Sunday, 23 August 2015

As Promised - Showing where the Cuddlies used to live

Hello there Everyone - it's Cy Bear back again somewhat surprisingly, and this time, I'm not chatting to you all about my fellow Cuddlies, but about where I used to live before Isobel and I moved to Nottinghamshire.  Amazingly, it is a year ago this week that this happened.  Isobel did promise to show you some pictures of the place, so this is what this week's bulletin from the Cuddlies is all about.

There has got to be a reason, I can hear some of you thinking to yourselves (as a Bear, that's what I think happens when human beings do what they do).  Well there is.  An amazing thing happened to one of the Cuddlies this week, and it's not yet over.  The eventual outcome will happen next week, So Isobel (and I, because of course I get consulted), decided that we'd wait until the whole story could be told all in one go.

So, as promised here are some pictures of The Hospital of St. John, with an explanation of what it now is in the text  (printed in blue).  It is taken from the brochure about the establishment for would-be residents.

"The Hospital of St John is situated in the heart of the village of Heytesbury. It is not a Hospital in the medical sense, but in the mediaeval meaning of the word as a ‘Hostel’. Although it was founded in 1472 and has provided accommodation for those needing it ever since, there is nothing mediaeval about it today."

This picture shows the oldest part of the Hospital - which has blocks of flats, bungalows and studio flats surrounded by gardens.  These buildings have been in situ since 1764, and form the front entrance to the complex.  The white flagpole on the left of the picture flies the Union Jack on appropriate occasions throughout the year (both for National commemorations, as well as local ones too).  (The original building for the Hospital was at the other end of the Village to it's current location, but was burned down in the 1760's to be replaced with the current structure.  There have been additions in the 1970's, which is where Isobel and I lived - built at the rear of this building.)

A closer shot of the Clock, which chimes on the hour, and the Coat of Arms of the Heytesbury family who originally set up the Charity to look after workers on the Heytesbury estate in 1472  - or thereabouts.  The family still has associations with the village, and direct descendants are currently resident in Australia.  (Sorry the picture is slightly skewed - but Isobel was taking it in a bit of a hurry!)  

If any one is interested, a brief history of the place can be seen by Googling "The Hospital of St.John and St. Katherine, Heytesbury".  Until the 1950's, there were 12 gentlemen and 1 lady resident (the Cook and Housekeeper)  - in the charge of a Custos, and the men regularly paraded to the Village Church in the uniforms they were provided with when they became residents.  There are still folk in the village, Isobel tells me, that remember this well.

"There is a small staff headed by an Administrator, who is responsible to the Trustees for the smooth running of the Hospital, and the pastoral interests of Residents are undertaken by two Chaplains, one of whom is resident. Staff are on hand to deal with emergencies and give limited support in the event of temporary sickness of any Resident. Home helps, ‘meals on wheels’, private carers and the services of the district nurse and social services are, of course, available in the normal way.

This shows one side (the east facing one) of the complex - although it does go back a bit further than the camera angle allowed.  The wall surrounding the garden and buildings is listed - which made for difficulties when - because of modern transport and sheer old age - parts of it began to bow outwards. In 2014, when surveyors came to decide how to cope with the problem they also blamed the shrubs and holly bushes that had been planted innocently, but whose roots were undermining the wall. So, the decision was taken to remove them, while the wall was restored by specialist contractors.   While residents affected were initially somewhat dismayed, when they suddenly realised how much light had been kept out, the culling was eventually welcomed.

This shows the western frontage (at the front of the complex - taken from where Isobel stayed when she recently visited Wiltshire, and where the stories about Berry, the Lurcher and her two feline Friends, Merlin and Pelinore were based - our post on 09/08/2015).

The white building on the right of the picture is The Angel Inn, one of two traditional English pubs in the village - where the portions are huge and the prices similarly high!  However, it was most convenient to be able to take one's visitors over, if one didn't feel like providing hospitality oneself.  The Angel has it's own history as a coaching inn - and one can see where the coaches were driven in (not in this picture though!) when travellers were journeying between the south Coast (Southampton being the nearest big spot), via Salisbury and Bath, through to Wales and the West Country.

(The gardens shown in the front of the picture are actually allotments - tilled by some more active residents, and also the Garden Committee, who undertake to provide the flowers for the Chapel.  I understand from Isobel that they do a great job.)

"The House Supervisor is on duty Monday-Friday during normal working houses. She is not qualified to carry out nursing duties; her duty is to be ‘a good neighbour’. No nursing care or administration of drugs is permitted. Proposed residents requiring more than this degree of attention would be better served by a residential care home or a nursing home.

The Hospital comprises attractive one or two bedroomed flats and bungalows, all of which are particularly suited to the needs of retired or elderly people. The dwellings are self-contained and centrally heated. Residents bring their own furniture.

The view from our living room one Spring day.  

Where Isobel recently stayed  - the other side shown in the picture above
"The Hospital is run under a charitable scheme and is non-profit making. Residents are required to make a contribution toward the cost of their accommodation and there is also a charge for the heating and hot water. (The cost of living at St John’s is within the means of those whose only income is a state pension).

The residents' Hall
"Some communal facilities are provided, they include a Hall where social functions are held, and a Residents’ Social Group organises events and outings. Residents are under no obligation whatsoever to be more sociable than they feel inclined. There is a Chapel where regular services are held. Other facilities include a limited number of garages for rent, a Guest Room, a composite TV licence for all dwellings, and a laundry room.

The Hospital is set in pleasant grounds and the village Post Office cum shop is just along the road. Buses serve Warminster, Bath and Salisbury."

Here is another shot of the view from the living room window, and if you look closely, you can see the Village Church (which has a full peal of bells, which regularly practice during the summer months).

A picture taken at, or around, the same time as the Spring pictures shown earlier in one of the cherry trees shown earlier.  With that, I'll end for this week.  Hoping that everyone has a good week and that preparations for "Back to School" are well in hand.

Your friend

Cy Bear