Friends find their answer on the wall

By Sara Bryce

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Friends find their answer on the wall

With the plans for the Frank James Hospital in St Mary’s Hospital are, from left, Josh Aitken, Steve Goodman and Tanja Rebel.

THE answer had been staring them in the face as the Friends of Frank James Memorial Hospital desperately tried to prove the crumbling building was designed by the architect behind Westminster Abbey.

The proof the group had been searching for — that renowned Victorian architect John Thomas Micklethwaite had a hand in designing the East Cowes building — was found hanging on the wall of St Mary’s Hospital.

The discovery was made by Josh Aitken, 16, while visiting his best friend in hospital.

He said: "I was walking along looking at the plans on the wall by the canteen and I saw them. I couldn’t speak I was just so gobsmacked.

"His name was so bold and so clear, right there on the plans. The proof had been hanging there all this time."

It was hoped if Micklethwaite’s involvement could be proved, it could lead to an upgraded listed status from Grade II to Grade II* or even Grade I, which would unlock access to money for restoration.

Friend of the hospital Ian Pickard said: "Potentially English Heritage (EH) will now take a much greater interest in the building.

"It highlights Frank James as being not just historically important for the IW but historically important for the nation."

EH’s principal inspector of historic buildings and areas, David Brock, said an upgraded listing would not mean IW Council planners would lose control over the building but it would have to consult with EH.

He added 93 per cent of listed buildings were Grade II, with just seven per cent achieving Grade II* or Grade I.

The Friends of Frank James will wait until the building’s owners submit the latest plans, due at the end of March, before submitting an application to upgrade the listed status.



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by Marie Bevan

10th March 2014, at 17:00:56

We'll done young man I'm delighted let's hope the community have some say in it's future.

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by Jack Woodford

10th March 2014, at 12:43:20

Well done indeed Josh, dude.
I agree it would be great to see this back in community use. It would make a great Wetherspoons.

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by steve cummings

10th March 2014, at 10:02:49

What a great story. Well spotted Josh, it is really nice to see a young person interested in the past and in old buildings. They have a lot to tell us, don't they? Keep up the good work! :>)

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by Joshua Aitken - Dunkeld

10th March 2014, at 00:56:20

Thank you for everybody's support and kindness! It was a big discovery and could open a lot of new doors for Frank James. For the people who look at Frank James a see the building with no future or give me hate for caring for something and bringing back faith to my ****minity, it doesn't effect me or us as it makes us stronger. I love and care for Frank James and will fight with my volunteer group to get this prestigious building back in glorious working order no matter what! Our history makes us and who we are! We shall be having a gathering next month as normal, date has not been decided yet but will keep people informed for anyone interested in coming along! :)

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by Steven Goodman

9th March 2014, at 21:55:03

(Continued) In 1862 he was articled to George Gilbert Scott, the famous Victorian architect. In partnership with Somers Clarke he designed several churches and restored others. At the Abbey he devoted himself to the preservation of the fabric of the Abbey and its buildings and published several articles. For the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 he designed the Abbey frontal and copes and the new altar in St Edward the Confessor’s chapel. At his funeral the Dean of Westminster said of him “… he gave his whole heart to this place, and jealously guarded every fragment that could tell of its long history”. His sister Ada gave money to set up an Abbey Museum in the monastic Undercroft in 1908.

In addition to becoming Architect and surveyor of both Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel Windsor, he was a prominent lecturer for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He was architect for many English churches. FJ is indeed a national treasure as his only known secular work.

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by Steven Goodman

9th March 2014, at 21:45:35

(Comment 1 of 2)
Proof that Micklethwaite was the architect confirms our recognition of FJ as an exceptionally important site.

Micklethwaite, architect and archaeologist , is buried in Westminster Abbey where he was Surveyor of the Fabric from 1898 until he died in 1906. He was one of the great ‘Gothic Revival’ architects. He succeeded William Morris to the post of Master of the ‘Art Worker’s Guild’ in 1893 (also the approximate date of both FJ & the James Grieve apple, one of which was planted by the Island Orchard Group last week). The Guild was founded in 1884 and its aims were, and still are, to advance education in all visual arts and crafts and to foster and maintain high standards of design and craftsmanship in a way that might be beneficial to the community. FJ was originally gifted to the people of East Cowes.

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by Russell Palin

9th March 2014, at 18:30:53

Most people find things because they are meant to find such.
If nobody noticed important things like this, then fate would take its toll, I suppose, sadly.
I wonder where all this will be in say 10 years?
Fate can be changed by good people with the right idea, I am sure.
I wonder what good use a developer could put such a nice building in East Cowes to? A hotel, an office complex, small business mall, a designer shopping arcade, there are lots of opportunity's for this building I imagine.

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by C Ryan-Sammon

9th March 2014, at 17:06:33

Well Done Josh, your enthusiasm paid off ...
Very happy for you and all the Friends of Frank James Hospital too :)

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by Marilyn Legg

9th March 2014, at 16:07:18

Well done, Josh! Great observational skills :)

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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