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21
May

Consultant who delivered royal prince launches fight to save Georgian gem


Sir Marcus Setchell, the Consultant responsible for delivering Prince George, has officially launched the ‘Save Barts Great Hall’ campaign, which is seeking to raise money to restore the Great Hall and see proposed development works threatening the Great Hall moved to an alternative site within the hospital grounds.


These rival works, which would prevent the restoration plans already approved by the City of London Planners being implemented, would see the construction of an ultra-modern building, faced with a translucent glass which glows in the dark, adjoined to the east side of the hospital’s Grade I-listed North Wing.


Built in the 18th century by the famous Scottish-born architect, James Gibbs, the North Wing is home to both the Great Hall and the grand Hogarth staircase, the walls of which are adorned with priceless life size canvases by William Hogarth.


Commenting on the campaign’s launch, Sir Marcus, the former Surgeon-Gynaecologist to the Queen, said: “People are only now beginning to understand that this really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to safeguard this Georgian gem. These essential improvement works to make the Great Hall fit for purpose for the future must go ahead or else the building will fall further into decline and disuse.


“It is important that people don’t see this as an ‘either or’ decision; we can have both. We have also identified a potential alternative site for the construction of a new Maggie’s counselling centre here at Barts, without impeding the essential renovation and improvement works needed to save the Great Hall and give it new life.”


The campaign has a roster of famous names backing it, including Edward Fox, David Starkey, Phyllida Law, Greg Wise and Dame Eileen Atkins.


The Barts NHS Health Trust is faced with a multi-million pound deficit and, as healthcare costs rise, the conservation of heritage sites such as The Great Hall move ever lower down the list of NHS priorities. Now The Great Hall is on the brink of irreversible disrepair due to a lack of maintenance work carried out on the site.


There is already a £4 million backlog of maintenance requirements and as a result the Great Hall is only being used at 30% capacity.


The Hall also needs new facilities, such as access for people with disabilities, statutory fire safety escape measures, access lifts as well as enlargement and improvements to kitchens and the important Archive Department. With these in place, the Great Hall could become a financially self-supporting heritage site, say supporters of the campaign.

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