TG2809 : St Andrew's hospital - cemetery

taken 2 years ago, near to Thorpe End, Norfolk, Great Britain

St Andrew's hospital - cemetery
St Andrew's hospital - cemetery
The small stone > LinkExternal link in front of the memorial commemorates Hipolit Zaniewski (1912-1997), presumably a native of Poland.
St Andrew's Hospital cemetery in Memorial Way
When the hospital's burial plots (it is thought that there were two or three - all now lost) were full to capacity, another location outwith its grounds had to be found. A document dating from 1859 (in: Ernest Folk Cannell, "The Progress of a Century 1814-1914") states "And whereas the number of persons residing within the said Asylum is considerable and the burial from the same are numerous and there is not sufficient room in the Church yard belonging to said Parish of Thorpe next Norwich nor in the three pieces or parcels of land or ground of the Asylum". Consequently, from 1859 until 1903 the asylum's dead were buried in the Thorpe St Andrew community cemetery. The last entry in the asylum's own Register of Burials in the Parish of St Andrew (NRO ref SAH 233) suggests that 1622 patients were interred there, with the last burial dating from 20 June 1903 (William Wenn from Worstead, aged 53, #1622). Then the hospital opened a new cemetery on a plot of land situated immediately adjacent in the west to what was then Plumstead Road (this road no longer exists due to having been built over). It was consecrated on Friday the 26th June 1903 by the Bishop of Norwich, John Sheepshanks. A small mortuary chapel was constructed in 1904 at approximately the centre of the plot and water was laid to the cemetery in the same year.

The chapel has long since been demolished, presumably before or around the time the burial ground was officially closed in 1973. A hand-drawn plan (anonymous but annotated "done 1973") held by the Norfolk Record Office (NRO), where it can be found inserted as a loose sheet in front of the Register of Burials in the Cemetery of the Asylum in the County of Norfolk, January 1908 - October 1966 (NRO ref SAH 234), shows the locations of the 217 graves marked on it > LinkExternal link.

Records of the first interments, numbering from #1 up to #216A/B, can be found in SAH 233 (mentioned above), starting on page 70. 81-year old Robert Ambrose from the Thetford workhouse was the first to be buried, on 9 July 1903, as the sole occupant of grave #1 in the newly opened cemetery, followed by 50-year old Hannah Howes from Wiggenhall St Peter on 13 July 1903, in grave #2A (the A indicates that this grave contains two bodies, the other being #2B). The great majority of graves, in fact, contain two bodies, no doubt to save space, with grave #126B being the last entry in this register. Entries are continued in the consecutive register (starting with #127A on 3 January 1908). This register has only recently been opened to the public, the reason being that access to patient records not giving medical information, including burial records, is restricted for 100 years. (Access to patient case papers and medical records relating to adults is restricted for 115 years after the last date in the file.)

No burials took place between 16 April 1915 (Dorothy Noble from Stoke Ferry, aged 82, grave #324A) and 31 January 1920 (Mary Ann Gaze from Stalham, aged 69, buried in the adjacent grave, #325A). This gap is due to the fact that the hospital was a war hospital during WW1 and that the bodies of deceased military patients are commonly returned to their families for burial. At the very end of the register, on page 203 (the last burial, dating from 1966, was recorded on page 143) there are two records of presumably civilian casualties, one Alice Maud Mary Stead (38, Norfolk War Hospital, 30 January 1918) and Elizabeth Valerie Winder (3 months, Thorpe End, Norfolk War Hospital). No other details are given.

A considerable number of burials spanning several decades, although diligently recorded in the registers, are missing from the 1973 cemetery plan. The first grave actually shown on the plan (situated near the northern boundary fence) has the number 495. It contains the bodies of Annie Bunting from Dereham, aged 40, who was buried in #495A on 29 January 1936, and of Edith Cotterill from Heydon, aged 65, buried in #495B on 13 February 1936. The last burial, #711B (Hannah Feltell from Southery, aged 67) is recorded on page 143 of the register to have taken place on 14 October 1966 and is located immediately to the left (west) of the entrance at the southern boundary.

According to the cemetery plan, and considering that the majority of the graves contain two bodies, approximately 431 bodies are shown have been buried on the site. According to the burial registers, however, the site contains many more graves. The fact that the first grave shown on the plan has the number 495 suggests the existence of an additional 494 graves, and consequently 988 unaccounted for bodies, since most graves contain two - with the exception of a handful of Roman Catholic burials (#631, #641, #657, #658, #688), and grave #634, which is recorded to have caved in due to wet weather and was hence only used the once. Grave #666A (Agnes Sylvia Johnson of Creek Farm, Salters Lode, aged 67, buried on 29 November 1956) also contains the cremated remains of Arthur Johnson which were interred on Monday, 2 April 1973. (An addendum informs that per request of the relatives, who did not attend, only Rev G Whitehead and Mr Rooney, the funeral director, were present.) Adding the 217 graves (427 bodies) shown on the 1973 plan to the number of burials recorded in the register but omitted from said plan, suggests that more than 1400 bodies lie buried in this cemetery, and that many of the older graves appear to have been re-used for later interments.

It is not known if all graves originally had headstones or iron markers with a number only, or whether the hospital graves were in fact never marked. The graves of three Polish nationals also interred there are however reported to have been marked with iron crosses. The three men, soldiers or refugees, would have arrived together with many others sharing the same fate, at the nearby Norwich Thorpe (now Norwich) railway station and were cared for at the Thorpe St Andrew's Hospital (which at the time was once again used as a war hospital) and chose to remain in the country after the war had ended. They were

Mykola Zaluckyj from Huntington, buried 7 Nov 1951 aged 29. Grave #631
Dmytr Teluk from Sleaford, buried 12 Oct 1955 aged 45. Grave #657
Wladyslaw Pawel Bartnicki from Thorpe St Andrew, buried 1 Dec 1960 aged 64. Grave #688

[In an email dated 4 December 2017, site visitor Mariusz Wojtowicz points out that two of the names are ethnically Ukrainian - Western Ukraine formed part of Poland before the war.]

In contrast to almost all of the other graves, which contain two bodies, the Polish/Ukrainian nationals are the sole occupants of their respective graves, the reason being that they were Roman Catholics. Due to the fact that none of the men would seem to have married and started a family, and also because the patient records are still closed to the general public, very little additional information has to date come to light. None of the men would seem to have applied for British citizenship and their names are not listed in the National Archive's file HO 405 which relates to individual foreign citizens who arrived in the UK between 1934 and 1948 and who applied for naturalisation. It is also unclear why two of the men were buried here and not in a cemetery local to where they had lived and died.

Dmytr Teluk's funeral was conducted by a Ukrainian Catholic (the Ukrainian Catholic church belongs to the Greek/Byzantine Catholic rite) chaplain called Antin Mychalskyj, who is documented to have been one of the longest-serving priests in the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Great Britain (UCC-GB). Wladyslaw P Bartnicki's funeral was conducted by another Ukrainian Catholic priest whose signature in the burial register is difficult to decipher but who probably was Andrij or Wolodymyr Choma, both of whom are also listed to have served in the UCC-GB for 15 years or more. Interestingly, an Archpriest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church called Andrew Choma currently serves at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Duke Street, London W1 - could he be Andrij? Mykola Zaluckyj's funeral ceremony was held by Mykola Habak, a Ukrainian Catholic chaplain who, in 1948, together with five other priests had arrived in the country from displaced persons camps in Germany or Austria.

[Chaplain Habak and his colleagues in faith obviously looked after the spiritual welfare of at least some of the hospital's patients. Caring for the patients' physical and psychological well-being was Dr Boleslaw Pietocha (*01.01.1911) from Dobra Wola (northern Poland) who is documented to have served in No 316 "City of Warsaw" Polish Squadron RAF as a medical officer (in 1941). On 16 August 1942 he was attached to 306 "City of Torun" Polish Squadron, then based at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. (Service number: P-1349, Rank: F/Lt). Nos 316 and 306 squadrons were two of 15 Polish squadrons fighting alongside the RAF in WW2. Still with 306 Squadron on 4 April 1944 (then based at RAF Coolham/Aston Down), he tried to rescue F/Lt Wladyslaw Jan Szajda, who during a training flight had to force-land his aircraft, resulting in the P-51d Mustang III (serial number FX881) bursting into flames. Despite F/Lt Pietocha's heroic attempt at trying to free the trapped pilot by amputating his legs, and in doing so exposing himself to the flames, the pilot sadly died a terrible death (source: Wilhelm Ratuszynski ("Polish Squadrons Remembered" website). Dr Pietocha joined the staff of St Andrew's Hospital, apparently as a psychiatrist, after the war and worked there until his retirement.]

Since 1968, when the Hospital Board decided, against the advice of the chaplain and various members of staff, to remove and sell for scrap the iron crosses, the Polish/Ukrainian graves, like all the graves in this cemetery, are unmarked and therefore anonymous. Today, the outlines of some of the graves can still be discerned, but due to the absence of grave markers it is no longer possible to know exactly where in the burial ground a particular individual is interred.

The cemetery was re-dedicated in the late 1980s although no new burials were ever added. A decade later, the Norwich Health Association sought planning permission for the erection of a memorial to commemorate the burial ground. Their application, including a plan, was submitted in May 1995 and the memorial subsequently installed. It was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Norfolk, The Venerable Michael Handley, in the same year. One of several plaques affixed to it commemorates the occasion. Another plaque claims to be commemorating "those who were interred in the cemetery on this site from 1859 until 1966" - despite the well-documented fact that the cemetery had not existed in 1859, and that for this reason no-one could possibly have been interred (or commemorated) here before 1903, when the burial ground was opened.

A small stone plaque situated in front of the memorial commemorates a fourth Polish national, Hipolit Zaniewski (*14 April 1912 - December 1997), who according to his death record, had lived and died in Norwich. The placement of the plaque suggests a strong connection with St Andrew's hospital and possibly also with the Polish nationals interred in the cemetery, in all probability dating from WW2.

All the hospital's land, including the burial ground, was sold off by the NHS, starting in 2000/2001, and the area was subsequently developed into the Broadland Business Park (owned by Lothbury Investment Management). Maintenance of the cemetery plot is undertaken by the staff of the Business Park estate's maintenance office. Tucked away at the eastern end of a new access road (formerly an unsurfaced track) called Memorial Way and hemmed in by large industrial units and warehouses, it is now being referred to as Memorial Gardens, but has become known locally as the "Polish cemetery", presumably because of information published by the NRO (amended in January 2018), which implied that a considerable number ("many") Polish airmen are buried there. Norfolk Heritage also creates the impression of there being more Polish nationals interred on the site than there actually are, by stating that the cemetery "contains the graves of those Polish refugees who died in the hospital during World War Two" - when as a matter of fact none of the three Polish nationals buried in the cemetery died during WW2. On their own website advertising the Broadland Business Park, Lothbury, the owners of the site (who should really know better) inform that "if you want a quiet place of contemplation there is the Memorial Gardens on Memorial Way home to a Polish War Memorial".

The Norfolk Lunatic Asylum (St Andrew's Hospital)
Problems created by the 'furiously and dangerously mad' were recognised by the 'Vagrancy Acts' of 1714 and 1744, which allowed justices of the peace to order their detention. 18th-century law held such persons responsible for any criminal acts, and prisons or bridewells (houses of correction) were the main destinations for their secure accommodation. Philanthropic efforts had already produced some care homes but the 1808 'Act for the better Care and Maintenance of Lunatics, being Paupers or Criminals in England' resulted in the construction of a number of large asylums ranging in capacity from 40 to 3,500 inmates. County Asylums were placed throughout the Country, usually (but not always) within the County they served and sites deemed suitable would commonly be large isolated tracts of land, often served by minor roads and branch railways, the qualities of such sites providing the ideal curative sources for good light, fresh clean air and a nice views across farmland and woodland. Locally they provided a sustainable source of employment for generations and developed their own communities to serve them. Further afield they were often viewed with suspicion or fear - a distant place where disturbed local people or relatives would be 'removed' to, and often surrounded with much folklore.

The Norfolk Lunatic Asylum was situated in Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew near Norwich. The architects were Francis Stone and John Brown (Norfolk County Surveyors) and Robinson Cornish and Gaymer of North Walsham. The County Asylum was intended specifically for pauper lunatics and was only the second institution of its kind when completed in early 1814. The buildings were originally designed for the reception of 40 male patients in April 1814, followed by female patients in June of the same year. The first Master, from 1814 to 1843, was Thomas Caryl. Among the treatments recorded in his diary are details of 'punishments', which he gave to patients as he felt fit, see Archive LinkExternal link. Roughly 70 patients were present on average in the early years. The compound was surrounded by a 4ft high brick wall which was soon heightened to 5ft (1.5m) after the first patient had escaped over it in 1814. Open drains carried the sewerage to the River Yare. The patients used knives and forks made from bone and were bathed three or four at a time. Attendants and nurses were called keepers, and the rooms were referred to as cells. The cells had an open paved drain at the centre and the doors had no handles. Cage beds, straight jackets, leather mittens, iron belts and handcuffs were in constant use. The bedding was straw, with barley straw used for the "bad cases". Fish oil was used for the lanterns and all furniture was secured to floors or walls.

Extensions in 1831 and 1840 allowed the number of patients to double, and with more substantial additions in the late 1850s as well as the construction of an auxiliary asylum, which was completed in 1881, some 700 in-patients could be accommodated. The auxiliary asylum or annexe is situated to the north of the main buildings, on the other side of Yarmouth Road, connected by a lane that was carried over the main road by a bridge. It was referred to as "North Side", whereas the original buildings were "South Side". In April 1889 the institution was re-titled the Norfolk County Asylum, and after its modernisation into 'a hospital for mental disorders' (with reorganisation into distinct male and female asylums) there was room for more than 1,000 patients.

In 1915, the Norfolk County Asylum was offered to the War Office and became a military hospital, acting as a clearing house for convalescent patients and treating the wounded that arrived at Thorpe Railway Station (now Norwich Station) before discharging them to hospitals around the county. The Medical Superintendent became Officer Commanding the Hospital until 1919 when control of the hospital reverted to a Committee of Visitors. More than 45,000 men from Great Britain and the Empire are documented to have been treated there, while most of the asylum's patients had been transferred to the Norwich City Asylum at Hellesdon, the Melton Asylum (Suffolk) and other hospitals in the region. A few "quiet useful insane" men were allowed to stay to work as gardeners. According to several studies, the war hospitals came at a terrible cost to the mentally ill and their families. Within a year of the first transfers, for instance, the Board of Control noticed that patients were dying at a higher rate than usual and in its official 1920 inquiry on the War Hospitals Scheme, the Government reported that the transferred insane should be viewed as quasi casualties of war.

When the asylum was re-converted in 1920 it was named Norfolk Mental Hospital although the local use of the alternative, St Andrew's Hospital, was officially recognised from January 1924 onwards. In the period between the two wars the hospital housed more than 1,100 mental patients. During WW2, the hospital was used as a multi-purpose hospital (it had 1,991 beds), once again providing the additional functions of an Emergency Section hospital such as receiving refugees, evacuees and civilian casualties in cleared wards whilst maintaining its complement of mental patients. Many of the patients were Polish and Ukrainian nationals, and a number of them are documented to have still been living there decades after the war had ended. C Page, who in the late 1970s was employed as a groundsman recalls a couple of Polish men, who still spoke only Polish, living at the hospital even then.

From the 1950s onwards - with improved therapies and new medications, the changing perceptions of patients' rights, and increasingly critical assessment of the psychiatric hospital as an appropriate setting - St Andrew's spent most of its years as an NHS hospital under threat of closure, a long drawn-out process that was ultimately resolved with the securing in 1994 of a separate NHS Trust for mental health care services in Norfolk. The hospital was eventually closed in April 1998 and most of the land sold off. The original Grade 2 listed hospital buildings from 1814, situated to the south of Yarmouth Road, have since been converted into luxury flats. The complex incorporates the chapel (in Francis Stone Court), also converted for domestic use.

In January 2011, the auxiliary asylum - St Andrew’s House and its 13-acre site, situated north of Yarmouth Road on the edge of St Andrew’s Business Park that has sprung up around it - was also put on the market by NHS Norfolk, touted as a prime site for development. It had most recently been used as offices by the Norfolk Primary Care Trust, now NHS Norfolk, which in 2007 had moved to more modern premises.

In February 2013 work started to demolish all buildings on the site of the auxiliary asylum, with only St Andrew's House, ie the water tower and the wing adjacent to both its sides, to be retained. According to Norfolk Heritage, a number of bricks with inscriptions ad incised patterns, dating from WW1 and WW2 carved into them, have been recovered and preserved. Three years later the rubble has been cleared and the area they stood on tidied up, but no further work appears to have been done on the annexe. The only other building besides the administration block which has been left standing is the mortuary on the western edge of the site.

The hospital buried its dead at several different locations. The first burial ground was consecrated by the Bishop of Norwich on 4 August 1815, and Jsaac Secker from Smallburgh was recorded to be the first to have been interred here on 8 December of the same year. This, the oldest cemetery, is said to have been located to the east of the chapel, at the south-eastern corner of the airing courts, and enclosed by a 1.5m (5ft) high brick wall. Together with the Governor's garden, the drying ground and the bowling green, is described as having formed a narrow band of open ground which separated the hospital from the adjacent land that ran down to the River Yare in the south. This cemetery is marked on a plan dating from 1850. A temporary building used for housing sick military personnel and refugees was built over it in WW2. This building was demolished in 1970 and replaced by the Day Hospital. Another burial ground is believed to have been located somewhere to the north of the chapel. A store and a recreation ground were apparently later built over it. A third burial ground, also within the asylum's walls, is believed to have been situated in front of the former Orchard Ward. This location is apparently still marked by many shallow depressions.

From 8 December 1815 until 25 May 1844, 385 graves are recorded to have been situated in the asylum's grounds. The numbering of burials/graves then starts anew with #1 on 1 June 1844, ending on 18 March 1875 with #465. A document dating from 1859 states: "And whereas the number of persons residing within the said Asylum is considerable and the burials from the same are numerous and there is not sufficient room in the Church yard belonging to the said Parish of Thorpe next Norwich nor in the three pieces or parcels of land or ground of the Asylum." It would seem that burials from 1 June 1844 onwards were then made in Thorpe St Andrew's parish cemetery which is situated between Yarmouth Road (A1242) and Common Lane, to the west and outside of the asylum complex. This burial ground is still marked on OS maps as Hospital Cemetery. A document dating from 1861 confirms that hospital patients at that time were indeed buried in Thorpe cemetery and that a bell was tolled to mark the occasion. 1622 hospital patients were buried in Thorpe cemetery.

In 1903, a new cemetery > LinkExternal link with a mortuary chapel situated roughly at its centre were opened adjacent to Plumstead Road (now Green Lane) and consecrated by the Bishop of Norwich on Friday the 26th June 1903 at 3pm. This burial ground first appears on the 1908 OS map. All the surrounding land has since been developed into a business park, accessed by a new road called Peachman Way near the junction of the A47 (Norwich Southern by-pass) and the A1042. The narrow green space of the former cemetery is now referred to as Memorial Way Gardens and situated adjacent to the roundabout at the end of a new access road called Memorial Way. 217 graves are shown on a hand-drawn plan of graves (anonymous, dated 1973) which is held at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO). In fact, the cemetery contains 711 graves. The burial records, however, mention many more graves not shown on said plan > LinkExternal link. Almost all the graves contain two bodies, the last having been interred here on 14 October 1966.

The graves of three Polish nationals who decided to remain in the country after WW2 are reported to have been marked with iron crosses. In 1968, however, the Hospital Board decided, against the advice of the chaplain and various members of staff, to remove and sell for scrap these iron crosses. The cemetery was officially closed in 1973, but re-dedicated in late 1980 and in 1995 a memorial was installed roughly at its centre, presumably where the mortuary chapel had stood. Today only a number of shallow depressions and outlines of old graves can still be discerned, but it is not possible to know exactly where in the burial ground a particular individual lies buried.
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TG2809, 271 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 10 February, 2016   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 10 February, 2016
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 28494 09284 [1m precision]
WGS84: 52:37.9904N 1:22.5110E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2847 0928
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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