Thursday 13 February 2020

A Visit to Fairfields Lunatic Asylum . . .

Not that I needed to visit a lunatic asylum - although there would be others who disagree...

I didn't know Fairfields Lunatic Asyum existed - and only within 30 miles of where I live. The place opened in 1860 and closed its doors in 1999. I don't know whether the place did some good for its patients, but like most asylums, it holds a dark past.

Fairfields Lunatic asylum - or otherwise known as Three Counties Hospital - served the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire (a shire now redundant) here in the UK. It was designed in a Gothic Romantic style by George Fowler Jones, but there was nothing romantic about the place. Testimonials are filled with stories of vile mistreatment and abuse, mentally, physically and sexually. The name 'Fairfields' alone was enough to spark fear in those who knew of the place. One testimonial tells of the story of a patient falling to his death from a window. This has always struck him as suspisious considering all the windows were fastened tight for security reasons. Patients were needlessly jabbed with needles just to make them cry, and people were drugged and kept tied to chairs. Another tale tells of a rape victim who fell pregnant and was sent there to have her child. Once the child was old enough to eat solids, it as sent to an orphanage but the mother was kept there. Needless to say, she eventually went crazy. It was a place of horror.

The place had more than it's fair share of strange deaths too, from a patient found with his throat cut after trying to escape (Jury ruled suicide), an asylum brewer found dead in a vat of beer, the brutal rape and murder of a local nurse, and the numourous escapees who ran to a nearby lake, known as the Blue Lagoon, to drown themselves.

It also comes with its own collection of ghost stories, including screams of 'let me out' from locked, empty rooms and figures disappearing in front of staff.

But the saddest part of this place are the mass graves. Just off to the side sit two graveyards, a small one littered with gravestones, and another following a line of trees. This line of trees marks the mass graves where thousands of patients were buried, paupers who couldn't afford proper burials, or those abandoned by ashamed families. There are odd markers in the trees, each dotting a plot of twenty or so bodies, but the surrounding grounds are so uneaven that it's obviously been disturbed over the years, indicating to a lot more graves than is lead to believe. And I reiterate - thousands. A sobering thought.

Now, any one who knows me knows of my love of the paranormal. This place would make for the ultimate location for a ghost hunt, but would you believe the building itself, since the closure of the hospital, has been converted into luxury apartments. It would take a special kind of person to want to live there...and that would be me! I would love a place there. Unfortunately the apartments don't come cheap, and on top of that, residents are billed an extra £900 every three months to go towards the mainenance of the actual building. All in all, a little out of my price range. There is also a luxury spa where you can go and be pampered. And guess where they've placed the swimming pool - in the old morgue.

You can still walk around the grounds which are actually rather stunning and filled with black squirrals - also something I had never seen. They've also extended the area into a beautiful picturesque village - Fairfields Park. Even though the buildings are modern new builds, they still hold a hint of the gothic architecture that comes from the main building. It seriously is like walking into a Dickens novel.

Anyway, here a few photos I took so you can see the place for itself. The photos don't do it justice. It's not until you're standing in front of it that you can sense the dark ominous feeling from its past.

This apparently used to be a ramp leading down to a set of
doors belonging to the morgue, allowing them to wheel 
gurneys in and out.
The asylum's old church, now closed for conversion.

Field looking across towards Fairfields Park

Fantastically odd tree


Wednesday 5 February 2020

IWSG - February 2020

First Month taking part in IWSG. This month's prompt:

Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Hosted by:

So, first month taking part and I almost forgot. I'm useless. Really, I am. Now it's past my bed time on a school night and I'm sitting in bed with my laptop on my knees and a persistent cat on my chest purring into my face and making it difficult to see the keys on the keyboard. There is also my other cat sitting on the end of the bed plotting some kind of jealous revenge because he wants to be sitting here but he won't share with his brother and he won't fight him off either. He just sulks instead. Oh the drama.!!

Luckily, I have a cheat plan, which is just as well as I'm not sure how much longer I can keep straining my neck. Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? The answer is yes, and I have a past post from quite a while back with a short story and the piece of art work that inspired it.

If you didn't read it first time round, enjoy :)


And so this was how it was to end. There was to be no fairytale romance for me; no riding off into the sunset with the man I loved. Instead here I was, bound and waiting for death. His blood churned with the water that surrounded me, like smoke in open air – only this was red. It danced in the currents, taunting me and reminding me of its intentions. It was calling on the waves; calling to any willing to listen; any that was willing to bring about my death. I prayed that none would come, but I knew it was inevitable. The smell of blood on the open currents carried for miles. Something would be coming soon to answer those calls.

I closed my eyes against the swaying sight in front of me. I didn’t want to look upon the horrific scene anymore. It wrenched at my broken heart. I felt the gentle shift of the sand against my tail, a contrast compared to the rough feel of the iron anchor against my back. Every little movement caused it to grate against my skin, and I should have been reeling in pain but my sorrow numbed me to it. Instead I had no choice but to accepted it – and wait.

I recalled the events that brought me to this situation, this final hour. They had started off so promising, and I was hopeful that there was going to be a happy ending. I didn’t know how it was going work, but I knew we’d be together. Then things went wrong. We were caught and we were punished – by both our people.

Man and mermaids were forbidden to meet.

At least that was the law under the waves – a law that I chose to disobey. But it wasn’t my intention. I couldn’t just stay back and watch as nature claimed the life of this man. He had been thrown overboard from the galleon ship that he crewed during a storm. He would have died had I not taken hold of him and carried him back to shore. As I lay on the sand watching over him, I had no idea what was happening to his ship. I didn’t know that the storm was to claim it, that the seas were going to drag it down and state it as its own. How could I?

I was too preoccupied staring at the man I had just rescued, mesmerized by his beauty and innocence. And when he opened his eyes and stared upon me, we were both hooked.

I knew it was wrong, but my heart couldn’t deny what I felt. My love for him continued to grow, and he felt exactly the same. We’d meet in a nearby cove where no one ventured, and we’d share our love – but one day we were caught, and our relationship wasn’t just frowned upon, it was revolted against. His people were sickened and claimed that it had been me who had taken down their ship. I had been the cause of all those deaths, despite the fact that I saved one and was nowhere near the ship when it went down.

They sentenced my love to death.

Horrified, I sought help from my own, hoping that they could help, that they could somehow rescue him, but they shunned me. Our law of never meeting with man was because of this exact scenario. Men believed mermaids to be a bad omen, and because of their beliefs, they were cruel and cold hearted. They believed me that I had nothing to do with the taking down of their ship, but my being there at that time was bad luck.

They wouldn’t help, and they turned me away.

In the end I had no choice but to go back and try to plead with the men, but they chose to use me as an example instead. They wanted to send a message beneath the waves that they were not people to toy with. If we took lives, then so would they. Where their beliefs came from, I didn’t know, and I certainly didn’t understand. We had never hurt anyone, but still I found myself captive and brought back out to sea. I was forced against their anchor and bound, the crew jeering and taunting. My love could only cry as he watched, his eyes telling me how sorry he was.

And then the anchor was dropped overboard.

What they hoped to achieve with this, I didn’t know. Didn’t they understand that I couldn’t drown? That I lived in these salty waters? But as I registered the splash above me, I knew what they meant to do.

Looking up I saw as my love, bound and tied to iron weights, sunk to the seabed before me. He withered against his ties, the oxygen in his lungs running out, and I screamed and fought against my own ties, wanting to help him, wanting to prevent him from downing.

But I couldn’t help.

I watched with shame as he stopped moving and stared at me one last time, and then as he died before my eyes. I had wept then, cried and wailed. I fought some more against the rope that bound me to the anchor, but I couldn’t move.

My heart was broken.

And then I noticed the blood.

I understood then how they were intending to kill me. They had slit my loves arms, wanting his blood to be taken by the surrounding currents. They wanted to call the beasts that lurked in the deep, wanted them to smell the blood and come with hunger in their minds. They wanted to have our flesh ripped from our very bones. And me being tied to the anchor, I couldn’t hide. But then why would I? I had lost the one person I loved, been shunned from my very people because of it, and I couldn’t live with the grief and guilt that it had been I who had done this to him, I who had caused his death.

No, I decided. Let the men win. Let the beasts come.