Severalls Asylum, Colchester
Severalls mental hospital opened in 1913 expanding over 150 acres of land; the asylum ‘catered’ to nearly 2,000 patients at maximum capacity and later closed in 1997.
The hospital is a fine example of the architectural echelon design which features long corridors which were designed to interconnect within the entire site thus enabling staff to navigate through the wards without having to bare the elements. Force feeding and bodily restraints formed part of a common daily routine here until the late 1960s when more progressive therapies and medications were introduced, reducing the usage of some of the more painful and inhumane practices. Unfortunately the hospital has recently been the victim of an arson attack on its main hall which is now a large and hazardous pile of charcoaled rubble.
On my first visit to the hospital I was unaware of the arson attack on the hall and hid for hours just off the kitchen area opposite the former hall which was still, unbeknown to me, smoking. As I listened to what in fact turned out to be large chunks of burnt debris falling I could only imagine, with beating heart, a savage gang of thugs ripping walls out and beating on anything they might come across.
Later I discovered that the ‘savages’ were in fact firemen and the site was absolutely crawling with them; after a firm warning from one of them, I exited the way I had entered only then to be caught by a random security body who was pillaging apples from a tree in the orchard! Over a year later I returned again to Severalls to wander freely for one last time through her endless but soon-to-be extinct corridors.
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