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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 79    1964  page 5

The Chetney Hill Lazaret

By P. Froggatt, M.A., M.D., D.P.H.

27th September the Customs estimated that 'sheds or lazarets for the opening or airing of goods after quarantine performed, and also proper Houses and Centinal Boxes for the persons attending the opening, airing and re-packing . . . '29 would cost 1,672 11s 0d.30 This sum was authorized by an Order in Council of the 29th;31 but at the same time it was clear to the Privy Council that the quarantine facilities were inadequate for expanding commerce, and 'inconvenient and expensive to the merchant'.32 Further plague outbreaks in Turkey and the proposed alteration in the Levant Company's charter decided the Government on legislative reform, and the construction of a lazaret was reconsidered.
   On 8th January, 1752, the Admiralty ordered officers to Stangate Creek to 'examine whether there is a piece of ground for building of lazarets',33 and on the 13th reported that the officers 'had found a proper place at the upper end of Stangate Creek',34 This intelligence was considered by a parliamentary committee to which had been co-opted the assistant to the Master Shipwright, and the Master Attendant of H.M. Dock, both of Deptford.36 On 5th March they reported, deprecating the 'present manner of performing quarantine by airing goods on board Hoys and Vessels', and resolving 'that Chetney Hill ... is the proper place for a lazaret, . . . and plans and estimates to be prepared and laid before the House'.30 This is the first reference to Chetney Hill as the lazaret site.
The Quarantine Act of the following year (1753) anticipated the erection of the lazaret.37 This Act was for an indefinite period, power to expropriate lands for quarantine purposes was vested in Parliament, and arrangements were made for quarantining ships, on which plague had occurred after passing Cape Finisterre, in the Scillies between Tresco and Bryer. (The uninhabited islands of St. Helen's Tean and North Withell were later substituted.38) A further Act required ships with foul Bills of Health, i.e. from infected ports, to quarantine at one of the Mediterranean lazarets, ships with clean Bills of Health, i.e. from non-infected ports, to quarantine at Stangate Creek, and goods to be aired on hulks. These arrangements were temporary pending erection of the lazaret.39 However, building the lazaret was again postponed presumably because the Mediterranean lazaret ports were open to
29 P.R.O., MSS. T11/22, p. 359.
   30 Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers, 1742-1745, p. 317.
   31 P.R.O., MSS. T11/22, p. 369.
   32 J.H.C., xxvi, 478.
   33 Minutes of the Navy Board, P.R.O., ADM. 106/2664. Under dates.
   34 Ibid. Under dates.
   35 J.B.C., xxvi, 463.
   36 Ibid., xxvi, 478.
   37 26 Geo. II, c. 6 (1753).
   38 29 Geo. II, c. 8 (1766). Facts from J.H.C., xxvii, 372-3, 412.
   39 26 Geo. H, c. 18 (1753), sect. 12.

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