Report - - Severalls Hospital - The Return Visit - May 2009 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Severalls Hospital - The Return Visit - May 2009


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28DL Full Member
Visited with Randomnut, Wifebeater, ConcentrationF, Catscratch, Snarksnot and Jim

Severalls Hospital in Colchester, Essex, UK was a psychiatric hospital built in 1910 which first opened in May 1913. The 300-acre (1.2 km2) site housed some 2000 patients and was based on the "Echelon plan" - a specific arrangement of wards, offices and services within easy reach of each other by a network of interconnecting corridors. This meant that staff were able to operate around the site without the need to go outside in bad weather. Unlike modern British hospitals, patients in Severalls were separated according to their gender. The architect of the asylum was Frank Whitmore.

Villas were constructed around the main hospital building as accommodation blocks between 1910 and 1935. Most of the buildings are in the Neo-Georgian style, with few architectural embellishments.

Psychiatrists were free to experiment with new treatments on patients seemingly at will using practices now considered unsuitable such as electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and the use of frontal lobotomy. These practices reached their climax during 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 or as they had been subjected to rape. As they would not always (or were unable to) carry out daily tasks, they were considered to be "mad" and some were even subjected these procedures. A change in management during the 1960s (and likely a change in social acceptances) saw reforms introduced including the creation of art and music therapy programs and the widespread use of drugs and medication.

The hospital closed as a psychiatric hospital in the early 1990s following the closure of other psychiatric institutions. However, a small section of it did remain open until 20 March 1997 for the treatment of elderly patients suffering from the effects of serious stroke, etc., as a temporary building for nearby Colchester General Hospital (which was in the process of building an entire new building for these patients).

Since 1997 the remaining structures have changed little. Architecturally, the site remains an excellent example of a specific asylum plan. However, the buildings have suffered much vandalism and fire damage which has since led to the demolition of the main hall. In 2005 the main hall was subject to an arson attack, and in 2007 the charred building was demolished for safety reasons.

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