st. crispin lunatic asylum | 85 things you never knew about lunatic asylums

85. The recovery of the curable, the improvement of the incurable, the comfort and happiness of all the patients, should therefore steadily be kept in view by the architect from the moment in which is commences his plan. - Dr John Conolly

© Simon Cornwell 2005

"We have e-mailed before ages ago. I'm the guy who had worked at St Crispins's 43 yrs ago. Well yesterday, I decided to return. Prompted by things I've read on Urban Exploration forums/sites and having studied where I was able to zoom in.

Anyway, I walked up Berrywood Rd, into the grounds up to the church. If I hadn't seen the new-build on the net, it would have been real strange, even so it was like a time warp for me. My first disappointment was seeing an eight foot perimeter board right round the front of the main building, and being Saturday, no workers hence no open gates. I could establish that outbuildings including the mortuary had gone. Wards that I'd worked on were still there though. The main entrance presumable listed, is still there. I entered through that door every day, reception on the left, consultant Paul Rogers on the right. Past offices and the cafeteria had now disappeared. The block with tower remains.

Opposite the main entrance was and still is, Connolly Lodge, this was a female block. Now it is a sales office.

I would walk through a bridle path to the white nurses home. Now it is surronded by houses/flats. I gazed up at my old room, on the third floor, one by one remembering the names of other male nurses that occupied the rooms on that side. From this side, males were on the left, females on the right. In the centre was a large lounge.

I walked round the back and found a bloody road and a bus passing, Jesus, talk about a time warp!. Again I could remember names of chaps who occupied these best rooms, best because of the views of the countryside. I chatted to a resident who felt it would be good if people could collect anecdotes before it's too late.

I then made my way to what I refer to the far end of the hospital, the old female wards. It looks to me as though they are well on their way to being ready for occupation, landscaping has already been done.

In the belief that I would be able to see nothing more, I headed back to the church and what would have been my exit. On the corner there used to be a large house, occupied by a Mr & Mrs Burnham, he was something like the head of the management committe or something. I was then attracted by a dog walker emerging from the back of the hospital.

I ventured down, this would have been the old farm road years ago. To my surprise, the boards stopped, mesh wire started and I had the freedom to walk right round the back of the hospital. Hooray!. First block was the site of Hayes Ward on the ground floor. A ward of mentally subnormals of every age and varying degrees of subnormality, all doubly incontinent, allowed to roam in a courtyard providing it wasn't wet. Most of them had their own areas where they would go back and forth like animals. I'd stood out there with them many many times. The tree where I'd carved my name was still there, but inside the compound so I couldn't see if years of growth had worn my name away. I couldn't rmember the middle ward name, but at the top it was George Schuster. It was here that I could see an open door. A wall would have allowed for anyone to get over the mesh fence, but I'm too old to be up to that.

I moved on, past Green Ward, where most were sick patients, up to Milson Ward (my log-in name on Urban), then to the shell of the burnt out hall. This is where every monday was social night and Dennis, an elderly mongol was more or less in charge. From there on, it was female blocks, so I was opposite the area where I'd seen the landscaping on the other side of the building. The grounds were overgrown. Then I spotted a row of brick built pillars, either side of a path. I'd walked down there all those 43 years ago, on my way to help a charge nurse by the name of Hensman when he kept several of the inmates occupied.

I took photgraphs but the camera soon told me the SD card was full. On my return I could see that every picture had been triplicated so I must have mucked up settings.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in my little jaunt. Last night I couldn't get this out of my mind and started remembering looking OUT of the ward windows. Although it was 43 years ago, I can remember so much of that time in the hospital." - Colin