The Lying-In Hospital, Newcastle. John Dobson (1787-1865). 1826. Pale sandstone ashlar with a dark slate roof (see "The Former Lying-In Hospital"). On the south side of New Bridge Street, opposite the Laing Art Gallery. Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or credit the Victorian Web in a print one.]

This is described in an early Pevsner as "a Gothic, not Tudor job of Dobson.... Only three-bay front and modest in scale" (Pevsner and Richmond 247), but in a later edition, more fairly, as "Tudor Gothic" (Grundy et al. 106). Intended as an "asylum for poor pregnant women" (Faulkner and Greg 42), it was built by public subscription, with Dobson making his own contribution by drawing up the plans free of charge. It was well received at the time: "exceedingly chaste, and well adapted for the purpose intended.... There is an oriel window in front; and the canopied sills are very finely executed" (Richardson 313). But now opinions are divided. To some it is still "a beautiful little building" (Grundy et al. 493), while to others the plans "do not speak of great confidence in the Gothic style. The building is a rectangular block with hipped roof, the facade of ashlar with windows and niches in an unhappy mix of Decorated and Perpendicular styles and weakly arranged" (Faulkner and Greg 42). In another way too the enterprise may raise questions. The Lying-In Hospital was not for "fallen" women. On the contrary, those who were unable to produce a marriage certificate and baby clothing were turned away, as were the homeless and those suffering from anything catching (see Histon 35). The building was used for the original purpose until 1923, and then from 1925 as Broadcasting House. It is now office space.

Sources

Faulkner, T. E. and Andrew Greg. John Dobson, Newcastle Architect, 1787-1865. Tyne and Wear Museums Service, 1987.

The Former Lying-In Hospital. English Heritage. Web. 30 December 2011.

Grundy, John, et al. The Buildings of England: Northumberland. 2nd (revised) ed. London: Penguin, 1992.

Histon, Vanessa. Keys to the City: Walks Exploring Newcastle's Hidden History. Newcastle: Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2007.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, and Sir Ian Archibald Richmond. The Buildings of England: Northumberland. London: Penguin, 1979.

Richardson, Moses Aaron. The Local Historian's Table Book (etc). Newcastle: Richardson, 1843. Google Books. Web. 30 December 2011.


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Last modified 4 January 2012