The Graylingwell Heritage Project was a year-long, community-based, heritage and arts programme that focused on the history of the Graylingwell Hospital and the people associated with it from 1894-2015. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery.
Chichester Community Development Trust was a strong advocate for the involvement of local residents and worked to establish partnerships with other significant organisations in the city including Pallant House Gallery, West Sussex Record Office and the University of Chichester. Each partner group brought specialised talents and passions to the project that provided the structure for the community members of West Sussex to explore and discuss the many hidden histories of both the hospital and the people who have been a part of Graylingwell’s history over the years.
Graylingwell Hospital was officially closed in 2001, with the final patients being rehoused within the community. Many people have been patients or staff at Graylingwell, or have lived nearby. During the Graylingwell Heritage Project a specially trained oral history team collected many stories, thoughts and experiences. These oral histories form a crucial part of contemporary heritage and, with permission, many of them will be made available in various ways, including being catalogued at West Sussex Record Office, and with excerpts transcribed within the project publication, ‘Beneath the Water Tower’.
This section of the project interprets local history through the arts and offers a creative voice to our community members. Throughout 2014, we invited the community to a series of arts workshops. These workshops used media such as maps, photographs, objects and various other points of inspiration.
The project book is due to be launched in May 2015. This unique publication will weave together research, oral history memories, inspired fiction and contemporary artistic responses to create glimpses of the lives that were lived over the course of a century – beneath the water tower.
It has been my pleasure to work with CCDT for the past two years. They provided me directly with valuable support and guidance throughout the project.
It was such a pleasure to be a part of the Graylingwell Heritage Project. As Community Historian I was able to engage with so many volunteers and local residents to take the history of the hospital into the community and delighted in the interest in the project of all those I spoke with.