Long Grove Asylum Medical Journal (2017)
This is a substantial project completed over a period of twenty-five years. The piece documents
the disposal of a large scale Edwardian asylum complex that closed in 1992.
I documented the aftermath of the site from 1993-98, before private development into an
executive housing estate. Unbeknownst to me and at the same time, county archivist
Julian Pooley was rescuing abandoned documents, medical journals, ephemera and artefacts from
the same location. These would later be housed in the Surrey History Centre in Working. The work is a
coming together of these two collections with new documentary photographs of the
estate as it is today. The work takes the form of a dossier, styled as a large medical
journal and contains multiple elements which can be viewed in any order. Alongside photographs
taken in situ are photographs of the artefacts held in the archives, creating an unusual mixture of
primary and secondary documentation. Within the dossier are details from large hand-written
left abandoned at the site, chronicling the patient journey from admission onwards. In addition
formal records, the dossier also includes ephemera relating to the hospital's social programme,
a portfolio of curiously redacted press photographs, team photographs of the medical staff,
maps and patients personal effects all of which were left abandoned.
The Long Grove Asylum opened in 1907 and was designed by architect George Hine taking its name
from a small arbour of trees at the rear of the estate. The hospital had a capacity of
just under 2000 patients and was largely self-sufficient with a farm and smallholding and it's own
branch railway line from the nearby town of Epsom. Before the First World War, the hospital's extensive
grounds were landscaped with exotic tree specimens from Kew Gardens' overstock, many of
which remain today.
The hospital was a large scale complex of interconnected buildings, incorporating a theatre and
library and extensive wards for both adults and children and a grand mansion house for senior medical
staff. Later occupational and art therapy facilities were to be added. The hospital also had an
unpublicised isolation ward - a typhoid colony, for carriers who were initially sane on admission, but who
were incarcerated for life. The dossier presents perfunctory notes of the processes of registration,
diagnosis, treatment and for a few, release.
In 1998 the estate was redeveloped and renamed Clarendon Park, with many orginal
buildings remodelled into exclusive apartments and terraces behind high walls and electric gates.
Residents abide by a strict code of etiquette with shared and private spaces clearly demarcated.
Some of these private properties have curiously tiny, railed-off patios overlooking shared lawns
and it seems today's owner-occupiers have less access to the outside space than patients did.
When placed for sale upon
estate agent websites, despite extensive home furnishings and the
personalisation of space, it is possible to see in the photographs traces of the former wards
characteristic high celings and Georgian sash windows.
C-type prints, colour laser prints, paper ephemera, altered book sections, enclosed
within grey boards bound with calico ties. 46x33cm