Runwell Hospital.

Photographs of the chapel and greenhouses

The Chapel at Runwell Hospital
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith

These photos of the Chapel and greenhouses should bring back memories for those that stayed and lived and worked in the hospital.

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  • I have to thank Jo Cullen for putting in the photos I took at Runwell Hospital as I was leaving to do my spell of National Service. This has prompted me to write some text to explain the subjects.

    Firstly I have to say, that to me the chapel was always known as ‘The Church’. As a boy gardener, in my last year at Runwell, it was my job, first thing in the morning, to have to carry a two gallon can of water from the gardens base, close to Male Boundary ward, to the Church, to water the plants used for decoration – except during the period of Lent. The trail was then back into the administration office block, via the Hall Porters’ entrance to walk down to the main entrance, to water the plants used there, (was not allowed to use the main entrance!!) and then walk back to the gardens, where the greenhouse was, to carry on with watering, as needed there.  I am shown in the photo watering the range of pot plants we grew which were used, on rotation, to decorate the wards. Nurses would bring patients along to the greenhouse, during working hours, and choose a new plant – for an old one of course. We also grew all of the bedding plants used around the grounds, and anyone who remembers the quality of the bedding will have to agree that it was as good as any to be found in parks and public areas of the U.K.

    Something special we grew out in the garden at the nursery, in addition to Wallflower, Sweet William, and flowers for cut flower, were Sweet Peas. The seeds for these were sown in the previous autumn and kept in cold frames out of doors, and prior to them being planted out they were cut hard back to produce strong shoots, and on planting out into a specially double dug bed ONE shoot was selected to be trained up the individual canes where they produced wonderful heads of up to five flowers, on long straight stems, and I can only recall that during my time there, it was only matron who was lucky to be given a bunch every Saturday morning. 

    The picture of the garden staff, which changed quite frequently whilst I was there, are in back row, left: Hubert Cornish-Cornish Bowden, centre back: Norman–??? lived at Pitsea? Harry Spearman-O/C Vegetable Garden, lived at Rettendon. Front Left: Titch Law–O/C patient gang, who cleared away grass mowings, rose prunings etc. finally Roy Aldous who had come to us from private service up in East Anglia. Mr Alec Hunter was head gardener and I only recall him pruning roses, and fruit trees in the extensive orchard we had, and cutting sweet peas for Matron. Mr Hunter was a smoker and always smoked a pipe. When that went out he lit a cigarette, and so he went on all day – he had the most dreadful of coughs, and we always knew he was coming to see us working, long before he arrived – luckily! 

    By dennis smith (25/04/2014)

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