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History of Graylingwell Hospital unearthed beneath the water tower

THE history of one of the country’s most famous mental health institutions has been unearthed in a new book.

Beneath the Water Tower, which is released this week, brings together the stories and voices of Graylingwell Hospital following a year-long heritage project of the institution.

The hospital, formerly known as the West Sussex County Asylum, was built in 1896 as a mental health facility before closing in 2001.

The new publication was created by the heritage project team which was delivered in collaboration between the University of Chichester, Pallant House Gallery, West Sussex Record Office, and the Chichester Community Development Trust.

Sarah Rance-Riley, who has overseen the project, said: “The launch of our dynamic book Beneath the Water Tower brings this special project to an end.

“It weaves together research, oral history memories, inspired fiction, and contemporary artistic responses to understand the lives that were lived over the course of a century beneath the water tower.”

Throughout the past year the heritage project has explored the historical, social, and cultural elements of Graylingwell, as well as the people who lived and worked there.

The University led the research aspect of the project, which includes uncovering the hidden histories of the hospital, before assembling the findings into several exhibitions, while Pallant House Gallery showcased artwork created by the former patients.

The West Sussex Record Office then digitised much of the archive, recording oral history testimonies from former patients and staff.

Beneath the Water Tower is on sale now and can be purchased at Pallent House Gallery in 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ.

Alternatively for more about the Graylingwell Heritage Project email heritage@chichestercdt.org.uk.

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