Story of Fairfield
Three Counties Hospital was built in 1860 and remained as an asylum until 1998 when the Government of the time decided that mental illness was better served as ‘Care in the Community’ and closed this hospital a year later in 1999.
Asylum centres were largely self-sufficient with the thought being that members of the public should not come into contact with the patients. As well as the asylum there was an extensive farm, two orchards and a mini-industrial area that housed the laundry, a print shop, brewery, and repair shops.
When the land was sold, it was decided to convert the main hospital building into apartments. Demolish the wooden buildings (known as Fairfield Hospital) and change the use of the industrial area. Thus, Fairfield Park and Middlemarch were born.
Middlemarch being a transformation of the industrial area where one of the areas is the original and the other purpose built. From the outside it is impossible to say which is which!
The Orchards were retained while Fairfield is built on 253 acres that formed part of the Three Counties Psychiatric and Fairfield Hospitals that closed in 1999 following changes to the provision of mental health nationally.
The hospital itself dates back to 1860 and was the subject of a preservation order in 1985 by English Heritage who declared it a Grade II listed building. Huts were added to cater for the emergency declared in the war years and Fairfield Hospital was built in the grounds at act as an isolation hospital for the tuberculosis outbreak. The order also covered the grounds and thanks to this it has meant that the architects have had to keep the Victorian charm to streets and house frontages as well as incorporating the mature woodland and shrubs that existed.
The original developers hived off sections of the area and the hospital restoration to a consortium of building companies. The hospital itself has been converted into apartments called Fairfield Hall. The outbuildings and farmhouse have also been restored and converted for residential use, now named Middlemarch.
Originally, it was intended that Fairfield was to become a “new village” but Stotfold Council then suggested that the Park came under its umbrella and the planners agreed this.
Large-scale new development planning applications include what is known as “section 106” agreements under the Town and Country Planning Act. In effect this means the provision of certain social amenities as well as carrying out transport improvements. For Fairfield Park this has included the pedestrian/cycle underpass that links Fairfield Park with Stotfold, the building of a School, a sports hall comprising two badminton courts and many play areas and green open spaces.
- A detailed background to the Fairfield Park development can be downloaded here. (pdf) The original Strategic Plan is also available for download, but this document is over 31mbg so be aware! But it can be downloaded from this link.
- Records on the Fairfield Park site date back to 800BC (see The Big Dig 2002)
- No ghosts are recorded in the history of Three Counties Hospital but there is a murder, a hospital chaplain who married a girl 40 years his junior, and the wartime and post wartime records of the hospital. Huts became an evacuation centre for the Royal Free Hospital in London and while Fairfield Hospital was built as an isolation unit for the tuberculosis outbreak for the London Chest Hospital. (see Three Counties and Fairfield Hospital).
- The Orchards are a beautiful and important green area within the Park and more information can be accessed here