Chichester Community Development Trust (CCDT) is launching an exhibition at The Novium Museum opening following the latest lockdown restrictions being lifted, which will tell the story of Graylingwell Hospital’s important role in Chichester’s history, and the pioneering mental health treatment of the past century.
The exhibition will also unveil exciting plans for the future of the hospital’s chapel as a space for the wider Chichester community. The redeveloped Graylingwell Chapel is due to open at the end of this year.
Graylingwell Chapel was a place of sanctuary and quiet reflection for staff and patients at Graylingwell Hospital, originally the West Sussex County Asylum. The hospital, which cared for up to 1,400 patients at its peak and served as a key convalescence centre for injured soldiers in the Great War, was noted for the community spirit it created; the sense of connection it provided to many of its patients; and the self-sufficient lifestyle many led with food grown and provided from its own farmland for many decades.
Following the closure of the hospital, and subsequent development of the site, Graylingwell Chapel has now been transferred to CCDT, who will transform the disused building and restore it to a space where the community can connect and reflect. Brought to life with a stylish café, extensive community space, workshop or meeting rooms, and pre-school interactive play area, the chapel will also tell the story of what came before.
Divided into seven ‘chapters’ of the hospital’s history, the walls and spaces of Graylingwell Chapel will bring to life elements of the pioneering mental health work, the conversations it initiated and bring each one into the modern times. It will reflect on the ways we care for our own wellbeing today, the language used around mental health, and the way in which it is cared for in community groups such as young people, and soldiers returning from recent conflicts.
The exhibition at The Novium Museum will present one of these chapters as a taster of what is to come, addressing the theme: ‘Grow’. This will explore how learning new things can be an effective treatment for mental health conditions.
“Graylingwell Hospital has a fascinating history, playing an important role in the history of mental health treatment,” says Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Culture at Chichester District Council. “This is a wonderful collaboration between The Novium Museum and the Chichester Community Development Trust. The focus on wellbeing is particularly important during these challenging times, and cultural venues can be extremely beneficial by connecting people and place. We hope that this exhibition will ignite conversation around the link between wellbeing and growth.’
Clare de Bathe, Trust Director of The Chichester Community Development Trust, says, “Learning can build self-esteem and self- confidence, provide a sense of purpose and help us connect with others. Research shows that those who can continue to learn throughout their lives feel an increased sense of wellbeing. The exhibition will reflect on the ways this was achieved in the hospital’s history, and review the relevance of it today.”
Within the exhibition at The Novium Museum, the views of young people’s experiences of Covid-19 will demonstrate the benefits of art as a therapeutic way to express emotions in a display created by Charlie Cluff, Leader of Art at Bourne Community College and CCDT’s Arts Coordinator.
Charlie will be displaying pieces created in a workshop for young people following the first lockdown, who were invited to express emotions through shape and colour in one space. ‘Honesty boxes’ were also created by students of the Bourne Community College, representing the contrast between the perception of a person or building, and the reality.
For further details of the exhibition, its location and timings, please visit: www.thenovium.org. Further information about Graylingwell Chapel, its history and exciting development, can be found at: www.graylingwellchapel.com