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

ward #4 first floor
general orientation

General view of ward #6 first floor

Ward #4 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

ward #4 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 east: ward entrance door
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 #4 was the east-west orientated block at the northern end of the hospital.

The ward was the only one I found in the hospital which bore clues of its former name and the sex of the patients.

interior: view east
The wards configuration matched others in the hospital. It has been divided with a wall at its mid-point but everything else was relatively unchanged since it was built.

interior: view north
The light had dulled giving the ward a dark moody feel. This shot across the day room shows how dingy it could appear.

interior: view south
The ward retained the complex system of interconnecting rooms and doors which Iíd yet to see in any other asylum.

interior: view north-east
The sun only lit the ward minimally when it did shine.

interior: view east
The second half of the ward comprised the rest of the main corridor, single rooms and the day room at the end.

interior: view south
It, too, featured the complex system of doors leading to further rooms.

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