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

ward #1 first floor
general orientation

General view of ward #1 first floor

Ward #1 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

ward #1 first 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).

view west:
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.

Unlike the garish pink of the floor below, this ward was decorated in a pale blue. It also retained its original curved ceilings.

Curtain rails suggested this room (above one of the day rooms below) was used as a dormitory.

Curiously a lone desk and wooden cross had been left in this room. It was originally assumed that the cross came from the chapel next door, but itís more likely that both were left by a set dresser after a film was shot at the asylum. Directional signs taped to the wall were also left over from the filming.

view south
The ward had similarly been divided into two at a mid-point along its main corridor. Unfortunately no-more of this ward was photographed. (Which was a pity, as I later discovered one of the single rooms had been significantly redecorated for a horror film).

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