St Bartholomew's Hospital – Rochester – July 2017

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The history

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Rochester was founded in 1078 for the care of the poor and lepers. It survived as a charity until taken over with the founding of the National Health Service. The hospital closed permanently on 23 September 2016.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Rochester is the oldest existing hospital in England, predating its more famous namesake in London by fifty years. Six hospitals were founded before the Norman Conquest in 1066, but none of them are still functioning.

The original hospital was on the main road between Chatham and Rochester which is now known as Rochester High Street. Being for the relief of the poor and leprous, it was built outside the city itself in an area of Chatham which lay within the jurisdiction of .

Finance was obtained from grants and from the revenues of lands settled upon the hospital, the normal pattern of support for institutions during the Middle Ages. Even with this income the hospital might well have failed but for donations from the Priory of St. Andrew. The priory contributed daily and weekly provisions to the hospital along with the offerings from an altar of St. James and at that of St. Giles, both within the cathedral.

A new income stream, along with a grant of £4,000 from Richard Watts Charity in 1855, allowed the hospital to consider new buildings. Following a reorganisation in 1858 a new large hospital opened in 1863 on New Road just a few yards up the hill from the original site, but on land included in the original eleventh century foundation. Richard Watts' charity continued to grant £1,000 per annum to the hospital, reserving the right to nominate as patients "any number of persons, not exceeding Twenty at one time"] In 1886 the annual grant was raised to £1,500.

Initially, not all of the hospital was fully opened. Although built in 1863 the west wing only opened for patients in 1894, once sufficient funds for its operation had become available. Local benefactors (including notably Mr. G. Winch and Mr. T.H. Foord) funded the opening of a children's ward, an operating theatre and a hydraulic lift. The following year Mr. Foord paid for the building of a new nurses' home at a cost of over £6,000. In the same year the accounts noted a gift of a horse ambulance. The accounts note "on receipt of a message by telephone it will be dispatched promptly to the scene of any accident, it being understood that the person summoning it is responsible for the horse-hire".

During first half of the twentieth century the hospital continued to grow. In 1919 a pathological laboratory was opened. A grant of £10,000 from Mr. Edward Lloyd of Sittingbourne in 1926 paid for a ward which was named the Helen Lloyd Ward after his wife. A Mr. Matthew Tower of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey left a legacy, also in 1926, and the female medical ward was named Sheppey Tower after him. An Association of Friends of St. Bartholomew's Hospital started in 1928. Income raised through the Friends paid for a more modern pathological laboratory, two new operating theatres and various other rooms. Eventually they paid for two new wards and for the rebuilding of the nurses' home.

In 1948 the hospital came under the aegis of the National Health Service and charitable grants were discontinued. Much of the general hospital work was transferred to Medway Maritime Hospital nearby. St. Bartholomew's remained open after over nine centuries under the management of Medway Community Healthcare which provided in-patient rehabilitation wards as well as various clinics.

On the 1st October 2016 the Hospital was closed. It is now up for sale.

The Explore

Now the exciting bit ……

You know that moment when you having a bit of down time and just relaxing and your phone beeps….

Well that’s kinda how this happened

@oldgit posted a link on 28 about this and @slayaaaa was soon hotting my phone up with dropped pins and “ we should do this” type messages.

“Yeah ok it’s just another hospital” I thought, The last few have been ok but hadn’t really floated my boat.

This was until I noticed one of slayaaaa’s pics happened to be a castle…..

I’ll come back to that later

Anyways I digress

A few days later I’m heading down to Rochester to meet up with a right motley bunch, all hungover from a night on Grain Fort. I pull up in Rochester to be greeted by the Smiling faces of @ferret @moose @suboffender @slayaaaa and Olly & SQ , a couple of non-members.

So what’s the crack, what’s the plan ?

The externals







We decided to hit the castle first, Knowing already what it actually was…….

After a few quick externals we made our way in the direction of what could only be described as a “princess’s castle”



Princess’s castle my arse!!!!!!


I knew as I shoved slayaaaa up through the window and he looked down and said “ it’s great” that we were in for something good. I helped the others up through the window and clambered in myself to find our “team” grinning like Cheshire cats and the slab that was now laid in front of us.

The mortuary was itself lovely, untouched and in pretty great shape. Check out the pics for what we found 









After the mortuary we hit the main hospital building which although cool, was a bit of a let down. Now don’t get me wrong it had some great features and we were a little pushed for time due to the growing amount of police cars appearing outside as we set alarm after alarm off simply walking through the place. Not intentionally mind at the PIR sensors where very well hidden and remote with no wires to give the little fuckers away.

All but two of us managed to bail out of the front before 10 enthusiastic officers of the law stormed the place. This wasn’t a great experience although it made for comical entertainment.

All I can say id the police must have been having a quiet day as we watched officers jump over walls and generally run around like they were the SAS lol lol lol

Our two fellow explorers who were trapped inside managed to lock themselves in a room and sit it out while we kept them updated with what was going on. At one point we even got a WhatsApp video of the cops trying the door on the room they were in and giving up when the door didn’t open lol

After an hour and with somewhere else we needed to be the cops gave up.

Myself and suboffender where sat around the back keeping an eye on the security guard and relaying messages to “ the Bart’s two” who were still stuck inside. It was now or never and they made their way to the front to escape.

What happened next opened my eyes to technology a little more than normal.

The minute the alarms started going off the security guy grabbed his I-pad and we could see he was watching our mates run through the hospital.

A fucking I-pad!!!!

Yup the PIR’s had small cameras in and they sent the footage straight to the guy’s I-pad, pretty clever yet pretty scary stuff.

Anyways they got out and we quickly bounced off to our next destination.
I won’t say don’t try this place as I really want other to see it and I’m pretty sure there is tonnes more to see here. The wards and rooms are pretty stripped from what we saw as was the mental health ward. But there are signs to the operating theatres but we didn’t get to find those with the cops on our tails.

Enjoy the rest of the pics











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Sep 8, 2009
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Great looking place, got to be more to see here.

First time I've ever heard about PIRs with cameras in them, that is very sneaky.


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Sep 12, 2015
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Me n my other half had a close one when we were in ROI earlier this year, snooping about a huge hotel that looked fair game but we heard the quietest click and looked up and realised the whole place was rigged up so left quickly. These tiny grey boxes had the same sort of sensors as security lighting but the smallest camera. Within minutes the van pulled up but we were off site. We joked about him having a slice of toast hanging out his face as he was getting his Sunday best on before church then got his trackies on to respond to the call. Absolutely rapid response though, he must have lived mins away. He could've put the police to shame over here!

Great report and pics mate, that slab is amazing! Thanks for sharing. Really nice set of shots.


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Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
Fantastic. I love that 'castle', and rather strange to see a mortuary described as 'lovely'. :)
The condition looks fantastic, and it's great to see the power is on.
Hopefully this place will be saved.


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Jun 7, 2014
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Yeah that sound like a bit of a laugh! nicely captured.


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Jun 19, 2014
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Great write times! and yeah, the castle is way cool.... ty for posting

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