Society provides Information Board at the Pest House, Townlands Hospital

Following the recent partial restoration of the Pest House at Townlands Hospital the Henley Society has had sited alongside the building, a plaque explaining the purpose of the building and some of its history.

The Pest House, now Grade 11 listed, was the isolation unit for the nearby workhouse and was used to house inmates carrying infectious diseases.

For a week in 1794 the Pest House held a certain Silas Tomkyn Cumberbache who had fled Cambridge University in the face of a huge debt built up as a result of his taste for drugs, drink and women.

He joined the Light Dragoons based in Reading only for it to be discovered that he was totally incapable of riding a horse. He was therefore assigned to look after a fellow recruit who had caught smallpox, and Cumberbache and his charge ended up in the foul conditions of the Pest House for eight days and nights. Cumberbache turned out to be none other than Samual Taylor Coleridge the poet (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.)

He found his stay a miserable experience about which he later wrote. and by which his later work was influenced.

Geoff Luckett. the Society’s Chairman said that ‘this interesting piece of Henley’s rich history should be preserved and hence the Society’s wish to commemorate it,’

The plaque includes two QR codes one of which directs you to the Society web site and the other to the Assendon on-line Museum for more information.