Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Places/St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Place|
|St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries|
|Permanent Residents||After spoiler warning|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (mentioned), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (visited)|
St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries is the wizard's hospital founded by Mungo Bonham. It is located in London.
Apparently there is a St Mungo Community Housing Association that assists the homeless in London. It is not immediately clear if there is any relationship between the names; the homeless charity was apparently founded in 1969, so the hospital may be named after it.
To Muggles, the hospital appears to be the store Purge and Dowse Ltd., which is "Closed for Refurbishment". Wizards and witches working in this hospital, who work directly with the patients, are called Healers; they can be recognized by their lime green robes. The hospital can treat a wide range of magic-related illnesses and injuries.
Floor Guide (as it appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix):
- ARTIFACT ACCIDENTS...................... Ground Floor
(Cauldron explosion, wand backfiring, broom crashes, etc.)
- CREATURE-INDUCED INJURIES............... First Floor
(Bites, stings, burns, embedded spines, etc.)
- MAGICAL BUGS............................. Second Floor
(Contagious maladies, e.g. dragon pox, vanishing sickness, scrofungulus)
- POTION AND PLANT POISONING.............. Third Floor
(Rashes, regurgitation, uncontrollable giggling, etc.)
- SPELL DAMAGE............................ Fourth Floor
(Unliftable jinxes, hexes, and incorrectly applied charms, etc.)
- VISITOR'S TEAROOM AND HOSPITAL SHOP..... Fifth Floor
If you are unsure where to go, incapable of normal speech, or unable to
remember why you are here, our Welcome Witch will be pleased to help.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Mr. Weasley is taken to St. Mungo's after Harry reports seeing him attacked by a snake. Harry, Ron, Fred, George, Ginny, and Hermione visit him there, along with Mrs. Weasley, Mad-Eye Moody, and Tonks. Mr. Weasley is in a ward with other people who have received bites from magical creatures, including a werewolf and a woman who won't say what had bitten her.
When Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the Twins return to St. Mungo's some time later to visit again, Ginny and the Trio end up on the wrong floor of the hospital. There, they find the long-term spell damage patients, including one-time Professor Lockhart, still suffering from his own mis-fired memory charm, and Broderick Bode. They also run into Neville and his grandmother Augusta, there visiting Neville's parents.
Broderick Bode later dies in the hospital when a Devil's Snare which had been sent to him as a pot plant (US: potted plant) strangles him. The hospital is unable to explain how a Devil's Snare could have been accepted.
We actually only enter St. Mungo's in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. We do hear of it in many places, though; in particular, Professor McGonagall goes to St. Mungo's after she has been hit by multiple Stunners during Professor Umbridge's attempt to arrest Hagrid, Katie Bell is sent to St. Mungo's to recover after she touches a jinxed necklace, and it is said that Neville's grandmother had put the Auror Dawlish in St. Mungo's when he had tried to arrest her. In addition, it is mentioned that if Professor Dumbledore's sister Ariana had been injured, she should have gone to St. Mungo's; the apparent fact that she did not lends weight to the belief that there was something shameful wrong with her.
It is during the Trio's attempt to find the tea shop that we hear a portrait of an ancient Healer chasing Ron around the stairwell, diagnosing him with Spattergroit. While we believe this to be a fictional or archaic disease, like "the vapours" in the Muggle world, we will see later that it is a very real disease, but luckily one that is not commonly encountered.
As it is a hospital, the intent is to care for people while they heal, so there should not be any permanent residents, only those who are taking longer to heal than others. We do see one ward for people with long-term spell damage, and see four people there that are mentioned elsewhere in the series: Gilderoy Lockhart, Broderick Bode, and Frank and Alice Longbottom. These four, among others, could be considered long-term residents of the hospital, but attempts are being made to return Bode and Lockhart to a more normal life.
A mature reader looking at this story might be dismayed to note that there does not seem to be an A&E (Accident and Emergency; US Emergency) department in the hospital. However, looking at the sign board mentioned above, and at the sort of inquiries the Welcome Witch has to field, we gather that the main purpose of the hospital is A&E, and that what little long-term care there seems to be a need for is handled in ancillary wards. We suggest that this makes sense on two fronts. First, a child's experience with hospitals is almost certainly going to be short term, following household accidents, so, this series being intended for children, it only makes sense that the emergency room is the main reason for hospitals to exist. And second, most ailments can be cured so rapidly by means of magic that the need for long-term stays and observation, so common among Muggles, is likely to be very minor.
We note a possible reference to other literary works in the name of this hospital. In the series of stories about the detective Father Brown, written by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown's parish is mentioned a few times, and each time it is given a different name. We note that in "The Wrong Shape", collected in The Innocence of Father Brown, it is mentioned in passing that Father Brown was of St. Mungo's (parish).
St. Mungo was a real Catholic saint in the late 6th century, despite the odd-sounding name. It is unusual that a London hospital would use that form of his name, though, as in England and Wales he is known by his birth name Kentigern; it is in Scotland that he is known as as Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow.
It is actually the presence of the long-term spell damage ward that we see at St. Mungo's that explains why Kendra, Ariana's mother, was so reluctant to take her to St. Mungo's when Ariana was injured by the Muggle boys. Kendra was certain that the Healers at the hospital would deem her a long-term case, potentially dangerous to others, and effectively lock her up in a ward similar to the one where we find Lockhart and the others. This would doom her to a life away from her family, with only occasional visits from her parents and brothers for company. The earlier description of the Longbottoms' case, and our visit to their ward, reinforces for us the idea that magic is not a panacea, it cannot cure all ailments, particularly those that are caused by magic. Having seen the long-term care ward and its denizens, we start to understand Kendra's fear, and understand also her willingness to take care of Ariana herself, even at the risk of having Ariana believed to be a Squib, rather than risk effectively losing her to the bureaucracy of the hospital. It simply compounds the tragedy that Kendra ends up dying, possibly due to Ariana's actions, as a result of this decision to care for her at home.
We do not believe that we should draw parallels here between Kendra's case and the charity the author has since founded. The Lumos charity foundation aims to rescue children from orphanages, a situation that more than somewhat matches Kendra's fear for Ariana. However, any mother who cares about her children would be likely to share that concern.
The adult reader may also perceive in that episode a certain distrust of bureaucracy and governments on the part of the author. As the characters in the books make no secret of their disdain for the Ministry, this should not come as a surprise to the reader, but it is of interest that the author is aware of, and willing to portray, the increasing officiousness of the more petty bureaucrats.