Claybury Hospital

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Claybury Hospital

Claybury Hospital was a psychiatric hospital in Woodford Bridge, London. It was built to a design by the English architect George Thomas Hine who was a prolific Victorian architect of hospital buildings. It was opened in 1893 making it the fifth London County Council Asylum. Historic England identified the hospital as being "the most important asylum built in England after 1875... [it was] the first asylum to successfully use the echelon plan, upon which all later asylums were based.

The site now comprises housing and a gymnasium. The hospital block, tower, and chapel, which is now a swimming complex, were designated as a Grade II listed building in 1990.

History[edit]

A social room at Claybury Asylum. Photograph by the London & County Photographic Company from 1893.

The building of Claybury Hospital was commissioned by the Middlesex Court of Magistrates in 1887, as the fourth Middlesex County Asylum.[1] It was built to a design by the English architect George Thomas Hine who was a prolific, late-Victorian architect of mainly hospital buildings and asylums for the mentally insane.[2]

The site was situated on the brow of a hill and was surrounded by 50 acres (200,000 m2) of ancient woodland and 95 acres (380,000 m2) of open parkland, ponds, pasture and historic gardens. These had been designed in 1789 by the landscape architect Sir Humphry Repton of nearby Gidea Park for the owner, James Hatch, on what was then called the Claybury Estate. "Claybury" was the name given to a fictitious village in the stories of W. W. Jacobs, but is generally thought to be based on nearby Loughton, where Jacobs lived.

In 1889 the uncompleted building passed to the newly created London County Council which opened it in 1893. From 1893 to 1918 it was called Claybury Asylum, from 1918 to 1937 Claybury Mental Hospital, and from 1937 to its closure in 1995 Claybury Hospital.[1]

The English artist Thomas Hennell, experienced Schizophrenia between 1932 and 1935 which caused his detention at St John's Hospital in Stone, Buckinghamshire. After a short while, he was moved the Maudsley Hospital in London, and finally, to Claybury.[3]

Closure[edit]

Claybury Asylum, ground floor plan

With the Care in the Community Programme and the inevitable decline in patient numbers from its peak of 4,000 patients, Claybury faced a difficult future. The NHS pressed for extensive demolition and maximum new build, whereas the Local Planning Authority and English Heritage argued for maximum retention of the historic buildings and restriction of new build to the existing footprint, in accordance with the Green Belt allocation in the Unitary Development Plan.

A 60-day Public Inquiry was held in 1997 and the Council/English Heritage position was accepted. The hospital was shut down and converted into luxury flats called Repton Park by Crest Nicholson, working closely with English Heritage and the London Wildlife Trust.

Historic England identified the hospital as being "the most important asylum built in England after 1875... [it was] the first asylum to successfully use the echelon plan, upon which all later asylums were based."[2] The hospital block, including the chapel, which is now a swimming complex, were designated as a Grade II listed building in 1990,[2] as was the stable block, which is located to the north west of the main building.[4]

The Chapel at Claybury Asylum. Photograph by the London & County Photographic Company from 1893.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 51°36′11″N 0°04′07″E / 51.6031°N 0.0687°E / 51.6031; 0.0687