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

ward #6 ground floor
general orientation

General view of ward #6 ground floor

Ward #6 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

ward #6 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 east
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 #6 was the east-west orientated block as the southern end of the hospital.

Externally the ward shared the same architecture as the rest of the main block but a modern star shaped extension had been added to the ground floor.

exterior: view north
An elegant stone topped entrance allowed access to the ward. (Notice how I had to prop the door open with a drum to stop it closing).

interior: view north
The star-shaped extension was relatively modern (probably post 1950s) and comprised two large spaces. The entrance featured three large doorways.

interior: view south
As seen from the doorways, the extension was hexagonal shaped and was probably designed as an extra day room, meeting area or dining room.

interior: view west
The curved ceilings in this ground floor ward had been plastered over, obscuring many of the original features.

interior: view south: detail of painting
This rather strange mural was painted on the side of the wall. Given the security of Warley, and the lack of damage or vandalism in any of the other wards, then this is probably as the patients left it, and hasnít been altered by any unauthorised trespassers.

interior: view west
This shot shows the entrance to the day room at the south-western end of the ward and its entrance with the main gallery of communication beyond.

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