rauceby virtual asylum | comparisons with hellingly
Last update: 04|07|068
rauceby virtual asylum

This section is based on several e-mails sent to me by Peter.


Hellingly Admin

Rauceby Admin

As you note, the entrance hall at Rauceby is so typically Hine. At Hellingly, Hine designed a slightly altered entrance, with a different shaped door and glass surround and an open front porch. There was a small glass canopy over the main entrance (long gone but I have a photo). Also I have a colour photo of the entrance hall at Hellingly pre-closure.

Hellingly Admin

Rauceby Admin

Hine never seemed to provide a specific reception area as we understand the term today, but the hall porter, whose room was always close by, seemed to fulfil the reception role. The rules and regulations of the Hall Porter at Hellingly note that he "has charge of the Hall Doors... is required to keep the Visitors Book... Staff Attendance Book... A Letter Register... (and) shall attend to all visitors." Quite often, as at Hellingly, a hatch was knocked in the wall near the entrance to provide a reception. Presumably any official visitor would have been expected to some degree, and so the Hall Porter would have been on hand to direct them to one of the Admin Block waiting rooms, of which there was always a couple. Visitors to patients were sometimes provided with separate entrance s adjacent to the male/female corridors (e.g. Horton) but I’m not sure what the situation was at Rauceby.

Upstairs, I expect one of the large rooms at the end of the Admin block would almost certainly have been the Committee Dining Room. Nearby would have been the Servery. The rooms towards the back of Admin may have been some form of staff accommodation. That may explain the room with one window (possible bedroom?). Perhaps it was accommodation for the Hall Porter or similar officer. The original cast-iron fireplace that you photographed looks suspiciously like some form of cooking range – could this have been the Servery? I’m also wondering whether one of the upstairs rooms could have been for the Asylum Clerk. Presumably the room adjacent to the lobby was for the assistant clerks; Hine showed the ‘Asylum Clerk’ and ‘Clerks’ separately on his plans for Claybury, Horton and Hellingly. I’m not sure about the room with the hatch in the door. If it was a later addition it could have been some form of cash office.

Rauceby Admin Room with range

Certainly some of these rooms were surplus to requirements by the time Hine designed Hellingly; the ground floor of Admin was not dissimilar to Rauceby, but on the first floor Hine provided four rooms only (Committee Dining Room, Scullery, Clerks Office and Chaplain's office). I guess there could also have been a Chaplain’s office at Rauceby (not really surprising as he was one of the highest salaried officers, after the Med. Supt., Matron and Steward). That said, it’s interesting to note that numerous extensions were added to the Admin Block at Hellingly during the 1940s/1950s, so the original space must have proved insufficient. Following the advent of the NHS in 1948 some hospitals had to provide accommodation for the area Hospital Management Committee as well as for the Administration needs of the hospital.

Certainly here in Dartford the Darenth & Stone HMC oversaw 3 hospitals in the area, and Dartford HMC oversaw 6. Hellingly, of course, came under Hailsham HMC (not sure how many hospitals in the group, though).

It’s interesting that Hine moved the departments around in this part of the hospital. By the time Hine designed Hellingly, the dispensary/pathological room had moved to south of the recreation hall; AMO had moved to the front of Admin, but the photo room and steward’s office remained in almost exactly the same place.


Hellingly Bakery

Rauceby Bakery

The bakery at Hellingly had a covered hoist outside to enable sacks of flour to be lifted to the first floor store. From your photos it seems to be missing at Rauceby. The oven was set into the brick wall in the archway. You have a photo of the same room at Hellingly, which I think you have identified as engineering. I have a photo of someone loading (or unloading) bread from the oven at Hellingly. On my later plan of Hellingly the bakery is identified as a clothing store.

Hellingly Bakery

Rauceby Bakery

Hospital Wards

Hellingly Hospital Wards

As you note, at Rauceby Hine provides small dayrooms, dormitories with well spaced beds, and an extra bathroom. In his RIBA paper Hine notes that he prefers to break up the category of sick and infirm and provide a separate hospital ward, which he does at Hellingly, with another ward for feeble (i.e. sick) and infirm. I imagine the smaller day room and dormitory at Rauceby would be for the more acutely physically sick patients, with the patients less physically ill being nursed in the larger dormitory and day room. At Hellingly Hine provided a separate corridor off the hospital ward with some single rooms. These would probably have been for physically sick patients who had a disturbed or maniacal temperament.

Separate corridor with individual rooms for Hospital Ward at Hellingly.

There was, of course, a separate isolation hospital at Hellingly which stood on the other side of the main drive and was demolished many years ago. I suspect that the smaller dormitory on the Hospital ward was for infectious patients who were either too old, infirm, or physically ill to move to the isolation block. The two dormitories and corridor of single rooms are all separated from each other by a lobby, thereby preventing disturbance and possible cross-infection.

Of course it is important to remember that in Hine’s day, cases of typhoid, dysentery and tuberculosis all required isolation and treatment and were much more common than today.

The Hospital Ward at Hellingly was orientated so that all dayrooms and dormitories faced directly south; the only parts of the ward to face north were the single rooms and sanitary facilities. The sanitary towers contained toilets, dirty linen and slops only; bath and lavatory (ie sinks) were provided in an adjacent room, access to which was by a large lobby, presumably to facilitate moving patients who may need assistance. An extra bathroom was provided as at Rauceby, with the same mix of attendants and single rooms throughout the ward. Curiously, the larger attendants room on the hospital ward on the female side at Hellingly was replaced by a room shown as ‘married couple’ on the corresponding male ward.

The single rooms on the separate corridor in the Hospital ward at Hellingly The male and female hospital wards at Hellingly were adjacent to each other, being either side of the corridor leading to the AMO's quarters; so here Hine manages to get these all much closer together than at Rauceby. Note that at Hellingly Hine has moved the pathology and dispensary facilities closer to these wards; a ‘surgery’ was also been provided.

Sick And Infirm Wards

Hellingly Sick And Infirm

Rauceby Sick And Infirm

The sick and infirm wards at Hellingly again has two separate dayrooms and dormitories. Basins, WCs and baths are all together in the sanitation tower though, except a single bathroom adjoining the main dormitory.

Right up to and past the 1950s these wards at Hellingly were still used for the treatment of the physically sick, with the open verandahs used for TB patients. New small sanitary annexes were added at various times. Generally, however, they retained the same layout as laid down by Hine. Even the layout of the sanitary annexe in B2 ward remained as designed (with central wall still intact!)

During the 1970s and 1980s, with the view to Care in the Community being a very real concept, these wards were radically redesigned. Old A2 (Hospital) ward survived largely unscathed (you have photos on your site – the blue room was the old dormitory, and the room with orange-brown walls [former dayroom] shows the only alteration, with a partitioned room constructed in the other old dayroom). The sanitary area seems to have changed little (you have photos – pink walled rooms). On old A1 (later Arlington ward), you can see from your photo how the old dormitory was divided up to provide separate bedrooms with a central corridor to enable patients to have their own room, take more responsibility for personal care, and thus prepare them for life in the outside world.

Similarly on Bodiam ward (old B2 ward) both dormitories and one day room were converted to smaller individual rooms, each large enough for a bed and washbasin. One of the only rooms to retain anywhere near its original use was one of the dayrooms (you have photo – with ‘neglect’ graffiti). Even the sanitary tower ceased to be used for any sanitary facilities.

Bodmin Ward

Nothing along these lines seems to have occurred at Rauceby, but I thought you might be interested in the changes at Hellingly.

Other main changes that took place on wards occurred in the 1970s, where wards were reorganised, generally without reference to physical or mental disability, into geographical sectors of the hospital’s catchment area. This was known as sectorisation, and again was done with the aim of returning patients to areas where they were originally from. Also some wards at Hellingly were converted to non-nursing uses [eg Cuckfield and Chailey wards (old C block)] were converted to accommodate occupational therapy etc.


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