I have lived practically my entire life at Long Hill House in The Sands, Surrey. Before it was a house it was a sanatorium which played its part in both the World Wars.
In May 1900 the sanatorium was opened for patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB). It was chosen because of its beautiful scenery, which made it perfect for open-air treatment, and because it was accessible from London via railway. Long Hill House was one of the buildings that formed the sanatorium complex. It was originally formed of twelve individual bedrooms for patients. Other buildings around it were later likewise transformed into houses; however many of them have been entirely rebuilt since then. From its opening, donations given to the sanatorium meant it could expand, with small huts for patients spreading over a thirty-two acre area. Some of the foundations of these huts still remain today. It cost five guineas per week to house a patient, not including a special nurse, special medicines and appliances, beverages, and personal laundry.
Late in and after the First World War, from 1916 to 1920, Long Hill became a hospital for soldiers recovering from mustard-gas attacks. There exist brief lists of patients admitted during this time with their name, details of their condition, the date of their admittance and discharge. Some of the patients were there for over five months.
It was a well-respected place. A patient, James Cecil, wrote a poem about the sanatorium in December 1923 titled ‘Crooksbury’:
‘I shall miss the sandy pathway,
That leads down into the dell;
And all the other pretty walks
I have come to know so well…’
During the Second World War troops were billeted to Long Hill, but the buildings were thought to be too dilapidated for extended use. Canadian troops, however, stayed on in the area preparing for the D-Day landings in the woods of Botany Hill, just down the road from Long Hill. They hid their tents amongst the foliage and took advantage of the view down to Sands Road to watch for any suspicious activity. A hut was built nearby on Crooksbury Hill as an observation post. There was a platoon of the Local Defence Volunteer Force (LDV) situated in the area. This would later become known as the Home Guard. The only place thought worth protecting in The Sands was the telephone exchange. On one morning the LDV practiced tactics by defending the village against the Canadian soldiers. The soldiers passed through the village without much trouble.
After the Second World War, life in the village returned to normal. However, the struggles of conflict were not forgotten. In 1953 the members of Seale and Sands Royal British Legion, along with other ex-servicemen from across the country, travelled to Hyde Park in London to be surveyed by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. On 8 May 1995, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of victory in Europe, around three hundred people attended a lunch held on The Sands Recreation Ground, just over the road from Long Hill.
Each year a memorial service takes place at Seale memorial to remember all those who gave their lives in war and to think of those still fighting.
(Photograph of Long Hill House was given to us with the house)