The Old Hospital, Minehead

The old hospital, a majestic lady, we never discuss ladies ages but must be built in the 1800s; being three-story-tall, one of the town’s most prominent buildings stands magnificently in the Avenue Minehead.

As I mentally stand on the pavement, surrounded by the noise of traffic shoppers and visitors alike, this lady is protected by a foot high wall capped with a black iron shoulder height fencing for the average person, with an arched gate in the middle and a lamp welcoming visitors at night.

The forecourt that stands directly between the fencing and the lady is normally home to funfairs, market traders, and other community events.

To the right, an access ramp that goes up to the old cafe that recently builders were working on, transforming this to a new modern black and white interior for diners to Minehead to enjoy nibbles and drinks.

The main dominating blue castle door stands proudly and symmetrically in the middle of protecting this lady. On either side of this door, there must be some 40 large white wood-framed windows. That if you peered in over the centuries, you could have witnessed a multitude of fashions.

Protecting this lady from the elements, a slate grey roof and irregularly shaped bricks, dark brown or grey, held together by mortar, I feel are never built like these today.

I can’t help wondering, as this building has been a local police station, a rehabilitation home for soldiers in the second world war, and more recently the hospital for the local community and now is a community centre supporting local businesses charities. If these walls could talk, what stories and glimpses into Minehead and the communities history what could they say.

Comments (5):

  1. Dr Charlie Mansfield

    June 23, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Mark – thank you so much for tackling this first place inquiry using your imaginary. You have been very sensitive to the briefing notes on the mobile worksheet on Google Docs. Your counting of the windows in your mind’s eye, ‘there must be some 40 large white wood-framed windows’ is particularly in the spirit of Sartre’s idea of the imaginary. It is so good that you have taken up that challenge of quality versus quantity. It will be very revealing when you do the fieldwork and actually count them in real life! Even counting the storeys might be a surprise. Your thoughts on what all the colours are is very useful for this writing exercise, too. The blue door, the ‘slate grey roof and irregularly shaped bricks, dark brown or grey, held together by mortar’; this inquiry into your imaginary will be very useful for developing your writing when you finally go out to look at these actual colours.
    Interrogating the build heritage like this provides a sound base for the travel writer and blogger. It is often difficult to research and discover where bricks and stones were made or quarried, but always worth the effort for a deep mapping of the places that you write about. You do end on a narrative note. This shows that you are beginning to think about a readership. What will give them value and pleasure in the secrets that you discover and present to them? What is your character as the writer-researcher as you narrate your time spent investigating the frontage of the hospital in your next post? Do you want your readers to trust you? Do you want to share your love of the town’s built heritage? Are you proud in some way of the functions the building has served? Can you detect something in the fabric of the building that stores an element from one of its historical uses? For example, that ramp, who added that, when, and for whom? Are the windows converted for hospital use?
    I am looking forward to Step 2 of your writing activity. Please remember to log the following:
    Time, day, date and Year
    Weather: bright sunshine but very cold for May 9°C, frost was visible on a tiled roof earlier.
    Your Mood: slightly anxious as this is my first time making field notes.
    Location: please use street or road name, south or north end of street, town name or suburb. For example, Southern, lower end of Moon Street, en route down to Sutton Harbour, Plymouth.
    Sketch the intersection, junction or corner in plan, map, or rough 3D form. Very sketchy but label something significant. Remember Google Maps can help you later, back indoors in range of wifi.

    Thank you Charlie for those words. Chapter 2 will be posted next week, Mark

  2. Kina Myhill

    June 27, 2021 at 10:06 am

    I enjoyed this first piece Mark, particularly the identity that you have given to the building.
    It’s interesting that you refer to her as a lady, given the early use of the building supporting what could be seen as masculine industries…the police, soldiers etc. It’s suggestive of the building having almost a maternal quality.
    I look forward to reading your next piece.

    • Mark

      June 28, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Thank you, Kina.

      Posthumanism, changes of society regarding ethics and morals, gender, transgender, and interpretations are subjective. Whatever gender, why can’t you be a police person soldier or anything you believe you can be. An idea of a lady is something graceful?


      • Dr Charlie Mansfield

        June 28, 2021 at 8:17 pm

        In the poem by T S Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’ he employs a literary device in the adjective that he chooses to qualify the snow. The device is called hypallage.

        ‘Winter kept us warm, covering
        Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
        A little life with dried tubers.’

        Hypallage moves the epithet, which in these lines above is the adjective, forgetful, from the people, the us of the story, to give the snow a human quality. It might also have been the earth that was forgetful. The result is easy to read but if lingered upon leaves a state of emotion in the reader. This is literary, not because it is imprecise, but rather that it problematises the English so that it holds more emotion in its weave.

        When a writer gives human qualities to non-humans the text becones literary and creates levels of affect in the readers. Mark’s text has been shifted into being literary with this. It’s valuable to see the ripples of affect moving out and diffracting as they encounter others along the way.


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