Tuesday, 4 September 2012

St. Augustine's Hospital, Chartham - September 2012

I headed out to Chartham on Saturday to check out what was once East Kent County Asylum, then St Augustine's Hospital. Having been at a beer festival the night before, I was surprisingly not hungover. Courtesy of a lift from mother Longley, who told me that the place was long gone, I headed through the estate that now occupies what used to be the rather extensive site of the Hospital, before reaching my destination.

Some history:
St Augustine’s Hospital (1875–1993) was a psychiatric hospital in Chartham, Kent. It was founded as the second, or East, Kent County Asylum in 1872. In 1948 the hospital became part of the National Health Service and was renamed St Augustine's Hospital. The hospital gained notoriety in the 1970s when it was the subject of a committee of inquiry into malpractice and mismanagement. St Augustine's Hospital closed in 1993 and the site is now occupied by housing, although a few of the original hospital buildings remain.

Originally built to house 870 patients, the hospital gradually expanded and by 1948 had 300 acres, including a farm, and 73 staff residences, as well as new blocks and facilities for patients. Eventually there would be 2,000 patients. The hospital became a self-contained village, with its own farm, workshops, baker, butcher, fire-brigade, church, graveyard, gasworks, cricket team, band, etc. Male patients worked on the farm, while female patients worked in the laundry or as seamstresses.

In 1948 the hospital became part of the newly formed National Health Service (NHS) and was renamed St Augustine's Hospital. Together with St Martin’s Hospital (the former Canterbury borough asylum), St Augustine’s became the responsibility of the Canterbury and Thanet Health Authority. 

St Augustine's Hospital was closed in 1993 as part of the community care programme. In 1997 development of the site for housing was begun. A few of the hospital buildings, including the administration block, the water tower, and the chapel, were retained but the rest were demolished. Although Canterbury City Council suggested that "a change of name would help in creating a new sense of identity", the site is known as St Augustine's Estate 

Entrance was a joke really, so much so that Stealth, who had visited earlier in the day, has a picture of a car parked on the fence.

As you can see, what's left of the these buildings has been trashed, decayed, and generally battered by the elements. It actually gave the place quite a nice feel, I've never so much peely paint in my life.


As I made my way around the site I found that I was disappointed with the amount of graffiti and the lack of items lefts over from its previous life.

Tried the stairs shot a few times, here are two contrasting pictures. Above I took care to get the detail and colour of the walls and stairs, but there was too much light at the top of the stairs. When I tried to counter this, I lost the walls, as shown below.

Once up the stairs the state of the whole site became clearer. Pretty darn derelict. Whilst up on the roof I thought I heard a voice or two, but after taking care in silence decided that I was hearing things. 

The OHP reminded me of the Disney character Walle, and I tried a few different shots of him as well, but with the abundance of light pouring in the one window in the place that was actually open behind it, I had a similar problem to the stairs. Above is my best result, with below being a compromise of switching sides to have the more-boring background.

As I made my way around and started to get back to where I came in, with the West wing still to do, a few more pieces of hospital and asylum evidence popped up.

Just as I was getting my zoom lens out to attempt a more detailed shot of the fire hose below, I heard voices again, and this time they were real. Suddenly panicking about being by myself and getting mugged/beaten up/worse in this desolate place, I took MGS action and snuck out. Judging by the clinking of my new neighbours' bags, they were here to paint the walls.

Apart from the ending, this was a pretty cool explore. A revisit is definitely on the cards because due to my abrupt exit I missed the gym in the West wing, and there's also a boiler room underground which I missed. 

Cheers for reading.

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