Designed by architect Thomas Fulljames, the Denbighshire County Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1848 as the 1st Welsh asylum built as a refuge from the maltreatment in English asylums of Welsh speaking patients. Amongst locals for many years the old Gothic institution has been referred to simply as ‘Denbigh Mental’. A small stripped chapel lies to the back of the site behind the maintenance shops and boiler house which was added to the site in 1862.
Various interesting and experimental treatments were tested and developed at Denbigh over the course of its history. In 1871 Turkish baths were installed to treat melancholia amongst other ilnesses and in 1916 all epileptic patients in the asylum were placed on a vegetarian diet since epilepsy during the early 1900’s was still at the centre of much speculative research. Electro-convulsive shock therapy was also introduced at the hospital in 1941 as a means of managing the symptoms of madness, other ‘cures’ for delirium also included Sleep therapy and the widespread practice of the pre-frontal leucotomy.
The asylum reached a maximum holding capacity in 1956 housing just over 1,500 patients. This number however slowly decreased over the years as various parts of the hospital faced closure including the farms, workshops and various wards in order to cut costs until 1995 when the asylum shut down indefinitely. The now derelict buildings featured most recently in a television series called ‘Most Haunted’. The administration block, although severely dilapidated is grade II listed but sadly in November of 2008 the main theatre was completely destroyed by an arson attack.
This incident occurred 2 weeks after a listing proposal was brought forward to the local council regarding the main halls status. Denbigh’s future looks bleak and as with most asylums, the land it lies on represents a redevelopment premium in location and so her beautiful old battered corridors man not survive for much longer.
Urban decay and peeling paint. The Cambridge Military Hospital opened its doors to patients in 1879. The name Cambridge came from His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at the time. The hospital was built on a hill because current clinical thinking at the time thought that the wind would sweep away any infection and clean the air. The CMH was famed for its supposedly mile long corridor, with self contained wards and rooms branching off on either side.
It was hoped that this design would reduce cross infection. The Louise Margaret Hospital opened in 1898 and eventually changed its name and purpose in 1958 to become the Louise Margaret Maternity Hospital, caring solely for mothers and babies. The CMH was used throughout its years to house casualties from the majority of the wars this country has seen; from the first world war upto the first gulf war. The Cambridge Military Hospital closed down in 1996. Many factors were given as the reason for its closure; cost to maintain, efficiency and asbestos were among them.
Steep House / Potters Manor House was built in 1904. The last inhabitants were a family of artisans and potters and for some reason, that we will probably never know, left the house with all its contents including many paintings and full wardrobes of clothes. Over the years the house has suffered from looting, pillaging and vandalism.
Lillesden School for Girls occupies what used to be the Lillesden Estate Mansion, built at the estate (south of Hawkhurst) by the banker Edward Loyd, who co-founded the Loyd Entwistle & Co bank, which later became the District Bank and ultimately the National Westminster (Natwest). Loyd had Lillesden Mansion built after he married Caroline Louisa Foster on the 12th March 1846 at Ashton-on-Mersey. He bought the Lillesden estate at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1853 and built the mansion, finished in 1855.