The Great Hospital, Norwich, is one of only a handful of English hospitals to survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries with its medieval fabric largely intact. It is unique in possessing a magnificent set of medieval and Tudor records. It has functioned without a break since 1249, having served during the Middle Ages as one of the city's principal religious houses.
Yet, even in East Anglia, this remarkable institution remains little known outside the academic community. The requirement was to create a website which not only reflected the historical importance of the archives and fabric of the Great Hospital, Norwich, but could also help the hospital Trustees in their efforts to secure further funding for conservation.
For the last fifteen years, Professor Carole Rawcliffe and her medical history students have been working on the Great Hospital and other pre-modern English hospitals. This project capitalised on their collective knowledge to widen public awareness of a site of local and national importance.
The website provides an accessible guide to the layout and development of the precinct and the medieval buildings. A series of 3D computer models take the viewer around the present site and recreate the pre-Reformation hospital with its spectacular decor. The hospital's history and function are clearly explained, and a carefully chosen selection of ancillary material (maps, plans, manuscripts and accompanying translations, photographs and drawings) is reproduced.
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Mr Michael Brookes, Hospital Trustees, said: “The website simply would not have happened without Virtual Past’s input; the combination of the knowledge brought to the project by the academics, and the technical knowledge of the designers and modellers brought about something which the Trust would not have been able to achieve on its own”.