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Other Asylums



The county of London came into being as part of reforms to local goverment implemented in 1889. Formed from a large area of the County of Middlesex, as well as the parts of Surrey and Kent into which London was expanding, the intention had been to provide a unified administrative body for London with the exclusion of the City itself.

On its inception, the London County Council assumed responsibility for all three of Middlesex's existing asylums at Hanwell (St.Bernard's), Colney Hatch (Friern) and Banstead, as well as the planned Claybury asylum. Surrey's recently constructed Cane Hill asylum was also included. As patients within the catchment also became the responsibility of the new council, the existing asylums were already full to overcrowding - a situation briefly rectified with the addition of Claybury and later Bexley asylums. At times of severe shortage, the Metropolitan asylums board Imbecile asylums took excess chronic patients as well as others boarded out to other county asylums.

In an attempt to provide a permanent solution to future needs, the large Horton Manor estate near Epsom was purchased and could accomodate a number of separate institutions. Once purchased a temporary asylum was immediately erected around the existing mansion buildings, with three other asylums gradually developed on park and estate farmland to keep accomodation in pace with the expansion of London itself. A separate colony for male epileptics was also built to the north.

At Denmark Hill, the LCC provided the Maudsley hospital for voluntary patients, the first of it's kind provided by a local authority. The abolition of the Poor Law in 1930 led to the London County council absorbing the Metropolitan asylums board mental deficiency and epileptics institutions within its remit. By 1948, when services were transferred to the National Health Service, London county council operated from more mental hospitals and provided a broader range of services than any other local authority in Britain.

By comparison, the role of the City of London within mental health services started small and never expanded significantly. The City of London Corporation operated as a separate borough outside the control of the surrounding County of Middlesex, and later County of London. Until the construction of it's own pauper lunatic asylum, the corporation purchased space within the subscription asylum - Bethlem, Lambeth. The commisioners in lunacy discouraged this practice and the Corporation constructed it's own premises at Stone, Dartford. As the City of London pauper residents became fewer so more space was given over to paying and out-of-area boarders providing a significant income to the corporation, heavily subsidising the cost of the institution itself. Uncharacteristic of any other area, the City of London inmates eventually formed only a minor proportion of those at Stone. The asylum was reluctantly handed to the National Health service on it's inception in 1948.

City of London Asylum

Stone House Hospital







London County Asylum, Woodford Bridge

Claybury Hospital







London County Asylum, Bexleyheath

Bexley Hospital







London County Asylum, Epsom

Manor Hospital







London County Asylum, Epsom

Horton Hospital







London County Asylum, Epsom

Long Grove Hospital







London County Mental Hospital, Epsom

West Park Hospital












© 2005 Pete Cracknell