Looking back at Hellingly: Part One – The Tour

IMG_1557A room with a view, The recreation room at Hellingly Asylum, 2009
 Photography and words by Billie Jenkins

Recently a friend mentioned he was producing an article about the relationship between urban photography and derelict buildings. The subject took me back to five years ago when in one, somewhat naughty, summer we drove out to a strange and haunting disused asylum to chimay our way through a wire fence and nose around with cameras in tow. In a simple word, yes I was young at some point in the last five years; but the feeling of excitement at looking around a place that you both shouldn’t be seen in and shouldn’t see is something that does not age. Hellingly was never an ordinary mental health institution, it was a small, self-sufficient village in the East Sussex countryside that brought together both the genuinely ill and the less accepted members of society into an insular community. It is true the majority of inmates were in fact those who could simply not fit in with the norms of the age, be it with child out of wedlock or PTSD. Whomever walked it corridors, the mental health treatment of the age was crude and uninformed. Traces of ordinary, domestic lives lived out in a small space are interjected with medical paraphenlia. The most interesting thing to me however are the remnants of large scale communal living, never to be seen since these places were torn down have we seen such huge scale, publicly funded, live-in institutions. I hope you enjoy the first instalment showing the small area we covered as much as I did reminiscing.

IMG_1687At five pm I go home, Staff Office




IMG_1626A day at the Salon, hairdressing facilities




IMG_1601We’re here ’till Sunday, The Grand Hall



IMG_1669Battleships, Therapy Bathing equipment



IMG_1683A room of one’s own, Bedroom



IMG_1674Wide open spaces, Maintenance Rooms



IMG_1507Clean Draws, Domestic tasks filing



IMG_1675Basketcase, The Laudary Room

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