If you have lived in St Albans for more than twenty years you will be very familiar with the names of two, now former. institutions: Hill End and Cell Barnes. Although they were not copies of each other, both cared for patients with a wide range of mental conditions.
|Former Cell Barnes site being redeveloped.|
While an example of a Hill End ward block and a lodge house from Cell Barnes remain, most other evidence has been obliterated, and it is probably not surprising that recent incomers have only the scantiest of information about former hospital settlements – or even earlier communities – below where the new homes have been built.
Last November Highfield Park Trust held a history event at the Trestle Arts Base, Russet Drive, where photographs, oral recollections and maps of Hill End could be viewed. The evening included a lecture on the history of mental care and the story of Hill End, under the title Hill End: What Lies Beneath.
A similar evening called Cell Barnes: What Lies Beneath, will be presented on Friday 4th November at 7.30pm, also at the Trestle Arts Base. The story of Cell Barnes is remarkable in its own right, but equally heart-warming are the stories of staff who, though six decades cared for the residents, the lives of whom had been improved and enriched because of their care.
There are a few tickets left for this event, but you will be severely disappointed if you leave it until the last minute, because the seating available is limited. The booking details are below.