It’s lovely down here at the park. Autumn brings a new beauty that you can’t capture at any other time of the year. The early morning dews and mists that sometimes roll off the sea onto land and envelop the chapel and park are a delight to see and a photographer’s dream. There’s nothing like a stroll in autumnal weather – and whether you’re a dog walker or not, I hope you’ll be pleased with our next set of fantastic improvements.
This month we have updates on the Empire Rooms and the external structures we will be putting in place that will continue to tell the story of the former military hospital that was on the site. Towards the end of October, I’ll share some ghoulish updates on the hospital (as it’ll be Halloween) and an update on the chapel build work and our latest finds! Read on or click on the links that will take you direct to the stories!
I can’t stand the rain!
Last year we carried out a customer survey. Many of you told us that you wanted a covered area outside the café that would enable you to sit with your dogs or family in less favourable weather. So after working with our architects and applying for planning permission, I’m pleased to say your comments have been taken on board and we are installing external covering outside the Empire Rooms. They will be installed by the end of this month, ready for these wetter months – but of course it will also be a great shaded area in the summer.
Here are a couple of pictures of what you are missing if you don’t visit our lovely park. If you are visiting, why not post your photos to our Facebook page
Telling the story outside the chapel
As promised last month, I’m going to share with you how we are bringing alive the history of the former hospital in the grounds below. As you know this £3 million plus Heritage Lottery Fund and Hampshire County Council funded project not only includes conserving the chapel, but making sure our visitors and local communities understand more about the national heritage of the site.
The hospital, as you may already know, was a huge building which housed 138 wards. The corridors alone were over a quarter mile long and the hospital had its own train station and post office, along with laundries, and an on-site school for children of the workers.
It was a challenge for the architects and designers to come up with something that would tell the story about the hospital within the grounds. However, after a period of consultation, design and redesign we adopted a style that would tell the story of the hospital and the people involved with it, avoid encroaching on the country park setting, and be robust enough to withstand adverse weather we sometimes get on site.
We will tell the story through several structures that will indicate approximately where each corner of the hospital was situated, along with a structure on the pier head showing how the pier would have looked and one showing where the train station would have been at the back of the chapel. The structures have been designed so they are sympathetic to the park’s environment.
This structure will tell you all about famous personalities that were in some way involved with the hospital – including a few surprise characters!
This structure will tell you all about numbers involved with the hospital, for example the number of bricks used and other interesting facts.
We’ll tell the story of the Americans and the story of the Jeep in the corridor, along with other interesting facts and stories.
So that’s it for now. Later in the month, we’ll bring you some Halloween Stories! Enjoy October. Paul