Entertainment at the Gables Hospital

Alfred Cooper paid 500 guineas at auction for the manuscript of a piece of music by Sir Arthur Sullivan called The Absent Minded Beggar. The manuscript had been sold at auction to support the Daily Mail newspaper's appeal to raise money for troops fighting in the Boer War and their families. The music was written to accompany a poem of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote to Alfred Cooper on 19 December 1899 thanking him for his 'munificence'. 

Music was clearly an important element in the activities offered at the Gables Hospital. Mr and Mrs Cooper provided a range of regular evening entertainment for the patients. This included “smoking concerts” with local musicians, both professional and amateur, taking part. In particular, one evening Mr Cooper laid on a contralto singing "The Absent Minded Beggar" for the patients. In the Gables Album there is reference to both a large phonograph and a piano available for patients at the Hospital.  In March 1900 the Gables Hospital received a gift of a large musical box from the Princess of Wales.  

On 7 April 1900 the 26 patients presented Mr and Mrs Cooper with a framed address of thanks which they all signed. The text read “we, the undersigned ‘Absent Minded Beggars’ ”. 

For more information about the Absent Minded Beggar:

Following “The Absent Minded Beggar” a case history of a fund raising campaign of the South African War by Dr John Lee, 22 November 2010 

And an introduction to the “The Absent-Minded Beggar” by Simon Fowler

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