warley hospital | the essex county lunatic asylum
Last update: 23|08|10
Warley Hospital

ward #1 ground floor
general orientation

General view of ward #1 ground floor

Ward #1 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

ward #1 ground floor
detailed pictures

The design of the wards was largely uniform across the asylum with little differentiation for class of patient. As was typical for a building of the corridor planform, a ward comprised of a single central gallery with a single bay window along one side (these spaces doubled up as dormitories on first floors), day and dining rooms appended to either end, with single rooms, stores and attendant rooms along the opposing side.

Lavatories and bathrooms were also associated with each ward but these were not housed in separate sanitation towers (as this was a later construct and didnít start appearing until the 1860s and 1870s).

A contemporary description further underlined the identical design of the wards: "Each gallery contains two rooms for attendants, so arranged as to overlook the dormitories, a store room, scullery, bath room and lavatory, all well fitted, and a supply of hot and cold water is available at all times, night and day. Convenient to the wards are two large rooms, one on the male, the other on the female side, used as dining rooms for the attendants, also a large amusement room."

One notable feature of the interiors of some of the wards was the curious curved ceilings with "honeycombed" textures. This was Victorian fire-proofing (not sound dampening as some have guessed): it wasnít a popular feature (probably being expensive and time consuming to build) and was only used at the Second Middlesex County Asylum (Colney Hatch, 1851), the First Essex County Asylum (Warley,1853) and the First Lincoln County Asylum (St Johnís, 1852).

exterior view: north
The hospital wards are given identifying numbers. This is simply the order in which I encountered them and doesnít correspond to any number or name they may have been given during the working life of the hospital.

Ward #1 was located due south of the hall/chapel. Its main corridor faced due west over a large airing court.

exterior view: east
The only modern addition appeared to be a modern "star shaped" single storey building erected mid-way along the ward (where the original bay window interrupted its main corridor).

interior view: south-west
The ward was painted a garish pink (indicative of a female ward). I have done nothing to enhance the hues and saturations of these photographs; the ward really was this pink.

interior view: south
The ward was divided into two along the main corridor but the rest of its original Victorian architecture and layout remained. The corridor was extremely wide as it also doubled-up as a day room for the patients of the single rooms (with their doors on the left).

interior view: west
Featureless square day rooms could be found at either end of the ward. These were entirely bare and nothing remained.

interior view: east
The wide arch from the day room to the ward corridor was the only embellishment left. Unlike many other wards, the ceilings were also flat; itís assumed the original curved ceilings were hidden under modern plaster.

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