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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 79    1964  page 9

The Chetney Hill Lazaret

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

 

of John Howard, his influential lay contemporary, who had wide experience of all the European lazarets, and had published detailed plans of an appropriate one for England.68 It seems certain that to be accepted Wyatt's plans must have met Russell's (and Howard's) specifications.
   The lazaret was to be a large, walled enclosure 'of the most cheerful aspect [with] a spacious and pleasant garden [to be] convenient as well as salutary'.68 The walls 'were not so much intended for the prevention of persons making their escape, as of the clandestine conveyance of goods or small parcels'.69 There would be compartments for airing goods, those with foul Bills being segregated; and a fresh water supply, three infirmaries for 'infected . . . dubious . . . and those convalescent from the plague', separate buildings for passengers depending on their Bill of Health, houses for the superintendent, chaplain, surgeon, stewards and clerks; a laundry, a tavern, porters' and sentinels' lodges, and a parloir. Outside the walls, close to the quay, would be a powder magazine, and a pratique house 'for the reception of captains of ships, when they come to present their patents and letters, and to be examined'. The main enclosure would have three gates, 'one . . . towards the land and two towards the water', these last two having quays for handling goods respectively before and after quarantine. Passengers' quarters were to be in two buildings 'both being provided with a vaulted room for fumigation, and with a bath. Each department should have its separate entry, and other convenience,.. . but as the number of passengers from the Levant is inconsiderable, and the Continent is seldom in quarantine, the buildings proposed need not, at first, be extensive as they may be enlarged afterwards if found necessary.' Also, Russell was keen to avoid the worst practices of the European lazarets, those of Venice and Syra being notorious but the others being little better. Of the former Howard wrote: 'I was shown to lodgings in the lazaret which was a very dirty room full of vermin, and without a table, chair or bed ... I hoped for better lodgings . . . The apartment now appointed me, consisting of an upper and a lower room, was no less disagreeable and offensive than the former. I preferred lying in the lower room upon a brick floor where I was almost surrounded by water.'70 Of the latter 'where the exactions are monstrous', an eye-witness had seen 'a person come out [from the lazaret] having had his garments devoured by rats, and his person disfigured by vermin'.71
  
68 J. Howard, op. cit., p. 11.
   69 Facts about the lazaret plan from ibid., p. 11 seq., and P. Russell, op. cit., p. 403-08. Quotations from the latter.
   70 J. Howard, op. cit,, p. 11.
   71 J. Bowring, Observations on the Oriental Plague, and on Quarantine as a Means of Arresting its Progress, Edinburgh, G. Tait (1838). Abstracted in Lancet (1838), i, 342-8.

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