Mark and I returned to Hellingly today, for what will quite probably be the very last time. After our visit last Sunday, we both had a few more images that we wanted to take, but both of us particularly wanted to revisit the great hall, to take new and improved photographs, as neither of us was completely satisfied with the ones that we had got the week before. However, bad news came mid-week, via the Hellingly Asylum page on Facebook – demolition of the hall commenced on Wednesday.
This is all that remains of the great hall – from this a week ago, to what you see above. Cannot adequately describe how this sight made me feel – it seemed to me that the hall was the living heart of the asylum, and with this lying in ruins, the odour of scorched wood still hot in the air, the delicate stained glass windows torn from their arches and flung ignominiously to the ground in tangled heaps of lead and glass, it can be said that Hellingly is now truly over. Yes, there are still plenty of buildings still standing, but their days are severely numbered and it is only a matter of time before the bulldozers reach them and reduce them to piles of terracotta brick and rubble.
I know that mental asylums were not places to be regarded with sentiment and fond memories, for the patients residing here there must have been a mixture of mind-numbing dullness combined with terror and pain from the demons inside their heads and some of the draconian treatments carried out, but equally I feel that these places were built with good intentions to help people suffering from mental illness at a time when they would have been shunned by society. Hellingly is where my journey into Urban Exploration began, and I will always have an attachment to the place no matter how many similar establishments I may visit over the years to come – I cannot deny this emotion, so hope that I am making a fitting tribute to the vision of architect George Thomas Hine, with my words and my photographs. There will be more to come ….