Holloway Sanatorium

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Wood-engraving from the Illustrated London News, 5 January 1884

Holloway Sanatorium was an institution for the treatment of those suffering temporary mental illness, situated on 22 acres (9 ha) of aesthetically landscaped grounds near Virginia Water, Surrey, England, about 22 miles (35 km) south-west of Charing Cross. Its largest buildings, including one Listed at Grade I, have been restored and supplemented as Virginia Park, chiefly comprising Crossland House, The Grange, Gillespie House and Connolly Court. It has a spa complex, gymnasium, multi-purpose sports hall and an all-weather tennis court.

Construction was conceived by the wealthy philanthropist Thomas Holloway, which entailed an elaborate Franco-Gothic style by W. H. Crossland, and took place between 1873 and 1885. The imposing exteriors and interiors have a sister building, the Royal Holloway College about a mile north; Sir Nikolaus Pevsner regarded the two as the "summit of High Victorian design". In 1948 the site was transferred to the National Health Service. In the year 2000, after more than a decade of neglect, the buildings were restored and some of the grounds converted to houses which led to the site's renaming. Many of the original features have been preserved involving direction by English Heritage.


The site of Holloway Sanatorium, an institution,[1] is the present Virginia Park residential estate in Virginia Water, west of Stroude Road and north of the railway station. It was one of two important symbols of the vision of the Victorian multi-millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, Thomas Holloway (1800–1883): the other being Royal Holloway College in Egham, Surrey (now Royal Holloway, University of London) which was opened two years later about a mile north. Like the College, the Sanatorium was an extraordinary and extensive building, founded and personally funded by Holloway as a 'Gift to the Nation', and it was the fruit of the partnership between Holloway and his principal architect William Henry Crossland (1835–1908). The architecture was inspired by the gothic styles of the Cloth Hall of Ypres in Belgium with its conspicuous tower, and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

Work started on the building of the Sanatorium in 1873. The institution, 'a hospital for the insane of the middle class', was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) on 15 June 1885. There were 73 certified patients admitted in the first year, and the number increased steadily so that in 1892 it already exceeded its capacity for 600 patients. A board of trustees managed the Sanatorium until it passed to the National Health Service in 1948. After becoming redundant to the NHS in 1981, it became derelict, vandalised and pillaged for the next 12 years. In 1994 grounds were gradually redeveloped and most of the buildings restored, to become in the year 2000 a gated residential estate.

Thomas Holloway’s philanthropy[edit]

Contemporary wood-engraving from a photograph by Elliott & Fry

Thomas Holloway was a Victorian entrepreneur who made a fortune from the sale of his patent medicines, pills and ointments, designed to cure all ills. Where Holloway differed from other 'quack medicine' vendors was that he was one of the earliest entrepreneurs to appreciate the value of advertising: he spent huge amounts of money promoting his cures throughout the world and, as a result, reaped huge rewards.

Looking for ways in which to spend his fortune, Holloway turned to philanthropy, and became a champion of progressive mental health care. George III's madness had excited public opinion about the correct and humane treatment for the insane. Therefore, on 19 April 1861 Holloway attended a public meeting at the London Freemasons’ Hall in which Lord Shaftesbury, sincerely concerned with mental health, made a magnificent speech, calling for funds for the foundation of an asylum for the middle-class insane. Lord Shaftesbury appealed for £5,000 and received immediately contributions totalling £760, though none from Holloway. Holloway was impressed, and Shaftesbury received a letter from Holloway’s solicitor three years later announcing "a gentleman who is possessed of nearly a quarter of a million" and wished to see him with a view to disposing of that sum "for charitable uses".

The meeting took place on 25 May 1864 at which Holloway resolved to spend some of his fortune on the establishment of a Sanatorium for the mentally sick of the middle classes "the professional breadwinner whose income ceases when he is unable to work". Pauper Asylums gave refuge for the insane of the poorer classes, and care at private establishments could be bought by the rich, the middle classes neither deserved the former nor could afford the latter. Charity for the poor demeaned its recipients: as far as possible people should be assisted to help themselves. The proposed asylum was not intended for the permanently insane, but as a refuge in which the temporarily deranged should be assisted to resume their working lives. At that meeting Holloway told Shaftesbury that he intended to spend his fortune on a single building and in a single benefaction.

Holloway initiates the design[edit]

In 1872 that Holloway met with the Commissioners in Lunacy, who entered warmly into his plans and promised every assistance to produce a model building. He expressed some quite fixed feelings about architecture but was no expert and was assisted by Professor T. L. Donaldson and T. H. Wyatt (who were architects for the Commissioners in Lunacy). Donaldson (1795–1885) was a foremost architect, the first Professor of Architecture at University College London, co-founder of the R.I.B.A., and its President in 1863-4. Thomas Henry Wyatt (1807–1880) similarly, who had been President of R.I.B.A. in 1870. Both Donaldson and Wyatt received some recompense for their services, the former 100 guineas and the latter 25 guineas. Holloway had a third adviser, George Godwin, editor of The Builder. Holloway's initial idea was that the design of the building should be purely Italian, modelled on the river frontage of Somerset House. However, by October 1871 he had had a change of heart and wrote to Donaldson: “You will see that I have gone into the grand old Flemish style. I know that your taste is classical and which I greatly admire, but perhaps all things considered the Gothic would be most appropriate, as we can get red brick in the neighbourhood and a large building in the Italian style ought, I believe, to have stone facings”.

Competition for the plan[edit]

The Commissioners suggested that the best results would be obtained by submitting the plans to a competition of a limited number of architects. In September 1871 Holloway held the competition with the result that ten architects submitted eleven plans for the asylum. The architects who responded to the invitation to submit designs for the asylum were Crossland, Salomons & Jones; Alfred Smith; T. Roger Smith; Richard Phené Spiers; J. P. Seddon; J. S. Quilter; T. H. Watson; E. W. Godwin (two designs); F. & H. Francis and Thomas C. Hine. The winning entry, with a first premium award of £200, was by Crossland, Salomons and Jones. Alfred Smith was awarded the second premium of £100 and all the others received £50 for their trouble, except Hine, a Nottingham architect, who received only £25: possibly he had not actually been invited to submit a plan. The moneys were paid out in July 1872. In August 1872 the plans were placed on exhibition in the Regent Street gallery of E. Freeman.

Architect: William Henry Crossland[edit]

William Henry Crossland later recalled that he had not wished to go into the competition on his own and had sought the assistance of distinguished Irish architect John Philpot Jones. Edward Salomons practised in Manchester where he and Jones had designed the Reform Club in 1870. It is possible that the two had met in Rochdale in 1866 when Crossland was engaged on the Town Hall and Salomons on the town's theatre. Crossland planned it to look like the Cloth Hall at Ypres (having tried this design the previous year in the building of Rochdale Town Hall) and the Great Hall was designed in the style of the gothic La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Jones, who had most of the work on the asylum design, died soon after the foundation stone was laid and Crossland records that most of the work then fell to him, Salomons being in Manchester. Crossland received commission of £7,620 – without travelling expenses for himself or his staff.

Site: Virginia Water[edit]

In Victorian times many hospitals were built on spacious grounds in urban as well as rural locations, not only because more land was available, but also because space had therapeutic and practical value: "An asylum should be placed on elevated ground and should command cheerful prospects, should be surrounded with land sufficient to afford outdoor employment for males, and exercise for all patients, and to protect them from being overlooked or disturbed by strangers." This ideal of the Commissioners in Lunacy was quoted by an architecture researcher from York University, Robert Mayo, in a report for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

A site was chosen, north of the nascent Virginia Water village, directly west of a drop to the Thames plain below on St. Ann’s Heath, part of Holloway's land. Holloway ensured upper parts of the building were visible from a railway and a local road, the main route from Virginia Water railway station (in cutting) and Stroude Road behind high quality brick walls. Work on the building began in the Spring of 1873, when a clerk of works was appointed. Holloway’s wife, Jane, laid the first brick. Crossland received an instalment of £300 on 2 March 1874. Once started, Holloway was determined that building should go forward apace. When his plan for the use of Portland stone in place of ornamental brickwork was not allowed to stand, Crossland had to set aside all his carefully planned working and detail drawings and hurriedly draw up alternatives for masons and master bricklayers.

Building the Sanatorium[edit]

The first clerk of works was J. P. Featherstone who had been a tenant farmer under Holloway: he was appointed in April 1873 and resigned on 24 December 1876. Among the contractors were: Sharpington & Cole, London (masons); W. H. Lascelles, Finsbury (joiner); George Burfoot, Windsor (paving); Pontifex & Wood, London (lead); Wilson W. Phipson (heating); J. Gibson, Battersea (landscaping); J. D. Richards, London (furnishings). Ancillary works included the gas works at a cost of £1,950, six cottages and a workshop, and the sewage works which were constructed by John Thompson of Peterborough at a cost of £1,500.

A large workforce was employed during the twelve years. The building accounts include costs of advertising for masons, not only locally in Surrey and Berkshire, but from as far as Birmingham and Manchester. Holloway worked supervising the project closely until prevented by illness: unfortunately he died on Boxing Day 1883, eighteen months before the Sanatorium was opened.

By the time the institution was ready to admit patients, new regulations had come into force, and Crossland had to revise the internal arrangements to comply with the new safety regulations. Interior decoration was lavish: the great recreation hall with a grand beamed roof was decorated by the Scottish architect and designer John Moyr Smith at a cost of £400.

Contemporary account[edit]

It is probable that much of the review below came from Crossland and Holloway: the latter must have been pleased as later sent a monetary gift to the author:

  • On alighting at the Virginia Water Station of the London and South Western Railway the traveller becomes aware of a tall tower recalling to his mind the outline of the famous belfry tower of Ypres. In guide-books the magnificent tower of Les Halles in the old Flemish town which is said to have given its name to "diaper" fabrics, is comically referred to as "reminding one of the Victoria Tower, Westminster." As a matter of fact the Ypres tower is of very fine thirteenth-century work and has served as a model for many towers of later construction, including that of the Holloway Sanatorium. The chief difference between the latter and its prototype is that it is of red brick with stone dressing, while the ancient tower which looks down on the grave of Jansenius is of stone throughout. Built on the top of a slight eminence the Holloway Sanatorium, with its tower standing in pleasure grounds 22 acres (89,000 m2) in extent, is a conspicuous object in the richly-wooded country which inspired Sir John Denham with some of his finest verses.
  • Commenced some seven years ago by Mr Thomas Holloway, the Sanatorium for Curable Cases of Mental Disease was originally intended by the founder as a gift to the nation, perfect and complete as it stood. Mr Holloway has resolved not only to make a gift of the building, but to invest an additional £50,000 as an endowment, which will raise the cost of the whole foundation to £350,000. The purpose for which it is designed is clearly defined by the founder to be the succour of persons of the middle-class afflicted with mental disease. In selecting this object he has been guided by the consideration that rich people so unfortunate as to suffer from mental disease need no monetary assistance; and the poor in a similar mental condition are already cared for in public asylums. Put broadly, the scope of the Holloway Sanatorium includes the doctor, lawyer, artist, clerk or any professional bread-winner whose work cannot, like an ordinary business, be carried on by deputy, and whose income ceases absolutely when he is unable to work. This definition has not been arrived at without due care and ample investigation. Mr George Martin, at the instance of Mr Holloway, and sometimes accompanying him, has visited the principal establishments for the cure of mental disease in Europe and America, and the opinion has been gradually formed that many curable cases among the middle class are allowed to become uncurable from lack of means or opportunity to secure proper treatment. Slight cerebal attacks, if dealt with promptly, may, it is well known, be cured, and a recurrence of them guarded against with considerable success, while if neglected they increase in frequency, until the patient becomes entirely incapacitated from pursuing his calling. It is simply as a curative institution that the handsome structure at Virginia Water has been founded, one of the conditions being that no patient will be allowed to remain more than twelve months. By this regulation it will be prevented from becoming an asylum and losing its more important character. It was, as already stated, originally intended to be an entirely self-supporting institution, but Mr Holloway has finally determined to help it with an endowment.
  • The extremely handsome appearance of the exterior is amply borne out by the interior decorations and arrangement of the building, which when furnished will be ready at once to receive patients. Built of red brick, dressed with stone, in the style called indifferently Tudor or Early English Renaissance, the effect of the structure is highly creditable to the Architect, Mr W. H. Crossland, whose handsome town hall at Rochdale proves him a worthy pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott. The front elevation recalls in its general features some of the finer models of the Tudor period, such as Littlecote built before the stern dignity of the Gothic had quite yielded to the grace of the Renaissance. The interior decorations have been designed and executed by various hands, under the direction of Mr George Martin. With the exception of the massive grey marble top of the balustrade, the whole of the entrance hall and staircase is painted and gilt over the stone. This was an afterthought of kindness towards the persons for whom the building is intended, and four hundred of whom it is planned to accommodate. Cold grey columns and walls even if enlivened by sculpture, would, it is thought, sit heavily on a mind diseased, and it was resolved to make the principal apartments one blaze of gold and colour. The hall is accordingly lavishly decorated with figures and designs arabesque and grotesque, the latter displaying almost inexhaustible fertility of invention. If it be sound doctrine that surfaces of wood or stone should be gilt or painted, as the late Mr William Burges ARA., and some other authorities have more or less rigidly maintained, the rich decorations of the Holloway Sanatorium are correct enough. They are certainly gorgeous as well as cheerful and ingenious. The great lecture or recreation hall is remarkable for a splendid gilded roof, and for a profusion of gilding and other decorative work on the walls and behind the platform - the latter being very remarkable. Portraits of distinguished persons by Mr Giradot and other artists form part of the decoration scheme, and add interest to it. In the refectory also - a splendid apartment - the adornments consist of a series of paintings in the style of Watteau forming a frieze, above which are smaller groups in lunettes. Here the scheme of ornament, if hardly so coherent as in the hall, has the advantage aimed at throughout this unique building. Dominated by the idea that a cultivated person whose mind is affected will never be cured if surrounded by vulgar idiots or grim accessories, Mr Martin has endeavoured to introduce as many objects as possible to awake and stimulate the trained intelligence for the moment over-strained. In the smaller but still ample parlours and living rooms the same idea of cheerfulness and suggestiveness is carried out. It is endeavoured above all things to avoid leaving a dimmed intelligence opposite to a blank wall. All the internal arrangements are admirably planned as well for maintaining general health as for isolating special cases of disease, for providing that attendants shall live unobtrusively close to the patients confided to their charge and for conveying an idea of freedom combined with active surveillance. The kitchen is a wonder, and deserves a visit from all interested in the mystery of cooking food for five hundred or more persons at once. To make all complete there is a model laundry in an entirely separate building and pretty red brick houses have been built for such of the staff of the establishment as are not obliged to sleep in the main building. Just of late a change has been made in the original plan by which it was contemplated to use the immense and beautifully decorated hall as a place of worship; but Mr Holloway has decided on building a distinct chapel, the designs for which have been prepared by Mr Crossland. Thousands of shrubs and young trees already fill the pleasure grounds. Almost every known hardy variety is represented. Through those well-planted shrubberies winding walks conduct to pleasant points of view and back to an extensive terrace on which patients may sit or promenade, and enjoy the sunshine and pure air.

Opening – a contemporary account[edit]

The Sanatorium was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) in 1885. The Prince brought a party of friends over from the Ascot Races for the ceremony.

Mr. Martin-Holloway, who delivered the opening address, was Thomas Holloway's brother-in-law George Martin (1833–1895), who had married Sarah Anne Driver the sister of Jane Holloway. George and his brother Henry assisted Thomas Holloway in the foundation of the Sanatorium and Royal Holloway College. After Thomas Holloway died George assumed the additional name of Holloway, and was knighted in 1887.[2] Henry assumed the name Driver-Holloway.

THE HOLLOWAY SANATORIUM, VIRGINIA WATER ... ... ... engravings from The Illustrated London News, June 20, 1885 1. Entrance-hall for patients. 2. Turkish-bath rooms. 3. Chapel. 4. Recreation-hall. 5. Patients' villa. 6. Dr. Phillips' house. 7. One of the sitting-rooms.

The Illustrated London News reported:

...the building containing about 600 rooms, disposed on four floors, and capable of accommodating about 250 patients. The expense hitherto incurred is about £300,000.

The opening ceremony was in the large hall, which is to be used for concerts and other entertainments. The Royal party having taken their places on the platform, Mr. Martin-Holloway delivered a brief address, explaining that all the internal arrangements of the Sanatorium are planned for maintaining general health, for isolating special cases of disease, for enabling the attendants to live unobstrusively close to their patients, and for giving the patients an idea of freedom combined with active surveillance. The Prince of Wales briefly replied; and the guests dispersed to enjoy the hospitality of their host in dining-rooms and tents. The arrangements, which were in the charge of Mr. Trendell, were perfectly successful. The Sanatorium is ready for immediate occupation; and we believe that some patients were in the establishment this week. It is available only for curable cases of insanity; and the fees paid by patients will depend upon the amount of accommodation they require. Applications for half the possible number of admissions have been already accepted, and by the end of the year it is expected that the Sanatorium will be full.

Staff and patients[edit]

The first medical superintendent was Dr. Sutherland Rees Phillips.

In the early years of the sanatorium, nurses and domestic staff lived on the premises. There were 73 certified patients admitted in 1885, the first year. The 1891 census [3] shows that Dr. Phillips was superintendent, listing 314 patients (including boarders) and 147 resident staff (medical, attendants and domestic). In 1901 [4] the superintendent was Dr. William David Meares, and there were 384 patients and 210 resident staff . In 1911 the numbers were 368 inmates and 227 resident staff, with chief medical officer Dr. Thomas E. Harper and steward Jacob Jarvis Robertson. The censuses do not record non-resident staff.

Case Books were kept, with each patient being given a reference number. For the 40 years 1885–1924 there were 4902 female patients, and for a similar period there were about the same number of male patients.

By 1929 the number of patients and staff had increased so much that a Nurses’ Home was built in nearby Sandy Lane at a cost of £22,000.

In 1934 the steward (administration manager) was Jacob Jarvis Robertson and his assistants Mr. Harrison and Philip Bishop; they were responsible for general management, provision of food and the keeping of household inventories.

In his acclaimed travel memoir Notes from a Small Island, author Bill Bryson writes affectionately about his time working at the Tuke Ward of Holloway Sanatorium as a young man in 1973. He met his future wife, a nurse in the Florence Nightingale Ward, while at Holloway.


The functions of wards and their sections changed according to administrative needs and the needs of patients, also influenced by the financial wealth of patients. For example, prior to nationalisation, Connolly ward, which was a small multi-patient ward on the ground floor in 1972, was a similar-size, upmarket, duplex suite, above for one patient. Wards were named as below from the time the hospital was taken over by the NHS. Many of the names are of pioneering psychiatrists. Wards in other nearby hospitals, e.g. Brookwood Hospital in Woking, were similarly named.

The following names have been found for wards as of 1975. Wards are classified according to security required and further into Assessment, Rehabilitation and Elderly Care.

  • Campbell Clarke
  • David Moore
  • Jackson
  • Rush
Security (now referred to as "P I C U", Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) (Locked)
  • Clouston
  • Henderson
  • Pinel
  • Sherrington
  • Tuke
Elderly Care Assessment
Long term Elderly Care
Day Hospital
E.C.T. suite

From the late 1960s the hospital followed the national trend toward "open door" policies. Physical security, locks, fences etc., were changed arbitrarily by "trial and error" rather than by consultative planning and reference to research. As in other psychiatric hospitals this proved difficult to implement safely, such as with dementia care.

Life in the sanatorium[edit]

The sanatorium was run along the lines of an English country house at the turn of the century. There was elegant furniture in the rooms and corridors, the grounds were laid out for strolling, tennis, croquet and cricket; on summer afternoons a band would play for the entertainment of staff, patients and visitors; and there were concert parties in the evenings.

In 1903 lightning struck the roof, causing a small fire and £1,500 of damage.

Holloway Sanatorium was ahead in some of the new developments in mental healthcare, such as using occupational therapy for recovery. It was also one of the first hospitals to include photographs of patients with their case notes.

Seizures were common with patients and treatment was often in the form of sleep-inducing bromides and chloral.

Strychnine, a stimulant, was also administered where thought effective. In the case of Rev. Dennis Moore, he left the asylum “highly benefitted by the social evenings and the agreeable companions he associated with (both ladies and gentlemen) during his month's stay”.

The majority of patients spent their day engaged in leisurely activities such as knitting, especially amongst female patients. Caroline Newman, a former teacher of music, is described as amusing herself “making ludicrous rag dolls”. By contrast, a male patient is noted as “never occupying himself in any way”. [5]

St. Ann's Hospital[edit]

The Sanatorium expanded in time by buying other properties. In 1891 Hove Villa, Brighton was leased so patients could benefit from the fresh seaside air. In 1909 the Scottish architect Robert Weir Schultz (1860–1951) was asked to design a permanent replacement, and in 1910 St Ann's Hospital at Haven Road, Canford Cliffs, Poole, was built. It remains a listed building in the initial category, Grade II. Named after the heath of the mother institution it was opened in 1912, on 14 acres (57,000 m2) of land, with a porter's lodge and later cottages for the chauffeurs. In 1948 Holloway Sanatorium and St. Ann's, both then psychiatric hospitals, formed a group of the South West Metropolitan Region of the National Health Service. In 1960 their running was dissociated.

Lyne Place[edit]

Lyne Place, an imposing Regency house with gardens, is two miles (3 km) south at Wentworth Park; home of Russian philosopher P. D. Ouspensky between 1930 and his death in 1947. It was acquired by the Sanatorium and originally intended to be used for members of staff but was adapted for patients' accommodation in 1950. The building has since the 1990s formed luxury apartments.

After World War II[edit]

The management of the Sanatorium passed to the NHS on 5 July 1948 which continued its hospital use with a catchment area including Weybridge, Walton, Chertsey, Egham and Virginia Water. To maintain custom for an interim period until 1974 private patients continued to be admitted into a limited number of "amenity beds", paying for the relatively aesthetic surroundings, but receiving standard NHS treatment. In 1968 it became administratively part of Ashford Hospital.

The travel writer Bill Bryson recorded that the Sanatorium had a charm about it because “it was full of wandering lunatics”. Bryson worked at the sanatorium in 1973 as a janitor on Tuke Ward. His Notes From A Small Island mentions the ward as home to “long-stay male patients in a state of arrested insanity”. According to Bryson, the place was one of the most extraordinary communities in England. Many patients were allowed to wander freely down to the shops and back, mingling on equal terms with the locals, who affectionately referred to the institution as “the sanny”.[5]

On 8 February 1978 a disastrous fire broke out on the stage of the cinema which spread rapidly, fanned by a strong easterly wind. The patients were calmly escorted from the building and there was only one minor injury. The cinema and three wards, 'Clouston', 'Jane Holloway' and 'Thomas Holloway', were gutted and the electro-convulsive therapy and sewing rooms were badly damaged.[6]

The Sanatorium was closed in December 1980 and the remaining patients transferred to Ashford Hospital, which maintained a psycho-geriatric unit (Holloway Unit).[7] On 21 July 1981 contents of "Holloway Sanatorium: antique and period furniture" were sold at Wentworth Auction Galleries. The site was sold by the NHS to a property company which planned to convert it to 120,000 sq ft (11,000 m2) of offices. After the buildings had passed through three owners and two public enquiries, ending up in the hands of a receiver, they remained empty and vandalised for 12 years, becoming completely derelict. Thieves who stripped lead flashing from roof gullies caused leaks. Development on the cricket pitch at the front of the main block and the demolition of the Medical Superintendent’s House were allowed in the early 1990s, facilitating a rapid start on a restoration and development project.

Architecture in film, television and music videos[edit]

The main building was used in some early episodes of Inspector Morse, including the very first episode, The Dead of Jericho. Inspector Morse is seen on the main staircase, and the Dining Hall is used in the opening scenes. The facility featured in music videos in the early 1980s, such as Bucks Fizz, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Ant, Fiat Lux, The Cure, Bonnie Tyler and Alphaville. The 1986 slasher film Slaughter High used the site for many scenes. The Main Hall (Recreation Hall) was used in the Michael Caine TV Movie/Mini Series Jack the Ripper when Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline questions the beggars.


Holloway Sanatorium, now Virginia Park, in 2008

In the early 1990s, Royal Holloway College looked seriously into the possibility of converting the main building(s) into a major new hall of residence. The plans would have given the College two grand Victorian buildings. Building regulation requirements, conservation needs and logistical considerations outstripped its budget.

In 1994, under the guidance of English Heritage, a plan by Octagon to salvage the Grade I building (at the highest category in architecture) was accepted. Octagon spent six years in a punctilious art restoration and conversion project.[8] Craftspeople in various disciplines returned the buildings to very near to the original. The Grand Hall was restored and the main building converted into 23 three- and four-storey town houses. The site became Virginia Park, a gated and walled community of 190 houses and apartments,[9] a spa complex, gymnasium, multi-purpose sports hall and an all-weather tennis court. It was described by English Heritage as one of the largest art conservation projects in Europe. The entrance hall, restored, has been praised as "a riot of brilliant colours, patterns and grotesque imaginary creatures", and the Dining Room is now a recreation hall housing a swimming pool beneath its hammerbeam roof.

The former chapel building is separately listed as a Grade II* building.[10]


  • Bingham, Caroline, The History of Royal Holloway College, 1886-1986, London: Constable, 1987. ISBN 0-09-468200-3 (see pages 30–34)
  • The conversion of Holloway Sanatorium Article by Jane Knowles Psychiatric Bulletin (1997), 21, 232
  • Davis, R. & Davis, D., The Virginia Water Picture Book, by Ron and Dorothy Davis, Egham: Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society at the Egham Museum, 1989. ISBN 0-9508234-6-5 (Has some beautiful annotated old photographs of Holloway Sanatorium)
  • Shifrin, Malcolm, Victorian Turkish Baths, Swindon: Historic England, 2015. ISBN 978-1-84802-230-0 pp. 198–9

External links[edit]



  1. ^ An institution, not an asylum or hospital - see the Contemporary account in this article
  2. ^ Papers of George Martin-Holloway Royal Holloway, University of London Archives
  3. ^ UK Census Collection > 1891 England Census > Berkshire > Egham > District Holloway Sanatorium
  4. ^ UK Census Collection > 1901 England Census > Berkshire > Egham > District Holloway Sanatorium
  5. ^ a b "Holloway Sanatorium for the Insane". Wellcome Library. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  6. ^ Davis & Davis, The Virginia Water Picture Book
  7. ^ History of Ashford & St. Peter's Hospital
  8. ^ Historic England. "FORMER HOLLOWAY SANATORIUM AT VIRGINIA WATER (1189632)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/greathomesanddestinations/12GH-england.html
  10. ^ Historic England. "THE CHAPEL AT FORMER HOLLOWAY SANATORIUM VIRGINIA WATER (1119659)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 

Coordinates: 51°24′12″N 0°33′38″W / 51.40333°N 0.56056°W / 51.40333; -0.56056