TM3897 : Hales Hospital - cold storage

taken 13 years ago, near to Hales, Norfolk, England

Hales Hospital - cold storage
Hales Hospital - cold storage
A walk-in fridge or freezer in one of the smaller rooms adjoining the kitchen in the east range. The rooms and corridors of this vast former hospital have been stripped bare of furniture when it was closed in 1990, and it seems that vandals have damaged what was left, including all glass windows.
Hales Hospital

Hales Hospital was built by John Harris of Ipswich in 1764 as a workhouse, the Heckingham House of Industry, for up to 400 inmates at Hales. The large H-shaped building contained 83 "apartments" and included an infirmary and a house of correction. In 1766, a pest house for up to 20 "persons afflicted with the small pox or other infectious disorders" was erected at the east of the workhouse. The able-bodied men were employed in cultivating 9 acres of land, 3 of which were used as a garden for raising greens and vegetables for the house. The able women, most of them in the workhouse "for bastardy", were employed mainly in washing and in nursing. The officers of the workhouse were a chaplain, surgeons and medicines, governor, treasurer, clerk and a schoolmaster. By 1835, the Heckingham workhouse housed 450 paupers and had gained a reputation as being the most disorderly, inefficient and corrupt of the Norfolk Hundred workhouses. In a report compiled by the Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, the aged and infirm and able-bodied men, women and children shared common yards and day-rooms. Although some pretence of employment existed in the manufacture of sacks and in farm labouring, the paupers were seldom kept at work, the commissioner writes. He went on to say that "In most of these houses the paupers were allowed holidays, when all the inmates departed whither they pleased. This indulgence was doubtless permitted to enable the paupers to visit their friends and relatives; but the consequences were generally fatal to the discipline of the establishment, and the morals of both sexes. The women had boxes in the neighbouring cottages containing dresses, which, as soon as they were released, they exchanged for the workhouse garb, and thus attired in a more attractive style, flaunted about the neighbourhood in the company with the young men; and Sir Edmund Bacon, whose estate at Raveningham is close to the workhouse, complained to me that his woods were infested, as though they were the groves, and the workhouse the temple, of Isis." This sounds like a 'happy' workhouse, as far as these places can be called happy. In 1836, however, a group of male inmates rioted and pulled down one of the new walls and in April of the same year the workhouse was set on fire.

The Loddon and Clavering Incorporation was dissolved and a new Loddon and Clavering Poor Law Union was instituted in its place on 7th May 1836. In 1842, the workhouse master was dismissed after being discovered replacing cheese in the inmates' diet by cheap broth, and selling off for his own gain honey and plants produced at the workhouse. In its final decades, the workhouse became a refuge for vagrants until it closed in 1927. In 1933 the Norfolk County Council purchased the property for use as accommodation for 120 female and 56 male patients, in compliance with the Mental Deficiency Act of 1927 which required institutional care for “mental defectives”. For the following 20 years it was known as the Heckingham Institution, changing its name in 1953 to Hales Hospital until it finally closed in 1990.

The complex has since stood empty. A programme of essential repairs and maintenance has been completed with grant assistance from South Norfolk Council but a planning permission for the conversion into 40-odd residential units has lapsed. The grade II listed building was consequently put on the list of Buildings at Risk. Over time, many extensions were added to the original 18th century structure that had been built from red brick to an H-shaped plan. Of interest is one of the ridge chimney stacks - it can be seen on the roof of the east range - with an arched opening between the shafts and a pedimental cap. The later two-storey range was added onto the north side of the north courtyard and incorporates some 18th and 19th century work.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
This photo is linked from: Automatic Clusters: · Vandals have Damaged what was Left [30] · East Range [7] · Kitchen [5] ·
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
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Grid Square
TM3897, 201 images   (more nearby 🔍)
Evelyn Simak   (more nearby)
Date Taken
Friday, 25 February, 2011   (more nearby)
Friday, 25 February, 2011
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TM 3856 9725 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:31.2520N 1:30.8988E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TM 3856 9722
View Direction
NORTH (about 0 degrees)
Clickable map
W Go E
Image classification(about): Supplemental image
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