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.
Severalls Hospital in Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom was a psychiatric hospital built in 1910 to the design of architect Frank Whitmore. It opened in May 1913.
Psychiatrists were free to experiment with new treatments on patients seemingly at will, using practices now considered unsuitable such as the use of frontal lobotomy. The use of these treatments peaked in the 1950s. In her book Madness in Its Place: Narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997, Diana Gittins notes that often women were admitted by their own family, sometimes as the result of bearing illegitimate children. As they would not always (or were unable to) carry out daily tasks, they were considered to be insane and some were even subjected to ECT and lobotomy.
Whittingham Asylum. The hospital was founded in 1869 and grew to be the largest mental hospital in Britain, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms. During its time it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers. It closed in 1995 with a history of serious complaints of cruelty, ill-treatment and fraud in the hospital.
Talgarth Asylum, Wales. Originally called the Brecon and Radnor Joint Asylum, it became the Mid Wales Hospital in 1921 and was built in an echelon, or “compact arrow“, style, allowing for quick movement between any two points of the 200,000 square foot hospital.
The hospital was founded in 1869 and grew to be the largest mental hospital in Britain, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms. During its time it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers. It closed in 1995 with a history of serious complaints of cruelty, ill-treatment and fraud in the hospital.