Memories of St Andrew's Hospital

... and it's ghosts!

By Janet Saunders

I moved to Billericay in 1962 and this is the fifth residence I have had since being here. 

In the 60’s my two children were born in Saint Andrew’s Hospital. After the first one, a kind auxiliary nurse asked me what I had had, it was after dinner and I replied ‘fish and chips’, she looked surprised. 

In the 70’s my friends and I held coffee mornings to raise a little money for the new Burns Unit.

In the 80’s I took a trolley round the wards with books from the hospital library.

In the 90’s I worked at the histopathology laboratory retiring when that moved to Basildon Hospital.

In the 20’s I moved to part of Charles House, this was in 2008, just after the famous Strawberry Tree was felled. My living room is the Board Room of the Workhouse, the rest of the apartment once housed some of the male inmates. It is now part of Grey Lady Place. I have not seen this lady. I wonder if she sits in the roof area as there is a window from outside with no access from within. 

Previous residents nearby felt other presences, one was thought to be the ghost of a tramp, they often briefly lodged in the Union, it seemed he would warm himself at the fireplace sitting on the coffee table which explained why items on it were disturbed. A young girl’s was sometimes seen at the foot of their bed.

The hospital was a friendly place; pantomimes were put on in the now demolished nurses’ recreation hall.  Carol services were held at Christmas in the Chapel where the stained glass windows remain. The grounds where Workhouse inmates toiled in the vegetable plots are now pleasant lawns and hedges thankfully maintained by others.

In Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell comments that he was advised by tramps to steer clear of Billericay Spike but this grey lady likes it here.

This page was added by Claire Morley on 13/03/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

My Mum was a night nurse on the Burns Unit and she witnessed some very strange things there. John U

By John Hill
On 21/05/2014

I had two stays in St Andrews children's ward. Firstly when I was 5, in 1959 to have my adenoids out and again when I was 7 for Tonsils. I can remember the long nights lying awake and watching the single light over the Nurses desk in the middle of the ward and her occasionally getting up to see to a patient. Rarely was it me. I remember the operating theatres were not in the same building as the children's ward and we were taken across the front of the hospital to a single story building for the operations and the horrible rubber mask they put on your face. On recovering from tonsils you had a horrible sore throat but this was cured by regular portions of ice cream (really) - yum.

By Trevor Savage
On 22/05/2014

I was washing dishes in my kitchen directly opposite the strawberry tree in Grey Lady Place when I first heard the tremendous crack the saw the huge branch come away from the historic tree, directly leading to it being felled. 

As for the Grey Lady, the storey goes that a ghostly figure would be seen from outside through the many windows moving across the building long after solid brick walls had been built completely dividing old wards into offices and storerooms. 

By Tony Stafford
On 26/01/2015

I was born in this hospital on Saturday, August 9th 1952. In 1965 I got to revisit St Andrews with a burst appendix. There was no room in the kids ward so I was placed in the adults ward. My memories of that visit are a lot of pain and some of the best nursing a 13 year old could ever wish for. I recall on my release, not wishing to go home. Haven't lived in England now for some 45 years but it's still real shame that some of these old places were not preserved.

By Roy Footer
On 21/09/2016

I too was in Billericay Hospital during the last war, me and my sister having our tonsils out. I had left the Hospital and my sister was still in there when a German fighter machine gunned the ward. The nurses put the children under the beds they could, then laid on top of the children still in their beds. My sister was all right,

By bobcroot
On 09/11/2016