Report (Permission Visit) - St. Luke's woodside hospital, Highgate, North London - January 2015 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report (Permission Visit) St. Luke's woodside hospital, Highgate, North London - January 2015


28DL Regular User
Regular User


It's been a while since I first checked this out, then again a few months back and in the end I came to realize that I wasn't getting in without permission. Security were dead on and I've not seen as good an effort before. After some emails were exchanged and other things were arranged I got the go ahead to meet the owner and have a wander round the place. Took a while but I finally got some of the place photographed. I hope you enjoy!


St. Luke's


The first St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics opened in 1751 in an old converted building, the Foundry, in Windmill Hill, Upper Moorfields, leased from the authorities in the City of London. It had been founded the previous year by six people - Dr. Thomas Crowe, a physician; Richard Speed, a druggist of Old Fish Street; William Prowting, an apothecary of Tower Street; James Sperling and Thomas Light, two merchants of Mincing Lane; and Francis Magnus. The group was concerned about the abuse of inmates within the nearby Bethlehem Royal Hospital (which by this time was unable to meet the demand for admissions) and also perceived a need to distinguish between permanent and temporary forms of insanity , such as nervous breakdown.

The Hospital took its name from the new parish of St Luke's. It was the second hospital to be established especially for the poor mentally ill, the first being the afore-mentioned Royal Bethlehem Hospital, founded in 1247, and known familiarly as 'Bedlam'.

By 1753 the Hospital had 57 'curable' patients (lunatics) and, by the following year 70, all looked after by a staff of six - the keeper and his wife and two male and two female attendants. In 1754 the Hospital began to admit 'incurable' patients.

When the lease of the Foundry was about to expire, the Hospital Committee found it was unable to renew it on acceptable terms. Therefore, 3 acres of land in Old Street were leased from the Governors of St Bartholomew's Hospital, part of a 6-acre piece of land containing the Peerless Pool, a swimming bath constructed in 1743. Work began on the new site in 1782.

During the war there was no possibility of building a third hospital, but the Welders estate continued in use as a convalescent home for women with mild nervous maladies. In 1917 Welders Orchard (11-3/4 acres) and a field of 6-3/4 acres were purchased.

In 1928, with the proceeds from the sale of the Old Street building, the Governors purchased three adjacent Victorian villas in Woodside Avenue, Muswell Hill. The villas - Norton Lees (bought for £5000), Roseneath (£5500) and Lea Wood (£7500) - occupied a 6-3/4 site near Highgate Woods and were the only residences in Woodside Avenue. Their grounds stretched back as far as Grand Avenue. Work began to convert the site into a 50-bedded hospital for nervous diseases. Low-level ward blocks (one for 30 female and one for 20 male patients) were built, as well as an administration block and treatment and kitchen blocks. Norton Lees was enlarged and became the Nurses' Home.

In 1928 another villa - 28 Grand Avenue - was purchased for use as a Nurses' Home for the night staff.
During WW2 the Hospital was evacuated but in 1940 it became part of the Emergency Medical Service, treating male and female officers for neuroses and mild psychoses. It was renamed the St Luke's Woodside Hospital for Functional Nervous Disorders. In the same year a delayed-action bomb fell on the lawn; the site was evacuated and it exploded 8 hours later with no casualties. Lea Wood was enlarged to create another ward and 28 Grand Avenue was also used for patients, who received prolonged narcosis as treatment, as well as narco-analysis. Many of the D-day casualties suffered from acute exhaustion and anxiety.

In 1945, when it became evident that a national health service was inevitable and that specialist hospitals would be linked to teaching hospitals, the Governors sought to re-establish links with the Middlesex Hospital. In 1948, on joining the NHS, the Hospital became the St Luke's-Woodside Hospital, the in-patient branch of the Department of Psychological Medicine of the Middlesex Hospital. It was enlarged to 100 beds in order to meet the requirements of teaching hospital status. The Foundation's funds were transferred to the Middlesex Hospital.

In 1974, when the Hospital had 80 beds, it ceased to be administered by the Middlesex Hospital and came under the auspices of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority. In 1982 it transferred to the Bloomsbury District Health Authority until 1993, when it joined the newly formed Camden and Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust.

Between 2002 and 2009 the Hospital was administered by the Camden and Islington Mental Health NHS Trust (now NHS Foundation Trust). The Trust planned to close three wards, moving the acute beds from Haringey to Camden. This prompted fears that the Hospital would close, but the Trust stated in January 2009 that 50 beds will remain on site for residential and rehabilitation services.

The Hospital closed in 2010. The remaining few in-patients had been transferred to a new ward at St Pancras Hospital in 2009.

In March 2013 the 6-acre site sold for £26m to the Hanover Housing Trust, who plan to build an innovative housing development of 200 homes, 70% of which will be for people aged over 55 years.

Also, this was quite an interesting yet morbid event that also was part of the history of St. Luke's:

In January 2002 a 51-year-old unemployed mechanical engineer, Anthony Hardy, had been arrested and admitted to the Hospital for evaluation after he had poured acid into a neighbour's letterbox. He was assessed by a panel of health managers as being of low- to medium risk and released in November. The following month he murdered two women in Camden Town and dismembered their bodies with an electric saw.

Following his arrest for the murders a public inquiry was held to establish why such a potentially dangerous person had been released from St Luke's-Woodside Hospital.

Dubbed the Camden Ripper, Hardy was jailed for life.

Hanover homes have purchased the site, including buildings and land for £26m. They plan to convert the Grade 2 listed admin block and the other 2 locally listed front buildings into housing, the front gardens will also be retained leaving the view of the woodside buildings looking as they would when it was open.

Here's what they say:

Thank you for visiting our website and for your interest in our plans for the future of St. Luke's.

St. Lukes is an attractive 6 acre site on Woodside Avenue, Muswell Hill. Our plans will see an attractive development of a varied mix of private and affordable housing with 70% earmarked for people over 55. They exemplify the character of the site and breath new life into the historic buildings, ecology and landscaping.

Our approach is to apply high specification architecture, site layout and infrastructure, environmental management and landscaping to capture the essence of this beautiful site and meet the aspirations of our future residents.

Our proposals include the following:
  • Apartments with one to three bedrooms for people aged fifty five and over, private sale, affordable rent and shared ownership
  • Refurbished and extended heritage buildings providing apartments for sale
  • Apartments and houses for Woodside Cohousing
  • Family houses for sale
Here's there site: http://www.stlukesmuswellhill.co.uk/

My visit

I met the owner and the many security guards plus guard dog and was shown around the impressive buildings. I was granted access to the gardens, admin and the other 2 front buildings which included nurses quarters, drug office, admin etc. Unfortunately the wards and secure unit are sealed up so they couldn't let me in, a real shame but it would've been pitch black likely anyway!

The place is now full of workmen and it won't be long before the wards are torn down, security have the place on lock down unfortunately.

Anyway, here are some pics from my visit, I hope you can the site for what it is and I hope you enjoy the report. :Thumb

The pictures



















Cheers :thumb

Last edited by a moderator:


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Very nice mate :thumb

Although it could do with a bit more History/ info on the place ;)

Deffo" up to your usual high standards mate, & well done for getting in permission or not :thumb


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Yeah I think the history could be condensed quite significantly, puts me off reading any of it when there are 5 pages of the stuff to get through. Some of it is important and some of it definitely isn't, anyway just my 2 cents worth. Really great to see the inside of this one, tried it before and security was frustratingly tight for such a small site. Looks alright in there :thumb


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Yeah I think the history could be condensed quite significantly, puts me off reading any of it when there are 5 pages of the stuff to get through. Some of it is important and some of it definitely isn't, anyway just my 2 cents worth. Really great to see the inside of this one, tried it before and security was frustratingly tight for such a small site. Looks alright in there :thumb
I'll cut it down a little :p:, I enjoy reading it but can understand if it's too much! :D
Cheers for the comments! :thumb


Staff member
Yeah I think the history could be condensed quite significantly, puts me off reading any of it when there are 5 pages of the stuff to get through. Some of it is important and some of it definitely isn't, anyway just my 2 cents worth. Really great to see the inside of this one, tried it before and security was frustratingly tight for such a small site. Looks alright in there :thumb
It's only because you can't read and don't understand anything other than 5% abv :D :slap


28DL Regular User
Regular User
permission visit law = leave a window open somewhere ?
All windows are open, problem is, they have home sitters in the buildings with windows that can open. And when they aren't in for some reason you still have to get passed secca and the very loud alarms (as i found out). The wards have everything boarded but would be so good to get in before it's demolished. (Which won't be long)


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Might be worth keeping an eye on in the imminent future in that case, I'm sure the boards will come off once work has begun so there's bound to be a window of opportunity there, no pun intended :)


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Demolition has begun and is almost completed.

Hopefully this will be a good tribute to the place for locals and other associated members of the public.

Thankfully Hanover homes have retained a large portion of the site and will be refurbishing them soon!

Again, thanks to the security and Hanover homes for being kind enough to show me around and give me free roam of the place!

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