The Cemetery, Hill End Hospital, St Albans, 20th Century

July, 2008

Letter sent from this web site in support of the proposals.
3rd July 2008

John Ely
Highfield Park Trust
West Lodge
Hill End Lane
St Albans AL4 0RA

Dear John

Hill End Garden of Rest, St Albans

I am delighted to hear of the proposals for the Garden of Rest as my family has many links with Hill End since it was built.

My great grandfather, Jacob Reynolds was on the Hill End management committee (as an alderman on the Hertfordshire County Council) in the early years of the 20th century. He was a deeply religious man who, as church warden of Sandridge parish, worked hard to establish the parish of St Saviour's, St Albans. I am sure he would have wanted the graves treated with respect.

My daughter Lucy was a patient at Hill End in 1985 and like many other patients found the peace and quiet of the grounds a place where she could relax and forget the stresses of the world. If she was still alive she would support a peaceful area where you could sit surrounded by wild flowers and watch the squirrels in the magnificent oak tree.

When Hill End was built the attitude to the mentally ill was “out of sight, out of mind.” Fortunately things have changed and as a trustee of Mind in Dacorum and a member of the N.W. Herts Community Health Council I was actively involved during the 1990s in the closure of Hill End. We no longer hide away the mentally ill in institutions, and I believe that we should not hide the places where the mentally ill were buried in the past. A good sign explaining what was there would be a great improvement.

Since taking early retirement I have been helping people to research their ancestors, and often get queries from people who want to find out where their relatives were buried. Many are very unhappy when they find that their relative was buried in an unmarked grave in a neglected and unnamed graveyard with hard-to-find records.

My wife is the treasurer of a church with a small graveyard we are well aware of the advantages of a simple low cost approach to maintenance which works with nature. Wild flowers are a very happy satisfactory suggestion. In addition there are currently many self-seeded oak trees and ideally the plan should include the opportunity for two or three to grow to maturity.

I am currently a Governor of the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation NHS Trust, who provide the successor mental health services, and I am glad to hear that the Trust supports the proposals. I believe that the Board of Governors should be asked to give their explicit support for this excellent plan.

Yours sincerely

Chris Reynolds
B.Sc., Ph.D., F.B.C.S. (retired), C.Eng. (retired).


Page created July 2008