The Mundesley Sanatorium

  • Theme - Welfare
  • Year - 1937
  • Location - Cromer
  • Filmmaker - Dr. Day


Recorded in 1937 by one of the establishment’s own doctors, this film clip provides a view into daily life at Mundesley Sanatorium, in Gimingham, North Norfolk.

The hospital was established in 1899 by F.W. Burton-Fanning, as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was the first large centre in England that had been built specifically for open-air treatment of the disease. However, due to its status as a private hospital, Mundesley could only offer treatment to wealthy patients.

This film was made in order to accompany medical talks and it was intended to show off various aspects of the Sanatorium. It features shots of the main hospital building and of the pleasant countryside surrounding it. Most obviously, it highlights just how well the patients at Mundesley were cared for. Though ill, most of those featured in the film seem to be smiling, although this may be to do with the novelty of the camera. Whilst they are being attended to, their nurses stop and chat with them. Sufferers are offered a high-class service at hospital meal times.

Mundesley promoted itself as ‘health resort’, of sorts, where tuberculosis sufferers could rest and recuperate, alongside receiving treatment. For those who could manage it, active participation in a range of convalescent activities seemed to be encouraged. The hospital organised outdoor games and occasional light sports contests between patients and staff.

Recreation aside, the film makes clear that behind-the-scenes Mundesley is a state of the art hospital. One patient has access to headphones whilst sitting up in bed. Another is seen entering a cubicle to have a chest x-ray taken.

Background history:

The film’s ‘cameraman’, Dr. Day, joined the staff at Mundesley in 1935. At that time the Sanatorium could accommodate 80 patients. Treatment cost five guineas a week or six or seven guineas for rooms of a higher quality.

During World War II, Mundesley Sanatorium temporarily moved to Cheshire, only returning to Gimingham after hostilities had ceased. In the late 1940’s, huge advancements regarding the treatment of tuberculosis and a potential cure were made. By the fifties, convalescent treatment for the disease was deemed unnecessary and in 1957 the Sanatorium was officially adopted by the National Health Service, with the backing of the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board. Dr. Day became the director of this newly-proposed, general rehabilitation unit.

Alongside the hospital at Mundesley, patron F.W. Burton-Fanning oversaw another local hospice. The Kelling Sanatorium, for non-paying patients, was opened near Cromer in 1903 and is still in use today. The Mundesley Sanatorium underwent a huge refurbishment in 1997 and was re-opened as the ‘Diana Princess of Wales Treatment Centre for Drug and Alcohol Problems’. Due to a lack of funding however, the centre was forced to close in 2009. The old hospital remains standing in the original site at Gimingham, due to its current status as a Grade II listed building.


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