The Medway Towns - St Barts Hospital and Chapel, Rochester

This St Bartholomew's is nothing to do with the famous hospital of the same name in London. However, this is one of the oldest hospitals in Britain, having been founded in 1078 by Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, for the "poor and leperous".

Looking along Rochester High Street from St Barts Chapel, showing the Chatham Town Boundary. The original hospital building was in what is now Rochester High Street, but which was then just the road between Chatham and Rochester and was know as "Chatham Intra" ("Chatham Without") as it was in neither town. The only remaining part of the hospital from this period is the chapel. This photograph shows the corner of the Chapel, which was on the corner of the site. If you look to the left of the lamp post you can see a sign further down the road which marks the boundary of Chatham.

The current hospital building was built in the 19th century, and is in New Road, about 50 yards up the hill from the chapel, in Gundulf Road. From the viewpoint of the photo here, it's up the hill to your right.

St Barts Hospital, Rochester, from Fort Pitt Hill. This photograph shows the view of St Barts hospital across New Road from Fort Pitt Hill. This is the "new" building (built in 1861).

It has a Gothic style, with the central tower looking rather spooky, and a smaller tower about a quarter of the way in from the left.

Behind the hospital is the River Medway, with St Mary's Island on the other side. To the left behind the hospital is an area which used to be part of Rochester Freight Depot & Chatham Sidings, which was all goods yards and shunting yards. It's currently being cleared for the new "Waterside" development.

Rear of St Barts Hospital, taken from St Bartholomew's Avenue, Rochester. The view from the rear of the hospital shows that most of the expansion has been around the back of the building, on the side facing Rochester High Street. The hospital buildings extend just over half way across this picture. The white building that looks like a castle was the mortuary.

St Bartholomew's Chapel

St Bart's Chapel viewed from Rochester High Street.

This is the only remaining part of the original St Bartholomew's Hospital. It was renovated by Sir G. Gilbert Scott in 1896. The chapel is currently looking for a new owner.

The front of St Bart's Chapel, Rochester.

The front of the chapel, showing the locked front gates and doors.

The South Side of St Bart's Chapel, Rochester.

This view of the south side of the chapel shows the side entrance.

Interestingly, the local synagogue was built on land owned by the hospital. There is still a strip of land to the west of the synagogue which was the passageway used by the lepers to get to the hospital from the river landing place on the opposite side of the road.

Unfortunately Medway Health Authority is planning to close the hospital over the next five years, and aiming to care for more people in their own homes. Several years ago the health authority was planning to sell the land for housing development but then changed their minds, which is why the hospital was refitted and currently cares for stroke victims. It now looks as though the hospital is back in danger of redevelopment.

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