Stafford County Asylum opened in 1818 to accomodate 120 patients. Over the years it expanded and housed around 1000 patients. During the 1950s, it was renamed St George’s Hospital. Like so many other asylums, it closed in the mid-1990s. There are plans to convert the Grade II listed buildings into “100 distinctive dwellings”, and work should be starting in 2008.
Living in Stafford a few years ago, I would often get a tantalising glimpse of the asylum from the nearby ring-road. I sometimes wondered what it was like inside. I didn’t do anything about it, indeed almost forgetting about it when I moved away. Five years later I finally got the chance to look around. Stafford Asylum is, by far, one of the most derelict buildings I have visited. Time has not been kind to it, suffering at the hands of both vandals and nature. There are no windows and very few ceilings. Floors are squidgy and rotten, if they are there at all!
You can’t help but admire this behemoth of a building. At four storeys high and around 300m long, it would’ve made an impressive sight on the Stafford marshes in it’s heyday. Sadly it’s glory now hides behind a huge overgrown mess of trees.
The lower levels of the asylum are relatively interesting. Corridors, some isolation rooms (with the most colourful array of doors I have seen in an asylum), engineering rooms, a delightfully dingey pharmacy, and so on…
There is a small double chapel in the asylum, strangely found on the second floor.
The main hall is perculiar – it is full of scaffolding. Presumably an attempt to prevent it collapsing after previous arson attacks.
The main staircase is rather impressive, a square-spiral affair complete with anti-suicide cages. Someone had tried to throw a door down, with no success.
There are huge holes in the roof, and they are slowly making their way down to ground-level. Needless to say, not much of the upper floors were explored…