napsbury | foiled by the curtain twitchers

By the end of the nineteenth century, the county of Middlesex had ensured adequate provision for its pauper lunatics in its institutions at Hanwell and Colony Hatch. However, it "lost" these two asylums when the London County Council was formed in 1889, and the new authority wasted no time cherry picking choice asylums for itself and leaving the home counties with a severe shortfall of beds.

The consolation of Springfield Asylum in Wandsworth wasn’t enough for Middlesex and so the county had to build a new asylum. Suitable land was found at Napsbury in 1900 and architect Rowland Plumbe, fresh from designing villa style colonies in Scotland, was commissioned. Although he designed a now-standard compact arrow echelon style main block, he peppered the site with villas and ancillary buildings, and even built a separate acute hospital (a new idea coming into vogue based on the further classification and organisation of patients).

The standard of buildings and finish, executed in a Neo-Jacobean style with Arts And Crafts embellishments, gave Napsbury a more luxurious and exquisite feel than some of the cheaper buildings being erected. And with landscape designer William Goldring adding the finishing touches to the grounds, Napsbury was a hospital that the county of Middlesex could be justifiably proud of.

Looking north west towards the recreation/dining hall. The building in front is the former male infirm block.