The newly created Severalls Memorial Garden is nearing completion on the old Severalls Hospital site, now Kingswood Heath. It is located in front of what was the old Administration Building. At its centre will be the original memorial commemorating staff who lost their lives in The Great War 1914 – 1918 and which originally stood on grassland in front of the old Administration Building.
A plaque will also be displayed commemorating the loss of 38 patients at Severalls Hospital who, on the 11thAugust 1942, were killed when a German bombing raid dropped three 500lb bombs on Colchester. One of those bombs hit the West Wing of the hospital and damaged a number of buildings. While many were injured, 38 patients died as a result of the bombing, some of whom are buried in Colchester Cemetery. It is, perhaps fitting, to mention one of the heroes of that day a 21-year-old Nurse Muriel May Jackson who in darkness, and armed only with a small torch, removed debris and amidst the chaos attended to the wounded. She later guided doctors safely through the debris so they could attend the wounded. Nurse Jackson was later commended by His Majesty King George V1 in the London Gazette.
When Severalls Hospital closed in March 1997 the buildings deteriorated considerably and were often the subject of vandalism. In 2016 the site was sold to a consortium of building companies (Bellway, Taylor Wimpy and Bloor Homes) and the current estate of Kingswood Heath was created. From the beginning of the development Myland Community Council (MCC), with the grateful assistance of Cllr Martin Goss who was then Vice Chair of MCC and also a Ward Councillor for Mile End. MCC worked with the Consortium to ensure as much of the history of Severalls, including the preservation of the Historic Registered Parkland, was retained. They ensured that the memorial was removed for safe keeping and also rescued the unique stained-glass windows from the Hospital Chapel and the Chapel Bell. The Chapel’s Organ was also saved and gifted to La Richardais Church in Dinard, Brittany, France. An Interpretation Board, outlining the history of Severalls Hospital, which will be a reminder for future generations, will eventually, be sited in a small garden on the southside of the estate facing the Via Urbis Romanae when works are completed in 2021.
MCC wishes to express their sincere gratitude to the Consortium Directors, staff and especially the Site Manager Mr Dan Rawcliffe for their support especially the financing and restoration of the memorial and creation of the new garden. The Consortium have also donated a ‘Soldier’s Bench’ which will be sited within the garden. The memorial site has been formally adopted by Myland Community Council (MCC) who will be responsible for its future care and protection.