Canon Denys Giddy, Former Chaplain of All Saints Hospital 1961-1983, extracts from interview

"All Saints was so very much part of my life ...

...I had been chaplain at Guy's; I had my wife, Mary, and two young sons ...

...We married in May 1945, just as the war finished, in London, in the ruins of St. George's Church in East Peckham. I came to All Saints in 1961, I didn't want to come here but the Bishop wrote and asked me. I remember being taken through the big, heavy double doors and then I saw this wonderful chapel and I could feel the prayer of the nuns who had been here so long ...

...The NHS started in 1948 ...

... I remember one doctor in particular in Eastbourne, Dr. Ian Brown; he invented gerontology and he developed geriatric care in Eastbourne ...

...I stayed there until 1983 ...

...I knew nothing about ministry to the sick, the elderly and the dying, but I learnt quickly ...

...It had just been taken over when I arrived in 1959 ...

...when I arrived only two wards were open ...

...I have got the address and telephone number of the first secretary, Jack Cavey who came to see me last week; he got it (All Saints) into the NHS. It was nearly sold to the Roman Catholics for a school...

...It was difficult to get trained staff in the early days ...

...I spent a whole day a week at All Saints on Thursdays,I had six hospitals; it was awful, but I came to enjoy it. I set up training for hospital chaplains, because Bishops would send Curates who had got into trouble to be a hospital chaplain ...

...I was the first chaplain at All Saints. eventually I was made a Canon to advise the Bishop on Medical Ethics. I would advise on surgical procedures and psychiatric problems. I loved it really because you were close to life and death all the time. One was tremendously impressed because it was right at the beginning of things...

...my mother died there, she's still playing tennis, she died looking at Wimbledon...

...one of the things I will never forget - I was called to a ward to a dear old lady, her husband was with her and she was very weak. I had seen her and anointed her and afterwards her husband said, "You will take her funeral won't you?" I said "We haven't got there yet!' In the morning, the first call of the day, there she was sitting up in bed having her breakfast, her husband had died in the night - got there before her! They didn't tell her until she had had her breakfast, very sensible ...

...it was the first hospital built by and administered by the Church of the Reformation, and the first hospital of its kind built by the sea, one of Woodyear's best. It's the best site of the NHS in the country...

...Eastbourne needs a spiritual heart; I do hope that the chapel can remain as the heart ...

...On July 19, 1969, we had the centenary celebrations; the place was stinking with Bishops. The cake was a replica of the building and was all made of sugar, it must be all melted or eaten by now...

...because of the Sisters and the hospital, people began to think Eastbourne must be a healthy place, that was the beginning. We had a faded, small photograph of Mother Harriet, and I came across a photographer who I got to reproduce it. It was printed directly on glass ...

...when I first saw it[the chapel], it took my breath away, deeply spiritual ...

...[the nuns] used to grow their own Arum Lilies to decorate the Chapel. I remember that Hubert May, father of Teresa May, was chaplain at All Saints when the nuns were there. She was baptised in the font ..

...they had a water lift worked by steam ...

...this is what has to be stressed; it was a unique place, an enormous part of history, a cultural and spiritual continuity of the best things were encapsulated in that building. It speaks not for a society which is gone now, and the faith that built it is gone, but it is a great jewel that ought to inspire us for the future when everything else is falling to pieces, like the fall of the Roman Empire. It stands like a bastion, absolutely eternal, built by people quite different from us in their views, with many mistakes, but real God fearing, simple, loving people like Woodyear, a gentleman architect."

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