In November 2007, the vast decaying remains of Hellingly Mental Asylum lie in ruin, awaiting re-development…
Undoubtedly, there will be a time when Victorian asylums such as this have all either been demolished or converted into flats. This film records the final moments of the asylum as it was before being converted into something else and also before numerous arson attacks. At the same time as seeing over a decade of vandalism, neglect, fire damage and decay, you will also see the fantastic architectural features of this striking red brick building. Ornate embellishments were the order of the day in 1903 when it was completed.
This place even had its very own little railway system that linked up with the Cuckoo line station at Hellingly; see a separate film I made showing the course of it.
Apart from the imposing structure that faced south with a view to the Downs, the grounds were spectacular with well cultivated gardens containing a rich variety of trees and shrubs, all of which have been allowed to run wild creating a surreal selection of vegetation. A cricket pitch can still be discerned by its flat aspect, but the lawn has long been allowed to grow unchecked.
The majority of this footage is shot from outside the building looking in from every direction and taking in views of the surrounding grounds, but there are some views along ruined corridors to indicate the extent of the decay inside. Original light fittings hang drunkenly from ceilings while torn curtains flap in the breeze through broken windows. Gaping holes in the roof look like a head injury while missing windows look like empty eye sockets. Previously lawned areas have become a self-seeded oak tree forest.
Unlike most of my other films, this one carries no commentary, but it does have a haunting, classical music soundtrack that better complements it than my usual excited babbling. The sunny weather was unusually good for November giving fantastic light for many of the shots.