Severalls Lunatic Asylum aka The Second Essex County Asylum aka Severalls Hospital located in Colchester, Essex was a psychiatric hospital built in 1910 based on a design by Frank Whitmore. The hospital opened in May 1913. At its peak the 300 acre site had facilities to accommodate over 2000 patients and was based on the Echelon Asylum Plan, a specific arrangement of wards, offices and services within easy reach of each other by a network of interconnecting corridors. Unlike modern British hospitals, patients in Severalls were separated according to their gender. Villas were constructed around the main hospital building as accommodation blocks between 1910 and 1935. Most of the buildings are in the Queen Anne style, with few architectural embellishments, typical of the Edwardian period.
Controversial psychiatric experiments / treatments were known to have taken place at Severalls including electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) along with the use of frontal lobotomies. These sorts of treatments peaked in the 1950’s and reforms in the 1960’s saw the abolition of this sort of practice in favour of art and musical therapy as well as widespread use of drugs and medication.
The hospital began its closure process in the early 1990’s along with many of the other large asylums in the country and a small portion remained open until 1997 to cater for continued treatment of some of the older 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 greatly from vandalism. In 2005 the main hall was subjected to an arson attack and in 2007 the charred building was demolished for safety reasons. The five boilers were removed from the Central Boiler House in 2007.
In 2008, the sale of the Hospital Site, including its extensive Grounds, collapsed due to the slow-down in the Building Industry.
Redevelopment detals borrowed from wikipedia:
In December 2010, the nearby new A12 junction was officially opened. The “Stadium” junction and roundabout are located just to the north of Colchester United F.C.’s Stadium, on land formally known as Cuckoo Farm (used up until the late 1950s / early 1960s as the Hospital Farm). The opening of this new junction will enable the new link road to be built between “Stadium” roundabout on Axial Way to the Northern Approach Road, just north of Mill Road. The proposed route will pass over the long-demolished Iris House, to the south of Orchard and Eden Villas, through Fernholme Villa before crossing the old Sports Ground and joining the Northern Approach Road. Once built, this will open up the re-development potential for the former Hospital Site. At present, it is not known which of the existing Hospital buildings will be retained, apart from the Administration Building which is Grade 2 Listed. It is hoped that the main “ranges” / Ward Blocks will be kept and converted, along with the Water Tower, which is considered to be an important and historic landmark.
In May 2011 Colchester Borough Council’s Planning Committee gave their approval for the erection of 248 new homes. The location is on land currently owned by H.C.A. (formerly English Partnerships) and although is not directly on the site of the Main Hospital, is recognised as Phase 1 of the redevelopment of the former Severalls Hospital site. It is understood that this first phase is to be sited to the north-east of the Main Hospital, in fields bordering Mill Road and Tower Lane, next to the old Myland Hospital Water Tower.
In late September 2011, as part of the enabling works for the new Northern Approach Road (or NAR) contractors began to clear the vegetation which had been allowed to grow un-checked in the 15 years since the hospital closed. Some large trees were also felled. Blue sheeting covering every opening, every hole in the roof, every broken pane of glass, is in place at “Fernhome” Villa (originally Female Villa). This is due to bats roosting, and this will be monitored before being re-housed to a suitable habitat. Workers have also begun to strip-out “Eden” Villa, built in the 1930s, ready for its demolition, along with Fernholme Villa. In October 2011 huge oak trees were felled and large areas of hedgerows stripped away. A new fence has also been erected, roughly marking out the public footpath which runs from Mill Road to Tower Lane and beyond.
November, 2011:- Demolition commenced on Fernholme Villa.
Early 2012:- Phase 1 “Rosewood” (248 new homes) begins in the former Asylum’s Farmland to the east of the main Hospital Buildings; with Tower Lane to the Northern Boundary, and the now dis-used Water Tower of the long demolished Myland Hospital for Infectious Diseases off Mill Road to the Eastern corner. “Rosewood Park” marks the start of Redevelopment of the former Hospital’s land. The Street names will be Olympic themed, which has caused bemusement to some local Residents & Groups, who would have preferred that the Street names would instead reflect local History.
Visited with reliable Ryan Intrepidus 🙂
This was my first visit to Severalls and having seen countless reports on the place I knew it was big and sometimes confusing and disorientating but I was still taken aback by the size and layout of the place. Thankfully I had been supplied with a map from a fellow explorer which highlighted the 2 main tourist spots the morgue and the squirrels boutique which we headed to straight away grabbing the odd shot as we went along. The map worked a treat an we managed to catch them both as well snapping a few photographs of the iconic corridors and some cells we found.
We had about 2-3 hours of uninterrupted exploring before having the pleasure of meeting Michael who was a thoroughly nice chap and gave us some details about the hospital and our past while he walked us off the site. The site is so vast that I bet I could spend a week there and still not manage to photograph everything I wanted to capture but still glad I got at least one visit in before it goes 😀 On with the photos:
**Dont forget to check out my other reports with hundred more photos**:
And a quick video from that visit:
If you’ve made it this far… thanks for reading / checking out the pictures. Leave me a comment below or hit the like button to let me know you’ve enjoyed the shots and to encourage me to keep posting more 🙂
Limited Edition and Canvas prints, as well as regular prints, are available for all of the images above just ask me about prices.