Report - - St Bartholomew's Hospital - Rochester, January 2020 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - St Bartholomew's Hospital - Rochester, January 2020


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28DL Full Member
Visited here at the beginning of 2020, not long before the pandemic changed reality for a lot of people - myself included. It was weirdly warm for a January night, and I went into the hospital with a friend who lives in the area. My aunt trained to be a nurse here back when it was active, so it was interesting to wander around, although it was pretty gutted in preparation for redevelopment there were still some gorgeous old features still intact, including the morgue complete with slab, showing how before the advent of electric lighting large windows and a slab able to tilt and swivel were used to maximise the presence of natural lighting for doctors conducting autopsies and dissections on the deceased. Now, the building is well on its way to a new life as luxury flats. I'll pop a bit of history from Wikipedia below:

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Rochester was, until it closed, the oldest existing hospital in England, predating its more famous namesake in London by fifty years. The original hospital was on the main road between Chatham and Rochester which is now known as Rochester High Street. Being for the relief of the poor and leprous, it was built outside the city itself in an area of Chatham which lay within the jurisdiction of Rochester called "Chatham Intra" ("Chatham Within"). The hospital was run by a "Custos" (Warden) or Prior with a number of canons.

Finance was obtained from grants and from the revenues of lands settled upon the hospital, the normal pattern of support for institutions during the Middle Ages. Even with this income the hospital might well have failed but for donations from the Priory of St. Andrew. The priory contributed daily and weekly provisions to the hospital along with the offerings from at altar of St. James and at that of St. Giles, both within the cathedral. Henry III gave "forty shillings yearly arising from land within the Hundred of Andeltune".

As a result of the Dissolution of the Monasteries (which, for Rochester, occurred in 1540), Henry VIII granted the patronage to the Dean and chapter of Rochester. The hospital therefore continued as an independent charity, but without the grants and offerings from the cathedral. The only income was from the estates settled on it. William Lambarde writing in about 1570 described the hospital as "a poor show of a decayed hospital". Most of the monastic hospitals were given to the Crown; Greenwood suggests that it was only the poverty of the hospital that preserved its independence.

The development of a Royal Dockyard at Chatham brought people and prosperity to the area. The meagre estates which had formerly only supported a decayed hospital became more valuable. The value increased to the point that two attempts were made to seize the land for the benefit of the Crown, one under Elizabeth I and the other under James VI and I. Ultimately the matter was settled in 1627 with the lands vested in the hospital under the ultimate control of the Dean of Rochester as Governor and Patron. Following a reorganisation in 1858 a new large hospital opened in 1863 on New Road just a few yards up the hill from the original site, but on land included in the original eleventh century foundation. Richard Watts' charity continued to grant £1,000 per annum to the hospital, reserving the right to nominate as patients "any number of persons, not exceeding Twenty at one time".

Initially, not all of the hospital was fully opened. Although built in 1863 the west wing only opened for patients in 1894, once sufficient funds for its operation had become available. Local benefactors funded the opening of a children's ward, an operating theatre and a hydraulic lift. The following year, the building of a new nurses' home at a cost of over £6,000 was funded by one of these same benefactors. In the same year, the accounts noted a gift of a horse ambulance. The accounts note "on receipt of a message by telephone it will be dispatched promptly to the scene of any accident, it being understood that the person summoning it is responsible for the horse-hire".

During first half of the twentieth century, the hospital continued to grow. In 1919, a pathological laboratory was opened. A grant of £10,000 from Mr. Edward Lloyd of Sittingbourne in 1926 paid for a ward which was named the Helen Lloyd Ward after his wife. A Mr. Matthew Tower of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey left a legacy, also in 1926, and the female medical ward was named Sheppey Tower after him. An Association of Friends of St. Bartholomew's Hospital started in 1928. Income raised through the Friends paid for a more modern pathological laboratory, two new operating theatres and various other rooms. Eventually they paid for two new wards and for the rebuilding of the nurses' home.

In 1948, the hospital came under the aegis of the National Health Service and charitable grants were discontinued. Much of the general hospital work was transferred to Medway Maritime Hospital nearby. St. Bartholomew's remained open after over nine centuries under the management of Medway Community Healthcare which provided in-patient rehabilitation wards as well as various clinics.

The hospital was closed in September 2016. and the site was sold for £2.65 million to MCR Property Group in November 2018 for a £30 million mixed-tenure residential development.






















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