Severalls Asylum – Colchester

Severalls Asylum was built in 1913. It closed in the late 1990s. In it’s heyday it housed 2000 patients; some of which were used in experimental medical tests/operations. More information about the hospital can be found on Wikipedia.

This article is the result of a few visits between 2006 and 2007. A seperate report exists for Myland Court.

Some views of the asylum buildings first…

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Corridors

The intricate network of corridors at Severalls are by far the highglight of a trip here. They’re all different colours yet somehow manage to be rather gloomy. The corridors are also rather eerie – the wind banging doors constantly makes you think that someone’s going to jump out at you at any point.

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Wards

Obviously the corridors led somewhere, invariably wards and other rooms…

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Toilets & Stuff

There are hundreds of toilets, baths and sinks in the hospital. All were rather interesting.

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Nurses Home

This is where the nurses would have lived (!) and their rooms were quite luxurious compared to those of the patients. They even had fireplaces!

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Admin

The grand administration building is the main entrance to the asylum. It was wonderfully ornate, but has sadly been attacked by arsonists. There are a few nice features left, like the staircase and some floors.

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Water tower, Boiler House & Engineering

Wherever you are in the asylum you can’t fail to notice the huge water tower. There are a few floors all containing huge metal tanks to store the water. The base of the tower is flooded, which makes access interesting!

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Severalls is massive – the one place you can appreciate the size is from the top of the water tower!

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One hall at the base of the tower contained five huge boilers – these were dismantled in Autumn 2006…

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Kitchen

The kitchen was huge. It had to be – it used to cater for 2000 residents…

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Stores & Services

Some more big empty rooms, mainly used to store things like laundry and supplies. One contained some sterilisation machines for hospital equipment.

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Operating Theatres

Being a hospital, there obviously had to be a place to do operations. The theatres are now bare, and some are burnt out.

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Other stuff

Finally some random bits at the asylum. This little collection includes the mortuary body fridges, main hall (now rubble after an arson attack) and some underground service tunnels…

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This entry was posted in Asylums and Hospitals, essex and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Severalls Asylum – Colchester

  1. gail pegrum says:

    hi my mum worked at Severalls in the 60,s and I am concerned about the medical experiments that took place then—–any ifo and the attitude of a Dr Richard Fox who when my mum ran over my cat —I was age nine —suggested she say nothing….How confusing for a nine year old as mum was cranky when I kept looking for him – well she knew the truth—–I spent months looking for him and when we moved had nightmares he might return and I wasn,t there.This was the advice of a so called expert of the day—part of the generation who were responsible for the stolen generation in Australia—-a Victorian attitude who have caused so much misery..Good to hear some positive remarks about Severalls but what is really the truth====lobotomy and electric shock tratments and god knows what else—-we need more info as to what actually happened there

    • sandra gardener says:

      A relative of mine went to severalls hospital when he was 13 because he had menangitous as a baby then a hospital he was taken to burnt his head he was left mental.Every time we visited him he had injuries that were supposed to have been done by other patients, and teeth missing ,his life ended in his 20s after catching diphtheria in the long stay village.we never got to id him or see him in the coffin. it was not allowed,I dont know the answer to what happened in that hospital only those who worked their know and a lot of them i would emagen are dead now,

  2. T. Cox says:

    My grandmother spent most of her life at Severalls I believe – does anyone know how to get information on past patients there? Because she had epilepsy her whole life was taken from her – her daughter, her marriage – it would be good to get some information on her condition and how she was treated .

  3. groover41 says:

    My uncle was admitted here when he was only 17, l can remember my dad taking us kids up to visit him. There used to be orchards nearby and we used to scrump fruit for him, along with my dad buying him a pack of tobacco. My dad was the only one of his family that ever bothered, and as far as l know, the only reason my uncle got put there in the first place was because he got lippy with my grandad! Looking back, l can remember each time we went to visit, my uncle seemed more and more vague with each visit. When the hospital closed, he was moved to a home, where, 6 months later he died. He was 71. Thats 54 years of his life spent suffering god knows what atrocities. It just makes me so so sad that this was all his life amounted to, and yet nowadays rapists, murderers, yobs and just generally rotten people get no more than a slapped wrist and a better life inside than a lot of poor people living on the breadline. My aunt used to be a night nurse at nearby Runwell Hospital in the 60s and 70s and knew that these electric shock treatments and medical experiments went on, but many staff were threatened by management if they opposed these treatments.

  4. kawababe says:

    I worked at Severalls from 1984 to 1995. The reason the corridors were different colours was because if you followed certain colours they took you to certain areas and you should not get lost. There was an operating theatre because towards the end of it’s life the then North Essex Health Authority had converted at least one of the old wards, on the cricket pitch side of the hospital to a general surgery ward. There was originally a laundry but when cookchill was brought it the laundry all went down to Turner Village and the old laundry area was converted to produced a lot of the local cookchill catering. Was one story whereby the same equipment was used to heat soup and rice pudding and they put the soup through first and then the rice pudding, which turned pink because of the tomato soup! The lovely rooms upstairs were used by the Chief Executive and Director of Finance of the Mental Health Trust, which emerged from the old NEHA in the early 90’s.

  5. mazsuffolk says:

    i was a student nurse in late 70s and spent 3 months working on st michaels ward as Severals hospital. this and ashley ward were used by the n e essex health authority. ashley was surgical and st michaels medical. the wards were very large but lovely and light with fab views out to the wonderfully kept grounds. apparently, many of the mental health patients who had lived there a long time worked on the farm that provided a lot of the food for patients and in the grounds.
    the colchester school of nursing was situated in the buildings to the right as you enter the main severals entrance, so as a student nurse in those years, we spent a lot of time at severals site..
    the buildings of the hospital were quite austere with very long corridors, but the ward day rooms were lovely and beneficial areas for patients recovering before going off home. i can recall working nights on st michaels and having to escort the death trolley to the mortuary near the front gates. the porters used to play really horrible pranks on the students and try to scare us. it was a long dark walk and once at the mortuary, they would turn out the lights so we were in complete darkness. not nice! i also remember the very long corridors to the canteen and other shared areas. the fabulous theatre and stage which was used for various productions by staff and patient groups.
    the patients with mental health problems would sometimes be seen out and about in the grounds. we had a regular flasher, who would drop his trousers when a car went past or he knew staff were watching out the windows, when he was working or walking in the gardens. another would wander the corridors looking for discarded cigarette ends. one lady would pile up twigs on window ledges and elsewhere. occaisionally, they would be set alight and the fire brigade were fairly regular visitors.
    the grounds at the hospital were beautiful and it is really criminal that these have been left to go to ruin. the best buildings should have been preserved and made into flats or houses, with possibly a small museum in memory of the patients that lived in the hospital. many of whom probably endured some very poor situations.
    whatever happens, the past history of severals should not be denied and something should be retained as a permanent memorial in honour of the memory of those residents.

  6. Mandy says:

    I did my RMN training at Severalls (April 1984 intake) and worked briefly as staff nurse before moving to London. Seeing this site is bringing memories rushing back as well as mixed feelings. So many institusionalised people – and that was just the staff……

  7. Michael Perkins says:

    HI everyone,
    Im looking for a gent called Ken surname is Maranje but not sure on the correct spelling. If anyone think that they may know him or his ware abouts please get in touch or get Ken to. Ive been looking for Ken for at least 10 Years and i know he used to work at Turner Village he was a Mental Health Care Assistant and he is West Indian. Ken is not in any trouble but i do need to speak with him as soon as i can.

    My number is 07513299460

    Many Thanks
    Michael

  8. Natalie Armitage says:

    Hi there, I wonder if anyone can help? – I am currently attending a writing course and I would love to write an article on Severalls Hospital. Even derelict as it is now, it is still a fascinating building and I would love to learn more.
    I wonder if anyone has some factual, interesting tales they could tell me, or has any pictures they would not mind sharing that I could use for my article?
    If there is anyone who would like to chat or share, I will happily provide my email address 🙂
    Many thanks
    Natalie

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