Severalls Hospital Lunatic Asylum, Colchester
Severalls Asylum opened as a mental hospital in 1913. The simple but elegant buildings contain some amazing corridors and doors. The hospital closed in the early 1990’s.
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Severalls Asylum in Colchester was built from 1910 and opened in 1913 as a psychiatric hospital. The buildings were designed by architect Frank Whitmore and cover an area of 300 acres. 2000 patients could be housed in the asylum which was based on the Echelon Plan. This arrangement allowed easy access between all wards, offices and hospital services, so staff or patients would not need to go outside to reach any building. 1
The asylum was divided into two halves, one wing for male patients and other for females. Common services such as administration, laundry, kitchens and the hall were placed centrally between the two halves. The wings which extended outwards in a staggered pattern contained the wards on two floors. 2
The buildings themselves have very few embellishments and are built in the Queen Anne style which is typical of the Edwardian period. The appearance was simple but at the time considered to be elegant.
As was the case at many mental hospitals especially during the 1950’s, psychiatrists were free to perform their own experiments on patients. Treatments often included ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and frontal lobotomy.
Severalls hospital, along with many other psychiatric hospitals was closed in the early 1990’s. A few of the buildings on the site remained in use, albeit for different purposes until 1997. A couple of the satellite villas remain open today, along with a much newer building within the grounds. Work is due to commence to redevelop the site for residential use. It is expected that demolition work will take place once the adjacent new road is completed in 2014.
Sevs is by far my favourite out of all the asylums I’ve visited. The pastel colours, the wonderful level of decay and the amazing corridors and rows of doors, for me, really set this place apart from the others. Even in the brief time between my visits the asylum has matured, and the place is most certainly getting better with age, and seemed to be at its peak at the time of my last visit.
I’ve now had three visits here, the first was a huge disaster, getting caught by the notorious Michael only half an hour after it got light. The second visit was the “Santa Sevs” Christmas meet-up where almost 40 explorers descended upon the place. We got lucky that day and were the last to be caught – after deciding in the end to go looking for Mike to let us out the easy way on his busiest day ever!
The third visit with a largish group was really to bid the place farewell, and get one final look around before demolition work begins. This turned out to be a perfect day, a fantastic finish to what was probably one of most enjoyable weekends of exploring I’ve had.
It will be a real shame to see this one go, all my visits have been adventurous and fun – Severalls really has been a pleasure to photograph.
If you liked this report please check out Proj3ctM4yh3m's Severalls Hospital too.