Hellingly Lunatic Asylum
The East Sussex County Asylum of Hellingly opened in 1903 and is tucked away on a woodland hilltop on the south west coast of Britain near Hailsham. Designed by leading Victorian architect G.T Hine, the asylum's remote location was to provide the patients with a restful and isolated setting (ideal for rehabilitation) and to create a world far removed from the prying eyes of daily life outside the hospital walls.
Hellingly's design typifies a compact arrow layout with extended villas and also exhibits some of Hine's trademark features such as brown enamel tiled stairwells and a sparse appliance to asylum design which intermerges functionality with minimalism. Somehow something went 'wrong' with the design of Hellingly, and Hine produced the plans for a spectacularly ornate theatre, maybe something to do with the hospital being towards the end of his career or maybe he just woke up in a frivolous mood that day. Hellingly's main hall remains the hospital's centrepiece, an adjoining point at which every sprawling corridor can find its way from.
The Institution, as with most from the Victorian era, was fully self-sufficient and the hospital's programme ensured that patients from all over the site were allocated various jobs in the hospital such as the farming, laundry work or grounds keeping. An onsite railway station with an electric tramway provided the hospital with additional supplies and visitors but was closed in the 1950s due to high maintenance costs.
Hellingly was closed down in 1994; however nearby villas within the complex remain dedicated to the care for the criminally insane with high secure-unit fence lines bordering the hospital's abandoned eastern side, known as Ashen Hill. An old segregated acute unit called Park House which is tucked away from view of the main hospital catered for disturbed patients suffering from illnesses such as cognitive impairment, schizophrenia, hypomania, aggression and neuroticism.
Irreparable decay has settled into Hellingly's foundations like a cancerous growth and arsonists have destroyed all but the crumbling fašade of the admin block. The main hall has yet to crumble or fade despite the arsonists attacks, but the scars left from fire damage have burnt through the floor spaces leaving gaping holes straight through to the cellars. Amazingly, despite the severity of dilapidation and chaos systematically inflicted on the buildings by time and man, but a few hidden gems tucked away in remote parts of the site still remain.
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