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Report - Essex County Lunatic Asylum, Warley, July 2011

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by layz, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. layz

    layz Conquistador d'Wolverton
    28DL Full Member

    Sep 21, 2008
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    Hey Guys,

    The Explore

    This was a fun little explore. Most of the site was converted a number of years ago, whilst the remaining few wards are currently being redeveloped. The Chapel attached the main building was certainly a highlight, boasting a number of original features and carved corbels. The showroom apartments were also good fun, with running water and electricity. Whilst inside we spotted a couple of suits showing a couple round the site, we considered putting the kettle on for them, locking the flat behind us for them to come in have the kettle click off and a brew ready for them.
    The ceilings are the same as those at St John’s in Lincoln, which are in fact solid brick barrel vaults, which I’m still trying to rationalise in my head as surely they add unnecessary weight to the structure.


    Essex County Lunatic Asylum opened in 1853, making it one of the earlier large asylums. Being still a new concept these early asylums can sometimes seem inhumane to the modern eye, often over looking basic human comforts. However despite their seemingly brutish appearance they were still many times better than what Victorian ‘pauper lunatics’ typically endured, with such asylums often being driven by a greater degree of philanthropy than the later ones. Early mental health professionals believed that ‘fresh air and sunlight’ would cure most patients. It was only later in the 1920s when this concept had not worked as envisaged, did the over use of drugs and later even more barbaric experiments take place.
    Built in the Tudor-Gothic High Victorian style, the building is characterised by redbrick, stone dressings and rectangular windows and is arranged in a corridor plan. The dormitories and single rooms were unheated, white washed with nothing except a box bed and straw mattress. With very few gas lights, the rooms remained unlit until 1920. Patients were issued with uniforms of black dresses and bonnets for women, and corduroy suits for men. In the absence of adequate drinking water the asylum had its own brewery serving every patient daily until the 1900s. The asylum continued to expand over the next few decades reaching a patient population of 1,999 in 1899. In 1917, during the first world war strict rationing and overcrowding resulted in the death of over 500 patients, only 10% less than the admission numbers.
    In the 1960s the hospital saw a massive influx of adolescent drug users and by the 1980s was dealing mainly with ordinary people who had suffer breakdowns. In 2001 the hospital finally closed.

    Original Plan










    10- Conversion Plan

    11 - Show Flat


    #1 layz, Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011

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