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History The Chapel of St. Luke, designed by Elcock and Sutcliffe (two prominent architects at the time), was the chapel attached to Runwell Mental Health Hospital. It was constructed in 1937, alongside the hospital. Once competed the entire site was viewed as a pioneering development in mental health hospitals and the project boosted both architect’s reputations significantly. The hospital was divided into several specific zones, separating buildings and patients according to purpose and diagnosis. The Grade 2 listed chapel was placed at the principal junction at the top of the drive. The chapel, which has a cruciform ground plan, is constructed of white brick with heavy ashlar masonry. Its design is reported to be in an eclectic Mediterranean style with clever positioning of windows to light the alter and nave. Some of the building’s key features include the tiled mansard roof, an apse at the east end and a circular stair tower with a spiral staircase to the north of the apse. As for the furnishings, the altar, riddle posts, organ, choir stalls and lectern are all made of varnished timber. The pulpit, organ and choir stalls are all said to have jazz modern fluted frieze (a particular type of design), and the lights in the main nave take the form of roman lamps. Closure of the hospital was announced in the late 1990s. The entire site was gradually closed down, bit by bit, for many years after this date though. In the end, it did not close until 2010, as this was when the final closure and decommissioning of the site was eventually set. By April of the same year, all staff and patients at the hospital had been moved out. Today, only a handful of the site’s buildings have survived demolition, which started in 2012; these include the water tower, the Chapel of St. Luke and part of the administration building. It is rumoured that the chapel’s bell tower is now the home to a colony of bats, and that Chelmsford County Council are looking into ways of finding alternative accommodation for the creatures so that the building can be reused. Our Version of Events While cruisin’ around one of the new housing estates in Runwell, the Chapel of St. Luke appeared on the horizon. Without too much ducking and diving, or getting impaled on fences, we quickly found ourselves on the grounds of the chapel. At first glance, we thought that the building matches the style of the new housing estate that now surrounds it particularly well. The church has a modern feel to it, but, unfortunately, there isn't much left of it. After a quick sing song on the piano and a failed attempt at playing the organ, it was time to head back to the car and get back on the road! There wasn’t very much to see so it was a quick in-out jobbie. Explored with A-Jay. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
History Pretty much everyone knows about Runwell or has at least heard of it so history probably isn’t really required but for parity’s sake… Runwell Hospital was a hospital in Essex operated by South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust until its final closure on 23 April 2010. From February 2008 until its closure, Runwell Hospital provided solely forensic mental health services in line with the trust's reprovision programme. The closure has led to some services being reprovided at Rochford Hospital. Runwell Hospital was approximately 30 miles (50 km) east of London and could be reached via the road network, or by train (taking about 40 minutes). Runwell Hospital fell within the District of Chelmsford along with Springfield and South Woodham Ferrers Following the ending of contracts accommodating patients at the Essex County Council's Brentwood mental hospital, joint facilities were developed between East Ham and Southend-on-Sea boroughs. A site was chosen at Runwell Hall Farm, to the east of the town of Wickford and the firm of Elcock and Sutcliffe were chosen as architects to the site, the former having previously designed the new Bethlem Royal Hospital at Monks Orchard. Elcock and Sutcliffe were at the forefront of institutional design and when completed, Runwell was seen as being pioneering development in mental hospital compared to its contemporaries. The hospital opened in June 1937. The hospital was divided into specific zones according to purpose and type of patient. Staff housing was located close to or outside of the main entrance, with the most senior residences and nurse's home located on the main drive. The chapel, dedicated to St. Luke was placed at the principal junction at the top of the drive - to its east lay admission, research, treatment convalescence and neurosis blocks. The main buildings were laid out to the west: villas for working patients, pavilions for the infirm, administrative buildings, recreation hall, kitchens, and stores blocks providing segregation of male and female blocks. Workshops were provided on either side for the employment of capable patients. To the rear a combined power house and water tower provided a central focal point, with the laundry constructed on the female side. Parole villas were built at the northernmost areas behind the main ranges, providing a degree of freedom to suitable occupants. A large sick hospital was provided directly opposite the administrative block, combining wards for physically sick patients, those with tuberculosis, an operating theatre and staff sick bay. Finally, farthest west, Boundary House, a large block for disruptive chronic patients was built, providing two male wards, four female wards and a separate dining hall. The former farm was relocated to the north of the main site. Unlike others of its kind, Runwell utilised names for all villas and wards from the start, instead of numbers and letters used elsewhere until the 1960s and 70's, giving each structure a more homely identity. White with grey brick banding, rendering and variation between flat and pitched roofs were used to identify buildings and prevent a bland functional appearance overall by providing variety. Following World War II, Runwell came under the control of the National Health Service, who continued pioneering research work at the hospital. New developments included the Strom Olsen ward, adjacent to the female admission unit, and named after a former superintendent, and a combined occupational therapy and research laboratory block. Investigations under Professor Corsellis led to the development of a 'brain bank', the largest of its kind and instrumental in researching changes to the brain in mental illness and subnormality. Under sectorisation and realignment of catchment areas, Runwell's historical role in providing for East Ham diminished and services became concentrated on the south east Essex area, resulting in strong links with mental health services at Southend Municipal Hospital, later Rochford Hospital. With the threat of closure and development of Care in the Community, services were streamlined between Runwell and Rochford sites, the laboratories and peripheral buildings closing. It was announced on Tuesday 27 April 2009 in Parliament by the Jack Straw, Ministry of Justice, that the Runwell Hospital site had been earmarked for a new 1,500-inmate male prison but the plan was formally withdrawn following a Ministry of Justice spending review in December 2010. In February 2012, the Homes & Communities Agency (H.C.A.) announced plans to construct around 600 new homes on the site. Demolition started in July 2012 and the only buildings that presently remain are the administration building (front part with clock tower), the water tower, and the Grade 2 Listed Chapel of Saint Luke. The Explore A solo explore. I missed the boat on Runwell (much to my disappointment) as most of it had long gone before I started getting into this exploring lark properly and I was always under the impression that nothing really remained any longer. However after seeing posts mentioning that there were still a few buildings left standing and, in particular, that the chapel was now accessible again I decided to pop over one chilly morning during the new year break with little else on the cards. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much at all but the chapel of St Luke, although in the midst of being used for storing various bits and pieces, was actually a really pleasant surprise with loads of interesting stuff still intact. It has an interesting Mediterranean style to it and feels like you could be inside some latin chapel with all the pastel yellow, terracotta and cream colours. It was also incredibly peaceful and quiet over there and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours undisturbed. Fellow OS Member Slayaaaa has already posted some great shots from here so I have tried to show something a bit different where possible. I also popped over to the admin block which despite being very impressive from the outside didn't quite live up to expectations in comparison on the inside and was generally pretty stripped. There was however a nice library room and conference type room and a very nice clocktower. Slayaaa covered these very nicely in his report which can be found here: http://www.oblivionstate.com/forum/showthread.php/8247-What-s-left-Runwell-hospital-Wickford-Essex-October-2014?highlight=runwell Finally was the boiler house and water tower which was interesting and, again, mightily impressive from outside. Inside was carpeted in pigeon crap and carcasses. I took a wander up top to the roof access ladder but with the aging wooden platform creaking and groaning underneath my feet and the final ladder being less than sturdy I didn’t fancy a 30ft fall whilst on my own and potentially dying like one of the pigeons I’d encountered on the way up so gave it a miss. Again, Slayaaaa (being far braver than I) has already posted some stunning shots from the top of the tower so check his report out for those! I also shot some video on my SJCAM which shows the chapel, inside admin and some of the water tower. Will upload it if anyone’s interested. Thanks for looking
Headed up here a couple of weeks back with Frosty and Obscurity. Cheers to obscurity for driving Was a strange one this, as we fully expected to bump into a security bod or someone at any time, but the site was strangely deserted. Quite a bit more damage inside than previous reports show which is a shame. Access was a biatch although there was an easier way as we discovered once we were actually inside Anyway have a few photos: 1. Boiler house 2. 3. Gauges 4. Laundry 5. 6. Servery 7. Main hall 8. Chapel 9. 10. Library shelves 11. Plaque 12. Boardroom with a fantastic light fitting in Thanks for looking. M
Right after a late night doing a revisit to a local underground section i was up at six am awaiting obs to arrive, who bless him brought me some liquid refreshment to get me going!We Then picked Knox up and set out for runwell.The place is huge..entrance thx too professor fink for some useful info was tricky as im not that clever at fences ..cheers dr knox for the leg up your a star matey..security must have been asleep as no sign of them anywhere even when we stood behind their hut so a relaxed explore was had..first place we got into was the laundry room and then the boiler room and what a room shame we couldn't find way up to the roof for some shots to show scale of how big this place actually is... Runwell Hospital was operated by South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust until its final closure on 23 April 2010. From February 2008 until its closure, Runwell Hospital provided solely forensic mental health services in line with the trusts re-provision programme Full history and there's lots of it can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runwell_Hospital#History Right on with some pics.. Flakey Paint Reception The pics i could go on with ive hundreds the place is clean yes and stripped but it wasnt a local one so for me it was great..thanks for looking