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

ward #2 first floor
general orientation

General view of ward #2 first floor

Ward #2 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

ward #2 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).

interior: view south
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 #2 was located due north of the hall/chapel. Its main corridor faced due west over a large airing court.

The photography of this ward was marked by stunning contrasts; many shots were taken twice as the sun often broke out behind the low clouds and offered an idealised view of the ward which the original architects desired and tried to enhance with the wardís orientation.

Light streamed through the day room window, illuminating an otherwise empty room.

interior: view north
The corridor was pushed into use as a dormitory as shown by the remaining curtain rails. Grey featureless doors opened outwards; each led to a single room. Like other wards in the hospital, it had since been divided into two separate halves.

interior: view north (alternative angle)
The same corridor but in diffuse sunlight.

interior: view north (alternative angle)
Detail of the three single room doors.

exterior: view south-west
The ward also offered a view of the chapel with its octagonal stair tower (which had been stripped empty on the first floor). Further detached buildings had been built further west; itís believed these were the kitchens. Unfortunately there was no access to these buildings so they werenít photographed further.

interior: view north
The second half of the ward included an additional day room and further doors leading to single rooms.

interior: view north (alternative)
Again, differences in sunlight dramatically changed the appearance of the ward.

interior: view north (alternative)
Same ward again but now in diffuse sunlight.

exterior: view north (of exterior chapel)
A window from the north-western end of the ward looked over towards the hospitalís replacement chapel. This has since been divided and converted into luxury apartments.

interior: steps east
A stairwell led down from the end of the ward towards a connecting passage which gave access to the two other wards at this end of the hospital.

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