Urbex: The Lincolnshire County Pauper Lunatic Asylum – September 2012
Formerly, the Lincolnshire County Lunatic Asylum. The Asylum was built in 1852 and enlarged on several subsequent occasions in 1859, 1866, 1881 and 1902. It was originally established jointly by Lindsey, Kesteven, Holland, Lincoln, Grimsby and Stamford, and managed by a Board of Visitors appointed by the contributing authorities. Kesteven and Grantham withdrew from the arrangement when the contract of Union expired in 1893 (eventually establishing the Kesteven County Asylum at South Rauceby, 1897).
The hospital was set in grounds of 120 acres which included gardens, farmland and a burial ground. In 1940 female patients were transferred to other hospitals, mainly Storthes Hall near Huddersfield, to make space for an Emergency Hospital, and many did not return until well after the end of the War. Administration of the hospital passed to the National Health Service in 1948. By the early 1960s it was known by its final name of St John’s Hospital. Patients were admitted from Harmston Hall Hospital when that hospital closed. St John’s Hospital itself was closed in December 1989 with the remaining patients transferred to other establishments. The site was sold for housing and most of the buildings apart from the central block were demolished.
The following names, among others, were used for the Institution, sometimes interchangeably:
1852-1893 Lincolnshire County Lunatic Asylum or Lincolnshire County Pauper Lunatic Asylum
1894-1915 Lincolnshire Lunatic Asylum
1897-1898 Lindsey, Holland, Lincoln and Grimsby District Pauper Lunatic Asylum
1903-1920 Lincolnshire Asylum
1898-1902 Bracebridge Pauper Lunatic Asylum
1902-1919 Bracebridge District Lunatic Asylum
1919-1948 Bracebridge Mental Hospital
1930-1938 Lincolnshire Mental Hospital
1939-1960 Bracebridge Heath Hospital
1961-1989 St John’s Hospital, Bracebridge Heath
The plan & arrangements of this large asylum, are in accordance with the most approved systems adopted in other parts of the kingdom. The plain Italian style prevails throughout the large central building, & in all its wings & outbuildings; which, with the courts & airing yards etc, occupy about 7 acres. About 8 acres more are occupied by gardens, lawns, plantations, & roads; thus leaving about 30 acres for the farm, which is partly cultivated by spade husbandry, & gives healthy employment to many of the patients.
The average number of patients in 1854, was 244, consisting of 110 males & 125 females. Many of the latter are employed in needlework. The asylum finally closed in 1989/1990 and was bought by a property developer a few years later who has converted half of the site into houses but the main asylum buildings are Grade II listed buildings and cant be demolished.
First visit was just Jamie and myself we didn’t expect to be able to get access here so we had what’s left of Rauceby as a backup plan. Much to our surprise however we managed about 3 hours undetected and covered about 30%-40% of the Asylum. The place is pretty stripped bare now however its still a good explore. I really liked the ceilings in the cell corridors with the arched honey comb effect and the cells themselves were interesting.
Currently this has to be one of my favourite explores to date, despite being stripped out I thought that this asylum was pretty photogenic. Best bit for me has to be the arched ceilings with sound proofing supposedly a design feature to reduce the sounds of screaming patients.
A return trip with Jamie, Ryan and Adam this time we covered more ground I’d estimate around 80% with the remaining 20% pretty much inaccessible on that occasion. Again there wasn’t a lot more to see. Most of this place has been stripped out for redevelopment. We found another block of cells one of which had a cool door different to the rest. I did some light orb paintings in the basement and in a couple of the dark rooms on 30 second exposures and covered off a few areas I missed on the first visit as well as recapturing a couple of the interesting looking corridors. What was interesting on this occasion is that red and white tape had been added to certain doorways and one had been boarded up completely all since the visit 1 week prior so someone has obviously been in trying to re-secure the place and I expect trying to find out where we’ve been covering 🙂
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