Sam at Cornwall Record Office

We are two post-doctoral researchers, Sam Rayne and Jo Esra, investigating the history of St. Lawrence’s Hospital and Elizabeth Barclay House in Bodmin, Cornwall, having both completed our studies at the University of Exeter. We want to find out as much as possible about the two sites in question, especially given that the Foster Building of St. Lawrence’s is, at the time of writing, under threat of demolition. However, we also want to put that exploration within the wider context of Cornish cultural history, as we feel that issues of marginalisation are relevant to both. We also hope to investigate the more general history of mental health in the Duchy which we feel is an under-explored aspect of Cornwall’s past.

This blog will share some of the history of St. Lawrence’s and Elizabeth Barclay House, so please feel free to comment, give feedback or ask questions.

As part of our research we aim to collect and record contributions from many different sources. If you have any personal memories, photographs or other material relating to either place that you are willing to share, please let us know by emailing stlawrencesbodmin@gmail.com

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Banner photograph © Matthew Facey 2013. All rights reserved.



2 thoughts on “About

    • Thanks for your interest Rob. I hope someone will correct us if we are wrong, but our understanding is that the Foster Building was sold to ‘Community 1st’ several years ago, who leased it back to the NHS Trust – although of course it is unused/derelict. More about the company can be found here: http://www.community1st.co.uk/. It is they who wish to develop the site.

      The process involved in reaching the decision to demolish has been controversial, as reported here: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/consultation-demolition-plans/story-18532363-detail/story.html#axzz2Sn7FMRM1. The Foster Hall Revival Trust drew up plans for the building as a community resource, but this has come to nothing. Another issue, perhaps, is that it has been ‘contained’ as a localised issue, rather than one of significance to Cornwall as a whole.

      The Cornish Buildings Group amongst others have been trying to get the building – particularly Foster Hall itself – listed. The process for this, we understand, is for English Heritage to recommend to the relevant government minister/department that the building should have listed status. However, English Heritage did not feel the site was exceptional enough as a hospital of this era to make a recommendation. Many feel that this overlooks its unique and exceptional place within Cornish heritage.

      CBG recently requested an Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out, but it was deemed unnecessary by Cornwall Council’s planning department, and therefore demolition will be going ahead, within days now.

      Hope this answers your question!

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