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Saving The Historic And Unused Cranleigh Cottage Hospital Building

The Village Hospital in 1929

Our MP Angela Richardson and Councillor Liz Townsend, leader of the Parish Council and a Waverley borough Councillor, recently met (video call) with members of the League of Friends and Cranleigh Civic Society to support a project to conserve the fabric of the very first cottage hospital in England.

This project is only for the small original part of the building, thought to date from 1446, and simply not suitable for modern clinical use. When Dr Albert Napper and Reverend Sapte agreed to make it the first Cottage Hospital in England, in 1859, they did so in the spirit of service to the poor.

This is a significant piece of history ultimately leading to the foundation of the NHS. It is a substantial timber framed building with a crown post roof and considered to be one of the finest in Surrey as it has remained much the same as it was built.

Whilst its possible future community use is still under discussion, ideas are welcomed such as a sensitive meeting place and a small museum, perhaps of Victorian era surgery. It could be an inspiring place especially for those destined for a medical career!

This lovely picture – good enough to be a Christmas Card – was taken by Cranleigh in Bloom leader Andy Bamford during the recent snow.

The Village Hospital in 2021

If you look closely at the photo you will see all is not well – the left-hand eave is missing its plaster, some of the tiles under the windows have fallen off, lead flashing has deteriorated. The snow masks other dilapidations.

Self-sown tree saplings have pushed up under tiles causing damage. Cement has been used when it should be conserved with older style materials.

Inside, the old 15th century cottage is set up for the uses it had 20 years ago, and now stands idle, with rising damp and also damp coming down the chimneys.

Waverley Borough Council has a duty to protect Grade 2 listed properties, and they have legal powers to enforce essential repairs. They have written to the owners NHS Properties Services –and instructed them to make urgent repairs and NHSPS have agreed to do what is needed. Cranleigh Parish Council is doing all it can too.

We would just like to underline that this has nothing to do with any new facilities in the rest of the hospital, nor with the care home proposals on The Paddock by CVHT. Neither are we fundraising. All work being undertaken is voluntary. A feasibility study will be undertaken soon and we need your support please – because we need to know how you think conserving the fabric of this delicate property benefits Cranleigh residents.

Sue Dale, secretary Cranleigh Civic Society –
Beverley Bell, Cranleigh Parish Council –

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