet Hospital as the first step of replicating Royal Free Charity provisions for patients across all three sites.

March 2015


FREE patient wi-fi launched for the use of patients and visitors at The Royal Free.

Dec 2015


Celebrating the festive season with the switching on of lights at The Royal Free London by patients Ayla and Charlotte. Illuminating the main entrance, Pond street and the facia of the hospital.

Jan 2015

The purchase of an endomicroscope through the Fiorina Fund allowing for the first use of it in the UK for pancreatic cancer diagnosis.



Celebration of 25 years of the Ian Charleson Day Centre (ICDC) at the Royal Free. The centre was established by Professor Margaret Johnson and provided the first open access HIV service in the UK. The vision for the centre was to deliver comprehensive care for all its patients and to address all their clinical needs. This continues today alongside its embedded research team which aims to eradicate HIV.

1 July 2014

The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust acquired Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital expanding the Royal Free Charity remit to support those hospitals.

Nov 2012

PET-Mammography Scanner (MAMM) purchased, the first in the UK. Providing highly sensitive and high resolution results which are particularly effective in the assessment of younger women. This scanner provides a more comfortable experience for patients and allows access to difficult lesions and reduced radiation dosages.


The Pill Cam arrives for gastro patients. This is a small pill sized camera which is swallowed by patients and takes images as it passes through. This allows the consultant to view the full track and identify any abnormalities in a way which is less invasive to patients.

Aug 2011

The Recreation Club became a part of the Royal Free Charity. This move increased available resources and the services the club provides. The recreation club is now known as the RFC Recreation Club Ltd and is wholly owned by the charity.
The Recreation Club was originally opened on the 4th December 1978, went through a redevelopment and was re-opened on the 9th May 2000 by his Royal Highness The Duke of York CVO ADC.

March 2011

The Friends of The Royal Free joined the Royal Free Charity and continue today through the Friends Fund supporting the ‘Little Touches’ which make a big difference to patients such as the shop trolleys and mobile library which visit the wards daily and massage therapy to help reduce stress and anxiety.


The hospital was established by William Marsden, a newly qualified surgeon shocked that he could not find treatment for a penniless young woman. It was the first hospital to provide free care and the only London hospital to stay open during the 19th-century cholera epidemics which earned it the Royal title. The hospital was funded wholly through charitable donations. The spirit of donating to the hospital continues today supporting the hospital over and above NHS requirements.

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