Hales Hospital / Heckingham Institution – Norfolk

A workhouse has been at this site near Hales since the 1760s.

In 1927, the workhouse was closed and the building converted into an institution for “mental defectives”. After 1930, control passed to Norfolk County Council and the establishment was renamed Heckingham Institution. In 1948, it became part of the National Health Service as Hales Hospital which closed in around 1990. The buildings are currently empty and awaiting redevelopment. (Copied from Workhouses website – more info and external photos can be found there).

There are plans to convert it into residential homes, but these seem to be on hold.


It was difficult to get outside photos – lots of people were round the front, so most of these are taken through the very few open windows.

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First stop was the vaulted basement area.

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Kitchen and Dining Room

This bit doesn’t need much explanation…

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Corridors and rooms

The building was extremely well boarded up – inside was very dark. A few tiny bits of boards had fallen off giving small glimmers of light. Not much had been smashed up, but it was very empty.

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Sewing room

On the way out, I popped into the “Sewing room” – this seems to be the most smashed up building on site, probably because it’s on the edge with easy access for kids.

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17 Responses to Hales Hospital / Heckingham Institution – Norfolk

  1. manof2worlds says:

    Excellent pix – I want my DSLR and I want it now!!! Okay maybe in the Autumn πŸ™‚

  2. Tom says:

    Great pics there mate! Ready for redevelopment… Not sure I’d fancy living in a converted mental hospital!! As far as urban exploration goes, there’s something particularly spooky about asylums… Thanks for posting!

  3. OA says:

    Hey, took a trip up there this weekend. Got into a bit of trouble as i assume the houses nearby saw us walking there, they must have called the coppers in. Got to the boiler room at the back and the escorted us off the premises. akward.

  4. Ryansmithers says:

    Tried exploring thease grounds but some nasty looking gypsy’s with dog’s told us to leave or else :s,,
    the other one close to norwich is better

  5. jo middleton says:


    Does anyone have any tips for this kinda thing as me and my friend are really into photography and find these places facinating.


  6. gavin says:

    i’ve heard rumours of guard dogs on a night time

    is this true?

  7. Linda Egan says:

    My 4 x Great uncle lived here when it was a workhouse.He died in 1905 at the age of 84. I have found these pictures amazing It would be nice if they did something with it rather than destroying it.

  8. micheal ellis says:

    I work as a security guard and I am 62. My mum often used to tell me the story of when her dad fell out of work and her mum, two brothers and her sister were put in the workhouse at hales, probably about 1918, where they spent about 6 months. Her Dad was not allowed to stay there and he had to sleep rough until he found a new job. The boys were separated from the girls and their mum, was also in a different place and only saw them once a week. It must have been a terrible time for them. Eventually their dad found work with tied accommodation and they were all reunited. How lovely it must have been, a great time for them to be reunited and my mum said she remembers how great it was for them all to be together again. Mum used to be scared of the dark in her later years with me and I think this was all to do with her experience in the workhouse. Sadly, Mum passed away before, amazingly I was sent to work in the very place where she was put at such a young age. I am sure if I had been able to take her back there in her later years it would have brought back lots of other experiences which she could have shared with me and I could have share with you

    Mitch Ellis

  9. liam f spring says:

    I go in this place very often I am a model and a photographer but I also love urban exploring I have taken some mint pictures in their and I don’t know their Is just some thing I love about the place as creepy as it Is in their it is a great place it is just a pity the kids have got in and trashed it apart from that I go in their nearly every weekend either during the day or if I don’t have time during the day I go at night and it is really interesting at night

  10. JakeHolmessss says:

    heyy, pretty neat place , my dad worked there until it shut down in the 80’s/90’s? its a brilliant place i took a look around about 5 years ago with him and my mum (she worked at the hospital opposite until is closed recently) and it was brilliant , they still had the straight suites and other interesting items laying about i revisited it recently with some mates but unfortunately the people that live near by hurled abuse at us until we left , but i would love to get some pictures in there when i get my camera

  11. Urbexdoll says:

    Loving the pics. Anyone been recently? Cheers.

  12. amatureexplorer says:

    we explored the old hales hospital very recently its in a real state now because of vandals so you cant exactly creep around un-noticed due to the sheer amount of damage to the walls and floors and windows. we made 2 trips there and got 143 photos of the inside and out however on our 2nd visit we seemed to have encountered something that scared us enough to not go back…………

    • gogetem says:

      been recently too and just wondering what really scared you?? wondering if it’s the same thing that freaked me and my mates out too :/

  13. Wyn says:

    We believe two relations of ours used to work there as husband and wife nurses. We will be in Norfolk over Easter – is it safe to take our young children there to look from the outside?

    The last two posts mention something scary – so long as it’s not dangerous it will be okay as I’m used to going into such places with my work and have found all sorts of things – live ammunition, drugs, garotted animals and beast heads – asbestos is always the main worry though.

  14. mandy summers says:

    i am very intrigued with this place we recently visited the rauceby mental asylum that place is scary both day and night.

  15. Ashley Marshall says:

    1. Any derelict site is not safe, even from a distance, although that’s more to with trespassing laws.
    2. This is not a place for models to pose, either take pictures of the building or not at all.
    3. You don’t have to contact anyone, and other explorers such as myself, aren’t going to give a stranger directions to site, due to too many people just wanting to get pissed up there. If you want to go you have to do it yourself like the rest of us do.

  16. Ridsksyueiatyw says:

    Recently went in with mates not the sort of place to wonder around on your own with gypsys gave funny looks as we went in in side it was really disturbing in the sewing room the first room’s roof litteraly has collapsed on the floor and behinde the willow tree if you look up at the roof there has been a smashed window look carefully you will see a red hand mark left there creey…

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