On my approach route I was surprised to see a bench positioned on a corner. Why would anybody want to sit there? Who would be walking, miles from anywhere, just to sit and watch the traffic go by?
It was only from inside the hospital that I learned the reason.
Benenden Hospital was built from 1905-7 on three smallholdings which had been purchased by the Post Office Sanatorium Society. The purpose of the hospital was to treat the postmen who were disproportionately represented in the statistics of tuberculosis sufferers. Why were postmen catching TB?
|Benenden Hospital, opened 1907.|
I met a lady who was treated at the hospital for TB when a girl. Some patients stayed for two years and part of the cure was considered to be fresh air -- thus the reason for siting the hospital in the middle of the countryside. She recounted how their beds were pushed out onto the verandah during the daytime and one day in winter she lay there watching the snow falling onto her bed. And this brings us back to the bench. As the patients improved they were encouraged to take the two-mile circular walk around the lanes but of course, they could only walk in short bursts and so benches were placed on the verges, a short distance apart, all the way around the circuit.
And this must have been one of those benches.