Greenwood History 3

Herrison Hospital was for the most part a self-contained and self-supporting community. It produced a lot of its own food and a surplus for sale. Just a five minute walk from Greenwood House was the Home Farm, run by an employed manager and staffed by patients. It was located in the northwest of the present day village of Charlton Down, perhaps between Deverell Road and Rowan Walk. It was a large mixed farm with at one time over 400 acres of land. One of its claims to fame was its prize-winning herd of pigs. I think that it bred different varieties at different times but it was most famous for its Wessex Saddleback pigs. There were 500 of them in 1968. There is a documentary reference to the sale of 100 breeding Wessex Saddleback pigs and 3 Pedigree Large White boars from the Herrison Herd by Symonds and Sampson in Dorchester in 1969. I know that some villagers today complain about the smell of muck-spreading on the fields around us (!) but back in the days of the farm, Greenwood residents would surely have been hoping each day that the wind was blowing from the south rather than from the piggery. To illustrate what the pigs would have looked like I have used some pictures that I took at the Dorset County Show back in 2014.

The source of my information is In the Course of Time: a History of Herrison Hospital and of Mental Health Care in Dorset 1863 – 1992 edited by Jennifer Rogers.

Greenwood History 2

South face of Greenwood House in the sunshine

A new video about Herrison Hospital has just been put on YouTube. It has been released by Dom White who allowed Ryan Carpenter to put it on-line. It is called Herrison Hospital Tour – “Herrison in Decline” and was shot by Tom Caples in 1995/1996. It presents a two hour walk through the dilapidated and vandalised buildings after the NHS moved out of the site and before it was redeveloped into the housing we see today. I have so far watched about the first half hour of the amateur filming in which two of the former staff members investigate the abandoned buildings, starting in what we call Redwood House and moving on to Greenwood House. At the time, the two buildings were still connected via what we now know as the Village Hall.

I am particularly interested to identify that part of the hospital which my flat now occupies, but it is not easy to do because it looks so different. I think I live in what was Radipole Ward. The main clue is the location of the conservatory which was built onto the south-facing wall of the ward – which is in effect a sheltered area between two protruding parts of the building. I had already been told that the area just outside my French windows had been a glassed-in sun lounge. I can see why they chose to put it there. It is indeed a remarkable sunny spot, and the flat has the advantage of solar gain year-round.